Does Lead Generator OpenAgent.com.au Cross the Line?

The lead generation site OpenAgent has come up with a somewhat unique point of difference to attract potential sellers but have they crossed the line and gone too far?

Most lead generators follow the simple principle of let us contact 2 or 3 agents in your area but the benefit for the potential seller is a little murky. You see them advertise on the real estate portals and on google and include such sites as www.ozhomevalue.com.au, www.homeguru.com.au, www.myhousevalue.com.au

OpenAgent does it a little differently. If you as a potential seller visits OpenAgent you are tempted with the sales statistics for salespeople in your area. Instead of trying to decypher the dozen or so claims of being number one in your area, you will now be given the insider information of just who is selling what properties in your area. No more guesswork, now sales spiels, just the facts.  They will list all the agents showing you how many properties they have sold in the past 12 months, how many in the past three years, testimonials if they have them on file.  They provide the photo and name of each person, although interestingly, not the office so if a salesperson changes offices their sales stats remain with them. 

I actually think that is a pretty powerful point of difference.  When asked to recommend an agent in an area where I dont know anybody I always do a similar sort of analysis and look for the individual or office making the sales, not the lunchtime legends claiming they are making the sales. 

For this example I have used Parramatta in NSW.  I dont know anybody there but always use it for examples.

PARRAMATTA Real Estate Agents   Page 1   OpenAgent

 (Click image to enlarge)

From this page I can see that if I was wanting to sell an apartment I would want to speak with Steven Fan, John Dahdah and Sam Sayegh as they all have great results and specialise in apartment sales in Parramatta.

This sort of transparency is great and it has the potential to catch out so many self proclaimed legends as wannabees. I have used it to answer a few questions on some of these legends I have come across online and only one has the stats to back up there claims.  I am not sure of their source but I reckon they must be scraping listing information from realestate.com.au and cross referencing the sales data out of each state.

So where is the problem??

The problem is that OpenAgent can only hope to earn money by referring you to a local agent in that area.  What is to stop you as a potential seller using the information they provide and contacting the top 1 or 2 salespeople in your area.

Why do you need OpenAgent?

You dont… OpenAgent provides you the phone number of each salesperson as well as a contact form to send a message.  That’s handy !!!

StevenFan

So whats the problem then ????

Steven Fan’s mobile is really 0411 885 168

The phone numbers provided for each salesperson is not their phone number and any message you type in the send message option is never received by them. The mobile phone numbers are controlled by OpenAgent.  All contact is actually intercepted and sold on to the salespeople as a lead.

Pretending to be somebody for a financial gain is misleading at best and I would like to think would trigger passing off have to think

A quick google on “Passing off” gives me Sweeny Law who explains on this page far better than I can but here is an extract from that page with my underlining and bolding for emphasis.

Passing off is a common law action, which protects goodwill and reputation built up by the use of a trade mark or business name of a product or service.

The elements of the passing off action must satisfy:

  • a misrepresentation;
  • made by a trader in the course of trade;
  • to prospective customers of their ultimate consumers of products and/or services;
  • which is calculated to injure the business or goodwill of another trade;
  • which causes actual damage to a business or goodwill of the trader by whom the action is brought.

Some types of passing off include:

  • a misrepresentation that one person’s goods are those of another;
  • a misrepresentation that one person’s goods are of a particular class or quality;
  • a misrepresentation that a connection exists between a person’s goods and those of another where there is no actual connection;
  • using images or representations of a character or person to suggest an endorsement or a connection between that person or character with the goods where there is no actual connection and/or endorsement.

Essentially, passing off actions involve situations in which a representation is made in the course of trade, which deceives or causes confusion amongst customers either online or in the real world.

Ok.. so I am not sure if this could apply or not, maybe a solicitor can comment but by placing an incorrect phone number down for each salesperson as well as providing a contact form that is never sent to the salesperson they are intercepting and interferring in that salespersons business even though they “may” have helped that consumer identify that agent as being the one to contact.

