Thehomepage connecting with Vendors – the right way

The idea of real estate portals having direct contact with vendors was first tabled by Realestate.com.au CEO Greg Ellis in March 2011, where he indicated REA would consider selling products directly to property vendors. After links to his presentation were made available on Business2 (the video has now been withdrawn) commentary took place in relation to how this would affect the relationship between REA, agents and vendors. So much so that it led to a press release by Greg Ellis explaining REA’s intentions.

From an agent’s perspective, contact by a portal directly with their vendors could be seen as quite threatening, especially if it’s by Realestate.com.au. It could shift the relationship (and also the campaign) from the agent to the portal and perhaps remove the agent from the selling process. Yes, this could very well happen and agents should be concerned. However, if implemented correctly it will be a win win for all.

Thehomepage has recently added the ability for anyone (agents or vendors) to upgrade their property through the property page on the Thehomepage website. If you look at this property and scroll to the bottom of the page you will see New – Upgrade this listing which takes you through to an upgrade page. Here the agent or vendor can see the current listing and then what it would appear like as a Featured Property. The agent or vendor can then upgrade their listing by using their PayPal or credit card.

How Thehomepage has implemented this feature is excellent for all stakeholders and in no way threatens the relationship between agent and vendor. There is piece of mind for agents, as vendors are simply required to make payment and are not required to subscribe or provide other personal details to the portal.

Lets look at the benefits to each stakeholder in more detail:

1. Agent does not need to sell online marketing – As Greg Ellis explained, agents should not be required to fund advertising packages and should be removed from this process. This method provides the vendor with the opportunity to purchase the upgrade whenever they like with no pressure to make a decision at the beginning of the campaign.

2. Reduce Portal overheads and increase sales – Portals can’t go door to door and sell their advertising products to vendors the way they do to agents. This shift to marketing directly to vendors through the portal will reduce the sales staff needed by portals. It means portals like Thehomepage who have no sales staff can more effectively market their products. Marketing to vendors should also be a lot easier than marketing to agents who are experienced in real estate marketing campaigns.

3. Vendors retain more control – Some vendors are happy writing a cheque and leaving the sale of their property to an agent. But as we’re seeing through the increase in agent assisted services with more and more vendors wanting to be involved with their sale and/or monitor and minimise advertising spend. Offering them this option, takes the onus away from the agent and places this responsibility with the vendor.

This move by Thehomepage works, because their contact with vendors is minimal and happens at the end once the listing is live and marketing campaign well under way.  I’ve already heard reports this is on Domain’s radar and that similar development is under-way at REA.

connecting with Vendors, Domain's radar, Greg Ellis, REA CEO, Realestate.com.au CEO, Thehomepage, www.thehomepage.com.au

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About The Insider

Ryan has been involved in the real estate industry for a number of years. During this time he has operated web based real estate businesses along with provided consulting to the real estate software development industry. Ryan operates Agentpoint.com.au and is actively involved with the design and development of real estate systems, software and web sites in the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

17 Responses to Thehomepage connecting with Vendors – the right way

  1. Vic August 8, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    Thehomepage has gone about it the right way. We have this under development with our site and will be launching it around October. We will also be including an advice to agent that the vendor has chosen to upgrade their listing.
    We have found that our upgraded listings provide seven times more enquiry than a basic listing. So why wouldn’t an agent be happy with a direct vendor involvement in the marketing decisions and process. Win, win, win situation.

  2. Rachael Lord August 8, 2011 at 11:39 am #

    Interesting, The Homepage are continuing to impress me! They recently integrated videos into their listings as a main image.

    This feature still makes me a little uneasy but I can see how when done properly, it could be advantageous

  3. Peter D'Arcy August 8, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    Hi Ryan – a very interesting article and thank you for bringing it to our attention.

    Warning Warning Warning. We as agent should be very alarmed at this sort of thing happening. Real Estate.com.au is a predatory supplier and all we are doing is help Real Estate.com.au get closer to our market.

    We need to develop an alternative supplier and stop aiding RealEstate.Com.Au. It is my belief they are committed to offering an online agency service and we are just standing by watching & helping them.

    If we continue to watch Real Estate.com.au march on it will only end up with our commissions being seriously eroded and our position in the property buying cycle reduced significantly

  4. Glenn Rogers August 8, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

    Yes Ryan that is the way to interact with Vendors – via their listing not direct as such.

    Great idea, be interesting to see if it works,

  5. Ryan O'Grady August 8, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    Rachel I agree, Thehomepage are doing some great things at the moment and their site is looking and functioning great.

    Peter, let

  6. Vic August 8, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

    Ryan,

    Good point Ryan.

    The difficulty for us portal owners is that we never know what happens after a property is looked at by a visitor. The only way we can measure the success of our features is to measure the clicks on our hidden phones and the email requests sent. Combined these are on average 7 times higher than for a basic listing.
    Would be interested in knowing how the homepage measures and justifies a feature.

