Project Rebellion: RPData in the Firing Line

As a followup to recent articles relating to the industry revolt and ACCC investigation into RealEstate.com.au, Australian Financial Review journalist Ben Hurley has released another article that takes aim at RPData and their valuation strategy.

RPData have been working on a valuation system similar to US portal Zillow in the USA where they provide a valuation to consumers.  Naturally this has upset real estate agents and valuers alike around the country. There are a couple of differences though but the primary one is that Zillow clearly identifies that the prices they provide are just estimates by calling them “Zestimates”.  Statistical guesses if you will.

It seems that RPData has removed the references to the word valuation since their launch but they still imply it with the claim “Want to know what a home is really worth?”

This AVM (Automated Valuation Model) application is a feature on the RPData facebook fan page and allows anybody to track 3 properties for 6 months.

Really Worth??  …are they sure??.. because they contradict themselves when you start  using it with this additional information later in the process.

 This estimate is computer generated and is not a professional appraisal. It uses complex modeling which includes property attributes, recent sales information and other data elements to reach an estimate of the property value and possible value range. The model also provides an estimate of how confident the value tracker is likely to be based on the availability of key data elements such as the attributes of the home and depth of recent sales data.

This estimate depends on information relating to the subject property and other properties which may be incomplete or wrong, negatively impacting the accuracy of this estimate. This estimate is based on one or more statistical models and assumptions, which may not capture all relevant factors or features of the subject property. This estimate also does not take into account the potential impact of external factors (such as a change in the economy, future planned infrastructure or environmental contamination on the subject property), which may affect the value of the subject property. Accordingly, this estimate should not be relied upon by you or any other person, including when making any decision in connection with this or any other property.

We at RP Data value your feedback and our Data Integrity Team are on hand to correct any property data. Please send us an email with the property address and its full attributes to Customercare@rpdata.com and we will assist you.

You just have to look at the recent Optus decision to see just how outrageous claims in marketing hype cannot be protected by the fine print. RPData’s competitors, Pricefinder and APM quickly distanced themselves from such tactics.

The AFR article also covers most of the old ground from the previous two articles for those that missed them plus raises a few issues that we have covered on Business2 already such as the success the ACCC has had with realestate.com.au after complaints by the  agent assisted websites.

More interesting though is the reference to the Redfin model that Ben raises in the article.

Just like I did in the last article on the ACCC investigation  Ben draws similarity with how realestate.com.au and Redfin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redfin) both have contact with the seller to sell advertising on their portal.  But Ben takes it a little further and more in line with a persistent rumour doing the rounds though the industry at the moment that states that realestate.com.au is looking more directly at the Redfin model, specifically the whole idea of commission sharing. This is of course countered by the numerous statements by Greg Ellis recently that REA will never claim some of the sales commission, an obvious response to the rumours.

When I called Redfin a Portal in the ACCC article, ex REA CEO Simon Baker responded in te comments with :

Your comparison to Redfin is misleading. Redfin is a real estate brokerage (agency) that primarily uses the internet to source leads.

They are not a portal.

They have a discount model and are attempting to change how agents in the US approach selling and marketing real estate.

Redfin do not fit into any box easily in the USA let alone here in Australia.  Whilst I agree with Simon that Redfin technically are not a portal there is far more to it than that as they are a hybrid solution and their offerings differ on location.

They run a website featuring listings from other agents similar to a potal but they also show property and charge commission…  BUT only in just 16 metro areas only… Outside of those areas, and that does leave a lot of the US, they have partner agencies that they generate leads for on their website. The partner agent only pays 15% to Redfin for that lead if they make a sale.

In areas outside of those 16 metro areas I would argue that they are more like a portal than not.   See for yourself at http://www.redfin.com/neighborhood/10157/CA/San-Diego/Loma-Portal  (the word portal in the URL was not lost on me either!)

Personally I cant see how that could easily fit into the Australian market at all. I believe that the strategists at REA would have considered every possibility including this, because I know I would have if it was my company,  I don’t think it has any legs.

A typical real estate transaction in the USA has a sellers agent and a buyers agent for 3% each, totalling a commission of 6%.  Redfin represents the buyer who effectively gets some of the commission back in savings similar to how Refund Home Loans works here in Australia.

Let’s face it, I believe that the moment they took their first listing authority it would take only a few days for 10,000 agents to remove every listing on the portal.

The article also raises something that an anonymous poster, Deepthroat alluded to in previous articles and that was the meeting of Victorian agents at REIV headquarters about the revolt against REA…

REIV cheif Enzo seemed very quick to add that he has not been a part of the meetings and the REIV only provided the meeting rooms as they often do.  Why was he not involved…  because Enzo is the CEO of RealEstateView.com.au if he was involved in discussions you can bet that REA would be calling in the regulators.

As I have said many times in the past since I started to contribute here in 2007 , real estate agents need to control our data and not let companies like Realestate.com.au, RPData and Onthehouse use it from their own benefits as clearly their monetisation models are at our expense.

With the debates starting to focus on RPData I am more convinced than ever that an REI portal website is not THE solution.  I dont think it will do any harm, and I am sure that it can only place more and more pressure on the top two portals but the key to Project Rebellion is control of the data itself, not just sold data, but all data.   If Realestate.com.au, Domain and the data companies did not have unfettered access and the right to sell and trade it amongst themselves then these problems would simply not exist.