So what happens when someone tries to contact you through the site and when OpenAgent calls with their hand out you say no.  Do you think it will stop there or do you think that  contact made off your success, photograph and name will be sold to one of your competitor as a lead?

If you want to see the results for your area replace the /nsw/parramatta/2150/ with your state, suburb and postcode from this url. Give the phone number they have for you a call and see what happens.

http://www.openagent.com.au/find-agents/nsw/parramatta/2150/1/best?ch=3&ref=10&oam=95988f81-9323-4fab-acb2-a4e92797c965

If you have a two word suburb then put %20 in between the two words.  This will save you signing up getting all the followup emails.

so for Richmond Victoria the address would be

http://www.openagent.com.au/find-agents/nsw/parramatta/2150/1/best?ch=3&ref=10&oam=95988f81-9323-4fab-acb2-a4e92797c965

and for Canning Vale in Western Australia would be

http://www.openagent.com.au/find-agents/wa/canning%20vale/6155/1/best?ch=3&ref=10&oam=95988f81-9323-4fab-acb2-a4e92797c965

Has open agent gone too far??  Let us know what you think in the comments.

lead generation, openagent, Real Estate

SEO For Real Estate
Listing Leads
Agentpoint Real estate

About Glenn Batten

Glenn Batten is the General Manager at First National Real Estate Nerang and Principal at the First National Real Estate Upper Coomera office and has over 20 years real estate experience and a passion for technology.

Glenn has been writing from an agents perspective on industry issues and covering a range of topics on Business2 since 2007.

26 Responses to Does Lead Generator OpenAgent.com.au Cross the Line?

  1. Michael Smith March 27, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

    This site is not great… I can’t really see the value add here…. you can find the agents name by clicking review.
    The barrier to entry, having to enter an email and copying the design of zillow lacks originality
    There are definitely better options out there….

    • Glenn Batten March 27, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

      I think for a someone looking to sell soon the information could be great first step in choosing agents to interview with. Naturally they have tried to monetise it but when there is a circumstance when a visitor believes they are calling or writing to a salesperson and that is not the case then we have a problem. If they can change their strategy of monetisation then they might be on to something that many prospective sellers might be interested in.

    • Sabrina October 9, 2015 at 10:12 am #

      Open Agents claims to consumers beggars belief, Best Price, Best Agent, Impartial I’m sure the ACCC might have something to say about the wild and misleading claims. Its time this mob starting telling the truth in their advertising. Sure consumers need her in navigating the real estate landscape and agents benefit from receiving lists in an efficient and cost effective way, but lets see some truth in Open Agent advertising

  2. Sean Birkholtz March 27, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

    Absolutely shocking, as a sales rep I feel violated. What if I were to copyright my face and trademark my name?!

    • John Stevens April 1, 2014 at 10:21 pm #

      I think you are over-reacting Sean. I think if anything, embracing the digital age can be advantageous.

      I’m sure the guys in Joondalup like the rest of the country Google Search almost anything.

      I dont think the site provides anything that cannot be sourced by any amateur sleuth using a few Google Searches.

      • Gideon January 9, 2016 at 11:00 pm #

        My problem with the conn that is openagent is that they put an agents face an the website without prior acceptance by the agent. This could imply to the potential vendor that the visible agent wishes to be part of the openagent landscape. This is not the case for many of us, and I know many top agents in WA that have had their details pulled from openagent. Any referrals agents receive from openagent costs them thousands in referral fees which they have to pass on to the vendor

  3. Glenn Rogers March 27, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    Straight off I’m put off by having to enter my personal details, why do you need that information if not to use it somehow for your own benefit.

    It’s very hard to break new ground in the real estate space as it’s all covered, but I wish them luck.

    You really have to build credibility first by offering everything for nothing, no catches, then if it takes off monetise it then,

  4. John Stevens March 27, 2014 at 9:40 pm #

    Love the concept. As a potential seller, I like having a tool that I can use to separate the chaff from the cheese. I’ve come across dodgy agents in my time so I think this will be of use!

