Accountability or a race to the bottom?

by Neil Sharma26 Apr 2018

A new technological platform that lets sales agents outbid each other could finally bring accountability to the real estate industry.

Nobul Corporation already has 3,000 registered agents who will be subject to reviews and rating systems similar to those used by Uber and Airbnb. Homebuyers and sellers will register and enter basic information about their intentions, and agents—who tailor offers delineating the services they can provide, from staging and home inspections to commission rates—can then bid on them.

According to Regan McGee, Nobul’s founder and CEO, both real estate agents and their customers stand to benefit from the novel service.

“One challenge for agents today is differentiating themselves from the not-so-great agents, and it’s an opportunity for them to shine, which doesn’t really exist today,” he told REP. “For the first time ever, agents are going to have some accountability with past reviews like the ones used by Uber and Airbnb. And people will have a clear idea of what they’re getting because there’s real incentive for agents to do a great job.”

Nobul went into beta testing in October and only officially launched a week ago, however, it’s already garnered thousands of sales agents. McGee says word spreads pretty quickly, but it certainly doesn’t hurt that Nobul has financial backing from some of the largest real estate companies in Canada.

“We are building an entire eco system and this is the first step,” said McGee.

However, Bosley Real Estate sales agent Davelle Morrison is chary about bidding services like Nobul. She believes that if buyers and sellers use a service like the one Nobul purports to offer, it’s only because they’re looking for the cheapest agent they can find, rather than most competent one.

“It’s a race to the bottom,” she said. “When somebody goes to a website like that they’re not looking for a service, they’re looking for who’s the cheapest. When you go to a website to bid on a service, you’re only going to get it because you’re the cheapest, but you might not necessarily be the best or know that neighbourhood, and you might not have the best interests of the client at heart.”

Morrison says there’s more to taking on clients than offering competitively low commissions and staging plans.

“I want to have a sit-down meeting with someone to ask them about their needs and to show what I can offer, and something online with a quick info piece is not enough for a story,” she continued. “How can I give the best advice if I don’t hear all the parameters of why they’re selling? I’m not just a transactional person. If somebody wants to buy, I want to know why and what their budget is, and give the best advice for them and their future.”

 

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