The property marketing system seems simple enough doesn’t it? And everyone knows that the easiest way to find a new home is to visit online property marketing sites right?
But what if this is wrong? What if it turns out that house hunters who have registered their interest in purchasing a property with an estate agency are actually in a better position than those who are conducting their own home searches online.
Pre-Registered Searchers Given Preferential Treatment
Recent evidence suggests that this may indeed be the case, with a growing amount of anecdotal evidence emerging to show that pre-registered property searchers are being given preferential treatment when it comes to new listings – effectively creating a two tier property marketing system.
While sellers may believe their home is destined immediately for the open market, some estate agents are actually offering registered buyers the opportunity to slip in with offers before a property has even really become available to view online.
Real Estate Marketing Practice Creating “Unhealthy Inequality”
And while it might seem that this is simply a case of property marketing professionals using their contacts to connect homes with potential purchasers, some industry insiders believe it is creating an unhealthy inequality.
Alastair Helm is of Properazzi.co.nz explained: “[The] real estate industry wants to send a message to the buyers […] get registered with us and we will tell you what is coming onto the market ahead of any competition.”
Preferred Customers Getting the Pick of the Properties?
In practice this means that, while independent house hunters are still able to see masses of property photography, virtual tours and floor plans online, it may be that the best options that arrive on the market are being offered to “preferred customers” who have made contact with agents in advance of starting their search.
There is also a suggestion from some quarters that buyers who have signed up to purchase agency affiliated products, by agreeing to use recommended mortgage providers or solicitors, are being favoured even further, as a recent article in the Sunday Times explained:
Agents Give Priority to Buyers Who Pay
“In an increasingly competitive market fuelled by a shortage of sellers, property experts are warning that it is becoming increasingly common for agents to give priority to buyers who pay for the services of affiliated mortgage brokers or conveyancing solicitors and earn a hefty commission from clients who sign up.”
So what does this mean for consumers?
Certainly it seems that those looking to buy a property might benefit from formalising their search and registering their interest with an agent just in case, while property sellers need to make it clear to their chosen property marketing firm that they want their property marketing materials (property photography, virtual tours etc.) to be made available to the whole of the market from the outset, to ensure the most competitive offers are achieved.
“The industry cannot be allowed to corral the buyers and sellers and force them to come inside their databases to see the world of property for sale…” asserts Mr Helm