You might expect an agent-matching service to exit the picture after, well, making a match.
But Agent Ace is finding success with a different approach.
The startup, which pairs homebuyers and sellers with agents based on transaction data, also monitors partner agents and provides consulting to consumers even after pairing them up with agents.
If customers have a question about paperwork, they can call Agent Ace for an answer, not just their agent.
And if they have an issue with their agent, they can turn to Agent Ace for help.
The Agent Ace customer service staff is “there to really help the consumer throughout the process after they’ve been connected to the agent,” said Jason Nierman, head of business development at Agent Ace. “They really are there to help them in addition to what the agent does.”
Agent Ace matches agents with consumers based on agents’ transaction history, using criteria including price range, school district and demographics to make pairings. It earns a slice of the commission earned by agents who close deals with consumers referred by the company.
The customer support is part of how the firm actively co-represents and co-lists with partner agents.
That strategy may be one reason why the firm has managed to join a claimed 160 multiple listing services since launching in May 2013.
Some in the industry say that agent-matching sites that use only referral agreements to do business with agents — those that hand off leads to agents and do nothing else — shouldn’t qualify for MLS membership.
That’s because, skeptics say, those sites don’t “actively endeavor” to list property on the MLS and/or accept offers of compensation made by listing brokers in the MLS — a mandatory service for all MLS members.
But by co-listing and co-representing with agents, agent-matching sites can claim to “actively endeavor” with more credibility.
“We go above and beyond to be compliant and actively endeavor,” Nierman said.
Agent Ace’s customer service representatives can act as de facto transaction coordinators, providing guidance to customers that supplements the service provided by a partner agent. They also are responsible for making sure partner agents provide a satisfactory level of service.
“If an issue arises or they find that this agent is for whatever reason not working for them, we can step in and we can help them with that,” Nierman said.
Agent Ace’s strategy of partnering with different companies is also fueling its expansion.
The startup began powering an agent-matching tool on the real estate section of U.S. News & World Report in August 2014. More recently, the firm agreed to power agent-matching tools for a homeowners insurance provider, a “membership group” and two employee benefit platforms. Nierman declined to name the partners.
Agent Ace is also on the hunt for partnerships with lenders and tech companies with complementary products, such as home services marketplace.
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