Realestate.com.au upgrades private selling policy.

Realestate.com.au has upgraded it private selling policy with some new rules which may make it very difficult for agencies not providing a full service to their vendors. It is still very much an open to interpretation document.

Published: 28 May 2009
This policy of www.realestate.com.au (“REA”) is intended to provide guidance on the nature of the customers to which we wish to provide online real estate advertising services, and the commercial basis and reasoning on which we have based our business model.

Background
REA provides online services listing real estate properties advertised for sale or rent through licensed real estate agents, and various associated services.

REA is committed to enhancing the service it provides to its customers
This business model focuses upon licensed real estate agents as our primary customers. Therefore, we only allow licensed real estate agent managed listings to be advertised on our website – it is inconsistent with our policy to allow private listings.

For the purposes of advertising on our website, a “private listing” means a listing of property whereby the individual, company or business, who wishes to sell or let their property directly to purchasers/lessees without engaging a licensed real estate agent in the course of the transaction for the provision of the following range of agent services (without limitation):

  1. Market appraisal of property.
  2. Marketing the sale or rental of the property (eg copywriting; signboards, booking print and online advertising, letterdrop, etc).
  3. Managing and responding to enquiries from potential buyers or renters.
  4. Negotiating or brokering the key commercial terms of the transaction between seller/lessor and purchaser/lessee and solicitor/conveyancer.
  5. In respect of a sale of property, organising the auction or tender of that property (where relevant), and facilitating the sale transaction between the purchaser and the seller when the property is sold.

An individual or company or business may use a licensed real estate agent to perform a limited number of the services set out above, such as Marketing item b) and/or the Management of enquiries item c).

However, where such entity does not obtain at least the range of agent services set out above, REA will consider that such a listing is a “private listing”. REA will exercise its sole discretion, but will not act unreasonably, in determining such issue.

REA has made the decision not to allow private listings on its website:

  1. on an internal and unilateral basis;
  2. on reasonable economic grounds;
  3. on the basis that it supports the real estate industry in Australia; and
  4. results in the provision of a quality and more professional and useful service to visitors to www.realestate.com.au, which caters to those visitors’ needs.

Before real estate agents jump into the air celebrating here a a few things to thinik about.

  • Should realestate.com.au be dictating to licensed real estate agents how they sell or market their property listings.
  • Should realestate.com.au be able to view private documents between an agent and a vendor on request? Obvious privacy issues here between a real a agent and their vendor.

My opinion on this is that real estate agents should be using private selling sites as a great way to get listings as my experience shows that the majority of private sellers eventually move to sell through an agent.

Private selling will be a slow growth area in the future and realestate.com.au have not said they will never allow private sellers, to me, at the moment it will not work commercially for them, but they have never said they will never do it, so don’t think for one second they are doing it to protect you – more so to protect their revenues from agents lashing back.

fsbo, Privacy, Private Sellers, REA, Realestate.com.au

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About Peter J Ricci

Peter Ricci is the Director of Agentpoint.com.au, Business2.com.au, Ginga.com.au and ZooProperty.com and has been involved in designing and developing real estate systems and websites since 1997. In July 2001 Peter founded Business2.com.au to help real estate agents better understand the power of the Internet and the real estate landscape in Australia and New Zealand. Since then he has penned over 300 articles on a variety of subjects in the real estate technology industry. Business2.com.au is now the leading real estate technology site in Australasia.

15 Responses to Realestate.com.au upgrades private selling policy.

  1. Peter Ricci May 28, 2009 at 2:56 pm #

    I have just spoken to Privacy.gov.au and the law states any portal can view agreements between an agency and a vendor.

    Here are some notes from privacy.gov.au:

    An organisation must not use or disclose personal information about an individual for a purpose (the secondary purpose) other than the primary purpose of collection unless:

    (a) both of the following apply:

    (i) the secondary purpose is related to the primary purpose of collection and, if the personal information is sensitive information, directly related to the primary purpose of collection;

    (ii) the individual would reasonably expect the organisation to use or disclose the information for the secondary purpose; or

    (b) the individual has consented to the use or disclosure; or

    (c) if the information is not sensitive information and the use of the information is for the secondary purpose of direct marketing:

    (g) the use or disclosure is required or authorised by or under law; or

    (h) the organisation reasonably believes that the use or disclosure is reasonably necessary for one or more of the following by or on behalf of an enforcement body:

    I was directed by privacy.gov.au to use these as examples. Interestingly agents would have to write into any agreements that realestate.com.au or any other portal may be allowed to view these documents.

