MyHome lives again!

Perhaps we were all a little hasty with the demise of MyHome. It was announced today that Shane Dale has taken over MyHome and is now the sole proprietor.

MyHome now will become a free listing website, although whether this is short term or long term I am not sure. It seems that Mr Dale has done quite nicely out of this deal, pocketing a good deal of $millions from the initial transaction and then buying it back later for a fraction of the price.

I do wish Shane all of the best with this new venture, it will not be easy, but now they can concentrate on actually making this site a worthy competitor. Time will surely tell us, if this will be the case.

Below is the contents of the letter sent to agencies across Australia
We would like to advise you that myhome portal is still functioning perfectly as before. There has been a change of ownership of myhome, Shane Dale is the new sole owner of the assets of myhome.com.au and surroundpix businesses.

The changeover process has taken place so rapidly that this is the first opportunity to communicate with you, after consolidating the business operations. Myhome.com.au will be a free listings portal, there has been no disruption, and it will continue to work and we wish to receive fresh feeds of your listings again asap.

We are currently contacting all heads of franchise groups and independent agents advising them of the new ownership and continuance of the myhome.com.au site. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you wish, and we look forward to meeting with you in the future.

In the meantime, what arrangements need to be made to revive your listing feeds to the myhome data engine? It would be helpful if you can notify us of any requirements. Our tech staff are ready right now, anytime to oversee a smooth reactivation.

Regards,
The new MyHome team.

James Packer, MyHome, PBL, Shane Dale

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.

28 Responses to MyHome lives again!

  1. Brett Clements June 12, 2008 at 2:38 pm #

    Good to see. Maybe Shane will start to look seriously at integrating video into his offering.

  2. SSSR June 12, 2008 at 2:51 pm #

    It will be a challenge. The ‘MyHome’ is a tainted brand and will be harder to revive than a whole new brand potentially. You could look at it the other way and say that its at least a known brand to build upon.

    If its free, providing the listings are accurately displayed, then it stands an improved chance of critical mass at least.

    They have some further $$ to spend to give it a point of differentiation and make it more user friendly.

  3. craig pontey June 12, 2008 at 3:09 pm #

    I hope he didnt pay too much……….

  4. Robert Simeon June 12, 2008 at 4:04 pm #

    I won’t hold my breath on this making either sense or cents for that matter. I have just finished reading our Activity Account from Homehound.

    Emails enquiries to our agency:

    March 08 – 0
    April 08 – 0
    May 08 – 0

    I rest my case!

  5. Craig June 12, 2008 at 4:13 pm #

    I wonder what the business model will be if the listings are free. I suspect that the listing cost was not a major consideration for agents listing on the site anyway, they can just pass it on to the client.

  6. SSSR June 12, 2008 at 4:26 pm #

    Craig, they will charge for advertising I assume. Hopefully they can retain the major sponsors to enable them to have sufficient funding to procure distribution. Nothing will change regarding their UBs and performance to agents if consumers visit the site to see more of the same however.

  7. snoop June 12, 2008 at 4:30 pm #

    sssr
    valid point
    why do agents complain so much about the protal charges when it seems most are charging 2-300 bucks for internet advertising???

  8. SSSR June 12, 2008 at 4:43 pm #

    If I was Shane Dale I would be talking to Michael Hannan regarding a merging of HomeHound and MyHome to try and put together a more user friendly portal that is less tainted with the stink of failure. Then they might have an opportunity to improve the competitive landscape.

  9. Robert Simeon June 12, 2008 at 4:47 pm #

    Makes sense they caould re-brand it MyHound LOL

  10. Bill Anderson June 12, 2008 at 5:08 pm #

    Perhaps www. mydoghouse.com.au

    All the pomp and ceremony wont really make a difference to the real estate portals in this country as realestate.com.au has it stitched up..BUT as long as their remains some alternative, it seems clear that at least some cost control will remain. My personal enquiry remains high with realestate.com.au with 20 – 100 hits per property per day, plenty of phone and email enquiry, with only 1 or 2 calls or emails per quarter from the others. Our properties are listed on our home page, our company website, homehound, myhome, open2view and realestate.com

  11. Peter Ricci June 12, 2008 at 6:55 pm #

    I think if he can look at the total business model and refine all areas to be automated he can succeed in a 3rd party advertiser model.

