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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Agency comparison site wants to work ‘with not against’ the industry

The managing director of a new estate agency comparison website says he wants to work with and not against the industry. 

Ben Thompson says his site, estateagent4me, has been designed to accentuate the positive, not the opposite, in a deliberate bid to work with the UK’s estate agents. 

The comparison site launched earlier this week and allows sellers in England and Wales to compare agents in their area using a number of different performance criteria.

Users are encouraged to enter their property’s details as well as an ‘estimate valuation’, they are then directed to a page listing ‘the top 50 per cent of local agents’ broken down into average success rate, average time taken to sell a property, number of properties listed and so on. 

Once a seller has chosen their preferred estate agent, they can contact the agent to instruct them through the estateagent4me website to get their property listed.  

estateagent4me is free to use and offers vendors conveyancing at a £250 discount if they contact an agent through the site.

“At present sellers base estate agent performance on instinct, word of mouth and how many boards they see in their local area – this just isn’t enough in today’s marketplace,” says Thompson. 

“estateagent4me provides impartial information about estate agents, regardless of whether it’s a high street brand or an online agent, national firm or independent. Our aim is to help sellers match their needs to the best performing estate agents, for the benefit of all.” 

When asked if agents can choose not to appear on the site, Thompson told Estate Agent Today that the site has had no such requests to date. 

“Our new service does only show the top performing estate agents (top 50%) and so an estate agent either doesn't show at any given point in time, or they feature in the top 50%, meaning prospective vendors are more likely to want to use them,” he says.  

One of the early criticisms levelled at the site is that some agents’ listings were showing them advertising on the wrong combination of portals. Thompson says that since identified, this issue has now been resolved.

He also confirmed that the site has advertising plans in order to increase its exposure to vendors. 

One of estateagent4me’s features will be a monthly Estate Agent Perfromance Index, comparing agents from all over the UK, indentifying which firms are performing best when it comes to asking price performance, instructions and time taken to sell.  

June’s report identifies Move Residential in Liverpool as the agent with the most listings in the UK. It also identifies a number of agents with 100 per cent sales success rates, including Hadlands, Blue Estate Agents and Living Property.

The report can be read in full here

  • Rob  Davies

    It's a decent idea - a kind of TripAdvisor for the property industry - but at the same time I'm a bit wary of the concept. What will the agents be judged on?

    For example, you could have a small agency which sells 3 properties in a month but does a fantastic job with selling those 3 properties. You could then have a larger agency which sells 15 properties in a month, but only does a half-hearted job on most of them.

    If we were judging purely on performance and satisfaction, the smaller agency would win. If we were judging on volume and profit, the larger agency would come out on top.

    I'm just worried it would unfairly benefit bigger, richer agencies with much larger PR teams.

  • Sceptical As Always

    and this is different to all the other agent comparison sites...? yawn.

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    How many of this type of site have we seen propositioned over the years? Too many to count. It is a good idea, but as ever getting vendors to actually use it will be the biggest challenge.

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    Beat me to it, Sceptical As Always!

  • Richard White

    How about a comparison site for the comparison sites? Surely that's the logical next step? We can all spend so much time comparing things and not actually doing anything, that we all devolve into little puddles of primordial soup.

  • Lyn Burgoyne

    Like Rob Davie, I reiterate his concerns. As a small agency we are No 1 for the least amount of Withdrawals, Price Reductions and Fall throughs out of 132 agents in the South West (Zoopla figures for named postcode area), showing we keep our sales together, price correctly and keep our clients happy. How can this be shown on a comparison site?

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    I know we're all trying to be innovative in an often narrow-minded industry, but another 'agent comparison site'? Seems strange and vulnerable to corruption - much the same as that 'rateragent' site. Give it 5 minutes and this and other agent-rating gimmicks will be proven failures.

  • Tom  Harrington

    Another agent comparison site? Really? It's not a bad idea on paper and could attract curious vendors, but realistically will it be a fair representative of all agents? I feel that smaller agents who provide an equally brilliant service may suffer here. What I do think is great is that both online and high-street agencies can be included.

  • Algarve  Investor

    Yes, does seem to be another entrant into an already saturated market. Have any of them actually made a success of it yet?

    You'd think there would be an appetite for this sort of rating site, but it seems to have as many flaws as benefits.

  • Jon  Tarrey

    "and this is different to all the other agent comparison sites...? yawn."