    Doubt this will happen.

  2. Glenn Batten May 28, 2009 at 4:29 pm #

    🙂

    Its great news that they pulled their head out of the sand but why do they have to be taken kicking and screaming. I and some others have been asking about this for quite a while and it takes a bit of publicity on this blog and then another effected party to jump up and down and threaten legal action before they finally decide to do something. Better late than never though…

  3. Sal Espro May 28, 2009 at 5:21 pm #

    Good work, Peter – Thankyou.

    Agree with you re:
    “My opinion on this is that real estate agents should be using private selling sites as a great way to get listings as my experience shows that the majority of private sellers eventually move to sell through an agent.

    Glenn, I think Peter’s info is saying that, as REA cannot view agency/client agreements, its claims are still toothless and its new Terms additions are still discretionary!

    I would also think that their attempt to keep the ACCC at ‘bay’ might in fact now flag an interest with them:
    “REA has made the decision not to allow private listings on its website:
    a) on an internal and unilateral basis; OK
    b) on reasonable economic grounds;For them
    c) on the basis that it supports the real estate industry in Australia; andHow? Doubtful
    d) results in the provision of a quality and more professional and useful service to visitors to http://www.realestate.com.au, which caters to those visitors

  4. Glenn Batten May 28, 2009 at 6:07 pm #

    I read it different Sal..

    I believe they are now going to stop the practice I wrote about here :

    http://www.business2.com.au/2009/04/10/private-sales-now-on-realestatecomau/

    That topic has been running fairly hot both on the site and off. I have received quite a few calls on it. As far as I can read it the practice is now stopped.

    That even when a licensed agent lists a property they still need to conduct 5 criteria (a,b,c, d and e) before it is not considered a private listing and allowed on the site.

    and everything is at there discretion.. as your would expect I suppose. I think what REA is hinting to is that it is going to be very hard for them to tell if a particular property is breaking the rule, which is probably true.. .. but it will stop these companies offering commission free options to list on REA.

    If someone wants to list on REA they have to engage the services of a real estate agent who will act as there agent… not just a listing service..

  5. Ian May 28, 2009 at 8:08 pm #

    Why are real estate agents so paranoid about realestate.com.au taking listings from private sellers?

    Private sellers have always been allowed to list on domain and some agents love them.

    Sounds like old world protectionism to me …

  6. Glenn Batten May 29, 2009 at 7:58 am #

    Ian,

    My personal opinion is that it would not be that major if they did allow private sellers really…. but I know many would not take to it to kindly, especially given the timing.

    The issue was not whether they should be allowed or not, but whether they should be allowed through a loophole by just a few people. They applied the rule that way for quite awhile and for some reason a few people got away with it. It was just a case of applying the rule uniformly accross all accounts. Isnt that actually fair fro everyone? Equally if they change the rules it should be applied to everyone… not just a few agents.

    Call it what you will… REA set the rules.. why should you be upset that agents call for them to enforce their own rules ??

  7. Sal Espro June 4, 2009 at 8:20 pm #

    REA is a major media outlet and as such I think if it were brought to the attention of the ACCC, it may well find this behaviour anti-competitive with no appreciable market benefit and related to

  8. Sal Espro June 4, 2009 at 8:20 pm #

    Here

  9. A Feed Provider June 4, 2009 at 8:21 pm #

    Hi Sal

    I will tell you what it means. Feed providers like my company and Portplus, MyDesktop etc. take over all customer support from Realestate.com.au saving them time and money and they bill the client for it 🙂 Why? Because they can.

    It is pretty ordinary but this is what you get 🙂 I am pretty sure all feed providers would cheer the day this changes.

  10. Greg Vincent June 4, 2009 at 8:22 pm #

    Sal, I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve set up some start up videos in the Real Estate Twitterers Group on Facebook. http://tinyurl.com/re-twiiter-fb.

    I’ve made it easy for you Sal. You just have to take the first step.

    Most people set up a Twitter account & then think what do I do now. These steps should help you.

    Understand it’s not Twitter itself that makes it so good, it’s the applications that make the difference.

  11. Greg Vincent June 4, 2009 at 8:23 pm #

    Oops Sal. Sorry typo in previous link. Here it is http://tinyurl.com/re-twitter-fb

  12. real estate June 11, 2009 at 6:42 am #

    Hello again Glenn. I may be the affected party you refer to in your May28th post. In fact we have been affected for 3 years and likely will be seeking compensation for that in the fullness of time.

