The Nationwide Real Estate Internet Portal Market will become overcrowded within 3 years and there is likely to be only one or two clear winners and that is Realestate.com.au (News Limited) and Domain.com.au (Fairfax), although I think it is very unlikely Fairfax will be around in its current form (or owners). Where there will be a rise in competition will come from regional areas and specialist portals.
All of the sudden it seems everyone wants to get into the act with The Federal Publishing Company (FPC) acquiring a stake in Propertypage.com.au (now www.homehound.com.au). I am still not sure if FPC purchased it outright, but they will need to do this to get support from private agent firms as many of their competitors were previous(or still are) owners.
This real estate portal was originally setup by LJ Hooker, Ray White, Century 21, Elders and some other franchise firms.
With the FPC purchase, Homehound will have overcome one of their long time problem and that is hardly anyone has ever heard of them.
With FPC and their Inner Sydney newspaper guide Home Hound they can give this site the exposure it needs.
The Portal should however focus on this region and forget about trying to be a national guide.
The hardest thing about running a real estate portal is giving it the exposure it needs and the best way to do this is by search engine marketing. However agents still do not understand how important search engine marketing is – and how cost effective it is compared to print and television marketing (forget about radio).
This is why you have to put it into newspapers and on TV- not because it is effective but it is the only way you can put it in front of agents faces and therefore get them to join.
The rise of these regional type portals is going to place some pressure on the big real estate sites such as realestate.com.au and domain.com.au, these are owned by major media companies. The fact is there is no reason why big media companies must own the Internet advertising space and with careful planning, smart marketing, well just about anyone can be a threat to them. The problem is any threat can be bought for a price and the majors have the dollars to do this. Just think about the ridiculous money realestate.com.au paid for a handful of clients from lowly competitor property.com.au (9 Million big ones).
The Real Estate Industry can look at the rise of regional portals in two ways. One is that it will create real competition in the certain areas and place some downward pressure on print media advertising, which should be welcomed.
The rise of these sites and newspaper guides will create headaches for many agents. However I think it is important that agents think seriously about joining these sites because the last thing they want is for the major media players to completely dominate the market and therefore continually rise their prices (which they are very good at).
I will still say however that agents own personal websites are their most important asset for the future. The more they invest now, the better placed they are going to be in the future.