The Council for Estate Agencies recently launched its “Guide on Best Practices for Consumer Ratings of Property Agents” to provide an industry standard for the rating of property agents.
The guide includes details on the three key attribute categories – Service, Professionalism, Skills – as well as the safeguards and due processes required to improve the veracity, timeliness and comparability of ratings and reviews across platforms.
As part of CEA’s initiative under the Real Estate Industry Transformation Map, the guide was developed over an 11-month period by the Ratings of Property Agents Workgroup (RPAWG), a multi-stakeholder workgroup led by the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA).
CEA says the guide has two main objectives. It aims to build trust among users of platforms for the ratings of property agents, including consumers, property agencies and agents; and spur property agents towards a higher level of professionalism and quality of service.
OrangeTee & Tie (OTT) is a member of the RPAWG and is one of the early adopters of the Best Practices Guide. OTT has committed to incorporating the guidelines and recommendations into its existing PropertyAgentsReview.com platform.
Property Agents Review – The pioneer in promoting transparency and professionalism in the real estate industry
OrangeTee & Tie has come a long way in its efforts to improve the transparency, accountability, and professionalism of the Singapore real estate industry, since the launch of its Property Agents Review (PAR) platform in February 2016.
PAR was the first of its kind in the Singapore property market at that time – the only platform that allowed consumers to search for a suitable property agent based on honest reviews from verified customers. The platform took customers’ need for peer reviews in their day-to-day transactions, adapted it for their property transaction needs, and upended the traditional method of finding property agents – via word-of-mouth recommendations.
How has OrangeTee’s PAR performed so far?
Since its initial launch, PAR has gained much traction among its agents. The platform now has over 27,000 authentic reviews left by customers with verified transactions. Its user-friendly features have allowed agents to market their services effectively, regardless of how long they have been with OrangeTee.
Jacq Ng – an experienced real estate agent who joined OrangeTee over a year ago– says she has been able to use PAR to increase her exposure on social media. “Even though I have only been on PAR for one year, I can see how it can potentially help me out in my business.”
Thomas Ang is among the most highly reviewed agents on PAR, with over 100 verified reviews. By his account, nearly 40% of the deals he closed were influenced in some way by the positive reviews his previous clients have left for him.
“PAR as a service review platform is akin to a LinkedIn page where your individual work experience and endorsements are published for others to view and verify. It has really helped me to gain an edge over the other 30,000 real estate agents, both from OrangeTee and other agencies,” he explains.
“Another thing I like about PAR is its Geographical Targeted Area (GTA) reviews, which shows clients who are the experienced agents actively closing deals in that locale. In the past, agents liked to give themselves monikers like “Toa Payoh HDB King”, but that is no longer allowed under CEA marketing guidelines, and the GTA feature provides an effective alternative to that.”
Greater transparency turns to greater trust
In fact, many OrangeTee agents were quick to embrace the platform, because they understood the importance of having honest reviews to gain the trust of their prospective clients, and have also seen the snowball effect of positive reviews on subsequent transactions.
Michael Ciola has closed several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of transactions from clients who found him through PAR, and says the platform has helped his business “immensely”, by growing his name and his brand in the industry.
“I was confident of PAR from the start, and could hardly wait to have clients participate by submitting reviews of both my service and performance,” says Ciola. “It is an opportunity for our clients to talk about their overall experience, and allows us – the agents – to learn how to improve.”
“I like to send the reviews to prospective clients who have been referred to me by my past clients, as an added reassurance that they are in good hands, and are making the right decision to engage my services.”
“PAR has given me the best results,” says Alifmirzan Kamarudin, who added that more than 80% of his clients found him through PAR. “Many of my elderly clients were referred to me by their children who read my reviews and decided to engage me.”
In fact, there was one incident that left a deep impact on him.
“One of my clients had been really afraid to engage an agent as the family had previously been cheated by an agent who left them homeless. It was one of the client’s children who checked out PAR and called me up.”
“For this family, they felt it was good to see reviews of an agent from their past clients because the testimonials help them to see how that agent works.”
Putting customer needs above commissions
The biggest difference between a transparent review platform like PAR, and other forms of marketing, is that the former rewards agents who put their customers’ needs first. The reviews themselves also become a form of affirmation and reward for agents’ efforts.
“I am often overwhelmed by my clients’ words and accolades when they leave me reviews, and it gives me a lot of pride and satisfaction in what I do,” says Ciola. “A few of them even left me feeling emotional and teary-eyed with joy and happiness, because I was able to be a part of their move to Singapore, and assist them in the search for their ‘Home away from home’. I am always very grateful for their trust. It is the same for my sellers, who entrust me to handle the sale of their prized property.”
Even with his years of experience, Ang still feels flattered by the reviews he receives. In a recent estate property sale, Ang was able to close the deal in 9 months while other agents took 1.5 years. His client commended him for his sincerity and integrity throughout the entire transaction and added that he deserved 10 stars instead of the 5 stars available on PAR. “That review left a huge impact on me because those are some of the personal values I uphold. I personally believe in treating others with “sincerity and integrity”, even in my everyday job.”
A step in the right direction
“Many OrangeTee & Tie agents, who believe reviews are part and parcel of our future business, have already benefitted from this open platform,” says Ang. “Moving ahead, I believe this will help OrangeTee & Tie retain talent, and bring PAR to the next level.”
“In the future, I hope to see an uplift of the professionalism within the real estate industry, so we will no longer be known as salespeople, but as professional property consultants.”