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Network boss challenges online agencies

By James Mitchell
12 August 2016 | 1 minute read

The internet might be a great tool for researching property, but it cannot replace the multitude of ingredients that agents put into achieving the highest prices for their vendors, according to the CEO of a boutique agency.

New players are beginning to rock the real estate boat in Australia. Disruptive UK-based agency Purplebricks recently announced plans to enter the Australian market. Britain’s third-largest property dealer is keen to capitalise on what it perceives as a lack of innovation Down Under. The company offers a flat fee rather than a traditional commission model.

Meanwhile, Australia’s leading commission-free online agency, ASX-listed buyMyplace, has sold more than $1.5 billion worth of property since hitting the market in 2009.

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“The online space is one that I don’t think anyone can underestimate in the future,” Hodges Real Estate CEO Carmel Baker said. 

Speaking to Real Estate Business, Ms Baker said that as a research tool, online is “an absolutely critical ingredient” in the real estate industry.

“What you can’t see online, though, are the intricacies that have made up a value that a house has received,” she said.

“While you can look at numbers and you can search for homes, what you can’t [see] online is why a property achieved a certain price. Or what they did with their marketing to make a difference, [or] the auctioneer they had on the day. All of those ingredients make up the value that a house achieves.”

Ms Baker believes that real estate is one of the last industries in Australia to be significantly disrupted by digital players.

“The travel agents went through it 10 years ago when the local travel agent in High Street shops was under attack from online aggregators. Real estate is one of the last industries in Australia to have this approach made towards it.”

The reality, Ms Baker says, is that in the Australian real estate market people still need to understand all the ingredients that are involved in getting the best price for their home.

“Most people aren’t prepared to gamble on doing it all online.”

[Related: Commission-free real estate group sees surge in listings]

 

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