  7. Vic August 8, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

    Forgot to mention that we have 16 “properties of week” that scroll across our home page- these have a high click through rate to our property detail page.

  8. DJ Racer August 9, 2011 at 12:58 am #

    Hmm, interesting. There is a fundamental point to consider with regards to this site and it harks back to our 3 bespectacled friends that appear in thehomepage promo. These 3 dudes continually utter the words “the net is free….its free” even when the screen goes blank one of these super intelligent examples of humanity is heard to utter the words “free!”

    Now it must be said that in their “about us” description the team at thehomepage do actually make mention of the fact that they provide clients with a cost effective up sell option with regards to marketing (implied) and branding products.

    So the question is, does the internet stop being “free” when real estate portals wish to turn a profit? This may sound a bit cynical but the three nerds had me convinced that the net was free…..now im confused.

  9. Ryan O'Grady August 9, 2011 at 7:11 am #

    “The net is free….its free”… don

  10. Ryan O'Grady August 9, 2011 at 7:15 am #

    Vic, I guess the way I search is just not normal. I can see why your homepage listings would achieve more hits and to a lesser extent the suburb featured listings, but 7 times is amazing.

  11. Vic August 9, 2011 at 8:11 am #

    Ryan, thehomepage development is definitely ahead of the pack and they have made sure that their speed is maintained at a high level.

    REA 2.76 secs, Domain 1.74 secs and thehomepage 1.032 secs.

    Well done Ben, Jen and team.

    As long as they can keep injecting cash into the business whilst sticking to their business model philosophy, they will come out ahead. Just don’t blink or lose faith.

  12. DJ Racer August 9, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

    “There will be no carbon tax under the government that I lead,” Australians are a bit fed up by being fed lines and spin, whether it be from politicians, real estate agents or property portals. Many real estate agents are angered by the fact that REA continually introduce new products that erode their primary subscription based package, like feature all properties or guaranteed top spots etc. It would seem that from the outside looking in thehomepage seem to have a very similar business model as REA, particularly considering the fact that they are pushing their “feature property” option.

    I would have thought if a property portal was totally amazing, absolutely sexy and better than the rest that every listing would become a premium product compared to competitor websites by default. It is probably fair to say that a property listed on REA using the basic subscription package would attract more page views than a feature property on THP (this is just an assumption by me), therefore meaning that a basic package on REA attracts more of a premium than a feature property on THP.

    Ryan I must apologise if I took the line “the net is free” out of context, however if something is rammed down your throat enough times eventually you are going to have to swallow it. My question would be, who is that video on the main page of the site directed to, agents or consumers?

  13. Ben Stockdale August 9, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

    Hi all,

    I just wanted to say thanks to Ryan for letting everyone know about this new product release and our efforts to do things a little differently.

    Firstly let me clarify a few key points.

    – We guarantee

  14. Sam August 10, 2011 at 9:46 am #

    This is a really great feature.

    Giving the vendor the ability to upgrade their listing directly is definitely a positive move.

    Well done TheHomePage!

    They continue to innovate and their design is very good.

  15. Naomi L Sweeney - buyMyplace.com.au August 11, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

    Thank you for your informative article Ryan. If I took an educated guess, I believe this “enhancement” or however realestate.com.au wants to portray it to it’s real estate agents (customers) has been delievered very cautiously as it is the first initative in a long list of future changes designed to take control away from it’s content deliverers ie. real estate agents.

    Its no secret that real estate agents have all the power if they essentially “own the vendor”. Why else would a publically listed company refuse revenue from the “for sale by owner” (buyMyplace.com.au) industry if not for the pressure from their traditional commission paid clientelle threatening to boycott their site? More so, why would a classified site discriminate against a vendor that has chosen to sell without an agent versus one that chooses to list with an agent?

    It is my belief that realestate.com.au wants to move “in new directions” to that of their current business model ie. they want a piece of the potential “For Sale By Owner” industry.

    Regardless, its about time Australian homeowners were given more respect and the opportunity to control the selling and advertising of their asset.

  16. Ryan O'Grady August 25, 2011 at 7:39 am #

    Naomi, I believe REA have scaled back their plans to engage directly with vendors in the short term but I agree it is definitely a major part of their long term strategy.

  17. Roslyn August 31, 2011 at 12:46 am #

    After being a reasonably unstatisfied client of realestate.com for over 12 years they have failed me along with many other agents
    Yes they keep scaling down our package, while increasing our fees
    Promote to the bigger companies willing to spend spend and forget the others
    There lack of service is infuriating i dont have contact to an account manager …..
    You contact them on the ever growing number of private sellers falling through the cracks to be told contact your non exsistant account manager
    Any new sites that can give them a run . . . . please please bring them on
    Ben i cant wait to get on your site!

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