Much more than mar­ket­ing

Elite Agent - - FIRST PERSON - Peter Hanscomb

SOME YEARS AGO, IT was set up that real es­tate agents in Aus­tralia should be per­ceived as prop­erty mar­keters. This was prob­a­bly the worst thing we could have done; in­stead we should be po­si­tion­ing our­selves as ad­vi­sors and ne­go­tia­tors, says Belle Prop­erty CEO Peter Hanscomb.

Yes, as agents, we do mar­ket prop­erty; but it's is one of the eas­i­est things that we do; and it is one of the things that is saleable through tech­nol­ogy. Yet we seem to have pri­mar­ily po­si­tioned our fee around this part of our job.

We should not be seen as prop­erty mar­keters, but as ad­vi­sors and ne­go­tia­tors. That is the cor­ner­stone of what we do. We give peo­ple ad­vice on how and when they should mar­ket their prop­erty and how their prop­erty should be pre­sented for sale. But, the best agent is the best agent be­cause of how they han­dle the ne­go­ti­a­tion be­tween the prospec­tive buy­ers and the seller.

It is this part of our busi­ness that has been un­der­rated and un­der­sold, and I be­lieve that is how we need to be seen as an in­dus­try in the long term. We should be one cen­tral body, cul­ti­vate highly pro­fes­sional agents and de­mand full li­cences for ev­ery sales­per­son, not just a cer­tifi­cate of reg­is­tra­tion. If we do all of this suc­cess­fully then the ven­dors are go­ing to get the best price.

Our very com­pet­i­tive mar­ket­place has down­graded what we are worth be­cause we use fees as the big dif­fer­en­tia­tor, in­stead of the qual­ity of the re­sult. We are be­com­ing a so­ci­ety that de­mands un­re­al­is­tic con­sumer ser­vice, and un­less we step up and show what we are worth, and why we are worth it, then we will only go back­wards.

The way we speak about our agents and their role has a last­ing im­pact on the pub­lic's per­cep­tion of our busi­ness. We only need to look to Canada to see how us­ing the right ter­mi­nol­ogy not only changes how the pub­lic per­ceives the real es­tate in­dus­try, but the value they place on our ser­vices.

Canada op­er­ates around the Mul­ti­ple List­ing Sys­tem (MLS), with the sell­ing and buy­ing agent achiev­ing a com­mis­sion rate of be­tween six to seven per cent on each trans­ac­tion. Cana­dian real es­tate com­pa­nies main­tain a high level of pro­fes­sional per­cep­tion be­cause they have lob­bied strongly to be recog­nised, they are bet­ter trained and they have dif­fer­ent ac­cred­i­ta­tions.

Some years ago, RE/MAX, the lead­ing Cana­dian group at the time, in­tro­duced a tagline, ‘Canada's #1 Ne­go­tia­tors'. It was fol­lowed up with a series of peo­ple be­ing in­ter­viewed about their ex­pe­ri­ences with RE/MAX agents in Canada. This po­si­tion­ing state­ment saw the group grow from about 27 per cent to 43 per cent mar­ket share across the coun­try, with a com­mis­sion rate of over six per cent on an av­er­age deal.

Un­like Aus­tralia, one cen­tralised body rep­re­sents the in­dus­try in Canada. The group lob­bied ex­ten­sively about the po­si­tion they have with the Govern­ment and with the com­mu­nity, and worked hard on recog­nis­ing peo­ple who have gone for higher cour­ses in­stead of go­ing through des­ig­na­tions. This has con­trib­uted to the agents be­ing less vul­ner­a­ble to dig­i­tal dis­rup­tion, as peo­ple wouldn't take the risk of a sec­ond-rate ne­go­tia­tor through a dig­i­tal plat­form han­dling the sale of their prop­erty.

One of the other big dif­fer­ences in Canada is that there is no out­lay or risk for the per­son who is putting the home on the mar­ket. In Aus­tralia, we are forced to ask the seller to fund ad­ver­tis­ing and all other mar­ket­ing up­front; there­fore the more that is paid up­front, the lower the fee on the other end. In Canada, where the risk is on the agent, they can keep, main­tain and pro­tect a much higher fee base.

If we po­si­tion our in­dus­try in Aus­tralia around a cen­tral body and de­velop an ac­cred­i­ta­tion and ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem that is gov­erned by the in­dus­try, we will be able to raise stan­dards and pro­mote agents with the

The best agent is the best agent be­cause of how they han­dle the ne­go­ti­a­tion be­tween the prospec­tive buy­ers and the seller.

best ex­pe­ri­ence, ed­u­ca­tion and re­sults. Fees will be re­struc­tured to re­flect this.

Be­ing per­ceived as a more pro­fes­sional body, as ad­vi­sors and ne­go­tia­tors, we will be able to keep the dig­i­tal dis­rup­tion away from us as well. It won't be about which por­tal we are on or what so­cial mar­ket­ing cam­paign we're run­ning; it will be about the strength of our pro­fes­sional ad­vi­sors and ne­go­tia­tors. That is what will de­ter­mine how we pro­tect our fee and how we move for­ward as an in­dus­try.

Peter Hanscomb is the CEO of Belle Prop­erty.

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