State of the Portals. Part Three – MyHome

Last week we took a look at Domain. Today we will take a look at MyHome.com.au

Overview: MyHome was announced last year as the latest real estate portal to come into play. PBL and Microsoft formed a partnership to bring a new and exciting real estate portal to the market. Many in the media panned the idea and told of delays and delays in getting the real estate portal live. But the truth be told there was not one PBL announcement of a launch date and it was more about media trying to protect and more than likely humiliate a new rival. Not forgetting that media I mean newspapers and both major newspaper chains in Australia own Domain and REA, so nothing new there.

Humiliate they didn’t, in fact they didn’t need to, MyHome self destructed on launch because of poor use of technology, little understanding of the market and an interface design that said MyHome Circa 1997. I can remember the day before the launch. I stayed up very late, excited to know that they would set it live sometime during the night early morning to make sure all was working fine. I remember just sitting there shell shocked at what I was witnessing. How can these two large companies create such a disaster? I wrote about it and blasted the whole development.

Little did I know that it really had nothing to do with the people working on the project and more to do with the half wits in charge. Note that these half wits have now moved on and we have a fresh team trying to repair the damage. These half wits are now more than likely sitting on a board of another large IT company or using someone else’s money to bring us something at least as catastrophic. John Howards’ Workplace Laws should include branding these people like cows so that no one else gets burnt the way MyHome has been. I can still see that photograph of these people sitting around a desk like they were Steve Jobs look a likes!

As for the Microsoft involvement, rumour has it no one has ever seen them around the MyHome stables and it is more of just putting a name to it.

So that was then and this is now.

MyHome do have the same problem going forward as Domain REA and that is the impending arrival of the large new entrants such as Google, Yahoo and MSN entering with their FREE classifieds websites. Domain are in bed with Google (well sort of) but big decisions are not made locally for this behemoth (Google or MSN) and we will see some holding of hands in some areas and competing in others.

Another problem is continued rumours ( I get calls and emails) that they are being shopped around to be sold by Bell Potter or somebody like them. I doubt there would be a buyer, but then again I have been wrong many times before. I did speak to a person at MyHome and they told me they have heard nothing of this, so who to believe?

So let us assume they are not being sold.

As for the current website, I have to say that it has improved considerably but still needs a real designer to come in and give it some spark. I have got a quote for them as well from one of the worlds leading interface designers and it comes in at $7,500. This would actually make the site a lot sharper to look at and immediately show they have a quality product. I am happy to provide them direct access to this person.

A look under the hood and it performs quite well. There is still usability issues as you go deeper but over time these things should (emphasis) be solved. They do need a usability expert to come in and clean up a few things but again this will not cost too much.

Screen space could also be used more effectively but yet again the problem with all of these sites are the fact that they have to accommodate 3rd party advertising and that just makes them look ungainly with white space all over the place, white space is fine if it looks clean but on this site it is white space waiting for advertisers. I really cannot stand to look at this site – it really grates me.

Finally they have dumped the 180,000 listings in all advertising – but will not tell me how many they have simply stating they have a policy of not publicising these numbers and confirming they are less than 180,000. Well I have less than 180,000 clients, I have less than $180,000 and less than 180,000 girlfriends (possibly tied to having less than $180,000)

Threats: REA and Domain will take them seriously publicly but privately the joy these companies must have shown at launch would have been interesting to note. Add all of the struggles with franchisers and talk of legal action, it really has been a bumpy ride. They will never eat into Domain and REA whilst they continue to charge fees to agents whilst they are still yet to show any real results. Things will get worse for them. Google, Yahoo and MSN are all looming large with their FREE classifieds offerings and this will have an impact on annual agents revenues. They also need to either quash the rumours of the sale or announce that they are on the market.

Future: MyHome only have one choice. Speaking with them they truly believe that they are doing a good deed for agents and trying to help them save money. They see Domain and REA as expensive and interested in the bottom line only and I am sure they market this way. My problem with this is that the owners are not warm and cuddly people, they are in business to make money just like Domain and REA. If the companies visitor numbers were reversed would MyHome still be the cheaper alternative? Not a chance in a hot place! REA and Domain charge fees they know the agents will pay, they increase fees because they know the agents will pay, I trust MyHome are the same and the only way they can prove they are not is by going 100% free.

