Online tool lets sellers bypass agents

Brendan Wong

A new marketing and support system is allowing homeowners to sell their property without the need for an agent.

Launched in June, Agent in a Box assists people in marketing and selling their own property for a 'premium' market price with no additional commission and advertising costs.

Real estate professional and co-founder of Agent in a Box Craig Heppell said the idea for the system came after he noticed a shift towards online consumerism.

“I’ve been in real estate actively and very successfully for the last 11 years and I just noticed that with the advent of online marketing, 95 per cent of enquiry came from online, and I just saw this tectonic shift in all markets, not just real estate,” he told Real Estate Business.

“The thing that really started to make me think was that homeowners were starting to question the value proposition of an agent.”

Mr Heppell said that in his recent experiences, whenever he made an offer on a property, the client would always want to negotiate the commission.

He realised there was a growing market of homeowners who wanted to sell their property on their own if they were educated on the processes.

Agent in a Box allows consumers to take control of the selling process from listing to negotiation and offers three options of varying prices to consumers.

For no cost, homeowners can have their home or property listed on aushomesforsale.com.au for three months.

For $349, members will have an additional listing on major portals, including realestate.com.au and Domain.com.au, a ‘For sale’ sign, and a listing on the service’s social media sites.

A $699 option gives members dedicated support from a property professional, access to instructional videos, instructional material and forms, two pointer signs, access to recent market sales activity and campaign reports.

Agent in a Box is not the first system to allow vendors to bypass agents. Last year, former Wizard Home Loans co-founder Paul Ryan launched inTouch Real Estate, an eBay-style platform that let vendors sell property directly to buyers online and avoid paying commissions.

Mr Ryan told Real Estate Business the advantage of inTouch Real Estate was the transparency it gave buyers and vendors. 

“Having been involved in the home loan industry for 20 years I have seen so much anger, frustration and annoyance from borrowers when it comes time to negotiate on a property," he said.

“The mystery that often surrounds making an offer, the reserve price and how many other buyers there are can make the sales process an incredibly stressful and unhappy experience."

However, the story drew the ire of real estate agents who questioned Mr Ryan's claims that vendors would do better using his service as opposed to selling their property with an agent. 

Mr Ryan said he was simply providing an alternative option for consumers rather than replacing agents. 

“We expect backlash from real estate agents, they're protecting their turf," he said.

Similarly, Mr Heppell said Agent in a Box would not lower the relevance or the work of agents.

“That is never going to happen. Agents will always hold a majority share of the sales market. Purely what we’re doing is offering Australian homeowners a choice that they never really knew existed," he said.

“I am a traditional agent but I can see where the internet is going to take us and I’m placing my business to take advantage of that. You’re always going to get a majority of people who will feel more comfortable dealing with an agent for all different reasons, so I don’t want to engender any hostility with any agents. I’m just offering homeowners a choice.”

Mr Heppell said reception to the service so far had been solid and steady despite a limited budget for marketing initially.

“We know that once we drive some fairly substantial marketing dollars into promoting the site and basically the education process for Australia home sellers, we believe that it will certainly take flight." 

Brendan Wong

A new marketing and support system is allowing homeowners to sell their property without the need for an agent.

Launched in June, Agent in a Box assists people in marketing and selling their own property for a 'premium' market price with no additional commission and advertising costs.

Real estate professional and co-founder of Agent in a Box Craig Heppell said the idea for the system came after he noticed a shift towards online consumerism.

“I’ve been in real estate actively and very successfully for the last 11 years and I just noticed that with the advent of online marketing, 95 per cent of enquiry came from online, and I just saw this tectonic shift in all markets, not just real estate,” he told Real Estate Business.

“The thing that really started to make me think was that homeowners were starting to question the value proposition of an agent.”

Mr Heppell said that in his recent experiences, whenever he made an offer on a property, the client would always want to negotiate the commission.

He realised there was a growing market of homeowners who wanted to sell their property on their own if they were educated on the processes.

Agent in a Box allows consumers to take control of the selling process from listing to negotiation and offers three options of varying prices to consumers.

For no cost, homeowners can have their home or property listed on aushomesforsale.com.au for three months.

For $349, members will have an additional listing on major portals, including realestate.com.au and Domain.com.au, a ‘For sale’ sign, and a listing on the service’s social media sites.

A $699 option gives members dedicated support from a property professional, access to instructional videos, instructional material and forms, two pointer signs, access to recent market sales activity and campaign reports.

Agent in a Box is not the first system to allow vendors to bypass agents. Last year, former Wizard Home Loans co-founder Paul Ryan launched inTouch Real Estate, an eBay-style platform that let vendors sell property directly to buyers online and avoid paying commissions.

Mr Ryan told Real Estate Business the advantage of inTouch Real Estate was the transparency it gave buyers and vendors. 

“Having been involved in the home loan industry for 20 years I have seen so much anger, frustration and annoyance from borrowers when it comes time to negotiate on a property," he said.

“The mystery that often surrounds making an offer, the reserve price and how many other buyers there are can make the sales process an incredibly stressful and unhappy experience."

However, the story drew the ire of real estate agents who questioned Mr Ryan's claims that vendors would do better using his service as opposed to selling their property with an agent. 

Mr Ryan said he was simply providing an alternative option for consumers rather than replacing agents. 

“We expect backlash from real estate agents, they're protecting their turf," he said.

Similarly, Mr Heppell said Agent in a Box would not lower the relevance or the work of agents.

“That is never going to happen. Agents will always hold a majority share of the sales market. Purely what we’re doing is offering Australian homeowners a choice that they never really knew existed," he said.

“I am a traditional agent but I can see where the internet is going to take us and I’m placing my business to take advantage of that. You’re always going to get a majority of people who will feel more comfortable dealing with an agent for all different reasons, so I don’t want to engender any hostility with any agents. I’m just offering homeowners a choice.”

Mr Heppell said reception to the service so far had been solid and steady despite a limited budget for marketing initially.

“We know that once we drive some fairly substantial marketing dollars into promoting the site and basically the education process for Australia home sellers, we believe that it will certainly take flight." 

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