Real Estate CEO takes each way bet on maps!

Realestate.com.au‘s CEO Simon Baker recently penned an article on how consumers in California are more interested in more pictures and virtual tours rather than ‘sexy maps’.

The article written on the recently released Realestate.com.au web log titled ‘News from the CEO Desk’ is a pretty poor attempt at playing down the impending threats of new real estate mapping sites in Australia (and possibly from Google, Yahoo and Microsoft read MSN).

Mapping systems for real estate are relatively new and it will take at least a year for it to kick into gear. There are already a number of sites released with some kind of mapping, but on the whole they are terrible attempts. However this may change with the release of realmap.com.au, of which I have had a good look at.

As for the CEO Blog, it has some nice touches to it and some interesting articles scattered amongst the plethora of chest thumping which seems to ever increasingly come from this well oiled operation’s marketing machine.

Simon Baker takes a swipe and like all clever operators hedges his bet by talking up his “market leading” mapping technology.

I will make a bet. Within 2 years they will dump their decidedly average mapping system for a actual real mapping system developed by mapping experts.

It is not that there is anything wrong with it, it is just that it will be overtaken very quickly by other mapping technologies that are avaiable today!

Having loads of money to spend on technology and development does not necessarily mean you are guaranteed success, as many of Australia’s big business and government agencies can attest to.

So if you get a chance keep an eye on the CEO Blog as there are some worthwhile articles written on it. You can also subscribe to it if you have an Rss reader and even better Internet Explorer 7 Beta release.

REA, Simon Baker

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.

20 Responses to Real Estate CEO takes each way bet on maps!

  1. Paul August 11, 2006 at 3:05 pm #

    Thanks for the link, very interesting.

  2. Peter August 11, 2006 at 3:07 pm #

    My Pleasure Paul

  3. Phil August 15, 2006 at 10:19 pm #

    Maps are important you’re right about that and the portals don’t have a monopoly on everything despite their high opinion of themselves.

    This web site is a great resource for agents I hope your readership is as big as it deserves to be.

    Goog luck.

  4. Chris August 16, 2006 at 8:22 am #

    We can reveal some stat for SellHouse property mapping for July:

    1. Property views per visitor 29.5 (map) vs 8 pages (traditional search). Mapping search attracts 3.5 times more views.
    2. Session time – from 30 to 35 min on average

    Simon Baker should not be very happy with his 10-11 pages per visitor on average.

    There is another point that is often overlooked. Huge property databases like Domain or Realestate have to truncate the search results below certain limit (200 for Realestate, for example). Guess what happens with those falling beyond the 200 limit? They are not being searched! Unless you pay extra $$$ to push your listing on top, it has high chances to be never found.

    For a map search system, it is completely different. All the listed properties are on the map as they do not depend on the search sorting. Huge difference in the concept – one dimension vs two dimensions (for the map).

    For more info take a look how it works: http://www.sellhouse.com.au

    The advanced map search is here: http://www.sellhouse.com.au/map_search.php

  5. Peter August 16, 2006 at 10:54 am #

    Hi Chris, I hope you are going well. It would be fair to point out from your article that it is your opinion only, even though I did check the search results and found this to be true. However I suppose mist people would narrow their search parameters (as I do) so getting 200 results would not happen too often.

    A couple of things to remember. Many sites talk about how long a person stays on their website. I think that maybe a good measure is what they get out of their session. I would prefer shorter times but greater results from my users.

    If I were to be critical of your stats, I would say that you dont mention visitor numbers of property views.

    Please feel free to keep posting and enjoy your time here. I wish you well in your pursuit with your business.

    One suggestion, do not get too hung up with realestate.com.au or domain.com.au as they will be around for a long time and concentrate on the experience your visitors have with your site.

    Sell the difference!!

