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Putting real estate agents ‘under the hammer’

We don’t take big decisions lightly – especially not when they involve large sums of money. Before booking a holiday, we meticulously scour reviews and before taking out a loan, we’ll scrutinise a plethora of comparison websites. All before signing on the dotted line. But when it comes to selling your home – one of the largest [and arguably most stressful] transactions most of us will ever make in life – how do we know who to trust to facilitate that transaction? By going to the agent who says they are the best. And guess what – they all do. Difficulties with real estate agents have been tipped to be one of the top 10 causes of stress when selling a home.

That’s why Mark Armstrong co-developed RateMyAgent with Xavier Perronnet and Ed van Roosendaal. Described as a hybrid of LinkedIn and TripAdvisor, RateMyAgent acts as an online resume for real estate agents, providing quantitative data combined with qualitative feedback in the form of reviews from past vendors and buyers.

CEO Mark said “88% of consumers search online for reviews to determine the quality of a local business but the real estate space lacked a central depository of credible reviews.

“The major problem was a lack of transparency and the solution was to build a platform that collected genuine client feedback,” said Mark.

No longer having to ‘take their word for it,’ the combination of functions offered by the platform aims to give consumers a wealth of information to help select the right person to sell their home.

“RateMyAgent focuses on vendor eyeballs and gives them all the information they need to make an informed choice when selecting an agent,” said Mark.

With 15,000 agents having subscribed to its database since launching in June last year and 120,000 unique visitors to the site each month, this new digital service appears to be proving its worth. But as with any new and untested model, Mark and his co-Founders had some significant challenges to overcome.

According to Mark, RateMyAgent initially faced criticism from those whom they needed most to support the business: the agents themselves. Thinking that the platform’s revenue would be generated from a slice of their commission, agents were [understandably] reluctant to buy in. The co-founding trio had a strong message to deliver: unlike similar websites, their intention is to generate a powerful business tool for agents to promote themselves. All that’s required – is to be good at the job.

Mark said “independence is our greatest asset and if we were to take a cut of the real estate agent commission, we would lose our independence and would be less valuable to consumers.

“Getting support from real estate agents was key to the success of the site.”

So far, 11,000 vendors are reported to have used RateMyAgent to help them select their agent and have collectively sold $8bn worth of property. The platform is currently receiving an enormous 2000 reviews each week.

As the real estate industry continues to dominate the economy in many countries around the world, it comes as no surprise that Mark, Xavier and Ed have their sights set on global expansion.

“Our vision is to perfect the platform in the Australian market and then take the site to international markets,” he said.

Not just a game of selling property, agents should now be looking towards selling themselves.

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Daniel Jacobs

Daniel Jacobs

Daniel Jacobs was editor of Dynamic Business.

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