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NMa: all real estate agents should be treated equally on funda

All real estate agents should be treated equally on funda, the biggest real estate portal of the Netherlands. This is one of the recommendations the Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) made in the market study on home buying and selling services in the Netherlands. Funda is largely owned by the Dutch Association of Real Estate Agents (NVM).

Real estate agents that are NVM members are given preferential treatment on funda. One example is that listings of NVM real estate agents are always displayed higher in funda search results than listings of non-NVM real estate agents. Having a high position in the search results on funda is considered important by many a home seller. As a result, non-NVM real estate agents miss out on clients. Furthermore, non-NVM real estate agents pay a higher tariff to have their listings with detailed information displayed on funda. ‘To improve competition among real estate agents, we recommend funda to treat all real estate agents equally,’ says Henk Don, member of the Board of the NMa.

The NMa has additionally found that real estate portals exert little competitive pressure on real estate agents because of the ownership relation between NVM and funda. After all, real estate agents have little interest in developments of real estate portals that eat away at their revenues. For example, funda does not accept listings of individual home sellers, while many other portals do. In addition, the NMa expects that real estate portals will assume some of the specific duties that real estate agents normally perform, such as viewing homes online. This increases the options for consumers when selling or buying homes. Mr. Don continues: ‘These kinds of developments, however, will not be initiated anytime soon as long as the biggest real estate portal in the Netherlands is owned by a real estate agent association. That is why we recommend NVM making funda more independent so that it can formulate its own strategy, independent from the real estate agents’ interests.’

Consumers could save on real estate agent costs by comparing agents, and by bargaining over services and tariffs. Many consumers find it hard to compare agents because little public information is available on the quality and prices of individual agents. This study was carried out by the Financial Sector Monitor (MFS), a research team within the NMa that carries out economic research into competition in the financial and finance-related industries.