Consumer Beware!

When it comes time to choose an Agent to sell your property, there are various traditional ways of sourcing the Agent – from seeking referrals from trusted others who have used their services in your area, contacting them direct for an appraisal, and attending open homes in person to compare how competing Agents operate; these all generally work well, as you have personally done some research, that excludes vested interests.

However, there is another way that an increasing number of people are finding an Agent, and that’s via online referrals from real estate portals, such as with services such as Agent Match, for example. This type of method is one to approach with care.

The way it works is it connects sellers with agents in their area to begin the home selling process; the (unstated) implication being that this is sourced from analytical data of who is selling the most, the highest performer, you would assume. However, the reality is, that many of these services are paid for by the agent – so you are not necessarily getting the best agent in your area, you are getting the one paying for referrals…one could also assume, that a truly successful Agent doing their job at a professional successful level, should not need to be paying for referrals via this method – and generally, they don’t.

This means that the consumer will, in many instances, not be put in contact with the Agent who is kicking the most goals in their area – instead, the Agent paying for the lead to the website company.  Is this disclosed?  Rarely.  In this sense, it can certainly be quite misleading.  If an agent decides not to take on a listing because of the fee, the vendor is only told the agent declined to appraise their property.

On a final note, it is not just happening in the online space; there are also onsite managers of unit complexes, contacting an Agent (who then pays them a fee) when another Agent visits to do an appraisal.  Once again, there is concerns around disclosure here…so always be mindful who is giving you advice in this referral space, and what is in it for them.

Ultimately it is your choice how your source an Agent; but just be aware of the lack of transparency around third-party referrals, the monetisation involved, and its limitations, when it comes to finding the actual best Agent to sell your property.  You cannot beat good old-fashioned, proactive research, as outlined in the first paragraph.

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