Industry leader warns of Uber-style threat

Real estate’s “attractive commissions” will be targeted by disruptors unless the industry improves its education standards, an industry leader has argued.

Real Estate Institute of NSW chief executive Tim McKibbin says “the storm clouds are gathering” for real estate, which could be disrupted in the same way that Uber did to taxis and Airbnb did to holiday rentals.

“The attractive commissions in our sector are drawing huge interest from those who think they can replace an agent with an online solution. We would be naive indeed to think that we can't be replaced,” he told

“There are technology providers that argue that their app can replace a valuer; we’ve all seen and used them. Can these apps do as good a job as a qualified and experienced valuer? Clearly, no. But they are a lot cheaper and are immediate.”

Mr McKibbin said the real estate industry is helping the disrupters by “dumbing down” its education standards.

Vendors regard agents as valuable because of the knowledge they bring to the complex sales process – but this value proposition could be undermined if consumers realised just how easy it was to qualify as an agent, according to Mr McKibbin.

“The greatest weapon we have at our disposal is education. Let there be no doubt: knowledge is power. If we don't have it and bring it to the transaction, then some clever 16-year-old will invent an app that will replace us,” he said.

“Unless we create the environment where our value is unquestionable by virtue of our expertise, advice, knowledge and skills, then watch out.”

[Related: Online middlemen will ‘significantly disrupt’ industry]

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