National Residential Showdown 2006

Rating real estate portals can be a tricky thing but I think it is important for agent to know which ones matter. I have also added some hints and tips to understand how to make the most out of each portal.

So here is a quick overview of each of the portals.

Realestate.com.au (Residential Sales and Lease)
Majority owned and operated by News Ltd. Starting with the giant of Australian residential property realestate.com.au.

Update: Simon Baker CEO of realestate.com.au has clarified a point about the ownership of realestate.com.au. Please read his comment below.

For Agents: Put simply if you are in residential sales or leasing you MUST be on this site as it is the most popular site in Australia by a long streak. Although visitor numbers only tell one side of the story every agent I know receives twice the amount of email enquiries through this site than any other.

Costs: Beginning at $379.00 per month ($4548 p.a.) for a basic membership and rising. Has a number of levels of membership, other plans allow logos alongside listings (for branding) and also placement of listings higher up search results.

Member Hint: I think basic membership is enough, as far as other packages go there are better advertising opportunities elsewhere online (Google Adwords) to get a bigger bang for your buck.

Beefs: If you have commercial listings (and many residential agents have a handful) you are either forced to pay per listing or become a member of realcommercial.com.au. A good idea would be to allow residential agents a small amount of commercial listings for free (possibly 10 per office). The only other beef is the amount of advertising on each listing page.

For Consumers: This site is simple to navigate with clean colour coding for each area. It also has a wide variety of tools for site users. The site is overblown with advertising, but it is reasonably complimentary and is beginning to show user understanding. The site is surprisingly fast – considering the content but suffers from overwhelming the user with too much information displayed on property pages (almost half of each property page is loaded with advertising and tools that are of no real use to the average consumer).

Overall Rating: 8/10

Domain.com.au (Residential + Commercial Sales and Lease)
Fairfax owned and operated. The number two site in Australia

For Agents: If you need to spread your advertising then this should be your number two stop. Instead of maybe going for more than a basic listing with realestate.com.au you should put your other money into a Domain.com.au membership. You will find that Domain.com.au has its real strength in areas where Fairfax classified newspapers dominate – such as Melbourne and Sydney.

Costs: Who knows? My agents report all different kinds of pricing and the pricing varies greatly – so negotiate hard! Because they are number two and listings mean visitors – they seem to be doing deals with agents in areas where they don’t have many listings. However on the plus side – the site does allow for commercial listings at no extra cost.

Member Hint: Negotiate hard, with many new portals coming on board it may well be a good way to lower your membership costs. .

Beefs: If Fairfax were aggressive in this space and actually stemmed the tide they might actually get somewhere. The company seems to be pre-occupied with buying other online assets instead of putting some pressure on realestate.com.au and advancing their current site.
For Consumers: This is the best site as far as usability goes, it is super clean without the plethora of advertising from its main rival. Most of the consumer tools make sense. The mapping system is not always accurate , but overall a good exercise in useability.

Overall Rating: 6/10

Homehound.com (Residential + Commercial Sales and Lease)
FPC Courier Group + Franchises owned and operated.

For Agents: FREE – This site is free for agents across Australia and has now introduced a premium placement for a fee of $50.00 per listing. Your only concern should be that it is part owned by your competitors (major franchise groups) and making them more powerful may not be your idea of a smart long term business plan. However it is FREE and is particularly popular across Sydney. My suggestion is to join but leave if they start charging for a basic membership package. Cannot be spoken about in the same breath as the two majors but seems to be committed for the long hall.

Costs: FREE, also has a premium placement option recently introduced, however avoid this at all costs.

Member Hint: None, make your own mind up, it should be looked upon as just another place to advertise your vendors listings.

Beefs: Look, I think they have a long way to go but they are on the right track, I would like to see them move away from a graphical type site to be one that is purely about listings and consumers.

For Consumers: The problem with this site is it is just another website, with the same listings that are on realestate.com.au and domain.com.au, however far less, so it does not make any real reason for people to visit and return. Will need at least 5 years of commitment

Overall Rating: 4/10

One to watch
Justlisted.com.au (Residential + Commercial Sales and Lease)
Sensis (Telstra) owned and operated (NSW only at this stage but seemingly readying for a national launch).

For Agents: FREE – This site is free for agents across New South Wales. Many NSW agents are members of this site however they don’t really seem to place all of their listings on here. I sampled 5 agents and found around 60% of their listings appeared on here compared to realestate.com.au. This indicates to me that they are getting a little tired of updating a site that they don’t get too many results from. The only reason I have added this is because they seem to be getting ready for a national launch and as with anything to do with Sensis, they will throw some money at it. Needs a massive re-think and could pose some problems especially with their excellent trading post site (integration of listings maybe)
Costs: FREE

Member Hint: None, make your own mind up, it should be looked upon as just another place to advertise your vendors listings.

Beefs: The Agents system is horrible, agents have to upload images separately and this is painful and slow.. I have said in the past that they need to get their act together because agents are severely limited into what information they can display with listings – which in turn makes it bad for consumers – who now demand a host of information from listings online.

For Consumers: Again, as mentioned above, there just isn’t any reason to visit this site, no land or building sizes or extra property information considering you have realestate.com.au and domain.com.au with all the same listings but more property information, I just really struggle to find out why this site is even here. Needs allot of work!

Overall Rating: 2/10

Domain, Homehound, REA

SEO For Real Estate
Listing Leads
Agentpoint Real estate

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.

4 Responses to National Residential Showdown 2006

  1. Sherry Phillips March 12, 2006 at 9:39 am #

    This is a great site, how long has this been operating, there is so much information here we need, thank you so much!

  2. peter March 12, 2006 at 9:41 am #

    Sherry this site has been going since 2004, I realy hope you return and tell more people about it, I dont mind comments good or bad! Thanks for leaving a comment!

  3. Simon Baker - CEO realestate.com.au March 12, 2006 at 9:16 pm #

    Peter, good analysis (but i am biased).

    I would like to clarify a point often made about the ownership and operation of realestate.com.au.

    realestate.com.au is a listed company (ASX: REA) and its major shareholder is News Limited. They own 58% of the shares in the business. They did try to increase their stake in August – November last year when they made a take over bid @ $2.50 however they were not successful and the shares are now trading at ~$3.70.

    The busines is clearly opearated as a separate company from News Limited with the the day to day operations clearly the responsibility of the management team.

    We do have an 5 person Board in place consisting of 2 real estate industry representative – Sam White and John McGrath, the CEO of ninemsn – Martin Hoffman, and 2 representatives of News Limited – Stephen Rue and Alasdair Macleod.

    I hope this provides some greater clarity of how the realestate.com.au business is structured and operates.

  4. peter March 12, 2006 at 9:52 pm #

    Simon thank you for the clarification. It is important I receive information – especially when I make clear mistakes in my posts – which will happen from time to time.

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