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In the real estate market? There’s an app for that.

It may appear much simpler, but for buying and selling homes, it might not be the best way of doing business

Imagine putting your property up for sale.

Instead of calling a realtor, you type the details into an app and wait for realtors to bid on the job. Some offer additional services and others come in at lower commissions to try and gain the work.

Well, there’s an app that allows for exactly that.

nobul promises to disrupt the way real estate is bought and sold around the world, “Turning the traditional real estate industry on its head,” as their tagline says. The company was founded in Toronto two years ago and has since expanded across North America, boasting over 200,000 active listings.

Even though the app connects buyers and sellers to only accredited realtors, encouraging a bidding process puts focus on who can do the job at the lowest price – which really doesn’t serve anyone well.

The “traditional” real estate industry that nobul is so keen to disrupt operates mostly on referrals.

“Personally I’m ‘rated’ every day and my business is 80 per cent referral, there is no app for that and never will be,” said Chilliwack-based realtor Andrew Verschuur.

“We have seen many new apps and unique ways that are supposed to change the way real estate transactions are handled, and none of them are successful.”

“We are a relationship-based business.”

A low commission is meaningless if you’ve hired a realtor who can’t get you the best possible price on a property. When looking for realtors through nobul, sellers are prompted to select what’s most important to them, “lowest cost possible,” “lower cost,” “a balance,” “more services,” or “most services possible.”

The problem is most people wouldn’t know what’s most important until they speaking with a realtor or an expert in the field.

Obviously, everyone selling real estate wants to get the highest price as quickly as possible with the lowest associated fees. But they might not know where to look to find the building’s complete history, or what kind of red flags to look for in strata notes, to use just two examples. That’s where a good realtor is worth their weight in gold and can save you from making a disastrous investment.

nobul bills itself as the “Uber of real estate,” but what for most people is the biggest financial decision they’ll ever make requires a lot more guidance and advice than a quick trip across town.

Just like dating apps have discouraged settling down because they are always presented with other options; there’s always plenty more fish in the sea, so to speak.

A plethora of realtors bidding on a project could have the same effect: buyers and sellers dropping their current realtor when a lower bid comes in. And since they don’t get paid until a sale goes through, this could leave a lot of great realtors in the lurch, putting in hours of work they never get paid for.

A lot more goes into choosing a realtor than what can be summarized in an app – and much more to share in a recommendation than a star-rating.

Great business relationships are built on trust. It will be a long time before an app can carry the weight of a good old-fashioned referral.

Ada Slivinski is the Founder & Principal of Jam PR, a boutique agency focused on helping small businesses get big exposure. You can reach her at [email protected]