Hiring a property agent? Let them bid for the job online

PHOTO: Hiring a property agent? Let them bid for the job online

SINGAPORE - The days of sifting through hundreds of advertisements to find a property agent could be gone if a new website has its way.

The site - hirepropertyagent. com - allows agents to bid for the chance to represent a client.

This upends the usual process, which involves a buyer or seller browsing through ads or asking for recommendations.

They then have to negotiate over the commission payable to the agents for their services.

But trying to find an agent out of a pool of thousands is often a tedious and lengthy process, which prompted website developer Ezekiel Chew to devise his site.

"Sellers and landlords can post information on their property on the website and state their expectations, and agents who fit the bill will apply for the job," he said.

This means stating the size, location and type of property up for sale or rent.

Agents interested in the job have to state the commissions they expect in their application. They can also try to stand out by uploading a personal profile and a track record of properties they have sold or leased out.

"At a glance, sellers and landlords can see how much each agent is charging and the reasons they should choose them," added Mr Chew, who started the site on Oct 5.

Buyers looking for a property can also state their preferences on the site and wait for interested agents to contact them.

The site has built up a list of about 1,000 property agents since its launch and facilitated about 50 pairings.

Mr Chew said he had invested $250,000 to set up the website, which generates income from agents paying annual membership fees as well as ads.

But the website has also received criticisms, with some agents complaining that their profiles and photographs had been uploaded without their consent.

The Council for Estate Agencies said it is investigating the claims, adding that regulations relating to advertising apply to the Internet.

Century21 chief executive Ku Swee Yong said the site is simply another new tool for clients and agents.

He noted that there might be more competition among agents if a substantial number of clients post their requests on the portal.

But he added that more than one agent may be appointed for a range of fees and the deal might not make much business sense in the end.

He also cautioned: "Sellers also have to realise that agents with the best services do not cut fees, as they are usually too busy to take on cheap deals."

ocheryl@sph.com.sg


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