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 After links to his presentation were made available on Business2 (the video has now been withdrawn) commentary took place in relation to how this would affect the relationship between REA, agents and vendors.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.