  6. Chris August 16, 2006 at 3:18 pm #

    Thanks Peter for the comment! Yes, it is only one part of the story (I mean 200+ limit). The stat shows that people view on average 12-15 pages (i.e. 11-13 properties) at most. It opens a great room for listing manipulation – who is on the top. Have you ever noticed the usual suspects are always on the top of the search? Why some listings have 500 hits and others – 10? Because the 1st ones are much better and more attractive? No! It is because those listings are poped up on the top. It is so easy to do so.

    Good luck.

  7. George A August 16, 2006 at 6:23 pm #

    What about the realestate.com share price (off topic)

    It just seems to go up and up for no reason, they’ve never paid a dividend and who knows when they ever will so is it just speculation ? pass the parcel ? is it some sort of manipulated game like the dodgy “stats” they pass off on a regular basis ?

  8. Peter August 16, 2006 at 6:54 pm #

    George, realestate.com.au’s share price is not my area I am afraid and I cannot take a guess at why it continues to go up. However realestate.com.au have increased revenues signnificantly over the past few years and they have also ventured relatively successfully into New Zealand and the UK, I am sure they will also get into more countries. So the share price cannot really be manipulated too much as it is market driven.

  9. Tom August 22, 2006 at 7:07 pm #

    I had a quick look at sellhouse.com.au to assess the site. I searched on my post code (3079) and surrounding areas and the search came up with no results. The important thing to note here is that no matter how good your maps are, if there are no ‘hits’, then this is an academic exercise.

    Like they say “The 3 most important things in realestate are Position, Position, Position.”

    The 3 most important things in realestate portals is Content, Content, Content.

  10. Peter August 22, 2006 at 7:51 pm #

    Tom, you are correct and this is the problem all new real estate portals face. Realestate.com.au have the lions share of listings (by a long way) and that is why people continue to go there. To be honest the only real success will come from innovation or localisation. A new site is just another headache for agents to upload to. The time has come for new portals to either be extremely innovative or to create local portals with a local focus.

  11. George August 23, 2006 at 6:16 pm #

    I read today that the AVERAGE spend of agents on realestate.com.au was around $550 per month, what a bunch of fools and there’s thousands of them all falling over thermselves to pay too much for web advertising.

    Making heaps for those that run the show though.

    This gives them enough money to hire the big guns to advise them how to suck even more out of the agents, if it wasn’t so tragic it would be laughable.

    “Oh but we have to be there” they all cry.

    They don’t you know……..only the weak willed lemmings follow the herd over the cliff.

    You should be advising your owners that there are other alternatives, I find more content on Domain for some searches, never less then realestate.com.au and in Victoria there’s realestateview which gets a load of Vic traffic.

  12. Peter Ricci August 24, 2006 at 11:48 am #

    Hi George

    Thanks for your comment. I think you should place a few things in perspective.

    1. Agents (from my experience) get more enquiries from realestate.com.au than all other sites combinded.
    2. Agents subscribe to sites that bring them business.
    3. This site is not here to tell agents what to do, this is their decision. This site was to inform them of my opinions on the marketplace.

    Realestate.com.au have a dominant position because of their strategies dating back many years, they are successful because they know how agents think.

    I do not agree with all of their tactics, but I do admire the way they go about their business.

    Your opinions are valued as a contribution to this site, but like me they are only opinions.

    The consumers (users of sites) dictate who are dominant and as I am looking for a house in Sydney at the moment, my first port of call is realestate.com.au, why? Because they have the listings….

    and this is the ingredient any real estate site needs fior success, followed by many other factors.

  13. Paul August 24, 2006 at 12:49 pm #

    Something has just happened at our agency that I predicted would happen when Feature Alls first came into play at realestate.com.au. One of our sales guys wanted to know his property wasn’t anywhere near the top of the list, stuck on page 3 of the search results or something similar. Roll on Super Feature All.

    This is why mapping systems could be really really good in the portal market. They place each proeprty not in a list but on even ground plotted on a map.

  14. George August 24, 2006 at 2:52 pm #

    The truth is agents particularly in NSW have been let down by their Instutute who has let realestate.com.au bleed their Members dry – why ? incompetance ? stupidity ? not sure perhaps a combination.

