Agents remain relevant in evolving digital marketplace

As the rise of social media has made self-publishing simple, many Australians are considering the value of real estate agents, and whether they can sell or rent their properties without them.

Mark Armstrong
Mark Armstrong says an agent's negotiating skills can be the key to vendor happiness. Photo: RateMyAgent (Image source:

As the rise of social media has made self-publishing simple, many Australians are considering the value of real estate agents, and whether they can sell or rent their properties without them.

But while it may be tempting to save thousands on the cost of commissions, eschewing an agent and going it alone can be a risky strategy because of the emotion involved in selling a home, according to RateMyAgent co-founder Mark Armstrong.

“Selling a property is often an emotion-charged event. You are selling the place you raised your family, celebrated birthdays and big life events,” Mr Armstrong told Australian Property Investor Magazine.  

“This emotion means it’s better to be removed from the negotiation and allow the agent and buyer to make decisions in their own space and time for the vendor's benefit.  

“But I believe buyers and sellers’ biggest concern is cost and they are worried about getting value for the services provided.

“Selling a home is an expensive exercise and it is important a real estate agent clearly demonstrates the value they are providing.”

Mr Armstrong said sellers concerned about paying commissions needed to understand that they are in control of the process, and that the commission is only paid once the property is sold.

A seller’s priority, therefore, should be to ensure the agent’s estimated value of the property is in line with their expectations.

Mr Armstrong said the biggest value a real estate agent can provide to a vendor is their negotiating skills.

“Good agents are expert negotiators who know how to maximise the sale price,” he said.

“Sometimes if a buyer makes an offer that is below your expectation it does not mean the property is worth less it simply means the buyer may not be able to afford your property and they are not the right buyer. 

 “At the same time, you must be aware that if a property sits on the market for a long time it will become ‘stale’ and the seller might need to be prepared to remove the property from the market for a period of time and then relist it to attract a new group of buyers.

“This is where agent selection is so important. A good agent will guide the vendor through this process and make clear recommendations on the right moves to take.”

In addition to concerns about the cost of commissions, real estate agents have come under the scrutiny of homeowners and tenants in 2020, with research showing unhelpful agents ranked highly among the biggest issues for both renters and landlords.

The research, commissioned by newly-launched real estate matchmaking app Dwell , showed that 64 per cent of renters wished they could deal with their landlords directly instead of through an agent.

More than half of the respondents to the survey said that was because it takes too long for real estate agents to resolve issues.

The research also showed that 57 per cent of landlords were open to working with tenants directly, with 54 per cent saying they had trust issues with their real estate agent.

Dwell co-founder Eleanor Meireles said the disconnect between property owners and tenants was one of the factors that led her and Lianne Peters to launch their new app, which removes the middle man and promises to increase trust and convenience for both parties.

“Ultimately, renters are making a huge decision about where they will live, and landlords are looking for people they can trust to look after what is likely their most valuable asset. Yet so many people have had horrible experiences,” Ms Meireles said.

"We created Dwell as we believe in a kinder, gentler and fairer rental market for all. 

“Ultimately, it’s clear that most landlords and renters want to do right by one another and Dwell will help them do that - and cost less in the process.”

Ms Meireles said creating more accountability was key to the co-founders’ vision for Dwell, which is initially available in New South Wales, and will be rolled out to other states shortly.

Renters can use the platform to apply for properties, upload required documents and lodge maintenance requests.

“Dwell allows renters and landlords to search for the property or renter that’s right for them,” Ms Meireles said.

“We believe Dwell is the perfect tool to embrace the currency of trust creating the rental market the industry so clearly craves”

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