New review website gives power back to agents

Several of the state real estate institutes have banded together and sought the expertise of a boutique technology company to develop the industry’s first agent rating website.

Speaking exclusively with Real Estate Business, David Howell, owner of Dynamic Methods in Adelaide, said his company had been quietly working behind the real estate institutes for a number of years.

“For the past four to five years we’ve been working with the real estate institutes in NSW, SA WA, and NT on their online forms and providing other developer and technology services,” Mr Howell said.

The new initiative, called Agent Connect, will be available in the coming months.

“Word of mouth is one of the keys to a successful real estate business, but it’s very difficult for agents to quantify or control feedback they receive from various online sources," he said.

“Facebook, Yelp and other start-ups have tried this but they haven’t succeeded because they don’t have any authority behind it to qualify the information or the people posting those reviews. That’s where Agent Connect is different.”

CEO of the Real Estate Institute of NSW (REINSW) Tim McKibbin said that while Dynamic Methods provides a range of technology and IT support to the institute, they won't be part of Agent Connect from the launch.

"We will be watching from the sidelines with great interest, however," Mr McKibbin said.

According to Mr Howell, connecting to the real estate institutes allows the website to qualify commenters before they can publish reviews.

“We are able to confirm that the person making the comment has actually dealt with the agent," he said.

“We know who they are so we can give agents a ‘right of reply’, similar to Trip Advisor. Because they’re not anonymous, it’s more of a discussion that can hopefully come to a good conclusion.”

And while the tool will help consumers avoid bad apples, it also helps them find the right agent for their home.

“Consumers can search for properties for sale and it will give you information about the agent who is selling it. So if you’re a vendor looking to sell, you can see which agents are most active in your street or your area," said Mr Howell.

“You can see if the agent has experience selling your type of property - whether it’s a luxury home or a townhouse.”

Agent Connect will be available in early 2014.

 

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