    If it is FREE then I want to see that it will always be FREE, I don’t think agents will support something that is kind of free until it is successful.

    If it is always FREE (even if sold) then agents would have no problems supporting it.

  12. Greg Vincent June 12, 2008 at 7:55 pm #

    Sometimes it’s better to just take the money & run a mile the first time around.

    Unfortunately, MyHome is now tainted & the virtual tours will be fast overtaken by video tours. Add in the fact that the major portals now accept 20 images per property. It looks like it’s going to be an uphill battle.

    I wish you well Shane.

    PS. Might be worth trying to incorporate a mix of video content from the agent or an agent podcast within the surroundpix somehow.

  13. Glenn Batten June 12, 2008 at 10:55 pm #

    I wish them the best of luck. Even being a free portal wont guarantee success.. just look at Homehound for that one.

    Besides, First National abandoned them the first time around when they were free because of the continuous errors in the system causing angry buyers to voice their frustration to member offices. Maybe they have fixed this already?

    In addition to this level, they have the whole experience to the buyer to fix as well. He certainly has a job ahead of him and I guess there will be a few red faces in a couple of corporate boardrooms if he pulls it off.

  14. Jim Willcott June 13, 2008 at 11:56 am #

    C’mon Peter, where is the anti-myhome vitriol now?

  15. AJ June 14, 2008 at 2:21 am #

    “We would like to advise you that myhome portal is still functioning perfectly as before”

    Well there is a good reason to go back to myhome.

    Same problem with out of date listings… agents who are no longer in the industry…

    Hope you did not pay too much there!

  16. Shane Dale June 14, 2008 at 10:24 am #

    Thank you all for your comments, I have always enjoyed reading business2 and all comments are welcomed by me – on the new myhome either nice or nasty – its important for me to consider them all.

    At this stage I am mainly consulting with the industry before I go making too many changes to the portal model. So please be patient regarding exact details, as I am still defining each element of the strategy. Its been a fast process, however i have been in the industry 12 years and have long considered what needs to be done. many of you are right on target from what i have read.

    A few points to keep you all happy ( I hope)

    A free listings portal is the ambition, and I believe the only way forward. The usual premium listings and agent banners of course are available for reasonable fees , yet to be determined.

    The interface is being redesigned. I am a designer myself, so what you will soon see is directed by my understanding of human interaction and commercial design

    There is a new improved data loading engine, any of the old issues with data were perhaps due to a declining staff team, and generally things slowing down prior, please allow for a week or two to get this operationally sorted out.

    I am lucky to be have more options available to me, as I have acquired the assets at a reduced rate – and drastically reduced the cash burn – thus I dont have to target huge revenues to make a reasonable return.

    Yet – the opportunity exists for this to be a serious portal, and who knows how far that can go with some fresh thinking in this industry?

    I am not going to reveal all my concepts here, as that would be imprudent of me, but I have confidence that together we can create a business, which has mutual benefits for the industry and the site. So far the industry seems willing to give us a chance to see what we can do, so thats what we are doing – as fast as we can!

  17. SSSR June 14, 2008 at 11:26 am #

    Shane, the challenge will not necessarily be the agents, to a degree, if you plan to offer free listings. There will always be some agents who decide not to even take up the free offer because of the previous issues that MyHome has had. I personally think a lot of agents, providing you can guarantee free forever, will still use it however.

    The challenge for the new MyHome will be to give the consumers something different. Thats the trick. Your UBs increase, your page views increase and enquiry rates improve, then agents who previously were burnt by MyHome will give it another look.