It seems that the campaign in Victoria to withhold sales data might have had an unintended victim as agents are not advising of Auction results according to an article in the Sunday Age.  This issue itself  is not new though as if you compare the various Auction Clearence rates quoted by some companies they never seem to agree. Until the regulators legislate that public auction results be made public this will be an ongoing issue.

We should start to get an indication of what the real estate groups and REI’s ase  planning as a response soon.

ACCC, aft, ben hurley, Domain.com.au, project rebellion, REA, Realestate.com.au, rpdata

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About Glenn Batten

Glenn Batten is the General Manager at First National Real Estate Nerang and Principal at the First National Real Estate Upper Coomera office and has over 20 years real estate experience and a passion for technology. Glenn has been writing from an agents perspective on industry issues and covering a range of topics on Business2 since 2007.

59 Responses to Project Rebellion: RPData in the Firing Line

  1. Robert Simeon July 11, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

    Great article Glenn, very well researched. I agree that another industry website is not the answer – I briefly touched on it today in an article I filed for Property Observer this is certainly a topic that won’t be going away anytime soon.

    http://tinyurl.com/6jak6pr

  2. Craig Pontey July 11, 2011 at 3:40 pm #

    Dont be so sure Robert…..its about time the industry took back control of its own destiny…..

  3. Ryan O'Grady July 11, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    Great article Glenn, it will be interesting to see how RPData cope once the current sold data stops feeding through from Realestate.com.au. They’ll need to adjust their fine print to include details indicating the sold data is more than 3 months old.

    Banks surely can’t use valuations based on data from 3 months ago.

  4. Greg Vincent July 11, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

    This article from Peter Fletcher also confirms your thoughts around the data being the key for agents to gain some sort of control back (quickly & affordably). http://peterfletcher.com.au/2011/07/09/real-estate-industry-national-property-data-portal/

    This whole debate is getting very interesting.

  5. Robert Simeon July 11, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    Take NSW as an example – every property transaction has to be recorded at the Office of State Revenue week’s and months before this data becomes available publicly. It would kill off all those data companies if the state government took ownership and then sold it – which given it is broke it would be a very healthy revenue stream.

  6. Slippery Slope July 11, 2011 at 4:05 pm #

    “As I have said many times in the past since I started to contribute here in 2007 , real estate agents need to control our data and not let companies like Realestate.com.au, RPData and Onthehouse use it from their own benefits as clearly their monetisation models are at our expense.”

    “our data”

    Have there been any court rulings or legal advice as to whom owns the “data”?

    If a vendor pays (either through marketing costs, or through commission) for Signboard, copywriting, photos etc… then how do agents own the “data”?

    Don’t the basic elements of a property, such as address, Rooms, Carspace, Asking Price intrinsically belong to the existing property owner?

    The danger all agents face in asking for ACCC investigation into “data” ownership, is that it may turn out that they do not own the rights to “data” at all, or perhaps only enhanced elements to core property data.

    This should be something which the REI’s should be championing, seeking legal advice, and perhaps lodgment with ACCC or courts.

    Are all vendors aware that when they sign up with an agent, that the agent in turn will provide REA with a world wide royalty free license for the property owners data?

    The industry most certainly needs to have greater input and some control on the larger issue raised here. But perhaps there need to be a few issues clarified first.

  7. David Airey July 11, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    Glenn
    your comments in this para ” With the debates starting to focus on RPData I am more convinced than ever that an REI portal website is not THE solution. I dont think it will do any harm, and I am sure that it can only place more and more pressure on the top two portals but the key to Project Rebellion is control of the data itself, not just sold data, but all data. If Realestate.com.au, Domain and the data companies did not have unfettered access and the right to sell and trade it amongst themselves then these problems would simply not exist.”

    Glenn this is contradictory. If THE solution is not an industry owned site what is? Another commercially owned portal? Or one owned by the REI’s and their member agents?

    THE solution is certainly NOT another REA or Domain or commercially owned portal. That would be repetition of what we have now.

    I can tell you from my experience that agents around the country all say that they want to control a portal and they all believe that it will make a fortune. It won’t and secondly the agents cant all control it. It needs to be a “mutual” with members like the old building societies or Co-ops. If not then the shareholders need to be the REI’s so that management is in industry hands

  8. Glenn Batten July 11, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    Greg,

    I have not had the chance to read that article yet but somebody else just mentioned it on the phone. From what was explained to me Peter and I seem to have similar thoughts so I am looking forward to reading it.

    We first discussed some sort of data standard on this blog way back in 2007.. See :

    http://www.business2.com.au/2007/06/open-letter-xml-initiative/
    and
    http://www.business2.com.au/2007/06/xml-initiative-your-ideas/

    Initially Peters idea was to create a data exchange standard for all companies to use. During those discussions I came to the belief that the only way that it would work was that the database be centralised and controlled by the industry. The question at the time really was how it was going to be funded.

    All of this would mean that nobody would do “portal pushing” any more as that data exchange would happen between this centralised database and the portals. Agents would be in control of their own data and they decided which portal or company would get what data. If you dont want REA to get sold data, you just dont tick that box.

    In recent years that has become much easier to realise because of the amount of data that has been sold by REA to companies like RPData and Commonwealth Bank. Then you have things like free portals being charged just to access the portal pushers. We use Agentpoint for our website at both offices and have been quoted $2,000 per office plus monthly charges just to send our data to head office which is managed by Portplus. How is this fair ?

  9. Glenn Batten July 11, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

    David,

    It’s your opinion that it’s contradictory. 🙂

    I dont think an institute site will fix everything that is wrong. I think the industry actually controlling the data is far more beneficial… Of course.. having both is even better again!!

