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New Realestate.com.au Upgrades Arrive

5 minute read

As we predicted Realestate.com.au started implementing a major upgrade today and are due to roll it out across all suburbs over the next few days. The update includes New Suburb Profile pages and realestate.com.au Local Voices.

New Suburb Profiles

The new suburb profiles provide additional sales data on each suburb including monthly and annual median house data, supply and demand trends and local sales data. Much of the data is obviously been sourced from RPData through their renewed commercial relationship. The supply and demand trends seem to be the exception and calculated from realestate.com.au intelligence comparing the number of buyers looking in an area relative to the number of available properties.

Much of this information is nothing new and Domain certainly provide much of this information in their suburb profile but the realestate.com.au new offering is certainly more polished than their competitor and the demand trends are unique.

Of course the new Suburb Profiles act as a teaser to upsell additional reports also available for the consumer at an extra cost. These reports would provide an additional revenue stream for both companies as they split the proceeds.

These suburbs are linked back to listings in the Realestate.com.au Sold Database which allows for agents to get better mileage out of this data.  There seems to be no allowance to preference your own sales and you can’t opt out. Agents who control most of the sales in suburbs could see a huge boost as their sales gain more visibility to consumers throughout the site.

Once all the suburb profiles have been rolled out expect to see a link from the homepage so visitors can go straight into a directory of all suburbs rather than having to find a property first..

Local Voices

The most significant change however is the new Local Voices service which is a pretty radical move by realestate.com.au but the first thing to remember is that it is nothing new. Local voices is simply a rebranding of the Street Advisor service through a new partnership deal between the businesses. So whilst this has been around for quite awhile now the realestate.com.au connection will ensure its exposure level to Australian consumers will increase exponentially over coming weeks and months.

This morning the Street Advisor (www.streetadvisor.com.au) site is redirected to its new home http://localvoices.realestate.com.au however somebody made a small typing error in the redirection and even after a full business day it is still broken and pointing to http://localvoices.realestate.com.u/ instead of http://localvoices.realestate.com.au.

This is all a bit embarrassing that it has not been picked up immediately. You would think the first thing someone would do after redirecting a major site would be to make sure it works because it has meant that the whole Street Advisor site has been out of commission for the whole day. Since the public dont really know the local voices web address yet it has not been a great day one.

Local voices allows consumers to rate individual streets and suburbs and to interact with each other asking questions of locals. The local voices system will feature the an overall rating for the suburb, what the suburb is great for, Who the locals have recommended would enjoy living in the suburb and Links to read and write reviews

The potential for abuse has been well spoken about on this site already but realestate.com.au has decided to integrate a mature system into their site rather than creating their own which should minimise any risks as most of the kinks should already been ironed out. Agents have the potential to really leverage this system by working to become a local expert in their area by providing street and suburb reviews.

As local voices is integrated into all listings on the realestate.com.au portal the fact that proactive agents are going to leverage exposure as the local expert on other agents listings is going to be a sore point for many who dont have the skills to take advantage of it or who cant be bothered. The realestate.com.au team have will no doubt have procedures in place to deal with agent complaints but dont expect too much interference and editorial control over the reviews unless they are factually incorrect, breach anothers copyright or are defamatory in nature. This is certainly how other such review systems work and the best way to counter a “bad” review is to write a better and more detailed “good” review.

A really good example of Local Voices  is Doncaster East http://localvoices.realestate.com.au/search/doncaster+east

Overall

Overall the updates seem like a good thing. There is bound to be a few bugs and issues to iron out like the redirection problem but it should not take long to sort itself out. Agents will have to do a bit of work to ensure they get the most out of these systems. Both the new Suburb Profiles and Local Voices open up additional marketing and promotional opportunties for successful and proactive agents but where there is winners there will also be losers.

They are not going to go away and will probably be very popular with consumers so Real Estate agents should develop and implement a strategy to get the most out of these new systems. Become your local area expert on Local Voices before your opposition does and ensure all your sales are recorded properly in the realestate.com.au sold database.

So what do you think of the two new features?

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22 Comments

  • Dave Hooper
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 8:05 pm 0Likes

    Whilst I welcome the changes, and the further move to community based contributions, I’m not sure I completely understand, given that the terms and conditions seem to indicate that agents cannot contribute;

    http://localvoices.realestate.com.au/tos

    “All Contributions you make to any REA Website (including Local Voices) must be solely for personal, non-commercial purposes.”