    The REIV on the other hand has at least tried to protect their Members via realestateview.com.au

    If the REINSW had have joined in as was their obligation if they were competant, things may have been different but that didn’t happen.

    Perhaps agents in NSW should cease to pay fees to the REINSW as there would seem to be no point in paying fees to an organisation who feeds them to the sharks, they can manage that themselves I’m sure.

  15. Geoff September 2, 2006 at 2:54 pm #

    I read the above with a sense of amusement.

    If realestate.com.au is really making $550 per agent per month, then that seems like a very small number versus News Limited or Fairfax.

    Why, simple. I am currently selling my house in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney.

    A quarter page in the Southern Courier for 1 week is costing me $725. Yes … more than the average agent pays for all their listings to be on realestate.com.au for a whole month.

    The other very curious thing is that my agent is charging me $400 for my one house to be on the internet. This fee covers his site, realestate.com.au and domain.com.au. Now i know he has lots of listings … do the maths (20 listings x $400 = $8,000 – $550 for realestate.com.au = $7,450). I dont think domain costs more than realestate.com.au does it? So who is really profiting out of all of this?

    By the way … the agent hasnt sold it yet and wants me to spend more in the paper … great for his brand but what about my house!

  16. George September 8, 2006 at 12:40 pm #

    The Internet is very cheap to run compared with a newspaper, realestate.com.au’s $500 is almost ALL profit, check out the $600K salary of the CEO

    What about your house ? haven’t you woken up yet ? it’s not about you it’s about THEM ha ha

  17. Simon Baker September 9, 2006 at 6:17 am #

    I thought i would reply to the comment made by George. He said “realestate.com.au

  18. George September 9, 2006 at 6:38 pm #

    Thats right you are terchnically correct, 15% profit after massive salaries, directors fees and other “expenses” are deducted. However the real cost to put a property on the Internet is miniscule compared to print.

    Why don’t you look at the actual cost of placing property on the web with appropriate promotion not the whacked figure adjusted for your benefit.

  19. Alan M September 10, 2006 at 4:40 pm #

    Wow, I just did a quick calc and that means it takes almost $1M per week to run the web site after you take the profit out.

    Someones on the gravy train ……….and it isn’t the agents I can tell you because I’m one of them.

    I used to think the Age was a money grabber but this realestate.com.au web site makes them look like amateurs.

    One day someone will come along with a more reasonable alternative and I’ll be first in line to drop this mob. The more profit they make the less I make.

    No one is selling more property because of the Internet but it’s certainly costing more to do so.

    With the Age at least you had the choice each week of how much you spend, with the web you’re stuck with the same monthly fee no matter what and it keeps increasing.

    Someone’s on the gravy train alright.

  20. Scott September 22, 2006 at 10:57 am #

    Alan, I am glad you did the sums to see how much it costs to run the realestate.com.au website. $1m per week!
    I am a web designer, and I am constantly dumbfounded by people who wish to advertise on the internet, but truly believe it is easy and cheap to do properly.
    Keeping thisng running 24hrs a day requires staff – who need to be paid. the bigger you get, the more you need, so the costs start to add up.

    Places like Domain and Realestate could charge far less for their product – but in doing so, their ability to keep the sites running efficiently all day, every day and to handle the loads placed on them by visitors to the sites, would be diminished.

    Anyone who runs a business will know that a business has outgoings that need to be paid or the business will cease to function. Some overheads cost more than others.

    If you truly want to get the price of online advertising to be lower, you should be lobbying technology companies to drop the salary rates for network engineers and the like. That is where the costs come in.
    However, these people get paid well as they can be asked to, in effect, take responsibility for the livelyhoods of a LOT of people by looking after the technology that runs the internet.
    If my job reuired me to be available at 2am with no notice, and to be able to fix things immediately, I would like to paid accordingly as well….

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