    I have tried to engage you in the previous article on discussing the REIA taking a leadership role on technology but you never responded.

    http://www.business2.com.au/2011/06/project-rebellion-front-page-news/comment-page-1/#comment-14429

    IMHO the REIA should control a data exchange for the industry. The issue of state based and a national portal are secondary. Important.. yes.. but not the key to its success. Without control of the data an institute site has to be the market leader to effect real change.

  10. Glenn Batten July 11, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

    Slippery Slope..

    Copyright law says its out data the same as a photographer can claim ownership of photos they have taken. Our photos, our text.. facts such as number of bedrooms are not covered, but our photographs and our property descriptions are certainly owned by the agent.

    As far as court rulings there has been plenty on the issue of copyright.. but one of the best that shows that REA does not hold copyright is the Sensis case http://www.smartcompany.com.au/intellectual-property/20100212-sensis-loses-case-to-protect-copyright-of-yellow-pages-and-white-pages.html

    My guess is that 99% of the data transmitted between agent to portal, and then portal to third parties is created by the agent.

    Just because they index it does not mean they own it… which is why REA ask us for a royalty free license to resell it. Why do RPData and Realestate.com.au quote that clause when you ask them why they have your information on RPData.?

  11. Glenn Batten July 11, 2011 at 4:57 pm #

    Ryan,

    Banks might have to start engaging valuers again instead of the desktop appraisals they have been using and then they will have to go back to phoning the agents to ask what they sold it for.. Ahhhh the good ol days 🙂

  12. B Wilson July 11, 2011 at 4:59 pm #

    I agree with Glenn…………… great article.
    Of even greater concern to us of late has been the inaccuracy of RPData’s Data.
    Every REA listing now has RPData statistical information at the bottom of each property page. As at 3:45 pm this afternoon the 2 main suburbs we operate in were stated as having Median prices of $805,000 and $625,000 . The REIV’s March Median prices for the same suburbs were $670,000 and $555,000 respectively……. a $135,000 and $70,000 difference in each case.
    Whilst I acknowlege the RP data figures are ‘current’ verses March REIV figures, AND that all data is subject to variations in its accuracy,this still represents a nearly 13 % and 29% increase in each suburb in the June quarter ! Increases which we haven’t witnessed as the ‘agents on the ground’, and I doubt will be reflected as accurate when the REIV quarterly figures are announced any day now.
    A call/email to REA regarding this discrepancy was met with a virtual shrug of the shoulders and a ‘buck pass’ to RPData.
    A subsequent email to RPData on 2 June 2011, and a follow up email on 27 June 2011, have yet to see a reply even acknowledging receipt let alone addressing the issue……. and we are paying Subscribers !

  13. Slippery Slope July 11, 2011 at 5:39 pm #

    Glenn,

    i am not sure it is as clean and cut as you state.

    if the vendor is paying for the photography (not the agent, the vendor pays for the photography), copy (how many times have vendors contributed to copy about their property, how can an agent claim rights in these instances?) etc… then the vendor owns the product output, UNLESS the agent has the vendor sign over all rights to the content.

    The premise behind what I am saying, is that it is important for there to be clarity, findings and clauses which relate to Agents owning data (not REA as in your example), from which a step by step approach to controlling data flows can be undertaken.

    This might be the vehicle to get the desired outcome, rather than relying on huff and puff about Industry Portals and the like.

    First prove agents own the data. Then decide what to do with it. Otherwise, REA’s strategy of going directly to the consumer could out-trump any “project Rebellion”.

  14. Glenn Batten July 11, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

    Slippery Slope..

    I am sure that for the majority of cases it is that clean cut. We hire professional photographers for maybe 5% of our total listings. Searching suburbs at random shows this to be the case.. The only time you will see this any different is in high dollar value suburbs where professional photography is more popular… but the majority of homes listed in Australia is not in that sort of price band.

    As to a sellers input into the marketing text. Unless they provide you with the text to use it is not their copyright.

    You are talking exceptions to the rule.. The vast majority of photographs are taken by the agent.. Having an agent provide marketing text is very very rare… maybe 1% at best.

    BUT yes it does happen..

    HOWEVER… all of this runs against your whole point.. Without proper control on the data, how can the rights of the owners of that data be protected. Go and list your property with an agent, provide them with the photos to go on the web then try and ring CBA and RPData and others and ask them to take the photos down.. See if you are able to get it taken down.

    If a central data exchange was created it would be easy to acknowledge and control the data whether it was owned by the agent as in most cases or by others.

  15. Bill July 11, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    Robert: “Take NSW as an example

  16. Martin Crampton July 11, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    More good insight, Glenn. We went thru *all* of this back in the 90’s when we began Property.com.au (originally as RealestateView – REView. Ironic? 🙂 with the base philosophy being to place agents in control of the data which was centralised for the Industry. Unfortunately, while we established the Australian model (that led the World as it actually began pre-web browser launch!) and got everyone on the net (as it was then :), a few REIV agents derailed the process for the REI’s – I have always wondered at their motivation. Were they very close to Fairfax who paid commish in those days? Who knows. Good for us as we owned the IP and kept the business. However, RPData as a later owner and Realestate.com.au’s eyes were spinning with what they could do with data which they did really effectively when REA bought Property.com.au. I actually invented a couple of mechanisms over the years to wrest-back control for agents. I called them ‘deportalisers’ 🙂 If you’d like an independent ‘Adschedule’ to pick and choose where to send your data, drop me a line but given the politics we dealt with on a daily basis aren’t as straight forward as it might seem, I think it’s a very hard road to hoe.