    I wish to correct you on your other post of May 28th in which you said and I quote – As far as I can read it the practice is now stopped

    Glenn it is now June 11th, some 2 weeks after your post and several companies are still openly flouting REA rules. If you want proof of this email me at PropertyNow ( sales@propertynow.com.au ) Of more concern is that it is the same companies I objected too close to 2 months ago.

    As you know ( and we agree on this ) I want PropertyNow and its clients treated the same way as every other agent by the REA. That is not occurring as you have noted. That’s not the sum total of the assurances we seek but its a pretty fair starting point.

    Glenn you seem a learned chap but on this particular issue you are way off base on so many of your comments. Some of them astound me such as –

    My personal opinion is that it would not be that major if they did allow private sellers really – then why are they so adamant Glenn? Put that statement to a group of real estate agents and see what they say.

    and

    The issue was not whether they should be allowed or not, but whether they should be allowed through a loophole by just a few people – No Glenn, half right and thereby fully wrong. It’s absolutely about both issues. Whether to allow private sales or assisted sales AND to do so fairly to all agents and members of the public. You may find in time that the real loophole is being used by the other side of this debate.

    and

    and everything is at there discretion.. I can’t believe you said that?

    and

    Call it what you will

  13. Glenn Batten June 11, 2009 at 8:42 am #

    Andrew,

    We are going to continue to agree on certain aspects of this matter and agree to disagree on others. Thats life. Most of our disagreements will probably centre on our different perspectives. I am a real estate agent and you run a FSBO site, so those differences are to be expected. Whats unreasonable is to assume that we would agree.

    You said “My personal opinion is that it would not be that major if they did allow private sellers really

  14. Sal Espro June 11, 2009 at 4:50 pm #

    Sal:“When is an agency not an agency?”
    REA:“We don’t know! But we’re big and strong and will blow your house down. We shove it to agents everyday so won’t have any ”
    Sal:“Wrong! When a marketing campaign is run totally by a non-agency individual”.
    Sal:“So, how does the ACCC view individuals not being able to advertise in a market dominant media entity?”
    REA:“The ACCC? We make our own rules!”
    Sal:Yeah right. Anyway….
    I have financially benefited from the earnings of agency and non-agency work. I also appreciate the value of agents who do add real value. However, I reckon that given this current economic climate and ever-reaching effect of the US of A in so many ways we behave, there is room for a significant move to ‘non-traditional’ real estate operations. This doesn’t necessarily mean FSBO that I tend to believe are in the main a prospecting market for good agents.
    I am talking about variants on the agency model (that REA might consider non-agencies) and there are several that could benefit both existing agents, vendors and buyers.
    If this is the case, then groups like REA will find their anti-competitive, traditional agency protective operations, way out of date, (apart from being way outside ACCC regulations).

  15. real estate com December 9, 2009 at 9:38 pm #

    Hello again Glenn. You asked me in your last post on this thread – to keep you informed of my battle for fairness from the REA …so here’s a little update.

    We instructed our Solicitor at Slater and Gordon 3 weeks ago to infrom REA once again that we believe REA to be acting anti competitively. We further pointed out with evidence in writing, the continuing of REA to turn a blind eye to several FSBO companies and to treat our own company PropertyNow differently.

    The REA Solicitor has written back to us,but in doing so completely ignored a clear and demonstrable breach of their TOS that has been going on since I started talking about the REA’s very flexible policy 7 months ago.

    One can only wonder whether REA has a vested interest in certain FSBO companies or possibly even in the ownership of some. I cannot see any other explanation for what’s going on so openly.

    To be succint REA has allowed several companies to remain placing interstate clients on REA website despite those companies not holding Real Estate Licenses in each state. Despite those companies not having an office in each state (as is required by a company to hold such Licenses in the first place). Despite also not having individual REA accounts in each state as required under REA TOS.

    Can you help me out Glenn? Because I cannot see how this can be either legal or proper conduct but perhaps I am missing something very obvious here?

    Anyway Glenn, Slater and Gordon wrote to REA again on behalf of PropertyNow yesterday. I won’t be able to tell you much about their reply when it eventuates because it is certain to run something like this – ” it is REA policy not to discuss its clients businesses” That’ sounds a most honorable trait in a company except when it’s so patently a way of dodging an issue of which REA has no comfortable answer that it can give.

    I will keep you informed but you may read about it in the media soon in any case.

    By the way thanks for the SEO tips above Glenn and Kudos to you on your SEO series in Business2

    Andrew Blachut
    PropertyNow

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