Giving Private Sellers access to list their property on realestate.com.au has been a very hot topic recently. I first posted about the issue back in April and Realestate.com.au issued a Private Selling Policy on the 28th of May which further defined the rules and which Peter posted on.
In this policy, REA state that their “business model focuses upon licensed real estate agents as our primary customers”. It also states the “entity does not obtain at least the range of agent services set out above, REA will consider that such a listing is a “private listing”” and that “REA has made the decision not to allow private listings on its website”
However this is where the Hypocrisy starts as one hand forgot to tell the other what it was doing. REA forgot to tell Hubonline just what the rules are and even though REA owns and operates both realestate.com.au and hubonline they are working against each other.
Hubonline created the website for www.myhomeisforsale.com.au which in turn uploads and continues to upload their listings to realestate.com.au but these listings are in clear breach of realestate.com.au’s “Private Selling Policy”.
From the website of www.myhomeisforsale.com.au – “My Home Is For Sale is a professional property advocacy company which holds a real estate license. We work with you to sell your home, providing you with the tools to sell your home without paying agents fees.”
When you see realestate.com.au’s sister company is guilty of flouting the rules, you can understand why nobody else in the past seemed to have been forced to follow the rules and stop uploading private sales.
So what does all this mean..?? First of all, let be clear… you can’t blame websites like www.myhomeisforsale.com.au and the others. They are just trying to make a buck and if REA does not enforce its own rules you can understand why they continue to upload private sellers to the system. In fact given that it was hubonline that built their website you could argue that it was given some sort of implied approval at least. In fact, if that website turns out to be pointless for their business model I reckon they should be able to ask for their money back as Hubonline should have known the concept breached REA’s rules.
A few of the comments in the other posts have focussed on the ACCC getting involved with this whole issue based on anti-competitive grounds. Till now I personally thought that was stretching it but when an REA business builds a website that is outside of the rules of another REA business, then there may be an anti-competitive case to answer after all.
One things is for sure…. Websites like www.happeningrealestate.com.au and www.place2live.com.au which I mentioned in the first article have had to change their offerings substantially. There products they offer are vastly different that those they promoted in April. They are now marketing themselves only as discount real estate agents and are not offering a service for private sellers. From this I can only conclude that realestate.com.au is now actively enforcing the rules right around the country but to be open and fair they need to have their own people follow the same rules or else someone might argue that it is anti-competitive!
Naturally this issue polarises opinions especially when you have some serious money involved. Real estate agents watched their impact on realestate.com.au being diluted with more and more private sellers popping up every day. REA had $1,000 per month per client on the line. Just www.myhomeisforsale.com.au had over 200 clients being charged $295 up front and then $79 per month so private sellers represented a fantastic income stream for those online agents. No wonder the FSBO sites were so upset!
REA made its bed with an agent only, no private sales policy and in the end they had to lie in it because agents helped to create realestate.com.au where it is today. The moral and right thing to do was to start properly enforcing their own rules again, which to their credit they did.. after a push, a shove and a nudge.
I suspect that this issue highlighted has fallen through the cracks and will be rectified shortly, as they seem to have fixed the problem with the other companies. Whilst they may not have cleaned up every incidence just yet it is probably well on the way.
The issue of private sellers on realestate.com.au will probably raise its head again one day. As an agent my preference is that private sellers be kept off the portal.. but IF it was ever to change, I really dont think it will make that much of a difference. Some.. but not much. I know many agents will consider that as blasphemy but lets look at it another way… Google’s entry (Where the bloody hell are you?) could mean that they become a major player in presenting listings to prospective purchasers and anybody can upload to Google Base.
This all got me thinking about what everyone’s preferences would be over the matter…How many would agents would accept private sellers if www.realestate.com.au decided to allow them? Would love to hear your thoughts!
Feel free to forward this around via email/twitter/facebook etc and ask real estate agents and salespeople to complete the poll.
EDIT: It seems that the deadline for the updated Private Selling Policy is still to come which goes a long way to explain why www.myhomeisforsale.com has not been updated. I think we can expect to see policy enforcement very shortly … Glenn 26/7/09