With the launch of realestateworld.com.au we have seen yet another site just not get it quite right. Whilst the site is a far better step forward than most of the rubbish thrown at us it still leaves so many questions unanswered.
Whilst Domain and REA launched their websites years ago and agents were hungry to embrace the web not many questions were asked, in fact many Real Estate Institutes opened their doors to these portals (with 10’s of 1000’s of $ of kickbacks mind you) and had them provide talks on how to optimise their presence on the web. I attended a couple of these hosted by one of the majors and I was flabbergasted at all of the rubbish being pilfered (and I wrote about it 5 years ago) to agents. It amazed me that no questions were being asked at all back then.
Today new real estate portals think that because they are cheaper they can gain agents attention and dollars. This WILL NEVER WORK unless you get the basics right. You are now dealing with agents that have seen it all before. Agents do not care if you are ‘the Google of real estate’, ‘saving agents money’ or by the industry for the industry’ they are so much better informed these days, so stop the marketing guff and get into the nitty gritty.
What new portals must do is clearly spell out:
1. Ongoing Costs (cost per month? or if Free is it Free forever?)
2. Ongoing Fee Increases (are the fees capped at a % increase per annum?)
3. Future Packages (are you going to be offering other listing packages in the future?)
4. Free Trials (I am sick to death of pathetic 1,2,3,4,5,6 month free trials, you cannot start charging until you get results)
5. Terms and Conditions (who owns what and what %)
6. What are you going to do with sales data and will agents share in this revenue or will they get free data back for supplying it in the first place?)
7. Reports (how are listing reports fed back to agents. Agents do not want to spend their time calling your office to remove listings that were sold/leased months ago)
These are not fun things to spell out and Domain and REA are very lucky little puppies for not having to do this all those years ago, but, this is a new era, perhaps 40 – 50% of agents now a lot more than they did all of those years ago. We are also operating in an property environment that also means agents don’t have wads of cash to throw at new things. Time is precious and in this environment their time must be spent making money not on other things.
Google, Yahoo and MSN will not have such problems when they launch because we know how they operate these web based systems, everything is free for content providers, advertisers pay. New Portals must clearly spell out the above and for the love of whatever God you believe in (or don’t) stop these short trials.
If you have a plan it better be a long term one or you will fail.
If Real Estate World can get the above right then you should support them (as with many portals that get the basics right) but it has to be a ‘Slow Food Site” slowly gaining property data and slowly informing consumers. It will take 2-3 years for a site like this to gain the attention – if it has the property data. But like any site, you have to ask the question – why will people go there and not REA and Domain?