Let’s face it, MyHome will have to be 100% free in the next few years anyway (Google Yahoo and MSN classifieds), so why waste time? Why take too long to build up listings and in turn visitor numbers? To my understanding property listing have gone down considerably since the fees were introduced.

With a new interface, a few tweaks here and there and a free listings model – MyHome could grab a big slice of this pie. If PBL are serious about this site then they will at least invest the money needed to bring the site a more professional feel, and if they have any idea about building this up they will offer it for free. Let’s face it, it is either finished or flourishing, that is what is at stake here. By being a free portal that eventually brings results to agents they will get their support and will actually really help bring competition pricing down.

This is all about what PBL are made of – so let’s see what PBL having ticking inside their hearts here. Owning a site they can be proud of building up and succeeding here after a rocky start or just giving up and selling it to someone else!

Links:
www.domain.com.au
www.realestate.com.au
www.yahooclassifieds.com
www.liveexpo.com
www.googlebase.com

www.myhome.com.au
www.commercialrealestate.com.au

Next Week: The Others – Many of Them

MyHome

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.

33 Responses to State of the Portals. Part Three – MyHome

  1. Elizabeth July 25, 2007 at 8:14 am #

    Good morning,

    Peter, from what I am hearing, it is Bell Potter who have been instructed to find a buyer for Myhome. Which in itself is interesting seeing that Bell Potter is a current share holder in the company.

    If Myhome has any muster at all, the logical buyer for the site would be MSN. The customer base would be a good start for the looming free MSN portal.

    Now if MSN do not buy it, then we really know what it is worth.

    E

  2. Peter July 25, 2007 at 8:49 am #

    Thanks Elizabeth, why did I have that other mob in my head?

  3. Elizabeth July 25, 2007 at 9:11 am #

    Too many companies up for sale?

    I keep hearing that rumour from 6 months ago that Max Raine is looking to sell.

    E

  4. under the radar July 26, 2007 at 12:25 am #

    Hey Peter, Have you checked out Facebook at all? It seems to also have a rather serious gauntlet that it may one day throw down to Australian sales portals with it’s own in-built ‘market place’ system.

    Zuckerberg, the fellow who created facebook, was recently offered $1,000,000,000 USD for his creation by Yahoo (thats a BILLION dollars US) – an offer he promptly turned down.

    Hows that for prof not every portal is aiming to ‘sell out’. ;).

    The fact that any software developer can write his own applications that integrate into the facebook system is also DEAD SEXY.

    Anyway – just wanted to put the idea out there that folks should perhaps keep an eye on this one – I know I will.

  5. Jan July 28, 2007 at 8:24 pm #

    Have you guys heared about a new website portal real24.com.au that is goming to market pretty soon?

  6. Elizabeth July 29, 2007 at 11:04 am #

    Good Morning,

    Speaking of websites coming to market pretty soon… realsearch appears to be on a continual countdown. “A new hope for independent agencies” INDEED.

    In other terrible news for independent agents, I was contacted by some boffin from a company called irean saying that they too have a ‘portal’. However when I went to look at this so called ‘portal’ I was dismayed to see that it was something which should be on display in the Power House Museum. My own website has a better design and search functionality.

    Jan, it is with trepidation that I ask what you know about real24.com.au.

    Can all we expect of real24.com.au to be nothing more than what is on offer from realsearch, irean and myhome?

    E

  7. snoop July 29, 2007 at 11:23 am #

    Never ceases to amaze me why people are throwing money away on these new portals.
    Its a big boys game ,with serious money needed for distribution.
    None of these sites demonstrate any form of new/disruptive technology so why do the owners of these sites keep throwing good money after bad??.

  8. Jan July 29, 2007 at 1:05 pm #

    I have seen the design of real24.com.au and I think it is the best so far, even better than Domain or REA. And it looks quite user-friendly as well. I don’t know about realsearch, but irean and myhome – not even worth to mention over here.

