The REALITY behind Real Estate “Agent Portals’’

There is a huge difference between an agent referral site that offers a free service to consumers, but charges a referral fee to agents, and a transparent agent ranking site that not only offers a free service to consumers but can also be a free service to agents also (free unless the agent chooses to upgrade their presence – which does not skew the statistics) . The referral sites will only nominate agents who agree to be charged a referral fee, most of the time 20%. The often time-poor consumers who do not have enough time or willingness to do their own research mistakenly rely on these referral sites to put them in touch with whom they believe will be the best agent for the job. However, logic dictates that agents who need these referrals (those that are less well recognised and accomplished in the field and typically do less well) are more likely to subscribe to a referral site than those agents who are sufficiently well connected, recognised and can stand on their own two feet. After all, what agent would be paying a referral fee unless they had to? Although the consumers do not pay a fee to the referral site, it can still cost them a great deal of money by not having the best agent handling their sale. The consumers are unwittingly mislead (because they are not being presented with a full range of top agents) and very likely out-of-pocket too, though they will probably never know it. Those on the front line, the hardworking agents who earn their commission, rather than simply charge it, are also out-of-pocket. The agent ranking sites do not nominate agents, they simply reveal the relevant statistics that a consumer is likely to want to be privy to and enable an informed selection process. As such, referral sites are a significant cost to the industry, whereas ranking sites are not, and referral sites do not provide a transparent platform to enable or assist with an accurate assessment of who the best agent for the job might be, whereas ranking sites can offer valuable statistics and do not exclude agents based on whether there is a fee involved, i.e. there is no conflict of interest. I am an advocate for ethics, transparency and providing consumers with the best possible outcome. With this in mind I cannot condone agent referral sites that operate in a manner which is increasingly giving them a bad name. They should be investigated, regulated and dispensed with, as appropriate. The “if you can’t beat them, join them” attitude will, unfortunately, spell the demise for the industry as we know it, and not in a positive way.