It’s not too hard to sell real estate in Australia these days – even parking spaces can fetch up to $120,000. However, with online listings widening the real estate agent’s geographical scope, competition among agents for the best listings across whole cities is fierce, and it can be difficult for vendors to pick the right agent when they all promise the world.
Sydney startup Vendorable, founded by Harry Lehmann, Jason Weeks, Shane Niu, and Thomas Taylor, has launched a platform aiming to help agents find clients in different areas and vendors find the most competitive agents.
A vendor lists their property on the platform, which real estate agents then ‘bid’ on to be appointed to the sale. They provide an appraisal, their commission, marketing costs, sample marketing material, sales strategy, and a pitch to the vendor.
The platform allows agents to see other bids – though not who the other agents bidding are – allowing them to modify their bids in light of the competition. Unlike other platforms that help connect agents and vendors, Vendorable sees a sale through: when an agent is selected, the agent and vendor then move on to the workspace, or analytics, section of the platform, where the agent can report on marketing activities and the progress of the sale.
Vendorable’s terms of service incorporate a set of agency agreement rules so that vendors enter into an agency agreement when they select an agent, speeding up the sales process. When a sale is completed, vendors can review agents, helping to build an agent’s reputation on the platform and assist with further pitches.
The platform takes a commission of 5.5 percent from agents upon the completion of a sale.
Harry Lehmann, co-founder and chairman of Vendorable, said the development of the platform was a response to the fact that the internet has changed the selling game.
“Apart from really specialised sales, established relationships are less important to the success of a sale than the ability for prospective buyers to search and find properties listed in their browser or app. Along with ready access to property data, this means agents’ geographic scope of work has greatly expanded,” he said.
The idea for Vendorable, the development of which has been self funded by its founders, came through Lehmann’s experience in property law and conveyancing, where he saw the irregularity of information presented to businesses and individuals when they were deciding which real estate agent to work with.
With its focus on agent accountability, Jason Weeks, co-founder and managing director of Vendorable, said he sees the platform as a solution to information problems in the real estate services market.
“At the moment, we’re building a baseline of data comparing expectation and performance between institutional vendors and real estate agents,” he said.
“Vendorable presents vendors with a clearer and bigger picture of what is available in the market. Vendors can view agents’ profiles, which contain other vendors’ reviews and ratings. Each profile also has a Vendorable track record, our quantitative analysis of the agent’s performance on the platform.”
He said that as well as money spent on cutting indirect marketing and the time and effort spent chasing leads, the platform can also give agents an insight into their competition and, in turn, why their stream of work might be suffering.
Vendorable is currently targeting institutional vendors of properties up to the value of $10 million, though the goal is to bring in ‘mum and dad’ vendors and take a significant stake of the $5.7 trillion residential property market.
However, Lehmann acknowledges the startup has a tough road ahead getting real estate agents to adopt the platform.
“It’s a difficult proposition asking real estate agents to change from ingrained business cultures that have the added encouragement for stasis from governments who reserve their work,” he said.
Launched last month, Weeks said the startup has already had some interest from bankruptcy trustees and a number of government agencies in NSW.