Microsoft enters Real Estate Market

Microsoft has bought itself into a stake of PBL’s new property portal MyHome which is due for release next year.

Microsoft joins L.J. Hooker, Century 21, Elders and Raine & Horne as shareholders along with the major shareholder PBL.

Here is a link to the article

This is interesting on two fronts for me, on one hand I hope it excites Google and Yahoo to do the same and enter the property market and number two for innovation and pricing – as I have always said competition is what is needed to drive innovation and keep subscription prices low for agents.

Over to you!

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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.

16 Responses to Microsoft enters Real Estate Market

  1. Dave Platter December 13, 2006 at 1:54 pm #

    (I work at realestate.com.au)
    What does everyone think of Microsoft buying into myhome?

    When I heard the news, I couldn

  2. Robert Simoen December 13, 2006 at 1:55 pm #

    The only parallel between the two businesses is that they are connected to electricity.

    We don’t need to fear anything about that alliance, rather I would think that if they prove to be a smarter option the pressure will then be on the property portals to survive.

    I can’t see agents paying for three portals – one will have to miss the cut !!

  3. Peter December 13, 2006 at 1:57 pm #

    I have the same concerns as Microsoft as I have with News Ltd and any other major players clamouring for the almighty agent dollar. News Ltd, Fairfax, PBL, Microsoft etc only do it because it is a lucrative industry.

    Can you explain more on what you mean Dave – because to me it smacks of alarmism! (which is not a word)

    Because Jobs Cars and Housing has always been the bedrock of traditional newspapers revenues (classifieds) the online world is no different to their ideas of dominating the market.

    The travel industry in my opinion was not ruined because of Microsoft, it was ruined because technology allowed companies to bypass agencies and deal directly with the airlines as with any industry in this day and age, consumers have a choice and when companies rise and fall by the choice of the consumer it makes them more susceptible to better offerings.

    If you have noticed, many companies have since thrived

  4. Elizabeth December 13, 2006 at 8:08 pm #

    WINDOWS 98!

    That is all I have to say!… well not ALL I have to say.

    So Peter what you are saying is that because of Microsoft… we now have the ability to bypass travel agents and go straight to airlines?

    Is this supposed to calm me?

    Robert – surely you of all people would be preterbed at the above scenario and its potential application to the real estate industry??

  5. Robert Simeon December 14, 2006 at 10:20 am #

    Elizabeth,

    The reason why I have no concerns is that with travel you can book everything online and the consumer does not have physically go there – all they require is a credit card.

    With real estate a prospective purchaser has to inspect, have dialogue with the agents, lawyers, architects and builders – it is a completely different process.

    Travel was always going to at the mercy of online as you do not require a relationship with any other party if you are aware of where you want to go.

    The complete opposite to real estate whether it be buying, selling or renting.

  6. Peter Ricci December 14, 2006 at 12:11 pm #

    Robert is correct in my opinion, unless of course you want accommodation, tours, connections etc, then you would be better to go to an agent.

    More of a threat to agents, and let me make this clear – is budget style real estate agents, who invest nothing in their vendors listing and marketing. These agents will come under pressure from private sellers – who I think will reach at least 10% of the market by 2010 from around 1-3% today!

  7. Elizabeth December 14, 2006 at 1:31 pm #

    Peter and Robert

    I read both of your entries with interest.

    Both say ‘No threat to agents’… but when I read both entries above… I see the ability for Private Sellers to use a Microsoft system (like in the US) to not have to use agents to sell a house.

    the precendent is there… just a different application.

    So if C21 and Elders want a cut off my independent listings and earnings .. I can guarantee that they will want the same off the Private Sales sector – and Peter if you are correct in 10% by 2010 – then they are looking at some decent dollars…

  8. Peter Ricci December 14, 2006 at 2:19 pm #

    Elizabeth. The Private Selling Market will edge out many non performing agencies and there will be pressure for agents will have to clearly demonstrate the difference they can make to a selling price!

    MyHome will not all private advertisers, however Domain.com.au still do and I am sure realestate.com.au will do it sooner rather than later, perhaps integrated or perhaps as a spin off arm, but they will do it.

    Newspapers have been allowing private sale ads for m any years and the Internet is no different.

    However the majority of people would rather leave the concern to agents than do it all themselves.

  9. Robert Simeon December 14, 2006 at 2:43 pm #

    Not sure what the private sales are in your area Elizabeth – however in Mosman they would be well under one per cent of total turn – over.

    Online keeps on evolving and I think that property portals in three years time will bear little resemblance to their current format. Also, individual agencies will be running smarter online databases and they cost money so unless agancies are prepared to spend up big on their own online – they won’t have a business.

    Already we are seeing the non – savvy agencies that have not embraced online loose considerable marketshare. This applies to both franchise and independent offices.

