How Not to Choose Your Agent

Disclaimer: These comments are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the current opinions and policies of the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia.

When the time comes to sell or lease your property, would-be vendors and landlords increasingly look to the internet to help shortlist agents that might meet their needs.

Well established methods of choosing your agent such as re-employing an agent previously used, adverts in the Herald, recommendations from friends and relatives or visiting Home Opens to meet agents remain effective methods.

In the on-line space, REIWA offers the excellent reiwa.com Agent Finder; an independent, credible source of finding professional agents. Also occupying the portal space are a myriad of commercial operators that purport to “find the best agent near you”.

Conducting a Google search of  “Real Estate Agents Fremantle” for example will throw up paid for adverts for http://www.localagentfinder.com.au, http://www.whichrealestateagent.com.au, http://www.openagent.com.au and http://www.agentselect.com.au

These “intermediaries” claim they can find you the best agent. The truth is they merely run a portal and a call centre whereby they contact local agents offering them a lead for a property listing in exchange for a minimum 20 per cent of their selling fee. The consumer then contacts the participating agents, chooses one from the list and is astonished to find the agent will be paying a referral fee to the intermediary. Suddenly, the vendor’s confidence in their agent, one prepared to give up a portion of their fee to obtain a lead is undermined. Now working for less money, how hard will the agent now work for me?

The main problem here is that successful, leading agents (therefore the best ones) don’t need to use them to get business. Why would they? The best agents get business on their merit and are understandably reticent to hand over 20-25% of their commission to an anonymous commercially motivated intermediary for nothing more than a lead. Consumers need to know that in using these sites, you’re simply not getting access to the best agents just the cheapest and most desperate.

These commercial intermediaries are not the vendor advocates they purport to be. A consumer that chooses to pay an advocate to properly and genuinely seek out the best agent for their circumstances is, however, perfectly legitimate.

by Hayden Groves
REIWA President
REIA Deputy President

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