  17. Martin Crampton July 11, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

    ..and most importantly, where’s the commerciality? As Simon will atest, nothing will happen on any scale here without the old WIIFM.

  18. Glenn Batten July 11, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

    Greg,

    Peter’s article was an interesting read. I cant say I agree with him on all things, but generally its heading in the same direction as I am.

    Just looking at one example where we differ, Peter suggest that the PDP could compete with companies like PriceFinder and RPData. I think that the RPData especially has shown it is willing to pay substantially for Listing and Sales data from realestate.com.au so why try and compete with them when you can gain their business. Not only does it fund the central data exchange but it also removes a substantial revenue stream from REA.

    There is quite a few other things I think differently on but the overall broad strokes of the strategy is virtually the same things I have been talking about.

    IMHO the central data exchange or PDP or whatever you want to call it should not try and and release products. It should do one thing, the collection and distribution of data.

  19. Ryan O'Grady July 11, 2011 at 10:04 pm #

    The technology for what Glenn is proposing already exists and the ongoing cost to run such a system is minimal. You could charge an agency $10 each a month and that would be sufficient to cover server resources and management.

    $120 per year per agency to have full control of your data.

  20. James July 12, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    Peter

    I think you are 100% correct in your statement that “I am more convinced than ever that an REI portal website is not THE solution” there are more politics and hidden agendas behind the soluton then most people realise.

    For those that aren’t aware the National licensing scheme is to be introduced 1 July next year and this has the potential to significantly affect the operations and already questionable role of the state REI’s.

    I think you will find and I don

  21. Vic July 12, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    Not all states are happy with the national licensing rollout. WA in particular have an issue with qualification and ongoing training disparities between States.

  22. Vic July 13, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

    I’m not so sure that agents cannot own their own site.

    Say for example the REIA was in a position to purchase myhome from REview. The state REIs would take a prorata share in myhome and all listings from the State sites would be fed into it. “Voila” a national site.

    This would then be owned by the members rather than it presently having 25% owned by a few victorian agents.

    The site could then be developed with an API to distribute to free to list sites and also be the main site for data collections and distributions/sale.

    Myhome already has a reasonable national SEO.

  23. Glenn Batten July 13, 2011 at 11:05 pm #

    Vic…

    I think an industry owned and controlled portal can definetly be part of the solution.. I just dont think is is THE solution. I agree Myhome would be the perfect solution for a national portal that each state could upload to and told Shane Dale that very day or soon after that the REIV sale was made public.

  24. Vic July 14, 2011 at 6:49 am #

    Glenn,

    It was the obvious strategy then, as it is now. And agree, it is not the only solution, but have to start somewhere otherwise it becomes “paralysis by analysis”.

    But myhome has to be extracted from REview ownership, to work.

  25. Shane Dale July 14, 2011 at 9:46 am #

    Glenn and Vic – I think your idea is good, and maybe REIV would consider it – as it allows them to keep Review and sell off myhome into what it should be. It might be more palatable now that it has proven to be a hard road to grow in NSW and nationally – its all decisions which could be taken but a board is not one man and there should be a viable benefit for them as a company taking leadership. Myhome is well suited to be a central property system, but its theirs now not mine – this is all conjecture on my part.

    Each state could then gather their own data from that and do as they please.

    Viola!

    sort of a modified version of my original plans.

    PS – Ryan – regarding costs to run a data service – I sort of agree except – set up and training and accounts and help staff and double back up etc etc and the general running around to co ordinate such a data system would be far far more than the actual server costs. PLUS – where is the commercial incentive for the willing data company to participate in this proposed real estate data love fest? 😉

    in short – the usual apathy and political disparities will prevail despite the tools to get the job done just sitting there gathering dust.

  26. PropertyNow July 14, 2011 at 9:36 pm #

    A third of The latest Fin Review story ( the basis of this entire thread ) was ignored completely in this blog, so here is a link to the entire story.

    http://www.propertynow.com.au/assets/files/Property_Online_-_A_Real_Estate_

    Andrew Blachut
    PropertyNow

  27. Vic July 14, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

    Andrew,

    And your point is????

    Did you miss Glenn’s link to the article in his opening statement? It is no different to what you have just shown.

  28. Glenn Batten July 14, 2011 at 10:44 pm #

    Dont worry Vic.. It’s just Andrew looking for attention again, and again .. and again… I think everyone understands what he is like by now… even Ben Hurley given the tone of that section of the article..

    “They occupy a very small market share” and “and this year he claims his voice was heard.”

    I reckon Ben got the perfect take on him.. you will notice that nowhere in any of his other articles has he used the phrase “he claims’ 🙂

    Maybe Ben will see how he has haunted me on B2 and thought quoting him was a much easier 🙂

    The simple fact of it is that part of the article brought nothing knew to B2.. all of that had been discussed weeks ago.. Old news, old ground!

    RPData, Redfin, REIV meetings, REA presents that was the real stuff of the article and not “the basis” of the story.

  29. Glenn Batten July 14, 2011 at 10:47 pm #

    Quick cryptic question for everyone… Whats higher than platinum and costs a damn lot more… ???

  30. Vic July 15, 2011 at 8:23 am #

    Glenn,
    Besides the obvious, that the articles are driven by agent concerns with REA practices, there must be a point that Andrew is trying to make. I can’t believe that he is simply peeved off because you excluded him from being pivitol to the AFR articles. There must be some other logical reason, that to date, he has not been able to articulate.