  5. Brett Andreassen March 28, 2014 at 9:59 am #

    I am trying to work out how they are running the numbers. There are several agents in my core area (Toowong) that have sold more properties that I have and they are showing that they have done less. I think the numbers are off also.

    Still haven’t had a call back from the Phillipino lady that I left a message for on my ‘number’

  6. Julie Rayner March 28, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

    They seem to have a different format in Qld with no names showing for the agents and a ‘send message’ button as the only way to contact the agent. You can view the agent’s profile which still won’t give you the agent’s name or any direct contact details …. they explain that with, quote “We don’t give away agent contact details freely until we know we are dealing with a genuine person who is looking to sell (otherwise the real estate agents get spammed, and we wouldn’t be able to keep them all on our website)” end quote.
    Personally, I don’t see that this format will be of great assistance to anyone. Without a name, there is no simple way for the potential seller to locate the agent (they can try Googling images … good luck with that) to get in touch with them other than via this site. If they are in fact fielding enquiries and the agent in question refuses the lead there are two problems I can see straight up. 1. The agent gets a reputation for ignoring people, not returning calls or emails, etc from a contact the agent never received in the first place and 2. If OpenAgent then sell the lead to another agent, how does that agent explain the fact that they look nothing like the photo on the website?? Not a good look for the agent either way.
    Further, the listings aren’t in any sort of logical order. They’re not chronological as you can go to another page and find another agent with twice as many sales recorded and they can’t be alphabetical as there are no names showing. So to make sure you have the top performers, you would have to scroll through all pages shown (most areas I searched attract at least 10 pages). Not very user friendly. And the last issue I have with it is the accuracy of the stats shown. I used my boss as an example and I know for a fact that the figures they are showing are way out … on the low side at that.
    So although the concept itself is a boon for potential sellers, it’s been very poorly executed and really offers very little value at all in it’s current format.

    • Glenn Batten March 28, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

      Julie,

      You dont get access to more details like names and property address sold until you give them information and they talk to you.

      • Julie Rayner March 29, 2014 at 11:34 am #

        That explains it to some degree Glenn. I have received an email from OpenAgent with my ‘search results’ which still doesn’t show any information, just a pop up screen, quote “Welcome back! By now, you should have been contacted by one of our experienced customer support team members to help you find that perfect agent.
        If not, you are more than welcome to call us now on 1300 790 941 to have a One on One chat” end quote … and no … I haven’t had any contact from their experienced customer support team.
        So I’m sticking with my original summation. It’s a great concept and I’m all in favour of sellers being able to access accurate and up to date information about agents, however, I question the delivery methods and like you, I also question supplying a phone number which does not in fact connect directly to the agent personally. From my point of view it’s straight out mis-representation and would make me doubt the accuracy of any information supplied by this site.
        And as I said originally, I feel their methods have the potential to damage the reputation of the agent if they don’t buy the lead … the seller will be left with the impression that everything they’ve ever heard or thought about real estate agents is true or that the agent has had recent and miraculous plastic surgery to change their appearance to such a large degree …… and OMG! what could have happened to that poor person to need such facial changes????? (hahahahaha).

  7. Jack serrington March 28, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

    Glenn,
    I tried using the site and you can review an agent without talking to them, without logging in, without anything! That’s a disgrace because it does not have legitimacy then. All you need to do is click escape when the pop up screen comes up and you can go straight to writing a review 😐

    • annabel June 17, 2014 at 9:15 am #

      It is a disgrace, you can review an agent you have never even met, even one that lives in a different state. There was no certification at all, did not even have to give our name, phone number or anything, (just put an x in the name box).

  8. Greg Vincent March 28, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

    In today’s fast-paced world, speed of response is critical when someone contacts an agent to list their home (this site could cost the agent a listing due to the delay in getting the lead in the first place). I think that for OpenAgent to provide false & misleading contact details without an agent’s prior knowledge or consent must be seen to be passing on.’ (illegal)

    Sounds like a business model that will be built via proceeds of crime to me Glenn.(but then again, maybe I’ve been watching a few too many episodes of Fat Tony. hehe :))

    It also provides an important reminder that the online consumers’ BS Detector is always Switched ‘ON’ (especially when researching real estate agents) and transparency/authenticity are vital parts of building trust online… PLUS an agent’s personal digital footprint has now become something that I call ‘THE $ILENT LI$TING KILLER’.

