Now there’s a new trend springing up: aggregator websites for real estate agents and property managers. If you’re selling, or own an investment property, you’re going to come across them at some point.
So the question is: are they any good?
There’s obviously some merit to the idea, so we aren’t going to shoot it down without looking at the positives.
The clearest benefit is that these websites give you the opportunity to compare reviews in specific postcodes or areas of expertise, or to pick from a number of quotes without having to shop around for weeks.
This is a good thing, and there’s no shortage of testimonials from past users who have nothing but praise for these systems. If you have a straightforward request, then you probably want to use a straightforward online tool. Fair enough.
But beyond the simple “compare now” function, the benefits quickly give way to bigger, quite serious flaws.
The biggest problem with these aggregator sites is that they don’t give users a full (or fair) picture of the market. Even Google itself can be manipulated to favour certain listings in its search results, so it isn’t hard to imagine what’s missing from the aggregators’ results.
If you’re using a quoting website, their business model revolves not around customer service, but around getting agencies to sign up with them for an advertising fee or commission. Not exactly fair.
If you’re on a review comparison site, you’re taking the word of a random selection of internet users – at that, the ones who could be bothered to leave a review of a real estate agency on the internet.
Where’s the human element?
What seems to be missing is the human element. It might sound like a tired cliché, but the real estate business is all about people and relationships, and trust.
It takes time to build a reputation and portfolio of recommendations. Going on TripAdvisor for hotel reviews is one thing, but when people sell properties years or decades apart, there isn’t the same volume (or regularity) of data to give potential clients a fair picture of what an agency might be like.
At Madeleine Hicks Real Estate, for example, we’ve spent decades building a word-of-mouth network. People will go to their closest and most trusted friends and relatives for a recommendation on an agent; it makes sense when there’s tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake.
So next time you see or hear an ad about a real estate comparison site, go ahead and take a look. Heck, start by taking a look at what others say about us on ratemyagent.com.au/agency/MadeleineHicksRealEstate. Click around for a while and see what they’re like. Whatever happens, I guarantee you that you’ll still want to meet your agent, talk to them, get a feel for their character and see if they’re someone worthy of your trust.
You can call the team at Madeleine Hicks Real Estate and talk to a real person at any time. Reach us on 07 3355 6845.