    Good luck to you, the more people that provide a competitive alternative is beneficial for the industry.

  18. Glenn Batten June 14, 2008 at 7:29 pm #

    What’s most interesting is that your attitude appears in contrast to a recent ex-myhome employee who believed it was the industry that let it fail rather than the quality of the finished product.

    You have acknowledged here the problems that many of us have been shouting about for quite a while. The interface and the data problems. That seems to be half the problem although I have to disagree the reason the data issues existed was because of declining staff. As many have pointed out on here the problems were right from day 1.

    I look forward to seeing your new interface. This will certainly be crunch time in my mind. As the saying goes, if you build it, they will come. Both the agents and the visitors. If your interested in some focus group opinion before you release it to the public, this forum might be a great resource for you. You know that nobody will hold back at least ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Jim Willcott June 14, 2008 at 10:08 pm #

    Glenn, UI design is a bit like art, it can be a matter of subjective opinion at the end of the day but very few people know a great deal about it (despite protestations otherwise).

    Via an ex staff member at myhome I’ve had a squiz at the site stats and user session time was better at 10 min 50 sec than both REA and Domain, which means people stayed longer given that, arguably, it is easier to use. In addition, I understand that since SEM has been turned off, myhome continues to drive good traffic based upon consumer loyalty.

    if you believe REA is the pinnacle of UI design, then I rest my case. A simple time+motion on that site would show why it is so poor. REA is ‘first to market’ not ‘best in market’.

  20. Glenn Batten June 15, 2008 at 4:43 pm #

    Jim,

    I understand that UI design is very difficult which is why I suggested in a recent post that a new portal should start with current designs and improve on them from there rather than trying to do it all from scratch. Reinventing something like that is not easy as myhome found out but what really offends is that lack of detail that they applied right from the start. How can you launch a site with that much money behind it without a link back to the home page from all other pages. Thats like web design 101.

    Besides what makes you think that I believe REA is the pinnacle of UI design. Especially considering their design is exactly the same as everybody elses.

    The best design is not what is technologically better, but is what people favour, what they use, and what they go back to. Just look at the VHS and Betacord war… Better is not best in the marketplace.. And in that argument it is what is “best in market” by a long shot. Your “poor” design brings in several hundred percent more enquiries better than all the others combined and that will hold true for all but a handful of districts in Australia. The design and technology of the site might be outdated, but whilst it is delivering those sort of results why would you change it.. its just not broke.! I would love to see changes, but I cant blame them for not wanting to break a good thing. Their database design needs work for instance.. Search for west end and you properties in Townsville and Brisbane at the same time. Their system can differentiate suburbs of the same name over different states but not from the same state. That is terrible for those agents operating in effected areas.. but by trying to fix it they could break it and lose marketshare and the shareholders would not be pleased.

    The last Nielsens ratings that I seen which compares the portals showed Myhome at an abysmal 2 minutes something. Both domain and REA used this in marketing against myhome. If myhome was really that high why didnt they dispute Neilsens statistics and refute REA and domains claims.?

    The only person other than you that i have ever heard or “argued” that myhome was easier to use was an ex myhome employee. If it was that easy why is Shane Dale looking to redo it?

    Your claim that myhome is still driving good traffic is interesting as well as you are the only person who I have heard state that. Before we turned off myhome we had just one enquiry and reading all the posts on hear about myhome and their responses I can say thhat is typical of the level of responses.

    Myhome got some fundamentals wrong. If Shane can turn that around he will make an impact.

  21. Jim Willcott June 15, 2008 at 9:27 pm #

    Glenn,

    Your points raised a few questions for me to explore… so, rather than let it slide I thought I’d follow up and ask my mate some questions.