    And this is different to all the other comments moaning about another agent comparison site...how? Yawn.

    It's a good idea. Just because the others haven't been a success - and that could be argued against, I'm sure - doesn't mean this one won't work. Mr Thompson sounds like he's got his head screwed on. Give him a chance.

    Before people book a hotel or go to a restaurant, they have a look at the reviews and make their choice from there. Why not the same thing for estate agents? I can see the potential problems with it, but I don't think the idea should be written off completely.

  • Jon  Tarrey

    @M Barbour - I can see how it would be vulnerable to corruption, but if it was carefully managed and regulated I don't see how it would be too much of an issue.

    On Tripadvisor, for example, if a hotel/restaurant has overwhelmingly positive reviews and one negative review, the negative review is usually taken with a pinch of salt. I don't agree with the notion that one bad review is worth 20 good reviews. People aren't stupid. If they see almost universally good reviews for an agency and one that is bad, they're more than likely to discard that bad review as an anomaly and use that agency anyway.

    I don't think a rating system is a bad idea at all. It encourages healthy competition and allows the public to see which agents offer the best customer service, which agents carry out the most transactions, which agents have the lowest levels of withdrawals.

    It could be done like the university league tables, taking into consideration a number of different variables to calculate an overall score. I understand the concerns of small agencies, that they'll merely get lost amongst the larger, richer agencies, but to solve that issue you could have a separate league table for large, multi-branch agencies, medium level agencies, smaller agencies, and one branch, independent agencies.

    For me, the more accountable estate agents can become, the better their reputation will be.

  • Karl Knipe

    Totally agree, Lyn. I don't think smaller agencies would get the recognition they deserve with rating websites like the above.

    For some reason, despite more and more of them springing onto the market, they don't appear to be making a great success of it. Certainly not in the same way TripAdvidsor or Booking.com manages for the hotel/leisure industry.

  • Neil Briggs

    I don't think it's a bad idea in principle - although I do have quite a few reservations about how it would work in practice. It does, no matter what people, seem ripe for abuse and sabotage. I think these things would have to be carefully managed.

    I'm not sure a TripAdvisor for the property industry is all that needed. It still seems to be done on word of mouth a lot of the time, rather than reviews written by an anonymous person on the internet. If we have clients we've sold a house for and they've been satisfied with the service, they'll recommend us to work colleagues, friends, family, etc. And so on and so forth.

    Obviously online marketing, traditional marketing, the portals, social media, etc, are also vital, but local reputation is key. I'm not sure there's the same thirst for an estate agent rating website, people prefer to judge for themselves or go off the recommendation of someone they know.

  • Tim Gorgulu

    Really don't think the property industry needs another one of these sites. Isn't there enough of them already?

  • Tim Gorgulu

    @Jon - you can't rate estate agents in the same way you can a hotel or restaurant. You're entrusting your estate agent with a your main investment - that level of commitment and risk can't be conveyed in a review. If you go to a bad restaurant or hotel, it's not going to affect your life. You might have a rant about it online, but it's not going to leave you out of pocket to any considerable degree.

    Choosing an estate agent is a whole different ball game. You can't make a major decision off the back of a comparison site. And what if you have clients who aren't necessarily the sort of people who are inclined to leave reviews? Not everyone is. In fact, the people who are more likely to leave reviews are the ones who have something negative to say. So a firm could have many satisfied customers and one or two who aren't happy with the way things have gone. That firm's reputation is then unfairly sullied by two negative reviews, which, no matter what you say, do hold more sway than positive ones.

    That's the way our minds work. If we see a bad review, we get edgy and suspicious and start questioning things too much.

  • Jamie  Humm

    Can't really see the issue with it, to be honest. If I was going to sell my house, first thing I'd do is get online and look up the best-performing estate agent in my area. You want the best of the best, don't you?

    If this comparison website can provide a detailed breakdown of all the agents in my area and give me the best one to go to, then it's done its job, hasn't it?

    If smaller agencies have done a good enough job - and if the comparison is done on a wide range of criteria rather than merely the number of transactions - then they shouldn't miss out.

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    If you are the commenter 'Sceptical as Always' please get in touch with me about your knowledge of Matt Chouwdury/Roy Zohar. We are building a criminal case against them & would appreciate any information you have. You have the right to remain anonymous. Please email stopfraudsubletting@hotmail.com thank you.

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