Real estate agents could be under threat from a new class of professional hired by vendors needing help to sell their houses and units.
Popular in the United States, the practice of hiring vendor advocates to hold sellers' hands through the sale process, including choosing an agent and attending the auction, is becoming increasingly prevalent here, as reported by The Australian.
It continues the trend of the industry moving towards a US-style market, with vendor advocates and buyer's agents operating alongside, and sometimes in competition with agents.
National Property Buyers Victorian manager Antony Bucello told The Australian sellers distrust real estate agents.
“Some people are uncomfortable with the auction market because of its uncertainty; there is no guarantee the property will sell on auction day,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter what state you live in, some people just don’t like dealing with selling agents.”
Speaking to Real Estate Business, Belle Property Mosman principal and sales agent Tim Foote, who won the REB Award for Sales Agent of the Year (metropolitan), said he has heard of vendor advocates in the industry and has had a bit of exposure.
“I think if real estate agents do a good job then they do build up a trusting relationship with their vendors and therefore the advocate roles are not overly necessary,” he said.
“However, if we as an industry don’t do that then people are going to step in and do a better job than us.
"I think it is a good reminder to us as an industry to make sure we are delivering a magnificent service, where vendors do have confidence in the service we are providing and do trust the advice that we are providing,” he added.
Mr Foote said he thinks the old cliché of real estate agents not being trustworthy only applies to a small proportion of the real estate industry.
“Overall, I believe the calibre [of the industry] is improving dramatically,” he said.
“If agents do a good job the industry will thrive and survive, but if we don’t, then absolutely, we should be nervous that others will step in and do our role better.”
Ray White chairman Brian White said vendor advocates are still a rarity, but he acknowledged the practice is a challenge to real estate agents because if they become popular, agents will effectively lose income.