    Andrew, what is the point of putting up a link to the same article that Glenn posted?

  31. PaulD July 15, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

    Premiere Property ? $2495 for 45 days

  32. Glenn Batten July 15, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    Paul,

    If I remember correctly you are in Northern NSW area… would you ever consider such a product at that price for any listing.. ??

    and if not.. what price would you consider a premier property charge at in your area?

    There has been talk for the past year or so about different options being considered by realestate.com.au.. I think all this talk has to be heading somewhere and with the ACCC specifically investigating their pricing we might see some changes sooner rather than later.

    Discussions seem to focus on three points:

    A monthly subscription account but with a ceiling on the number of properties…. so lets say a limit of 25 properties but will all the platinum subscription features.. The yearly increases have hit a point that small and brand new offices cannot justify an unlimited subscription and many are cancelling or not even setting up an account in the first place.

    A per property price model. Interestingly Simon Baker suggested in the comments of another article that this would not be a good move in his opinion.

    Zone based pricing models so different prices depending upon whether you are the capital cbd, inner city, suburban, provincial city, country towns or rural markets. Simon believes this would be the next step in the evolution..

    My experience is that agencies like yours often carry significant levels of listings in contrast to inner city agencies operating in just 2 or 3 suburbs and any attempt to remove the unlimited subscriptions could have a huge effect.

  33. PropertyNow July 15, 2011 at 1:50 pm #

    Glenn Batten and Vic. Do either of you two guys and PaulD know how to post a comment to a person that is not both derogatory and inflammatory?

    The link to the Fin Review story was posted because Glenn picked and chose very specifically what he reported.

    Now we are all capable of selective viewing…… but this is the third time in relation to all 3 Fin Review articles, where all three of you guys have not admitted that you were factually wrong.

    It is also the case that the question I posed about the genesis of the story, was ignored by you all. You three guys constantly insist people answer your ( often ridiculuous questions ) and yet when I ask a perfectly valid one your silence is deafening. PaulD asked the most childlike question in relation toi seo even though I had answered the very same question months earlier…and it was as stupid a question then also.

    Glenn Batten and PaulD, I get you don’t like my business model…..tough luck.

    Vic, kindly remove your link to PropertyNow as will I from my site to yours. I am sick and tired of you being an apologist for these guys. You phoned me up and grilled me for seo advice. I gave you a lot of that free of charge and gave you a quality link to boot. I now regret trying to help you.

    The bottom line is that this forum should be renamed. It is not a business forum. It is a real estate agent forum. And it is only for real estate agents who live in the past. This entire thread is based on a story that was not accurate. I pointed this out 4 times and you guys chose to ignore that and launch personal attacks because it suits your purposes. Ben Hurley was utterly bracious and not at all condescending and he posted the details did he not?

    Me setting the record straight – that PropertyNow is the reason for the ACCC investigation – is totally factual. It is not self promotion to correct an error. You expect me to witness a total falsehood and ignore it do you?

    I will ask Glenn Batten a fifth time

    Who is the francchise group who went to the ACCC this year on the basis of Predatory pricing by REA?????? come on Glenn…answer me?

    The easiest way to shut me up would have been for Glenn Batten and PaulD to man up and admit their mistake. No chance of that.

    Andrew Blachut
    PropertyNow

  34. PropertyNow July 15, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

    Correction – Ben Hurley was of course gracious not bracious…( misspell )

    Andrew

  35. PropertyNow July 15, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

    While I am throwing brickbats at PaulD and Glenn Batten for their breathtaking levels of bias, I would like to throw a bouquest to Enzo Raimondo who turned out to be an utterly likeable chap and a very professional fellow as well.

    Our PropertyNow listings are now also accepted by realestateview as of course they should be.

    Enzo may have to look at a potential conflict of interest as I think was pointed out in the Fin…. but I found him helpful,friendly and professional… especially in phoning me as he did just a few hours after disembarking from a very early flight from WA.

    Andrew Blachut
    PropertyNow

  36. PaulD July 15, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

    Glenn,
    Correct on all points. Regional real estate agents can carry in the excess of 100 listings at any time. That is because of the rural properties that surround the regional centres, and the fact that there are fewer agents from outside the area dealing with the listings. You would have the experience of a listing popping up with a Brisbane agent involved, in your area, and wonder how that happened. That situation is rare in regional areas. In addition regional agencies can carry not only residential but also businesses, vacant residential land and small commercial listings.

    You only have to look at the various areas to see how many premiere properties there are in regional areas – almost none. There are only 5 outside the Metropolitan area of Sydney, and only two of those outside of the Newcastle, Central Coast, Sydney area. That speaks for itself in terms of pricing. The regional coastal areas are a more like the cities, in that there are generally higher prices and occasionally owners who live in the capital cities, who are prepared to pay for perhaps an Exclusive Showcase, or a Feature property ($130 p.w.) but even the Byron Bay area for example, has no Premiere properties right now.

    The Zone based pricing is probably the way to go, however wherever there are boundaries, there will always be complaints about the location of the boundaries. You are right when you say that smaller agencies would not be able to afford to have a limited number of listings because they then would have to pay a higher rate for additional listings, and the customers (vendors) would simply not want to pay for that. The Feature property has been used in most areas and because most people search in price ranges, the feature properties generally get to the first page of any search.

  37. Glenn Batten July 15, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    PaulD and Vic,

    http://www.business2.com.au/about/

    “Welcome to business2.com.au. This site has been developed to help real estate agents better understand the Internet and its future implications upon their business.”

