Just another real estate scam


What is it? A money spinner cash for comment con where agents regardless of true professional or ethical standing can buy legitimacy through paid promotions on ‘independent’ (not) agent rating websites to in turn trick an unsuspecting public into listing with them.

How does it work? Websites ‘purporting’ to ‘rate’ agents on ability, which they don’t, sell space to agents on their site (to the highest bidder, the cost of which the sites justify with fanciful claims of lead generation).

The site spins a similar fanciful story to the public (embellished with the usual satisfied client fiction testimonials - any real testimonials that the agent buying the space doesn’t want the public to see never make the light of day because all are subject to paying agent acceptance for publishing) who have responded to the swathe of non-prime time TV ads polluting our screens (some of which are so bad they make you cringe) or to direct marketing.

What’s in it for the agent? Ego wise and professionally the hope of gaining a profile they don’t deserve, they haven’t earned, and also though less so, the hope that they may actually get a listing lead or two.

What’s in it for the website owners? If the scam clicks, they will benefit from what agents pay for the endorsements as well as a large percentage of whatever commission the agent gets from any listings referred to them. If the site really clicks, they will expect one of the media conglomerates may make them an offer to take them over they can’t refuse.

If it doesn’t, like their forebears they’ll grab whatever money they can and run (leaving the usual pool of debt, much of it here to the television stations who ran the ads on spec).

What’s in it for the public? Nothing. Zero! Indeed less than zero when they sell their property for less than they would have got had they hired the right person for the job and not the fake.

How do they get away with it? Well, other than the odd bit of cold calling, they are not doing anything particularly illegal. Morally, professionally and ethically questionable or even reprehensible YES, but illegal NO.

Don’t be fooled. These people are clever, conning both the public and agents in unison. They are certainly smart enough to know they need to throw in some decent agents on to their sites to give it some credibility which they do entirely without their permission (or knowledge). You can easily recognise the latter by the absence of incredible stories of amazing service and results. 

One such site last year we tried to get details of our people removed from for months (the site having simply cut and pasted details of our agents from sites we choose to use - but only for selling). When we finally got a response, it was that ‘we should be happy to be featured because we weren’t being charged like other agents were’. On receipt of that we called in our lawyers but the site folded before they got to act. 

On another probable fly by night site right now the ‘administrators’ say we should be flattered to be listed Number 1 (for Brisbane’s highest average sale price - wrongly quoted at $2.4 million not $2.8 million). 

We may like the accolade but we detest where and how it’s represented. Again we’ve sought its immediate removal but again we are being ignored. Again they’ll probably disappear before any legal action we institute has kicked in.