Comparative sites in Australia are booming – whether you want to compare insurance companies, hotels, tours, or even people, there’s a site. To be noticed in the already cluttered cloud, real estate agent comparison platform RateMyAgent has decided to waive the commission fee and place consumers at the forefront of their business.
RateMyAgent is a website designed to help buyers and vendors identify and research the performance of real estate agents and agencies through comparative reviews and data.
“It’s a platform that allows a potential vendor to type in any suburb in the country and they can find out any information about every agent. We have 10,000 suburbs and over 50,000 agents,” said Mark Armstrong, cofounder of RateMyAgent.
Like OpenAgent, the site lists every agent in Australia and provides a ranking based on those who receive the best recommendations from vendors and buyers. It’s a system that compiles ratings and statistics to demonstrate an agent’s experience and sales skills.
“Rate My Agent is really quite unique because it actually gets really strong support from the agent community. We’ve already had 15,000 agents and 2,500 agencies across the country have claimed their profiles and used the platform,” Armstrong said.
The user interface is similar to a Google search, where consumers can explore the agents or agencies in their suburb, allowing them to understand the industry professionals in their market area.
With property being the number one asset to most Australians, flying blind is risky. For buyers and sellers with no previous property knowledge, it can be a daunting experience.
“It’s really important because there’s a lack of transparency in the industry. When it came time to help a vendor find an agent for their property, even with 20 years experience, we would fly blind,” Armstrong said.
In recent years the industry has sought to tackle the issues of transparency by allowing customers to evaluate agencies and their teams. The success of sites like OpenAgent and Sell My Castle have proved that there is a great need for information and market comparison.
This year, in one month alone 300,000 houses in Australia were for sale, increasing by 3 percent from the previous year. With the amount of property sales increasing the need for comparative sites like RateMyAgent grows.
Sites like OpenAgent have dominated the real estate comparative platform and with RateMyAgent launching in June the need stand out from the crowd is crucial.
Founders of RateMyAgent, Mark Armstrong, Xavier Perronnet and Ed van Roosendaal, wanted to give their site a point of difference and rather than competing with more established sites they wanted to operate side by side.
“We call our website a dating website for real estate agents and vendors,” explains Armstrong.
“We actually facilitate a meeting place for real estate agents and vendors to meet and congregate. We don’t generate revenue by asking the agents to share their commission with us. So we’re not clipping the ticket, we’re not standing between the agent and vendor relationship,” he said.
Rather than taking a clip of the ticket, the startup is monetising the platform through monthly and annual subscriptions where agents can create a premium account which gives them additional services and control over their profile. RateMyAgent’s marketing strategy mostly relies on the basis of self promotion. By providing free service to consumers and free profiles to agents, the startup has gained substantial interest. With 15,000 agents using the platform in August this year, RateMyAgent picked up on just over 30,000 properties sold across the country.
“We get this natural viral marketing flow on effect because the agents have an interest in promoting their profiles,” said Armstrong.
Since its launch, RateMyAgent has posted 80,000 reviews, with 10,000 vendors using the site to help them select their agent.
“Good agents love RateMyAgent because it allows them to show their experience and their feedback from their previous clients. Consumers and vendors love RateMyAgent because it’s something that has been lacking in the marketplace,” explained Armstrong.
RateMyAgent has received marketing from agents self-promotion through social media, newspapers and letterbox drops.Next year however RateMyAgent will put in place a more formal marketing strategy to overlay the already existing self-promotions.
“The online world is constantly evolving. It’s moving grounds and you’re constantly keeping up with changes which is exciting and that’s one of the reasons we love the industry,” said Armstrong.
Image: Mark Armstrong, Source: Provided