Online middlemen will ‘significantly disrupt’ industry

Online middlemen will ‘significantly disrupt’ industry

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Agents must lift their customer service if they want to resist the rising threat posed by digital disruption, an outgoing real estate leader has warned.

David Airey, who has just ended his 12-year stint on the governing board of the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia, said the biggest change he witnessed during that time was rapid technological change – and that technology would continue to shake up the industry.

“The biggest threats to the industry are disruptive-type threats,” Mr Airey told REB, pointing to platforms like Sell My Castle and Sell My House that have positioned themselves as middlemen between agents and vendors."

“They’re trying to go direct to the public to attract the leads, which they can then refer to agents in return for a referral fee,” he said.

“That’s significantly disruptive for agents and I think it will be something we've got to watch.”

Mr Airey said that agents will have to be very good at their job if they want to stop disruptors muscling in on their business.

“Agents will need to be very much in the face of their clients and the public in order to attract the business that they've done in the past,” he said.

“There are some very good agents around who market very well, they create very personal and friendly business profiles, and their representatives do very well, and I think the public will always be attracted to those sorts of agents.”

Mr Airey said smaller agencies would probably be less vulnerable than big firms whose business models are based on processing large numbers of transactions.

[Related: Real estate prepares for its Uber moment]

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