    🙂

  38. Vic July 15, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

    Andrew,

    You really need to grow up. I don’t think I’m the first one on this blog to tell you that. You really don’t understand what opinion blogging is all about and what benefits being on B2 that participants, collectively and individually can gain from it. I have had some really good discussions with members of this blog, but yours was probably the most curious.
    If you thought that I rang you to seek SEO advice you have a lousy memory. I rang to have a general chat with you and to discuss ways of populating your portal with agent listings and to explore whether we could mutually help each other. You recall that you were worried that REA was going to ban you and that you need a backup strategy and that was to go to a full blown agent portal. You sought my advice on a number of portal pusher options and I freely gave the info to you. I also recall you bragging about the way you do your SEO- it was gratuitous and not sought by me.
    After the conversation I recall telling my partner that I felt as if I was being lectured by a school teacher (is that your background?)
    I have in the past on this blog, defended you when you have made valid points and when I have felt you were being harshly treated. However, your position in relation to the “Agent Rebellion” series that Glenn has posted reeks attention seeking and downright sookiness.

    Get off your high moral ground and join the real world and you might, and I say this reservedly, win back some respect and friends.

  39. Steve Small July 15, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    Andrew Blachut,

    now that realestateview has agreed to list your listings you think Enzo is “utterly likeable chap and a very professional fellow as well” & “found him helpful, friendly and professional”

    I can’t help to think what you thought of him when he point blank refused your listings ? Would love your honest feedback Andrew?

    Blind Freddy can see that Enzo has a massive conflict of interest and sadly no one in the REIV has the courage to force the issue! Stay tuned for Enzo to resign from the REIV to then head up REV.

  40. Lewis Nelson July 16, 2011 at 7:09 am #

    One National Association operating as a not for profit corporation, to govern only.

    One National Property Portal, returning 90% of all revenues generated today and tomorrow, back to the Agents who chose to post on it.

    Project Rebellion complete!

  41. PropertyNow July 16, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    Hey Vic..leaving aside the usual personal attacks you make on me, would you like to answer the question I keep repeating, regarding the incorrect basis that all three Fin Review threads are predicated on? PaulD and Glenn Batten won’t answer it so I though perhaps you would?

    Andrew Blachut
    PropertyNow

  42. DJ Racer July 18, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    I love reading this stuff, you guys really hook into each other. It seems that all of you are passionate about the real estate industry and providing excellent service to your clients. One point to consider is the absolute domination and strength of REA, consumers flock to the site en mass, that’s why smaller sites feel the need to advertise their clients properties on REA. So if the ACCC has placed pressure on REA to allow sites like

  43. Vic July 19, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    DJ Racer, I absolutely agree with you. The press, which is what REA are, should not be permitted to discriminate as to who can advertise on their site. As they also should not discriminate as to who should advertise on their print media.

    Real estate agents are hell bent on limiting the power of REA in so far as continual repricing is concerned, so they should not quibble when REA does eventually open up for private sellers. Their shareholders will demand it.

  44. PropertyNow July 20, 2011 at 12:09 am #

    Hello Steve. Re your question to me about Enzo

    Steve, when he refused our listings I was stupefied and thought it extremely arrogant and narrow minded however when he changed his mind I respected him a good deal more.

    Now, I realise that the change was inevitable anyway and I am well aware that it was almost certainly forced and not merely a sign of goodwill. However Enzo, in the final analysis, was professional and courteous to me and that’s why I wanted to retract my earlier critisicm of both himself and realestateview.

    It had been galling to quite literally battle realestate.com.au for 6 years and finally achieve an outcome there, only to have the very same thing occur with a lesser portal 2 weeks later. To say I was astonished would be pretty accurate.

    Ironically, I felt that realestateview had a better chance of resisting our advances had they wished to do so, than REA. That is because realestateview is not the clear market power that REA is ( which in this case would have been in their favour ) However when I clearly explained the PropertyNow business model to Enzo, as well as the fact that we are a long time supporter of agents as well as private sellers , he was most reasonable. When he understood that we work for our clients 7 days a week, undertake negotiations and so on, he was satisfied.

    In regard to his perceived conflict of interest I would certainly agree with that and I am sure he is also well aware of it Steve.

    DJ Racer, I agree with you that realestate.com.au should and eventually will allow private sellers on REA in their own right and quite possibly cut out PropertyNow and other such companies, who currently provide the service.

    I not only expect that to happen but am preparing for that eventuality.

    What I really object to is certain people on this blog rewriting the history of all of this. PaulD and Glenn Batten have steadfastly maintained the line that some group of realestate franchises approached the ACCC this year and caused the ACCC investigation. I have asked PaulD, Glenn Batten and Vic to show me a skerrick of evidence that was the case and they have all remained stony silent. My interest is not in self publicity ( as they keep telling me ) but rather not to stand on the sidelines while the three of them rewrite the 6 years hard work that we did on this matter. Glenn has based his findings ( I think ) solely on the first two Fin Review stories which were I believe only partly accurate. If I am wrong will one of them please show me and support their stance with facts and names please?

    DJRacer you are right about people hooking into other people in here and I find it very sad when it gets as personal as it did in several of these threads. We need more independent viewpoints and both yours and Steve’s were interesting

    Andrew Blachut
    PropertyNow

  45. DJ Racer July 20, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

    Hello Bloggers,

    Having sat on the sidelines for quite some time it’s kind of fun to finally have a say. There seems to be a huge amount of passion amongst the bloggers on this site, you are all passionate about your businesses and everyone is extremely passionate about their point of view. There are several points to consider, most notably the future of the real estate industry and more importantly the experience of the consumer. Sites like Property Now offer an excellent service for people wishing to go down the “DIY” path. On the other hand the vast majority of full service real estate agencies offer excellent customer service to their clients and provide a much needed service. The best thing about living in Australia is the fact that we have freedom of choice, consumers can choose to go down the DIY path or the full service agency path…..it’s their choice.

