Why Simon Beshara says cloud-based agencies are the way of the future

Leading Adelaide real estate agent Simon Beshara firmly believes he has seen the future in property sales.

A 20-year veteran of the industry, Simon owned a franchise in the city’s west but had grown a little disillusioned with the traditional way of working, despite the business being profitable. 

“Probably like 99 per cent of principals out there, with the red tape, the workload and the profit margin you receive at the other end, you start to wonder if it is worth it,” Simon says.

Always one to keep his eye on changes in the industry, Simon eagerly tracked the growth of web-based real estate brokerages and made the switch to eXp Realty last year.

He hasn’t looked back since, with a booming year in the Adelaide housing market providing the perfect backdrop to grow his new venture.

Founded in the US in 2009, eXp Realty offers a cloud-based model that saves on bricks-and-mortar overhead costs. 

The platform has spread across the globe and launched in Australia in 2019. The brokerage now has 80,000 agents internationally.  

Simon says after 100 years of real estate offices paying people in sales the same way, change was inevitable.

“The web-based model offers so much more for agents and salespeople,” he says. 

“With eXp you get 75 per cent of your commission up until you reach $100,000. Once you go over that, whatever you write is 100 per cent yours.”

Simon started with eXp in June and by September he had reached that cap. 

“You can run your own rent roll and there is a revenue share deal where after 20 transactions above reaching the cap you receive $16,000 in eXp shares,” he says.

“And I work from home. When it puts about 50 per cent more money in the pocket of salespeople every year, it’s a no-brainer that this will be the future.”

Digital disruption has changed business models everywhere, from newspapers to how we watch our home entertainment. 

Simon says eXp Realty is to real estate, what Netflix is to old video chains such as Blockbuster.

“There was an era when you went to the video store and hopefully the video you wanted wasn’t rented out,” he says.

“You hired it for the night and took it back the next day. Look at how much simpler life is now. It’s cheaper, there are no late fees, you pay monthly, and you just press play.”

Simon might have changed his platform but auctions remain an important element of his sales approach.

“This has been a very strong year where everything has sold above everyone’s expectations,” he says.

“I was one of Harcourts leading agents doing auctions. 

“I still do a lot of auctions and pride myself on getting the best possible price out there. Like a lot of agents I saw quite a few auction results at $100,000-plus over reserve.” 

Simon says the reasons behind the record-breaking sales results in the past two years were the result of “a perfect storm”.

“Interest rates were at record lows,” he says.

“Governments were thinking people would be doing it very tough with COVID, Jobseeker was introduced, and people could take up to $20,000 out of their super. 

“That meant a husband and wife who had struggled to save a few thousand dollars in a year now had access to a $40,000 lump sum.”

That was reflected in prices for everything from homes to second-hand cars, furniture and even dogs.

Simon says in one sense it’s surprising that such growth occurred during a worldwide pandemic, but on the other hand, great change often prompts great opportunity.

“Maybe people being able to work from home had a part to play, feeling they needed that extra room or study and that it was time to upsize,” he says.

Simon has seen massive changes in work practice in the past 20 years, starting with the impact of online listings through sites such as realestate.com.au.

He saw many senior agents retire as online listings grew and some that tried to hang on saw their client numbers fall if they didn’t offer the online experience.

“It is hard to imagine now, but (back then) the next big interruptor was mobile phones,” Simon says.

“You would get a monthly bill many pages deep. There would be a $30 charge here and a $40 charge there, and these might be charges for people who didn’t buy homes. When those mobile phone bills were capped people could call the agents directly.

“All of this was aiming things toward the web-based model.”

Once upon a time, an agent needed an office to handle paperwork, administration, to take calls and to meet clients, but Simon says today agents want clients to reach them directly. 

He says a lot has also changed when it comes to marketing.

“When I started out it cost a small fortune to market yourself,” Simon says.

“If you wanted to do an ad or some video content, you would be up for $2000 for a spot on the commercial channels plus the expense of making the commercial. Facebook has changed all that.”

What hasn’t changed is the preference of Adelaide buyers to own a home on their own block of land, despite the exponential growth in apartment living in the eastern capitals.

“Adelaide has remained traditional,” Simon says. 

“The properties with land are the ones that have really gone up in value. Here, the bulk of development has been splitting one block into two or three.

“This is the baby boomer capital with many people from that generation now in their 70s. They live in a house then gravitate towards retirement villages for that lifestyle rather than apartments.”

The move from a franchise to cloud-based platform has re-energised Simon.

“I would say the No 1 word to describe the changes I have seen is ‘acceptance’,” he says.

“You accept that the new technology is here to stay and just move forward with it.

“You learn the new technology and with every sale you start mastering it and your speed develops. Now I can go live with a property in under an hour.”

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Noel Mengel

Noel Mengel is a freelance journalist and author based in Brisbane.

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