    How it works? Lots of agent’s say that a Listing Presentation is like a Job Interview. Potential Client’s will Google an agent just like employer’s search potential employees/applicants…and they will decide whether you’re in or you’re out of the running for the job.

    Unfortunately, those agencies/agents who purely operate under the company brand umbrella (often an antiquated set of policy/beliefs from the agency or simply laziness/lack of understanding from both the agent and/or Principal) are already missing out on business and will continue to if they don’t get that part right. Just saying. 🙂

    • John Stevens April 1, 2014 at 10:26 pm #

      It does sound like you’ve been watching too many Underbelly shows!

      Given there is mandatory consent agreeing to terms and conditions (http://www.openagent.com.au/terms) I’m unsure what parts of the site is ‘illegal’?

      I do think however that Open Agent does involve ‘holding agents to ransom’ for leads generated via the site. Though that being said, how much is a good lead worth? How much would you be willing to pay to have one that just fell into your lap?

  9. Alan June 14, 2014 at 10:03 am #

    A little off the topic but one of the things I think this article fails to consider is the commonly held notion that the best agents are those who are making the most sales. That in my experience is not necessarily true.

    Often I have found the agents who make the most sales are the ones who are the best manipulators and spin doctors. As one top performing sales agent once said to me: ” I have now mastered the art of deception.” He was referring to his ability to easily convince sellers to do whatever he wanted the to, including accepting the low offers he took to them.

    Personally when interviewing agents I would steer away from the agents with the high profile and most sales chalked up. They more often than not will be the agent who turns up with the flashy car and gold tooth glinting in their smile!

    In my view there is just far too much scope in the real estate industry for the high performers to be rewarded for unconscionable conduct when dealing with sellers. Just head along to any major franchises awards nights and see how ‘sales at any cost’ get rewarded over ‘sales with ethics’.

  10. annabel June 16, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

    The company steals agent profiles from other websites and lists them as their own. Agents do not get asked for their consent to be used on this website. It is identity theft and the organisation works from a very low moral base. There have been several complaints lodged to legislative bodies regarding this organisation and its activities in South Australia. Looking foward to seeing these parasites closed down.

  11. annabel June 17, 2014 at 8:55 am #

    They steal the identity of agents without their consent. We were able to post a fake review on this site for an agent in a different state who we have never met. We did not supply our name, phone number or any details to openagent. Could believe that the review was posted. Be very wary of this site.

  12. Cameron Young August 14, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

    These guys do it much better ratemyagent.com.au

  13. Paul November 12, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

    my recommendation is that each agent should be asking for their profile to be removed until open agent has agreed to their terms.
    from what i have seen so far they are parasites wanting to make money from people that actually do the work.
    ex agents and business people that in their own terms and conditions take no responsibility for any thing to do with the transaction are only after quick money.

    before you respond john stevens what are you actually, a seller in one reply then someone that knows the inns and outs of how real estate works, my guess would be you work for open agent. tacky

  14. Jordan Russell November 19, 2014 at 4:08 pm #

    The concept is admirable, helping people locate the best agents from those claiming to be the best through the use of statistics. I can see a benefit in that, however to give a false impression like they do in relation to the phone number and to convey the belief that the client is speaking direct to the agent is in my view, ‘deceptive and misleading’ at best.
    I had a look at their statistics and find it confusing and poorly conceived. If I am looking for an agent in Paramatta, I want to know who the best performing agents are in that particular suburb, not in surrounding suburbs. So telling me how many properties an agent has sold everywhere does not tell me who is selling the most in MY suburb, its pretty useless in realty and will often provide the wrong agent if you choose based on what they display. Steve Fran for example has sold nearly twice as many properties as anyone else in Parramatta, way more in surrounding suburbs. He is also from the strongest agency according to other more accurate information portals mentioned above, this is useful information. Like everything, statistics can often be interpreted in a variety of ways and I think how they choose to display the available data is confusing and worse, inaccurate. I would not want anyone thinking they are contacting me when in fact I don’t even know about it until someone is trying to sell me someone who was already trying to contact me!