    However there is one common denominator, wether it be DIY or full service and that common denominator is REA. Now it’s fair to say that REA wouldn’t have the domination that it has without the support of full service real estate agents over the years, agents have actually helped build the most valuable “real estate industry asset” in Australia. As Andrew mentioned it will only be a matter of time before FSBO’s will be able to deal directly with REA, which could have an impact on his business and an impact on the wider real estate industry that employs tens of thousands of humans.

    Having said all that, should the real estate industry be excluded from the laws of Natural Selection, where the strong survive and the weak disappear!! I reckon the timing could actually be right for a new contender, for an industry friendly site to emerge, a site that has the interests of both the consumer and the interests of an industry that employs a huge amount of Aussies as its core philosophy.

    Once again, just a thought.

    DJ Racer

  46. PropertyNow July 21, 2011 at 11:01 pm #

    DJRacer, your post is a beauty and especially the bit about the laws of natural selection. I also really like how you refer to the real estate industry as far more than just the real estate agent industry.

    The real estate industry starts with consumers and ends with consumers.

    Whoever values the end consumer the most and who in turn provides the most value to them, will win in the future. If it’s going to be REA then I think it would need a seismic shift in REA’s attitude towards both the agents and also the public.

    It’s amazing that REA argued for a decade that the reason they resisted private sales on their site was to protect the public from itself.

    Basically the argument was that people could not be trusted to sell their own home….how utterly absurd.

    Anyway DJRacer, you certainly nailed things with your post and I am so glad to see some support in here for differing viewpoints.

    Andrew Blachut
    PropertyNow

  47. James July 22, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    Andrew,

    I have to agree with some of the other comments made on this blog in relation to your comments and they do not stem from the model that you push.

    In relation to you comment ‘I would like to throw a bouquest to Enzo Raimondo who turned out to be an utterly likeable chap and a very professional fellow as well. ‘

    This comment shows just how naive and how much you lack any real understanding of the background behind the subject of this blog post and what is happening in the marketplace.

  48. PropertyNow July 22, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

    James, could you possibly be a little bit more vague?

    Why bother posting something that says absolutely nothing ….and what a surprise…yet another personal attack.

    I maligned Enzo because he refused us entry. I then simply set the record straight after he changed his mind a fortnight later. I also observed that it would not have been because he had a change of heart but rather because he had no choice. So what on earth are you complaining about James? I am a lot of things but niave would not be one of them.

    James I dissected your vacuous post and it boiled down to attacking Enzo and you even managed to attack me while you did it. Nice double James. What is the possible point of your post? If you don’t like Enzo and myself why not just say so mate.

    Andrew Blachut
    PropertyNow

  49. Vic July 23, 2011 at 9:27 am #

    Andrew,

    By now I think that everyone reading the last few articles on B2 are aware that you have had a considerable say in REA decision to formally list FSOB site listings. You have also introduced another personal win by having Enzo Raimondo change his mind on FSOB listings on REV.
    You have managed to continuously insert your position into blog articles that have nothing to do with the subjects that Glenn Batten was posting. This is when I have criticised you and will continue to do so until you can keep on the subject.

    I understand that all State REI presidents have been asked, in writing, by ACCC to answer some questions. I would be absolutely certain that none of the questions raised by ACCC relate to your issues. I’d safely bet that these ACCC questions would be directed towards the issues that Glenn B has been raising and that Ben Hurley is alluding to. If my understanding is also correct, Ben Hurley did not consult with you when he wrote his first article, and that it was only after this first article was written that you contacted him to throw your tuppence worth in to ghet a mention in the second article.

    Without wanting to put David Airey on the spot, David can you confirm that the ACCC did write to all State REI presidents and that the thrust of the questioning had nothing to do with FSOB listings on REA?

    And, secondly can you Andrew, honestly tell me whether Ben Hurley sought you out to frame his first article?

    Thirdly, Andrew, did you ring Ben Hurley to give your version in the second article, or did he take the initiative and call you?

    I also mention that I am in no position to answer the question you put to Glenn Batten on “five occasions” because I am not in anyway involved in the agent rebellion.

  50. PropertyNow July 23, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

    You are correct Vic when you say that you are in no position to comment, but that never stops you. I will maintain my position for one reason only and that is that the initial story was flat out wrong. You will find out how wrong in due course.

    No one has contradicted my view with any evidence Vic and that is because there is no evidence for the story as originally posted. If there was Glenn or PaulD would have used it to contadict me over the past 4 weeks and they have not.

    Lets see if David Airey can answer your questions Vic…I would be quite interested if he can contradict what I claim, so over to you David. the difference between you and I Vic is that I will post what I know toi be true while you post your opinion of events.

    Andrew Blachut
    PropertyNow

  51. Vic July 23, 2011 at 6:46 pm #

    Then Andrew, start here by telling the truth. Did Ben Hurley contact you or did you contact him?

  52. Glenn Batten July 23, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

    Vic,

    Far more than the REI’s have been approached now.. Real Estate groups, individuals and now other real estate portals have all been asked to submit to the investigation which covers a wide range of topics but seems to centre on predatory pricing.

