Over the past few months it really seems like every week we are seeing a new feature or improvement being released by one of the top two real estate portals. Realestate.com.au release a minor update in the past week that hides the phone details of agents and Domain.com.au released their Radar search recently.
So what are we going to see next?
One rumour that’s been flying around for quite awhile now is that realestate.com.au is going to integrate a review system into their portal. Back in February last year Dave Platter (ex- Corporate Public & Investor Relations Manager at The REA Group) as a then contributor to this blog tested the concept on the readers with a post called “Here’s one way real estate agents can control the web’s future“. Of course Dave was quick to point out that he and Shaun DeGregario the then realestate.com.au General Manager both denied that the company had any plans to integrate such a system into the portal.
Yeah… right.. Who do they think they were kidding! The fact that Dave quoted Shaun in the first place only seemed to confirm to many that they were considering the idea but wanted to test the waters first and gauge agents opinions.
How things have changed in just 20 months. Dave is no longer at REA, Shaun has moved away from the main realestate.com.au business to be the General Manager – International for REA and the drums are beating with a review system to be integrated into realestate.com.au which will be announced to agents next week.
With no concrete details to share its a bit hard to comment too much other than it will involve some sort of feedback system for visitors. This change will obviously try to make the whole experience to be far more interactive for visitors which is certainly a trend at the moment with large portals. Online reviews are nothing new and sites like Google, eBay, Amazon and YouTube all feature visitor reviews. If done right realestate.com.au might just have the jump on Domain again but if done badly they are going to feel the wrath of quite a lot of agents as their reputations are tarnished.
Online Reputation Management (ORM) is very important for agents right now and I wrote an article on the Ugly Side of Twitter covering this very problem but its just as relevant to all forms of social networking. Facebook is a little different and the potential for damage from sabotage or underhanded tactics is minimised due to Facebook’s privacy and security settings.
The sheer market dominance of realestate.com.au means that they have to get this right the first time. Of course the decision to release this sort of system won’t be a rushed one as there has been nearly 2 years at least of the idea maturing at head office. I would like to think they have listened to agents concerns during this time and have a well thought out strategy to launch.
Of course only time will tell so keep an eye on your inbox next week and an open mind.