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Execs lead call to make ‘mobility-friendly’ industry standard

A number of industry leaders have come together to urge the industry to better increase visibility for mobility-challenged Australians.

One Agency founder and chief executive Paul Davies said that the industry should consider how tiring and exclusionary it must feel for anyone with a mobility challenge — such as veterans, the aged, parents with prams, and physically disabled individuals — to identify properties in which they can maintain their independence.

One Agency was the first to identify a need for increased messaging around wheelchair-friendly homes, and began by displaying a wheelchair icon in its social and digital marketing for homes that are deemed accessible — with features such as wide door frames, ramps (no stairs), and large bathrooms.

At the time this was announced, Mr Davies said it was a challenge that required change from the property portals, too — better enabling individuals to search for wheelchair-accessible property options.

Since then, Homely has taken up the charge, and now carries mobility icons on properties listed by the real estate group, where applicable, on both properties for sale and rent.

Now, REB can reveal that One Agency, Homely, Bespoke Media Group and MRI Software’s Box+Dice have joined forces in an effort to create an integrated and scalable way to increase the visibility of mobility-friendly properties in the marketplace in response to feedback from aspiring buyers and tenants.

Together, the four industry leaders are looking to make open for inspections — and the hunt for suitable properties — more accessible for anyone with mobility challenges.

According to Mr Davies, the updates can make “a world of difference” — and while he acknowledges that One Agency’s push for the feature has provided them with its own point of difference, it’s his hope that a “mobility-friendly” filter and other inclusivity features will one day become industry standard.

“Since rolling this out we have already seen sales and rental properties appear under the filter, with members praising the addition as being widely popular in their marketplaces,” he shared.

Making the change first became a priority when Bespoke Media Group CEO Nic Fren was contacted by a former colleague and army veteran, Tahnee Barnes, who shared with him that she was having difficulty searching for suitable properties online for clients with mobility issues.

While consumers could search for properties with broadband internet and things like outdoor spas, Ms Barnes said that even after spending hours online trying to determine if a property would be suitable for her clients, she would still show up and not be able to gain access through the front door.

Mr Fren then raised the issue with One Agency, and within 24 hours, Bespoke Media Group had updated the entire social media content suite for the network, along with print and digital marketing libraries updated to include a visible mobility-friendly icon on appropriate property listings.

Mr Fren called those social media changes “a fantastic start”.

Alongside Mr Davies, the pair then decided to reach out to Homely and MRI’s Box+Dice to update the search options and visibility online.

Box+Dice then led the integration of the new mobility-friendly option into One Agency’s website with the push through to Homely.

For MRI Software director and industry principal Josh Symons, “big change starts with small steps”.

It is his hope that the initiative “make[s] it that bit easier for people with physical challenges to find places they can live, work and belong”.

Congratulating One Agency for being a pioneer in the space, Mr Symons has called on “all agency leaders and real estate portals to pick up and run with this mobility-friendly initiative”.

“This is a great example of what can be achieved when leaders come together, listen to our marketplaces and work in collaboration for the benefit of everyone,” he said.

It’s a sentiment shared by Homely CEO Adam Spencer, confirming a section of its consumer base does face challenges when it comes to mobility-friendly access.

“Team Homely prides itself in putting our consumers first on our mission to redefine the way people find their home. This partnership is another way of delivering on this through working with the industry while using design and product as an enabler for change,” he shared.

Highlighted how design and product can be “an enabler for change”, Homely head of product Luke Kenyon concedes that the mobility-friendly initiative “hasn’t been prioritised by big portals”.

“Homely has proven this is a necessary change for any portal, agency and CRM looking to put people first,” Mr Kenyon said.

Reflecting on the partnership with One Agency, the head of product commented that the group’s “passion for this is inspiring”.

This article first appeared in REB


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