    The ACCC are certainly investing considerable resources into this and REA must be concerned.

    Andrew has already admitted that Property Now and the other agent assisted sites were not the only ones the ACCC are investigating.. (see http://www.business2.com.au/2011/07/project-rebellion-reas-problems-continue-with-accc-investigation-underway/comment-page-1/#comment-14565) .

    He also knows I will not name anybody who does not want to be named. I have not named any of the individuals or the real estate portals that have been contacted either… Ben Hurley has only quoted people who were prepared to go on record … but unlike him if I did name anybody, I can only take their word for it.. I am not going to ask for proof or investigate their claims.. I will leave that to Ben and the rest of his profession.

    WHY???

    I do not want to be responsible if REA take revenge. In a positive article I wrote on REA in the past I quoted an agent’s statistics that they shared with me. I never named the agent, nor the state they operate. REA sifted through all of their statistics to identify that agent and threatened them. This is an agent who spends 6 figures with them every year..

    They have also made other threats to track down leaks in other stories on the blog as well as insisting to me in the past that I provide them with articles relating to REA prior to their posting for their approval.

    But Andrew would have you believe that he is an island when it relates to being bullied by REA. I dont think he knows but REA bullying tactics have cost me personally and very significantly just recently. Andrew accused me of glossing over him and his company but I did not even mention my own experience… which is why more than a few have had a chuckle at some of his claims.

    Andrew’s comments on this subject always place the focus on him and his company and his rationale that if he does not know about it then it does not exist is very naive. If you question him then you are attacking him personally. This whole centre of the universe mentality is quite boring and it’s his behaviour about this not his opinions or perspective that some are finding offensive.

    I can promise you one thing though, there is still much that Andrew does not know and I doubt any one person has a handle on it.

  53. Vic July 25, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    For another perspective on the subject see:
    http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/agents-plot-to-seize-control-of-home-sales-data-20110723-1hub9.html
    Particularly the 18 comments which do not seem to have any sympathy for agents.

  54. PropertyNow July 28, 2011 at 10:28 pm #

    Glenn. I am shocked but not at all surprised, that REA treated you this way and so it seems you have more in common with PropertyNow than I knew.

    PropertyNow has fought REA for 6 years and the bottom line is they now agree with our position don’t they ? What changed ?

    Glenn and Vic, the REA CEO Ellis has made no statement recently ( at least to my knowledge ) about REA moving on their pricing towards agents ( possible predatory pricing ) ….but he has made the most startling admission that they were wrong on the subject of private sales.

    This simple fact should tell both of you all you need to know. Do you imagine they suddenly grew a conscience?

    All I am doing is setting the record straight on what I believe is possibly a completely false proposition that has now led to 3 major Fin Review articles and other newspapers now copying that story.

    The story may well be right but so far no one has contradicted me with any facts and I have been asking for anyone to do that for a long time now.

    There may well be twin investigations ( private sales and agent predatory pricing ) but why not report both equally instead of totally focusing on one aspect only. That’s bad or at best biased reporting and does not inform the public who read this blog.

    Glenn, if you were attacked by REA as you described, then you above all people should understand how I felt when after 6 years fighting REA, they caved in….and the story about ACCC investigating REA being attributable to Franchise groups is either completely untrue or else heavily slanted towards one aspect of the investigations.

    It is quite likely that there is a very wide ranging investigation of the overall conduct of REA towards both real estate agents and private sellers.

    All I am asking of the chief writers on this blog is to ackowledge both as equally valid. In fact of the two possible major issues, it is the REA attitude to Private sales which is the most likely to rock the marketing of real estate to its foundations. Predatory pricing if it exists and is proven is important but I don’t see it as industry changing and yet that is the thrust of the reporting in the business2 threads and the print media.

    Vic I wil make a deal with you…when someone specifically answers the one question I have now posed in here for over a month, then I will answer your silly and completely irrelevent question. I am asking something serious and you are just trying to character assasinate as usual.

    Andrew Blachut
    PropertyNow

  55. Martin Crampton July 29, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    Are Propertynow type sites able to list thru one REA account?
    I think that is more revolutionary than a few direct private listings.

  56. PropertyNow July 29, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

    Yes Martin, that is absolutely correct.

    Andrew Blachut
    PropertyNow

  57. PropertyNow July 29, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

    I want to once again update my comments to Vic, Glenn Batten and PaulD who have all held the same view on the point I have made consistently in this thread and others, regarding the accuracy of the Fin Review stories and which have now been picked up by other newspapers.

    Today after tiring of the inaccuracies reported, I did some research so as to once and for all see if the information was correct. It was not correct.

    I can now state unequivocably that the view point reported by those three gentlemen in relation to the Fin Review Article is utterly false as I have stated for the past month.

    I do not intend answering any questions regarding this.

    Suffice to say the matter is at rest as far as I am concerned and the PropertyNow stance is entirely vindicated. If either of the three individuals want any more clarity they may phone me on 0408 000 552. I will not comment on it publicly especially given the derisive nature of the ill informed comments ( and I’m being kind here ) that have been forthcoming from Vic, PaulD and Glenn Batten.

    Andrew Blachut
    ProeprtyNow

  58. Vic August 4, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    Latest share price for REA $11- lowest since mid Nov 2011 and Onthehouse down to 50c – 4/8/2011.

    Why???

  59. Vic August 18, 2011 at 8:20 am #

    HI Glenn B,

    Do you have an update on what has transpired since this post. Or was it all froth and bubble? 🙂

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