June 20, 2013 That Peter Brewer

Real Estate Agents – Who are we kidding here?

If you’ve been near an online forum, Twitter or Facebook page in the last 3 weeks, or virtually anywhere other than under a rock, chances are you’ve heard www.realestate.com.au’s fees will be heading up yet again in July by around 30-40%.  You may have heard it directly from the horse’s mouth, but more likely you’ve also encountered much discussion about the price rise from the countless agents taking to forums and social media to serve up their take on it.  Last I checked there were around 200 comments from agents on The Real Estate Community Facebook group page alone.  ‘Blood-sucking thieves’ and ‘daylight robbery’ are just a couple of terms that seem to have been featuring reasonably prominently in my news feed of late.

Now before you start thinking I’ve taken a leap over to the dark side, let me start by clarifying my position on this.  I would love to establish an industry owned property website that knocked out the need for a middle ‘blood-thirsty’ man, but that’s for another blog at another time.  Right now I want to deal with one thing and one thing only.  While my fellow Real Estate people are bitching and moaning on social media sites and about how hard you work for each new listing and sale only to hand your commission cheque back to these monsters, answer me this… what exactly are you doing with the leads you do get? 

It was recently reported that only 59% of email enquiries are actually responded to by agents.  That’s right, just 59%!  Can you believe it?  You may well believe it, especially if you’re one of the agents ignoring the other 41% of web enquiries.  But seriously, who the hell can afford to ignore 41% of their online leads?  (Q) Is business really that fantastic?  (A) Not from the numbers that I get to see when I visit businesses!

I must admit I wondered about the accuracy of these stats, because really who in their right mind can afford to ignore so much enquiry?  That’s until I entered my own personal trip down appraisal road.  Having decided to list my own property for sale I asked half a dozen agents in the area to provide me with a formal written appraisal.  Fairly standard practice I would have thought.  What followed was utterly astounding to me.  There was one agent who provided me with a proposal that included a $19,000 marketing strategy that heavily featured Courier Mail advertising – accompanied by the note that 90% of their enquiry comes from online marketing.  When I proposed that spending thousands of my hard earned on newspaper advertising that would by their own admission lead to less than 10% of enquiry, may actually be about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike, the agent blankly replied that it would help their agency maintain a strong presence in the Courier Mail.  As keen as I was to pay to have their mugs appear in the paper, I politely declined their generous offer with words to the effect of, “I don’t give a stuff about your presence in the Courier Mail mate – I just want my house sold!”  Needless to say, he didn’t get the listing.

Another terrific response I got was for a $5000 marketing campaign that included absolutely zero reference to professional photography or video.  In fact, nobody at all so much as hinted at quality video or any significant online database.  It’s 2013 and not one marketing campaign suggested video might be a good strategy – yet 90% of their leads come from people searching on the internet.  Am I missing something?


Seriously, is this the crap you people are dishing up every day? 

And these are just the agents I actually got a response from.  On my lonely old walk down appraisal road I was met with some completely irrelevant marketing strategies and… yep… tumbleweeds.

Then there was my joyful foray into the world of buying.  Here I am, a fully qualified buyer who knows what I want and is ready and raring to get a contract happening on a suitable property.  So far I’ve visited 7 open homes.  Now see if you can take a rough stab in the dark as to how many follow-up calls I’ve had from those agents?  That’s right, not a sausage!   I was, however, infuriatingly placed on a couple of agents’ home alert system and received notifications of every new listing from $200K to $2 million.  This was hardly helpful, and in fact did little more than piss me off and provide further fodder for this blog.  Just what are you all doing? Are you looking after your leads, or are you too busy hitting Facebook to tell everyone how hard life is and how hard done by you are?

I’ve had it with so many agents groaning about how they’re being ripped off by the franchise, by websites and by every other Tom, Dick and Harry, and all the while so many are doing nothing to help themselves.

Some simple questions..


  • How about giving your own website a little credibility!  Jump online and check it out now.  How impressed are you?  Would you employ you?  Can I even find you online?
  • How serious are you about the business you’re doing?  Are you giving your own websites the credibility they deserve?
  • Are you giving your vendors the marketing strategies that will actually optimise their reach and maximise their price? Are you promoting their property or You?
  • Are you building relationships and looking after your ‘leads’? (Online or offline) or are you one of the 41% ignoring the business that’s walking into your email inbox and open homes?

If not you’re absolutely kidding yourself! 


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About the Author

That Peter Brewer Peter Brewer is a speaker, educator, digital footprint strategist on a mission (some say crusade) to ensure that smart small businesses and smart business people treat the new digital world with the respect it deserves. Peter is a former real estate agent of 30 years and now speaks across Australia, New Zealand and in the USA on technology and digital media in the real estate industry. You'll find more about Peter at thatpeterbrewer.com

That Peter Brewer

Peter Brewer is one of the few specialists who can think outside his generation