Vendors won't give up on agents, say portal bosses

Real estate agents shouldn’t be concerned about disintermediation because neither the portals nor consumers want it to happen.

That was the consensus view at an REB Leadership Series event for portal executives.

Homely co-chief executive Jason Spencer said it wouldn’t make sense for portals to disintermediate agents given that real estate professionals are their customers.

Mr Spencer also said that his experience with the mortgage industry suggested that while people might talk about cutting out the middleman, consumers are unlikely to follow through.

“I saw the same issue arise in the mortgage industry with sites like E-Loan and LendingTree,” he said.

“Some mortgage brokers thought they would be put out of business, but it never happened because people aren’t good at dealing with such major financial decisions that are so close to their heart.”

Onthehouse Group chief executive Chris Meehan noted that vendors can already cut out agents but that most choose wisely not to self-list.

“Consumers in Australia have decided that they want to have somebody manage the process for them,” he said.

“I think people forget how incredibly nervous people are when they’re selling their home, and how emotional and tense.

“The question to ask is what the consumer wants. It’s not what the agent wants or the portal wants, but what the consumer wants. Is the consumer prepared to take on all that stress? Maybe, but I don’t see it happening in the near future.”

[Related: Real estate prepares for its Uber moment]

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