Elite AgentTECH + SOCIAL

Purple Pain: Simon Whale

COULD REAL ESTATE AGENTS actually owe a debt of gratitude to online disrupters? Property technology specialist Simon Whale from Reapit in the UK explains why he’s in a love-hate relationship with Purplebricks.

I’m thinking of going on Shark Tank and asking for $50m for a unique time management tool that would save real estate agents many hours of their lives, whilst offering only 2.7 per cent of equity. Of course I’m a Pom, not inherently stupid. Brilliant in its simplicity, I’d have them all lined up to invest, when I would suggest that all agents need to do is not talk endlessly about Purplebricks.

A billion monkeys typing on a billion typewriters for a billion years still couldn’t create the same volume of guff either spoken or written about the likes of Purplebricks. We’re three years further down the curve in the UK but there’s barely a meeting between two real estate agents that doesn’t inevitably descend into a debate, critique or threat of war against the online menace.

I don’t hate them; I absolutely love Purplebricks. Hello? Anyone still there? I’ve said it. I’ll forever be known as the guy who outed himself as Purplebricks-friendly.

But more specifically:

  • Do I like their low fee structure based not on success but just on winning the listing? No
  • Do I like the local experts seemingly based in a different time zone? No
  • Do I like the way they handle their review sites? No
  • Do I like their lack of transparency over their own success figures? No
  • Do I like some of their tech? Hell, yeah

The reason I love them is that they have forced agents the globe over to truly start to understand what it is that they do so well in justifying their fees to vendors. Finally, the time to be clear in our message to the vendor has never been more necessary because online agents have forced our hand.

“It’s not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” It doesn’t matter that Darwin never actually said this oftenquoted sentence, because it still hits the nail on the head.

At a time when consumer service expectations are at an all-time high and agency competition is stronger than ever, traditional models are coming under scrutiny. To successfully acquire and retain customers, agents must recognise these new dynamics, adapt and evolve to become more flexible and responsive.

Real estate is a people business and always will be, but that doesn’t mean new technology shouldn’t be embraced. In the UK, agents were quick to dismiss online disruptors because their cheap, low service model was something that wouldn’t appeal in a market that deals with highvalue assets. Three years on, Purplebricks are now the third biggest estate agent in the UK and causing a tide of change.

Agents should see this as an opportunity to evaluate their service offering and consider what more they could be doing to add value to their service and combat a future threat from online disruptors.

Reapit have launched RPS Digital Solution, designed to help traditional agents compete against online agents. It’s an end-to-end solution for selling property online that is fully integrated with our RPS CRM system. It complements your existing service model, so you can use it to give customers access to key information about their property transaction anywhere, anytime – in the same way that online banking works.

The key features of the online solution include live booking facilities for appraisals, digital signature technology for signing contracts and 24/7 visibility of marketing.

Then we have our Lead Importer, automatically importing leads from the likes of realestate.com.au, Domain and your own websites, saving time and effort rekeying buyers into the CRM system and giving you the best possible chance to impress a buyer – who of course may also have a property to sell not yet on the market – by your speed of response.

Complementing this is our autoresponder on steroids called Property Pulse, providing instant professional responses to email inquiries to create a great first impression before anyone else does.

As the eagle-eyed among you will no doubt have been ranting throughout this article, I concede that me giving oxygen to the online agents kind of defeats my own original point. As such I’m out…but please check out our client tools at reapit.com.au/unifiedcrm .

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Simon Whale

Simon Whale is the Founder of Kerfuffle - a boutique agency that helps estate agents discover new suppliers.