  15. Mike October 22, 2015 at 1:59 pm #

    Thanks john for your insights, is there any truth to the rumour that openagent.com.au is owned and run by Realestate.com.au?

  16. Gideon McSmideon January 9, 2016 at 10:50 pm #

    One of the biggest cons being currently perpetrated on the home seller is that Open Agent is a free service. This is absolutely not the case.

    Open Agent charge the sales agent 20% of their commission on a successful sale. Open agent claim that the agent just absorbs this cost, but the fact is the agent will adjust their commissions accordingly and pass this on (whether they admit it or not is another issue) Of course, Open Agent will claim this is not the case, and probably use grand statements along the lines of “we do not condone this behavior” but the fact is, they have NO CONTROL over the commissions the agent charge, so to claim their fees are not passed on to the seller is utter rubbish.

    After all, why should the agent absorb this massive cost? At the end of the day, you are being charged 20% for what is basically an introduction to your local agent. This is well over 3000$ on an average 600k property. $3000+ for what amounts to a Google search and a few emails. Even easier, just visit your local REIA site (REIWA, REISA etc). Open agent try to legitimize this referral fee by calling it an “industry standard fee”. Whilst referral fees do exist, the claim of an industry standard fee is rubbish: no such standard exists.

    WAKE UP PEOPLE. Don’t be fooled….. Open agent is just another middle man (like Local Agent Finder, Which Agent etc etc) claiming they have these magical databases that will hook you up with the perfect agent. What a load of bull. Some top local agents have opted out of Open Agent all together so you won’t even see these guys in your search! As for some other results…. confusing and baffling would be appropriate responses.

    Watch OpenAgent try and validate it’s existence and industry wide acceptance by using phrases like ” industry-standard fee “. There is no such

    Do your self a favor guys, do a tiny bit of homework yourself and save big bucks. Really. To prove a point, I just did a basic search on Google and REIWA in a suburb I am completely unfamiliar with, and compared these results to the faces shown by OpenAgent. Guess what? Pretty much the same. I just saved myself 3000$ in 2 minutes!! Yay Me !!!!

    As far as money making schemes go, you have to admire these guys. Take a basic review website, hook into readily available real estate agent data, then spend a fortune on advertising to make the public think they are providing a value added service, and watch the $$$ roll in. The saddest part is watching Open Agent try and justify it’s fees with things like “following up with the agent”….. omg……

    Open Agent are basically just trying to take another slice out of YOUR real estate pie. Don’t know about you guys, but I’d like to have a bigger slice of my real estate pie.

  17. Gideon January 9, 2016 at 11:01 pm #

    One of the biggest cons being currently perpetrated on the home seller is that Open Agent is a free service. This is absolutely not the case.

    Open Agent charge the sales agent 20% of their commission on a successful sale. Open agent claim that the agent just absorbs this cost, but the fact is the agent will adjust their commissions accordingly and pass this on (whether they admit it or not is another issue) Of course, Open Agent will claim this is not the case, and probably use grand statements along the lines of “we do not condone this behavior” but the fact is, they have NO CONTROL over the commissions the agent charge, so to claim their fees are not passed on to the seller is utter rubbish.

    After all, why should the agent absorb this massive cost? At the end of the day, you are being charged 20% for what is basically an introduction to your local agent. This is well over 3000$ on an average 600k property. $3000+ for what amounts to a Google search and a few emails. Even easier, just visit your local REIA site (REIWA, REISA etc). Open agent try to legitimize this referral fee by calling it an “industry standard fee”. Whilst referral fees do exist, the claim of an industry standard fee is rubbish: no such standard exists.