  9. Elizabeth July 29, 2007 at 1:34 pm #

    Good Afternoon,

    Jan this does sound interesting.

    Tell me that real24.com.au is not touting itself as the Google of realestate.

    E

  10. Peter July 29, 2007 at 8:11 pm #

    Jan, thanks for jumping on board. I guess you are an part of real24.com.au? If so please let people know on here. When is the launch date?

  11. robert anthony July 30, 2007 at 11:52 pm #

    Hi Peter.

    I hope all is well, it does seem like we are all having a very interesting year, keep up the good work. I may be late but however it is true about domain and just listed. Join domain today and you can be on just listed tomorrow still for free. Bad luck if you are in the southern shire and on the northern beachs. You can only be on justlisted if you pay domain there increased feeess.

  12. Jan July 31, 2007 at 1:04 am #

    As i have heared, real24.com.au will be launched aprox somewhere in september, or beginning of october!

  13. Elizabeth July 31, 2007 at 8:22 am #

    Good Morning,

    Yes I know of several agents out there who are up in arms about having to pay Domain to get their listings on Justlisted.

    Increased Fees, no clear understanding of where Justlisted will be in a years time, and several are wondering what Domain will be doing with all the Justlisted data. With APM in the stables i can see why.

    There seem to be more questions than answers at the moment.

    E

  14. Barry August 1, 2007 at 9:43 am #

    Peter – it never ceases to amaze me that real estate agents continue to complain about the prices on REA and Domain.

    You’re looking at $300 – 400 a month (max) for UNLIMITED listings on sites that have 3.5 and 2 million visitors respectively !

    Get real – the two sites are considerably less than their press counterparts!! When are real estate agents going to wake up?

  15. Peter August 1, 2007 at 10:11 am #

    Hi Barry and welcome…

    I think agents are more worried about control, rather than pricing. This is my concern also. There is not one stock market driven company that charges less than what their market will pay.

    REA and Domain will continue to rise fees year on year whilst they know the agents will pay. The only thing that can halt this is competition and good competition that brings agents results.

    MyHome may be cheaper than REA and Domain but when you look at what results they are getting they are in fact dearer than both the incumbents.

    As for print advertising I have been saying for too long now that they are two completely different beasts and should not be compared. The cost of running a newspaper and a portal are so different.

  16. Chris August 1, 2007 at 11:08 am #

    Peter

    Curious that you consider newspapers and online two completely different beasts?

    Aren’t they both a vendor funded means for an agent to generate an enquiry?

    Isn’t all means of advertising comparable when it comes to cost and result?

    When we recently sold our home the agents I spoke to had little idea about what they were charging us (board, print, online

  17. snoop August 1, 2007 at 11:11 am #

    I got a hooker promo in my box yday.
    Sell within 60 days or all advertising free.
    Wonder what the catch is,how the fine print reads,sell at their price or yours etc??
    If I live in a desirable area and I do ,Theirs no way any agent is going to get me to pay for advertising.
    The agent that does it all will always get my listing.

  18. Peter August 1, 2007 at 11:18 am #

    Chris, my argument is not from a vendors perspective. It is from portals continually saying ‘we are far cheaper than newspapers’. It does come down to results yes, but to print a newspaper you need journalists, editors, print capabilities, distribution costs.

    To run a portal, you need solid systems and servers, the copy all comes from agents. You are possibly looking at 5% of the costs.

  19. Peter August 1, 2007 at 11:20 am #

    Chris, I agree with you in many ways in relation to results versus costs. Newspapers will give the vendor an immediate bang and that is where agents look.

    An Agent wants to sell your property as quickly as possible at the price you will agree to, that is just they nature of the way it works.

    I have never been a strong believer in the power of newspapers, but for a home worth in the millions it may make a difference. My preference is always online as it is not for one day.

    Thanks for your comments and keep them coming.

  20. Peter August 1, 2007 at 11:21 am #

    Snoop, I have about 50 promos here, but none like that. Nearly all of them are just SOLD promos, telling us what they recently sold a home for.

