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..
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 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?