    WAKE UP PEOPLE. Don’t be fooled….. Open agent is just another middle man (like Local Agent Finder, Which Agent etc etc) claiming they have these magical databases that will hook you up with the perfect agent. What a load of bull. Some top local agents have opted out of Open Agent all together so you won’t even see these guys in your search! As for some other results…. confusing and baffling would be appropriate responses.

    Do your self a favor guys, do a tiny bit of homework yourself and save big bucks. Really. To prove a point, I just did a basic search on Google and REIWA in a suburb I am completely unfamiliar with, and compared these results to the faces shown by OpenAgent. Guess what? Pretty much the same. I just saved myself 3000$ in 2 minutes!! Yay Me !!!!

    As far as money making schemes go, you have to admire these guys. Take a basic review website, hook into readily available real estate agent data, then spend a fortune on advertising to make the public think they are providing a value added service, and watch the $$$ roll in. The saddest part is watching Open Agent try and justify it’s fees with things like “following up with the agent”….. omg……

    Open Agent are basically just trying to take another slice out of YOUR real estate pie. Don’t know about you guys, but I’d like to have a bigger slice of my real estate pie.

  18. Anna April 8, 2016 at 12:09 pm #

    Do not use Open Agent.

    They are not honest with their customers at all. They are a bunch of leeches trying to make money off hard working real estate agents.
    Open agent claim to put you in touch with the best agent suited to your individual needs, in reality they just put you in touch with any real estate agent you haven’t spoken too, in order to get a cut of that real estate agents commission.

    After going on their website you will be asked to fill in your details so you can go further.
    They will contact you by phone within minutes of filling in those details, they do not want to give you a chance to look through the agents yourself. If you do have a chance to look at the agents on their website before they call you, you will notice that they do not have any contact information for the agents. No name, no agency name, no phone number or email. Just their photo and a ranking position.

    They claim the reason is for the agency’s privacy, but really it’s so they ensure they aren’t loosing any business. You can call the company and ask for an agents name and details and they won’t give them to you. They don’t want you calling real estate agents yourself. They don’t want to miss out on that potential 20% of your agents commission.

    They will phone you and ask you lots of invasive questions that aren’t necessary.
    For instance, who have you spoken to so far. How your experience has been. Have you had any good/bad eXperiences when dealing with any agents or agency. Who is your property manager?
    How much are you hoping to achieve for the sale of your property.

    Open Agent will not introduce an agent to you or any agents from the Agency that you have already met with or contacted.
    They won’t even consider them in their ‘free real estate agent comparison’.
    They will only contact agents you haven’t been in touch with so they can claim a new lead of business and convince the agent to pay for the referral.

    You could have already met with the BEST agent in the area, but Open Agent won’t tell you that.. They will just try to sell you an agent who has agreed to accepting the lead as a referral and have agreed to paying for the lead.

    All the information you give them, they will pass on to the real estate agents they are putting forward as the best agents.

    So before the agent has already contacted you or before you even agree to allowing them contact you, Open agent have already passed on all that handy information they gathered for ‘their own research’ to them.

    They give all this information to their selected agents so they can win you over and obtain the listing.

    The worst part is Open Agent claim to be a free service for home sellers. They are not. They claim to be very transparent and open and honest about the fact they charge the real estate agents 20% of their commission and they enaure you the real estate agent won’t put that fee on top of their own.
    That’s not the case. It depends on the agent, some do not up their commission for Open Agent leads, usually because they already charge quite a high commission and they can’t ask for more. 90 percent of the agents they are working with are bumping up their commission and marketing costs to ensure they are still making enough money for themselves once Open Agent take their cut of the commission.

    Open Agent claims they can save you thousands by using their service. I disagree. Your much more likely to pay more commission and higher marketing costs by using their service.

    Open agent say they want you to choose the best agent to sell your property, in reality they just want you to chose one of their shitty selections so they can make money from their selected real estate agents.

    They lie to and deceive their customers, they lie to and trick the real estate agents they work with.
    Don’t work with them, Don’t use the service.
    You are much better off doing you own research via realestate.com or ratemyagent.com

    When selecting an agent to sell your home trust yourself and your own judgement. don’t trust these parasites.

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