    …and

    “REA may at any time, without liability to you, remove, alter or disable access to any or all of your Contributions in its sole discretion without prior notice to you. Without limiting the previous sentence, REA may remove or disable access to any or all your Contributions if it considers that:

    4. (d) those Contributions directly or indirectly involve the advertising or marketing of any products or services;”

    But they then seem to be encouraging agents to contribute here;

    http://localvoices.realestate.com.au/localexpert

    “Generate leads for your business! As a real estate agent, lender, local contractor local expert status gives you free exposure to people looking for property or services in your area. The more you know about a city, the more you will be seen.”

    What am I missing?

  • Adrian
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 8:24 pm 0Likes

    The local voices redirect from street advisor works fine here, no problems at all, and I was on it this afternoon 😉

    Overall, another welcome layer of transparency to the aussie real estate market.

  • Nick
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 9:24 pm 0Likes

    I wouldn’t exactly say its a major update.
    New content yes, but thats all. Same old Perl code running the whole thing.

    One interesting thing is localvoices is Aspx.
    Which would explain why there is no integration with Realestate.com.au at all.

    I haven’t been able to find any of the new suburb profiles.
    Does anyone have a link?

    I think local voices will not take off personally.
    Sure you can upload photos and videos and do reviews, but why on earth would you?
    Your average joe isnt going to go out of his way to give REA free content.
    The site is more or less useless to people trying to find a home as well – you get any random idiot on the internet posting, or a agent posting who has a conflict of interest.

    There is no API or similar which is what made Twitter and co so popular – people took their idea and extended it.
    Whatever is posted is ‘licenced’ (owned) by REA and they dont give anything back.

  • Glenn Batten
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 11:05 pm 0Likes

    Nick,

    I believe that there will be integration right to a property level on realestate.com.au of both new features but that is slowly being introduced for the rest of the week. It will take till next week before everything should be fully in place for every property and every suburb.

    Licensed does not mean owned. You license a copy of Microsoft Windows but you don’t own a copy even if you bought it in a fancy new box with those hologram stickers. Licensing what you add on the site is very normal for this type of content. Nothing really nasty at play although just like all the other sites, they could abuse their license if they wanted to, but would they?. I suppose it’s the risk you take if you want to participate.

    Realestate.com.au’s power in the marketplace is due to its tight control over its data. That is why they will never upload their listings onto Google or release their own api. To do so would mean any webdesigner could create their own portal overnight and feature 95% of Australia’s property for sale. Other websites open up their systems through api’s to garner marketshare and whilst I would love it if they did it, I dont think it will happen unless the lose significant market share.

    Adrian ,
    I am far from an expert in these matters but I believe you can redirect two ways, one via the webserver itself with things like 301 redirections in the htaccess file as an example or you can redirect at a DNS level. Given the fact that you are getting through and I am not (on 5 browsers on three separate computers) I reckon it might be a dns caching issue with the bad address as its the only way I can think you can be getting through and I cannot… Unless they know my IP address and they are just blocking me for good measure :).

    Dave,
    It certainly seems to contradict itself as you point out. It was no doubt drafted by a solicitor which would explain that 🙂

  • Nick
    Posted November 5, 2009 at 7:03 am 0Likes

    Dave: You may also notice that the TOS is a exact copy of the RealEstate.com.au one.

    The redirect didnt work for me as of last night but its working fine now.
    You cant have a DNS redirect – in order to change the URL in the browser you need a 301, 302 or a META refresh.
    A CNAME record wont redirect, it would keep the url in the browser the same.

    My point is the site is virtually useless since the data is locked in and there isnt any reason to contribute except for financial benefit.
    If there was a bit more freedom, then people could do some really cool things with it.
    I’ve already found business promotional videos uploaded.

  • Glenn Batten
    Posted November 5, 2009 at 9:18 am 0Likes

    Nick,

    Thanks for that… I dont understand how a 301 or 302 redirect could offer different address to different people… but its working for me now to so it does not really matter.

    The Phillip Webb office that operates Doncaster East is being held up as the poster boy for the service and they have invested significant amount of time in Street Advisor. It would be interesting to get their feedback on what sort of business it has got them to date.. and what they think of it becoming local voices.. I might fire them off an email.

  • Sal Espro
    Posted November 5, 2009 at 11:50 am 0Likes

    So, how do we get that top position currently held by PWebb Co.?

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted November 5, 2009 at 12:44 pm 0Likes

    I wonder what happens when real estate agents actually start building these features into their own websites 🙂 I would think that it too will become redundant – interesting concept though.

