Vendor, buyer feedback an important tool in increasing real estate transparency

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While numerous bodies and industry experts are continuing to call for the better regulation of the real estate sector, one online platform believes better utilising feedback from consumers involved in real estate transactions will go a long way to improving the industry.

Launched in 2014, RateMyAgent is an online platform that combines industry figures such as the number and value of properties sold by a real estate agent with feedback from vendors and buyers in attempt to give an accurate representation of an agent’s ability.

A former property advisor, RateMyAgent chief executive officer Mark Armstrong said the inspiration for the platform came from the experience of trying to find reputable agents for his clients.

“It came out of our need within our business to get some transparency with in the real estate industry. When we wanted to advise a client about which agent to sell a property in a suburb we might not know much about, we realised there was a real lack of information on that sort of thing,” Armstrong said.

“We looked at and thought that the problem was there was a lack of feedback from the actual customers, the vendor or the buyer. So we knew that if we could harness the feedback from the buyers and the vendor and make a central depository of agent reviews, then that would go a long way to help,” he said.

Since launching in mid-2014, Armstrong claims more than 110,000 reviews on around 17,000 agents have been made through RateMyAgent, with the platform receiving around 2,000 - 3,000 reviews each month, which Armstorng says allows consumers, especially vendors, to cut through advertising speak.

“One of the greatest tools agents had to win listings was to put their hands up and say I’m the best agent in this suburb because I sell the most property, but there was no real way to prove that. So we built a system that clearly shows the type and amount of property that agents had sold, while overlaying that with customer feedback,” he said.

“At its simplest, it’s a seller’s website. We’re a site that helps vendors select the right agent to sell their most valuable asset. Vendors pay agent near on $4 -$ 5 billion a year for that service. Vendors are the ones paying the money and vendors are the ones real estate agents want, so we made something aimed at helping them.”

While Armstrong admits the site was developed with vendors in mind, he does believe it has had benefits for the entire industry.

“We don’t see our website as a stick to punish bad agents. The aim of RateMyAgent is not to highlight people who are bad at their jobs, the aim of RateMyAgent is to highlight the people that are good at their jobs.

“By default it raises the level of accountability in the industry, it raises transparency. It means that vendors are less likely to select an agent who isn’t good at their job. It’s a by-product of what we do, it wasn’t our intention when we built the platform, but it’s absolutely a significant benefit.”

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  • Julie Cumming says on 21/03/2016 06:02:57 PM

    While I am a huge advocate for increased transparency and lifting the bar on the ethical behaviour and processors used by real estate agents, I question if these platforms provide real transparency.
    Agents use these as a marketing tool, and they pay to have access to them. Real Estate is a theatre of spin and illusion and these platforms provide a stage for the performance, of some, that work that element especially well.
    I do not think it is a reflection of the best agents..if it were, then surely the latest winner of the REIA 2016 Residential sales agent award, Jonathan Charles, of IPG Woden in ACT would be on these platforms.

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