Agent finder websites need to be transparent about their fees


By Hayden Groves – REIWA President

The perception of agent finder websites is that they are a ‘free’ service that connects sellers with agents. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Commercial agent finder websites require the agent to pay a fee and vendors should be made aware of how this impacts them.

While on the surface it appears vendors don’t pay to use the services of an agent finder website, this is not necessarily the case. There is a lack of transparency from these websites, which promote that they are a ‘free’ service, because the consumer ultimately pays for the cost of the service down the track.

The real estate agents who agree to take leads via these sites are charged about 20% of their commission. These agents then seek to increase their service price to cover this cost, resulting in the consumer bearing the brunt of the agent finder service charge.

Last month, after it was revealed the Commonwealth Bank had entered into a partnership with one of these websites, the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) made a submission to The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry about this very issue.

In its submission, REIA said it was disappointing that the Commonwealth Bank had partnered with an agent finder website, considering financial advisers were obligated to be transparently remunerated by the client. They said agent finder websites should be treated the same as financial advisers and called for them to be directly remunerated by the vendor – not the agent.

REIWA is in full support of REIA’s submission. Agent finder websites should be 100% transparent about their fees so the general public is clear on exactly what they are paying and what those costs are for. Vendors should be paying the fee upfront, not disguised as part of the cost of hiring the agent.

We believe connecting vendors with real estate agents is an important service, which is why REIWA launched the 100% free (for both client and agent) www.reiwa.comAgentFinder in 2016 as a genuine alternative to commercial agent finder websites.

Vendors should be connected with the best real estate agent for their requirements – not just those who are willing to pay a fee to secure a lead.

If you’re searching for a real estate agent online, keep in mind that these commercial websites are not the vendor advocate they purport to be and be aware that using their services comes with hidden costs.

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