    So here goes. A few points for you to consider:

    1) I am told the 2 minute session time was a technical limitation that resulted in under-reporting. Myhome used a technology (apparently called AJAX) which meant that there was only 1 page load for each user (rather than the many hundreds for a standard website). This initially resulted in suppressed session times on Nielsen’s. I am told that a fix for the statistics was introduced a month or two after launch. Surely, your sources of information are more current than this? I am told 10min 50sec remains accurate.

    In this case, a little information out of context can be a dangerous thing, no?

    2) I asked about why myhome didn’t correct this in the marketplace. Basically, the view was that there was already one arrogant player in the marketplace. It didn’t need a second. So, they chose a softly-softly approach and didn’t wish to respond to speculation.

    3) In an earlier post you mentioned data accuracy issues. This was widely acknowledged as an issue at the time and I am told that much time was spent correcting this in the first 3 months of it’s operation. It hadn’t been a wide-spread issue since then. Once again, surely there is more current and accurate criticism?

    We all know the demise of myhome will only lead to higher fees from REA & Domain for all concerned. This is the real story. Less competition, higher prices. the formula is simple.

  22. SSSR June 15, 2008 at 10:10 pm #

    AJAX can distort page view numbers but shouldn’t affect time on site figures?? Time on site is time on site regardless of AJAX I thought…?

  23. Glenn Batten June 15, 2008 at 11:28 pm #

    Jim,

    Thanks for your reply. I see you don’t want to touch the whole UI discussion which formed much of my response but thats fine, lets deal with the issues you chose to continue on.

    With regard to the Myhome session times in the Neilsens reports sorry but I have not seen such figures, maybe you would like to quote them for us. I have only seen the Neilsens results and the propoganda from the other portals ridiculing them over it.

    Thats an interesting tactic of myhome regarding this though, especially if the 10min time you claim is true.. Not countering against wrong information especially given their troubles with the excuse that they dont want to appear arrogant. That in itself appears very myopic and certainly something I bet they wished they did different given whats happened with the company since then.

    That excuse though just does not make sense to me, even in the light of hindsight. Your getting slammed by your opposition and the business is getting hammered and statistics issued by a company that you pay good money too is allegedly wrong and places you in a terrible light, a laughing stock even, yet you choose to say nothing, nothing at all. That just does not seen smart.

    As to the information out of context jibe… this was figures released by myhome’s web analytics company that myhome did not publicly counter. What context would you have considered the industry have taken then? If the figures you claim are true the only reason that makes sense as to why they did not release statistics to counter it is that they were too embarrassed by the other metrics involved. ie. who cares if the session times were 10min if there were bugger all visitors.

    Just to correct you slightly, I and many others have commented on the inaccuracy of the data. I personally have had no experience of it after we turned off the feed to myhome but others have shared their frustrations over the past year through numerous comments to posts. As far as I can tell from the feedback given those problems have continued although they seem to have certainly reduced, but lets face it, they had to didnt they. So you are right, it was not so widespread after a full 4 or 5 months after launch, but it did still exist. There is an old saying about smoke and fire, but in this case the fire came first… a big blaze that burnt quite a few people, whole networks in fact.. so everyone expected more of the same whenever they got a whiff again and there was a fair share of smoke rising from the horizon still.

    I think you place far too much market strength on myhome. The events of the past couple of weeks should have shown you that. The demise of Myhome will not lead to higher fees. REA’s fees are based on the lack of competition and Myhome has provided no competition since their launch. In fact, before they started they provided more pressure on REA than they did when they opened. Because of the backers involved everyone thought they would be competitive, even REA did, but the industry reacted in concert from that first day we all got a look at the site..

    Their poor performance has provided no price pressure on REA and certainly no competition for quite sometime. In fact it has been the opposite. The results that myhome served up for the price they charged some agents only justified the prices that REA charged. Simon recently commented in the media on myhome, and its clear that they have not counted them as serious competition at all. REA have effectively set their prices for the next two years anyway.