  10. Elizabeth December 17, 2006 at 10:24 am #

    Peter – how do you know that myhome will not allow private sellers?

    When has Microsoft ever segmented the market for the ‘moralistic greater good’? and sacrificed obtaining revenue from the mass market?

    Unless there is a public guarantee out there which I cannot find through a google search (not a microsoft search as that is just hopeless) – then I cannot see how what you are saying as fact – is indeed such.

    HOWEVER – the prospect of what just may come out of this in terms of extra services to the industry is exciting.

    As always, I am cautious of whose pockets I am lining.

    Robert – the Private Sales market where I am is currently about the same as yours – and that is the level at which I want to keep it.

    So with this in mind – I am extremely interested in the prospect of any industry development which could foster the further growth of Private Sales in my area.

    Surely you would have to agree with that stance?

    I think we need to look at all the portals with clear glasses and not rose coloured ones – who represents real opportunity and who represents real threats?

    Signed – Elizabeth on a very quiet saturday.

  11. Peter Ricci December 17, 2006 at 12:21 pm #

    E: Peter – how do you know that myhome will not allow private sellers?

    P: I don’t, it is just an educated guess because I would think myhome’s franchises (shareholders) would kick up a stink!

    E: When has Microsoft ever segmented the market for the

  12. Elizabeth December 17, 2006 at 1:10 pm #

    Hi Peter,

    I just read your reply a bove (thanks for getting back to me so fast) – and your latest conversation starter ‘what I want for christmas’…

    am detecting a slight agitation in your writting style today… something up?

    I agree with all your points above – which in turn means you agree with me (scary thought hey?).

    Bring on the new industry leech.

  13. Peter December 17, 2006 at 3:27 pm #

    Hi Elizabeth – No agitation from this side, just read over my comments again, maybe a little brash, but not the least bit agitated!

  14. Robert Anthony December 17, 2006 at 11:38 pm #

    Hi Peter,

    I love this site. I do not know where you find the time to get all this information. But I love it. Keep it up, Thanks. I know you are very passionate about all the real estate portals and your own values and this is very good to see. So I have a question or two for you. Can you tell me if one single site/portal can not have every single sellers home in Australia on it and the buyer works this out and realises they will have to visit other portals just in case they miss the home of there dreams do you think the buyers will really care how many real estate portals they have to visit in Australia to get there dream home? and Sorry P.S. and you say on your site there is another portal starting up a national waterfront portal is this true/ The more the merryier maybe. Homehound is free, Just listed is free and the buyers look at them as well as the paid for sites. But I think if you had to rely on one site it would probably be real estate.com.au in sydney and other cities but once you get into the country areas they are all scarce, may be home hound covers that a little bit better because of all the other agents getting together. It will be interesting to see what happen with homehound now especially when you say some agents have gone and made a deal with PBL. So I wonder if PBL wiill cover the country areas better than all of them?

  15. Peter December 18, 2006 at 4:50 pm #

    Robert thanks for your kind words.

    In answer to your questions. There will never be just one portal that survives in Australia, there is just too much money to be made from agents from too many large media companies, so there will also be competition from smaller sites in the new year. Sensis simply cannot be just sitting on Just Listed as it is the worst site in Australia by a long shot, so I think we will see something big from them nationwide next year.

    Myhome will be full of self /congratulations/promotion and backslapping from a company that just cannot help look in the mirror each day and smile lovingly at themselves.

    Homehound is a dead horse, I am sorry to say that they are finished if News Ltd take control (as an offer is on the table I believe)

    Domain and Realestate.com.au will be trying to out innovate each other all next year. It seem s domain has gone a different route with their analysis of website visitors.

    There are opportunities everywhere for smaller niche market portals to thrive. Local presence counts in the country!

    PBL will not cover country areas better, they will have large franshise presence but forget about them caring about the country, like others it will all be telephone/email support

    again thanks for your words of support and do return!

  16. Andy Sheats December 19, 2006 at 10:34 am #

    I don’t mean to take the discussion backward… but I very much disagree with RS’s assessment that the realestate and travel industries are that different. They may be today, but they were not 10 years ago. I would argue that it was Microsoft (through Expedia) and similar players that brought it to the point that it is today.

    – Travel agents has access to non-public knowledge of pricing and availability

    – Clients valued their agent because of this knowledge; who else know which seats to get, how to route for the cheapest option, or to get that free stop-over in Rome

    – Travel company’s viewed agents as their primary distribution network, as high-street presence really counted.

    So I guess Robert is correct that they are different, and I suspect that most agents would prefer that they stay that way — as I suspect most high street travel agents wish that >90% of travel was booked through them and that commissions were still 6%.

    BTW, love the discussion here.

    (For disclosure, I also work for realestate.com.au)

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