  • Mac
    Posted November 5, 2009 at 2:02 pm 0Likes

    Robert, this business has been around for a couple of years now without any noticeable traction. A couple of brothers created it in a week-end. Have you heard of anyone referencing it except via media coverage? This is just a new iteration of its marketing to attempt to gain some more traction for REA and itself. (As Glenn said, “..through a new partnership deal between the businesses.”) While it may get ‘hits’ from your listings on REA, will it add real value to a listing? With online maturity, I think the World will become a bit more discerning with ‘social media’ and credible sourcing will become even more valuable. Now, if this info was provided by local policemen or town planners or the old post-office or station master, it might be better regarded. But Webb Agency smacks of someone trying to present their suburb in its best view possible (and get their matching listings in front of my face).

  • Nick
    Posted November 5, 2009 at 2:34 pm 0Likes

    Glenn probably their cluster didnt have the fix applied at once hence some servers were still redirecting incorrectly, while others were fixed.

    Mac thats a valid point. The domain streetadvisor.com.au is more than 2 years old, yet this is the first time any of us have ever heard of it and only because REA has snapped it up and is trying to flog it as the next big thing.
    It hasnt been a big thing for the past 2 years. Nothing has changed except marketing.

    I wouldnt think a police man or town planners would make a better source of information.
    It would still be biased, just not for commercial gain though.

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted November 5, 2009 at 2:49 pm 0Likes

    I don’t think an agent nominating that Best 10 streets in a suburb is a smart concept as all it does is annoy those who think that their street is the best – so an easy way to actually lose business.

  • David Hooper
    Posted November 5, 2009 at 7:21 pm 0Likes

    Nick,
    I hadn’t noticed that, thanks for pointing it out.

    Sal,
    Become a local expert, I guess.

    Robert,
    What an opportunity for them to offer an API so others may indeed use the content within their own sites.

  • Mac
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 1:38 pm 0Likes

    I guess I need to labour the point for you, David – While Webb Agency may well have ‘top rating’ at the moment, how does the system rate such appearances? (Not that I think you are going to get agents falling over themselves to prop this pretty useless system up).

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 1:49 pm 0Likes

    David,

    Personally, I have no interest in displaying their content on my website. All I can see with this release is a way for REA to further increase their respective SEO pages. If one looks a little deeper maybe this is a sign that they are going to cut-back on their advertising on Google?

  • David Hooper
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 2:06 pm 0Likes

    Mac,

    According to the site, they rank their “Local Experts” by using this methodology;

    http://localvoices.realestate.com.au/localexpert

    Robert,

    Perhaps you don’t, but I can’t help but think that it’s a big opportunity missed for them.

  • Sal Espro
    Posted November 11, 2009 at 4:14 am 0Likes

    David, I can’t help but think you are a rep for them! (?)

    Old n cynical – Sal 🙂

  • David Hooper
    Posted November 12, 2009 at 6:20 am 0Likes

    Sal,

    Far from it. I was, until recently, working for Max Brown Real Estate in Croydon, VIC. I am now working on a new startup business known as Media Agents. I have no affiliation whatsoever with REA, or any of their businesses.

    But keep being cynical, it suits you oldies 🙂

  • Sal Espro
    Posted November 13, 2009 at 3:23 am 0Likes

    David – Please excuse me.
    What’s your business service offer?

    Sal 🙂

  • Mitch
    Posted November 18, 2009 at 9:39 am 0Likes

    I guess all these changes could give more real estate opportunities in the days to come and will surely have a meaningful effect to this slow recovery. Thanks and good luck.

  • Craig Adams
    Posted December 9, 2009 at 8:46 pm 0Likes

    Price rise coming is the news on the street and the REA spin will be that they have been making significant changes to the site over the past few months which has been driving more eyeballs to the site.

    Hence they now have a larger value return on their site so we should pay more.

    Rise will be capped at 20% with the average rise being 8%-9% for most agents.

    I have a two year contract and by my calculations I am paying almost 40% more so I think this rise is starting to smell a bit odouriferous. My Account rep is nervous.

    Are the enhancements that good? Me thinks not. REA back to their old twisted tricks.

  • Ricky
    Posted December 10, 2009 at 7:54 am 0Likes

    Glenn and Craig,

    That is unbelievable! Inflation & CPI have been running at low single figure amounts and we get whacked with this. I use very little print so the spin about replacing print with online won’t work with me.

    Are you sure that there are no Westpac executives sitting on the REA Board because this seems to be in the same spirit of meaness as their recent grab for greed. What can we do nothing.

    They do it because they can. Nice.

  • Rory Raitz
    Posted January 7, 2011 at 9:33 pm 0Likes

    for example we altogether know the united states community consider the websites are a comic story

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