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New platform Best Agent labelled ‘TripAdvisor’ for agents

New platform Best Agent labelled ‘TripAdvisor’ for agents

Stefan van Niekerk and Marcel Koole, Co-founders of Best Agent

Staff writer

Recently launched, Best Agent, is the brainchild of Stefan van Niekerk and Marcel Koole. The platform claims to enable South African consumers to see which estate agents have sold which properties in their neighbourhoods. Positioning it as the ‘Tripadvisor’ for the real estate industry.

“We wanted to build a platform where consumers can see which properties have sold in their neighbourhoods and where buyers and sellers can review the quality of service they received from estate agents. Reviews play an important role in business, and real estate is no different”, shares van Niekerk.

Are agents biting?

According to van Niekerk, more than 650 have joined the platform already. “The wonderful thing for good Estate Agents is that property sellers can now contact them to sell their properties, instead of the agents having to canvass for listings.”

He goes on to say that on average, South African homeowners sell their properties every 9 years. For decades, the business model followed by the real estate industry was to canvass these homeowners (often for years without success) in the hope that they want to sell their homes at that point in time.

Many resources are wasted this way. Now, the model has been turned on its head, with homeowners being empowered to contact the estate agents when they are ready to sell.

“This model is well established in the USA, UK, Australia and New Zealand, so we know that it works.”

How it works

Estate agents with valid Fidelity Fund Certificates can join. The sales made by member agents are recorded on the platform and independently verified by the conveyancing attorneys, who attend to transferring the particular properties to the buyers.

“In a world where information is the key to success, we believe that Best Agent will empower consumers to make better decisions and help estate agents showcase their successes and attract more business”, ends van Niekerk.

The industry responds

“While we may not have direct experience with Best Agent in our region, we believe that it does have the potential to provide benefits to consumers by supplying them with valuable information. Like “TripAdvisor” for real estate, the platform enables buyers and sellers to assess the quality of property practitioners’ service.

Clients want to work with and seek out seasoned professionals with proven customer service track records – something that we have long since recognised as an essential component of our business and why, at Wakefields, we showcase the expertise of our property practitioners through comprehensive online profiles, achiever titles, and similar incentive programs.

It’s noteworthy to mention that while Best Agent has yet to establish a presence in KwaZulu-Natal, we remain attentive to emerging trends in the industry and will watch its development with interest”, says Myles Wakefield, CEO of Wakefields Real Estate.

Berry Everitt, CEO of the Chas Everitt International property group cautions that “Best Agent is an excellent initiative that aligns seamlessly with our vision as a Group as it is a significant step forward in enhancing transparency and facilitating well-informed decisions within the real estate industry. However, we share concerns about the potential for consumer misuse on platforms such as ‘Hello Peter’ and believe there should be mechanisms put in place to deter the dissemination of malicious or false reviews that could unjustly tarnish the reputation of reputable agents and companies.

This challenge becomes more complex when considering scenarios where individuals, fuelled by frustration or other emotions, may resort to online venting after encountering issues like unexpected delays with municipal plans or rates clearance processes, which have nothing to do with the service provided by their agent. 

In short, we need to see this challenge resolved while always upholding the principles of fairness and transparency.” 

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