  21. Barry August 1, 2007 at 11:31 am #

    Lets ask to agents – yes, those crying poor as they take their various commissions from the vendors – do they charge the vendors for online advertising?

  22. snoop August 2, 2007 at 7:39 pm #

    Hookers def seem to be ramping up marketing and doing some creative promos.
    Thats good.
    I think I have posted before on this but if I had a dollar for the mindless drivel of 10c cards that drop in my mailbox daily from agents saying the sold everything they list or are the best rental agent I would be rich.
    If I was collecting Green credits from each of them for the trees they are killing I would be a millionaire.
    BTW
    ex wife sold the family home
    Print Advtg was 12k 500 bucks was for online!!!
    Still trying to find out what dragged the happy buyer in.

  23. Chris August 9, 2007 at 7:51 pm #

    question for an agent to answer….

    how do you tell your vendors about where you’ll advertise their house?
    When we sold, we were told to spend thousands in the newspapers and bugger all online.
    Basically all of the people who were interested in the house found it online.

  24. Sam August 9, 2007 at 9:32 pm #

    Chris, you miss the point, your ad dollars are to promote the agent not your house. A trained monkey with a bow tie could sell your house, especially in this market.
    The agent had his/her profile enhanced in the print media courtesy of your bank account not theirs, not a bad rort eh ?

  25. Elizabeth August 11, 2007 at 10:54 am #

    Good Morning,

    Peter, do you know anything about the law and running competitions?

    After the badgering from the local Elders office about Myhome and how they have shares in the site last night, I thought I would take another look.

    I notice that Myhome are running a new competition.

    Now I distinctly remember entering their last competition “tell us why you love myhome” at least twice. The prize was a free subscription to ACP magazines and over 200 of these to give away.

    But there was no announcement of the winners.

    Aren’t there laws in relation to running competitions? Shouldn’t there be a list of winners somewhere?

    I am just wondering now if Myhome will give away the prize for this current competition?

    E

  26. Peter Ricci August 11, 2007 at 11:08 am #

    Hi E

    I am pretty sure I saw the winners advertised somewhere. So I don’t think that is a problem.

    What is the prize this time? A year of FREE TV watching Channel 9?

  27. Elizabeth August 11, 2007 at 11:22 am #

    Dear Peter,

    The Prize this time is $20,000 made up of $10 000 of free appliances or something, and $10 000 worth of expert advice.

    Not sure I value the second $10 000 worth.

    Where can I see this list of past winners?

    E

  28. Peter Ricci August 11, 2007 at 11:29 am #

    http://72.14.253.104/search?q=cache:lKxcd6npx6AJ:competition.myhome.com.au/ myhome competition winners&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=au

  29. Peter Ricci August 11, 2007 at 11:31 am #

    Sorry E. You can copy and paste that (all of it) into Google and it will bring up a cached page. Or this is what it says!

    “Judging for Round 3 of the myhome.com.au competition has finished and 50 winners have been chosen and notified via email.

    Thank you to everyone who entered, we had some great entries which left no doubt as to why many of you frequently say ‘I love my home’

    Below are some of our favourite myhome ‘I love my home

  30. Elizabeth August 12, 2007 at 7:37 am #

    Good morning,

    Thank you Peter. I must say you are exceptionally resourceful.

    It would appear I did not win my years subscription to Cleo.

    E

  31. Geoff August 12, 2007 at 1:33 pm #

    I guess my entry didn’t get a mention –

    “I love myhome because I found it on Domain.com.au”

  32. Elizabeth August 13, 2007 at 7:41 am #

    Good Morning,

    Now Geoff that is a delightfully naughty entry.

    Do you think that it may be prophetic?

    Is myhome the new justlisted?

    Will domain try to do something with myhome?

    Maybe you will be able to find myhome on domain.

    E

  33. Peter Thomas August 27, 2007 at 7:33 pm #

    I think that myhome is doing very well within the market, however I have seen advertising for another property site called http://www.rent.com.au which has just rental properties on it, their is share, residential, private landlords, and holiday accommodation I think that rent.com.au is one of the biggest growing realestate websites on the internet and myhome do not have a chance up against such a great property site with renting and rentals.

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