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Why OpenBrix delivers the solution to the Agents frustrations.
There has been a lot recently said and expressed by many of the UK’s sales and letting agents on the current value received from the current UK portals. There has clearly been a massive disconnect between the agents with one or two of the larger portals that has grown over several years. A recent poll on the Facebook “Boycott Rightmove” forum, with over 1,100 agents, listed the main issues as being largely led by perceived overpricing but also hotly followed by a lack of customer service. I say perceived, as one must recognise the value the portal brought after similar charges were fed to agents from local papers and magazines. The issue for me is though that we now know the value of the data we have given to portals to enjoy and to a decree they have been rumbled. Will they now take a long hard look at their pricing model’s? I suspect their shareholders may have a problem with a reduction.
The current Covid-19 situation has forced a complete shut-down of the property market as we have known it. Every agent is trying to carry on “virtually” one way or another and the likely problems and knock-ons are endless. I ran a three-branch agency in Surrey for 25 years until 2014 and I can fully appreciate the pressure the agents are under. The Virus has brought out so much angst and the offering made by the portals to defer or discount the fees has not bee received well and I suspect Portals, along with many industries, will change or be forced to change forever.
OpenBrix has been 18 months in the making and is finally launching on a live site in early April. Our live trial was successful and naturally threw up a load of issues, but these have been countered and fixed. We have further extensive and very beneficial integrations all in a controlled pipeline of ongoing development and improvements.
So why bother? I can no longer speak as a current agent, but I can listen to them. Over the last year, the OpenBrix team have listened at great length to both agents and end-users alike. Most of us in the Property industry, whether directly or indirectly, are aware of the frustrations the agents have. Lack of control; huge price hikes and an unlevel playing field; the uncomfortable feeling that the agents hard acquired and costly data is being sold without benefit to the agent. So, what have we built to counter these issues?
OpenBrix is built on a public community-controlled platform. Who will run the community? Not the shareholders of OpenBrix. The community is controlled by the very agents that join. Once we get two agents on board, OpenBrix will no longer have community control. Sure, OpenBrix will have one vote, but so will every brand.
OpenBrix then becomes the caretaker, or if you like, the maintenance team paid by the community to maintain the Agents portal. All price increases will have to agreed and voted on by the community. If the UK agents want control of a portal for the first time, then this is the solution.
Is this merely a promise? No! The “B” word - I will use it once only. Sure, portals have made loads of promises before but what allows OpenBrix to hand control over to the community is because the platform is built on blockchain technology.
So OpenBrix is a vehicle for agents to list their properties at a low £100 monthly subscription, which incidentally will be held off until the Covid19 situation has passed enough for a period of a normal return to work and for the market to gain confidence. This could be some months.
What else will OpenBrix do? End-users can register on our soon to be released Mobile App and create a verified ID, have an immutable and validated record of all their rent payments and also have the opportunity to have their rent payments uploaded via our partner CreditLadder to the credit reference agencies in order to be added to their credit histories and to influence their credit scores . All such information is held on the end-user’s own device and not owned by a centralised entity like Google!
There are more whistles and bells being added to help the agents in more ways than one and these will be released in the coming weeks.
It is sad that we are all being forced to face a brave new world, but the reality is that we all must face it. Will the UK agents put pressure on the existing portals to change? I am sure the existing big three will make their best move’s, but will the agents take the power away from one and just hand it to another Version 2.0?
What if they had a chance to take the power from one, or all three, and place it in a portal that they finally and absolutely control? With OpenBrix, that is the opportunity.