    This I believe is the real story. I like everyone I have ever talked to about it want myhome to be a success. But closing my eyes and wishing as hard as I can is not going to make it so. They needed to do it but they failed. Now it is up to Shane to create a phoenix from the company and rise from the ashes so to speak…. That damn fire again!!

  24. Shane Dale June 16, 2008 at 5:11 pm #

    A few points to save everyone guessing –

    UI will be redesigned using simple straight forward search toools and navigation where its possible to edit the sophisticated but complex ajax components, but with some exciting add ons and new concepts.

    No external banner ads, thus a clean, honest and simple interface

    Data loading was fixed after the first few months, and quality of content was fine – albeit, some groups were providing data as a combined group for the first time, which also added some teething problems, as far as I am aware, the system is fine now, and the manual system allows for agents to directly log on and correct any issue which may arise anyhow.

    On top of which, there is a new and faster loading system to be released within the next 2 weeks, which is even more simple to respond quickly to any issues, practically while you are on the phone it can be fixed.

    Session times were averaging 10 minutes according to nielsens net ratings 4 weeks ago. The ajax reporting was fixed after initial incorrect readings. I have the actual screen caps here in front of me now.

    I will be much less inactive about nonsense rumours.

    I will however confirm one thing – I do think the current site isnt straightforward to use, although its infinitely better than the original design.

    For the record, I had zero to minimal involvement in any design or business concepts that were actually used. I cannot therefore comment too much on why certain decisions were taken. I am more concerned about becoming the new myhome phoenix and rising than doing our own Sydney CSI autopsy on myhome mark 1.

    Hope that helps everyone, its quite fun being the centre of the real estate gossip forum – maybe its my 15 minutes.

  25. XE June 17, 2008 at 1:12 pm #

    Shane – I was an ex employee for myhome and was on the front lines hearing all the problems with the site. I am currently working as a website consultant and internet marketer and am more than happy to give you valuable information of why myhome failed for PBL.

    If you would like to contact me you can ask Peter Ricci for it, he should have my email in his internal systems.

    PS I didn’t weigh in on the debate on why myhome failed because of potential litigation.

    XE

  26. Shane Dale Shane June 18, 2008 at 2:28 pm #

    I welcome anyone at all to contact me personally regarding their thoughts – your input is valued.

    my email is sdale “at” myhome.com.au the plans are still in an embryonic state – and there are many in development – of course please be aware I cant act on all suggestions put forward – and I may not wish to publish all my reasons for doing so, I hope you will all understand why.

    Shane

  27. Aussie Old 'un June 27, 2008 at 3:55 pm #

    Just picking-up on a minor point for those who weren’t around in 1993, Jim (14/6).
    RealestateView (R.E.View), was the first national classifieds portal of any type of any real size and success – first by a long shot. (The current Realestateview is a different business that re-used the original name – and only by creating Realestateview.com.au Pty Ltd to get around domain name issues from a pre-existing Realestateview Pty Ltd – there’s another story….)
    Despite what its PR people would have us all believe, Realestate.com.au was never first to market! They copied Property.com.au (that began life as RealestateView – REView). REView dealt with the REI’s nationally and introduced agents and the public to not only the Internet later-on, but initially to computers as they were all working out of manilla folders and the marketplace was Fairfax papers. Property.com.au was eventually bought by Realestate.com.au that had been facing extinction until backed by Macquarie bank.
    (And just for completeness, Simon Baker didn’t enter the business until it was a business well past the start-up phase).
    It is interesting to note that the model and technology core hasn’t changed in all that time! (Despite how RE.com.au creates sticks to inefficient useability to increase old-fashioned hits for advertisers rather than improve the buyer’s experience. That comes with monoliths and duopolies, I guess).

  28. Dean Teasdale July 14, 2008 at 9:29 pm #

    If the same content can be accessed from another site more quickly (because same visitor is already fimilar with the alternative) then why would that same visitor switch?

    Has it really been 15 years without change?

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