Realestate.com.au Backs Down From The Fight!

Realestate.com.au has always promoted itself as a portal for real estate agents but recently we have seen a surge in real estate agents using technology to operate from a digital storefront and list their properties on the portal. At first many of these websites were not run by real estate agents but REA quickly enforced this rule.

To counter this requirement many of these websites started to be run or at least associated with licensed real estate agents.  The truth was that many of these solutions were really just a glorified property listing portal that had just one effective tool and that for a private seller they could list your property on realestate.com.au.  They did not act as an agent but they seemed to get around the rules because they simply held a real estate license.

Realestate.com.au responded by creating the Private Listing Policy which effectively listed the minimum requires an agent had to provide to clients before they could list property on realestate.com.au.  These websites now became what was coined Agent Assisted websites that provided a bare minimum of a limited range of real estate services such as negotiation, contract preparation or assitance  and market appraisals. All of this was done from afar and often over the telephone or internet.  The policy was confusing for everyone and left a lot to interpretation because at one point  Hubonline, a subsidiary of RealEstate.com.au was building websites for these digital agents in contravention to their Private Listing Policy.

After plenty of pressure of the subject many of these digital agents in February 2011 had been removed or threatened to be removed from the portal, an issue they did not take too kindly to at all. Complaints were quickly lodged with the regulatory bodies and the fight ensued. A fight that traditional agents thought Realestate.com.au would follow through with.

And there we were waiting for the outcome until an email about 30-40 minutes ago.

Because of the instant delivery of email  its a golden rule to send good news on Monday morning so its at the top of the inbox when the recipient arrives at work and conversely to send bad news late on a Friday so it loses gets lost amongst the clutter. So its not surprising to see that when its really bad news its released on a Friday just prior to a long weekend  so its buried deep!!

Greg Ellis has just notified agents by email that effectively immediately the minimum levels of service have been in the Private Listing Policy are no longer to apply.

The real effect of this for traditional bricks and mortar agencies are that with service criteria totally gone private listings can now effectively engage one of these digital real estate agents to list their property on realestate.com.au. When you combine this with the fact that we have unlimited accounts and can list as many properties as you want any licensed real estate agent can now create a business to list property on realestate.com.au and charge a small fee.  As long as they get enough clients to cover the base subscription its going to be profitable.

I believe that for many the provision of these limited  real estate services will be thrown out the window because they were only added to get around the pesky Private Listing Policy in the first place.

It’s not totally clear yet just what was behind the complete reversal of Realestate.com.au. It could be that BuyMyPlace and others were successful with applying pressure with their complaints to the ACCC.  Similarly it could be financially motivated as the industry suffers across the country discretionary spending on portals like realestate.com.au has plummeted and its a move to get as many accounts as they can get their hands on.

One things for sure, with RealEstate.com.au backing down from this fight Private Sellers are going to have a stack of choices now to get their property listed on the realestate.com.au portal.  How low will they go ?   One guy operating from his bedroom might be able to offer listings on realestate.com.au for just $30 or $40 a pop because he is getting private seller listings form all over Australia.  How will vendors react to paying higher VPA levels for a realestate.com.au listing through a traditional real estate agent?

Here is a copy of the email :-

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Dear Customer,

Our business has been providing online marketing services for the real estate industry since 1995, growing to become Australia’s No.1 property site by working with licensed real estate agents such as yourself to help you market properties on behalf of vendors.

From time to time we need to update our policies to keep pace with changing market dynamics and I am writing to update you on changes to the subscription requirements for realestate.com.au.

It’s important to note that our Terms and Conditions are not changing.  realestate.com.au will continue to require subscribers to hold a valid real estate agent licence and comply with the relevant regulations (including entering into agency agreements with vendors in the form required by state regulators). Vendors can only advertise on our site by engaging the services of a licensed real estate agent who is a realestate.com.au customer.

However, we have recognised that the minimum services requirement outlined in our Private Listing Policy — prescribing a required minimum range of ‘usual’ real estate agency services that agents must provide to their vendors — is out of step with the market and industry regulatory practices.

For these reasons, effective immediately, this minimum services requirement will no longer apply.
We wanted to share this decision with you and assure you that realestate.com.au remains committed to delivering innovative advertising solutions to our licensed real estate agent customers.

If you have any questions about these changes, please don’t hesitate to discuss them with your account manager.

Yours sincerely,

Greg Ellis
Chief Executive Officer
REA Group Ltd (realestate.com.au)

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What are your thoughts on Realestate.com.au backflip in just 4 months?

What’s really disappointing for me is that realestate.com.au has been picking fights everywhere recently and the only one they seem to back down from is the one that many agents wanted them to make stand for.

So is it just a sign of the times as realestate.com.au would have you believe in their email.?

Why have they totally reversed their position in the past 4 months?  and has Realestate.com.au sold out the industry by allowing Private Sellers to get onto the portal through the backdoor?

Originally posted at the : Business2 Blog

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