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To market, to market

If you were to take the private treaty offer process online and then throw in a few more transparency and time-saving ingredients for consumers, there is a good chance that it might look like Marketbuy - the AREAs Game Changer of the Year winner for 2018. Creator David Stewart explains where the idea came from, and where it’s headed next.

Bread, milk, butter and a house.

That may seem like a highly unusual, if not impossible, shopping list but modern technology has combined with the smarts of a Melbourne real estate innovator to make it possible to buy a home at the same time as picking up the groceries.

Market Share Property’s David Stewart won the Game Changer of the Year award at the 2018 Annual REA Excellence Awards for Market Buy, a website that facilitates offers for private treaty property sales.

The first and most technologically advanced online offer management system created, Market Buy has won a string of awards for its ability to link vendors and buyers and create greater efficiency and transparency throughout the offer process.

“We aim to make the whole process easier, more transparent and simpler for all concerned,” David says.

“The more comfortable a consumer is in a process, the more likely they are to make their best offers.

“The world has changed significantly in the past five years and now is the time for the real estate industry to offer a thoroughly modern and convenient way to buy real estate … We, for the most part, are still completing negotiations and transactions in much the same way as we have done for the past 50 years.

“We still expect buyers to make blind offers without knowing where they stand and we still compel our consumers to trawl through a mountain of paperwork just to submit an offer.”

With Market Buy, potential buyers register and, once approved by the selling agent, are able to make an offer on a property.

Those buyers can then see if an agent makes a counter offer or another potential buyer submits an offer of their own.

Those buyers that are registered but yet to make an offer can’t see this information until they make an offer of their own.

“It just makes sure that all of the information is delivered to all the stakeholders in a transaction quickly, efficiently and it removes a lot of the secrecy around the offer process,” David says.

“It allows people to engage in the offer process from any device and any location and at a time that suits them. So we remove a lot of the barriers to entry for both the buyers and vendors as well.”

We can create almost a fear of loss that’s really difficult to do over
the phone.

Back in the beginning

David started in real estate as a sales agent almost 20 years ago, rising through the ranks with Barry Plant.

He owned his own offices before selling up in a bid to find further challenges and opportunities.

“I looked around one day and I thought ‘this could be Groundhog Day’,” he says.

“I could just end up doing the same thing day in and day out and, I don’t know if I put a whole lot of thought into it, but I sold the offices and travelled for a year.”

The time was 2010 and David was in the US to witness the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis. It’s this point that changed the direction of this real estate career.

“I had a look and saw what the Americans were doing and it struck me that real estate could be a little bit different,” he says.

Back on home soil, David told his wife of 18 years, Leesa, he was going to set up a new office and experiment and see what was possible in real estate.

“I just wanted to play,” he recalls.

“I just wanted to see what we could do, what we could get away with and what was possible.”

When an old footy mate arrived at his office and asked David to sell his house in just two weeks, he listed it immediately and just days later had 10 interested buyers in what was a ‘hot’ Melbourne market.

He spent an hour with each buyer and after two days of signing offers up he presented them to his friend and the property was sold.

It was in the aftermath of that sale that the seeds for Market Buy were first sown.

“I rang through all of these buyers and out of the people that missed out I think three or four of them turned around and said ‘I didn’t believe you had that many offers’ and ‘I would have paid more, can I pay more?’

“So that’s where it started and after two months of being open I turned to my wife again and I said ‘there has to be a better way’.”

For the next six months, David worked to find that better way and Market Buy was born.

After substantial testing with his own office’s sales, he discovered the platform needed greater flexibility and control for agents that gave them the ability to set sales parameters and change those parameters as the sale moved forward.

Strength to strength

Market Buy was released to the wider real estate community in May 2017 and now has 650 agents across Australia and New Zealand with accounts.

One of the success stories to come from the platform is the sale of an Ipswich home, which sold to a buyer while she was doing her grocery shopping.

Having attended an open for inspection earlier that day, the buyer registered to make an offer and did so as soon as the chance arose.

She also then accepted the agent’s counter offer while still putting items in her trolley.

“She walked out of the place (the supermarket) having bought a house,” David says.

“The agents prepared contracts and DocuSigned those contracts over to the buyer and it was all completed that day, which is really quite powerful.”

Despite its stunning success, you will be forgiven if you haven’t heard of Market Buy as the platform’s ‘white label’ approach to marketing sees agents able to brand and name their own accounts to give them marketing ownership and present themselves as innovators rather than as just using a third party site.

Stockdale & Leggo refers to it as Click & Bid, while @realty calls it Click to Buy.

David says to get the message about registering offers out there prospective buyers had traditionally been targeted via an SMS blast sent to people who had attended an open or private inspection.

“That’s an evolving process, we’re working really closely with Eagle at the moment and we’ve just released new features that allow, if you are running Eagle CRM and Eagle websites, you to have a buyer registration button on the page,” he says.

He said Market Buy was also an added tool in an agent’s arsenal in a tightening market, with the platform giving agents the ability to set time limits on offers.

“We can create almost a fear of loss that’s really difficult to do over the phone,” David says.

“We can say to them, ‘This counter offer is only valid while you’re the single bite. If another buyer comes along at any time and submits an offer your ability to accept that counter offer will lapse and it will transition into a multiple offer situation’.”

Looking to the future with Market Buy, David says they are continuing to work with third parties such as Rex and realestate.com.au to integrate their software, which makes the platform easier for agents to use and utilise for self-promotion.

He says Market Buy’s superpower is that it replicates human interaction but simplifies the process and makes it more efficient and transparent.

“We took a really difficult path and I think that’s why we got recognised. We wanted to take what was very much human interaction and apply a digital process to it, but we had to do it in a way that replicated a lot of the communication that agents already did,” David says.

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Deputy Editor at Elite Agent.