Buying or selling property is, for many people, one of the most important and emotional transactions they will make. Yet until now, exactly how to find the right estate agent to assist in this process has been unclear.
One Brussels-based company, Smooved, has now launched a platform dubbed the first "Tripadvisor for real estate agents," that aims to match property owners with real estate agents in their neighbourhood based on reviews.
"When you search the internet for an estate agent, you are either bombarded by advertisements that focus solely on commissions, or you are lured by portal websites where estate agents pay to appear exclusively in your results. Estate agents are difficult to compare," the platform's co-founder Nathan Coox said.
In Belgium, three in four properties are sold through a real estate agent. In 80% of cases, word-of-mouth is the most important factor that leads a person to choose a particular estate agent. Almost two-thirds of prospective buyers sign a contract with the first estate agent they meet.
Catering to expectations
The independent HouseMatch platform includes various key criteria that sellers or buyers usually look for. These include reputation, communication and ways of working to help people make the right choice, rather than the first and easy choice.
Thousands of reviews of more than 5,000 estate agents throughout Belgium have been collected on the platform, which asks people buying or selling a property what their expectations are, as well as more information about the property they are offering or looking for.
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Based on this information, and using artificial intelligence, property owners are matched with the agencies that best match their property and personal expectations. The platform includes a map to locate estate agents.
"Unlike other websites, HouseMatch does not get money from estate agents to be recommended or ranked higher. The experiences of other sellers or landlords are decisive."