Agents call for free listing site

A large number of real estate agents frustrated by increases in property listing charges are claiming it is time for a free, industry-owned listing website to rival REA Group’s,

Earlier this week Real Estate Business reported on REA Group’s new Flexi Subscription fees that offer agencies the ability to advertise all of their property listings on within the one subscription cost. However, an additional fee is charged per listing.

Soon after the story was published, discussion erupted on over what many agents were calling an “exploitation of the industry”.

John Mason, principal and licensee at John Mason Real Estate in Carramar Western Australia wrote on the site, “The answer is quite simple, once you come out of contract with them vote with your feet - walk away. I did, rather than continue to pay what I thought were exorbitant monthly fees”.

However, REA Group's general manager of sales and operations, Arthur Charlaftis, maintains agents and consumers receive the best results from the website.

“Our customers choose to advertise vendors’ property listings with us because we are Australia’s number one property site and deliver exceptional return on their advertising investment,” he told Real Estate Business.

“We are constantly innovating and working with our real estate agent customers to deliver new advertising solutions and services to help improve their profitability.

“Many real estate agents have welcomed the new range of choices and we will continue to work with our customers to provide them with options and choices to best meet their needs. Our goal remains focused on assisting agents to win new listings, grow their rent role and sell or lease properties, which our customers have told us aligns with their key priorities as well.”

According to the principal’s who gathered for Real Estate Business’ Principal Roundtable last week, the industry is calling for a free portal website that incorporates XML feeds.

“If you want to get everybody across the industry, you have to start free and go from there. It has got to be a one-entry point,” Aris Dendrinos, from Richardson & Wrench Marrickville said.

Meanwhile, Craig Marshall, principal of CENTURY 21 Cordeau Marshall Group believes there is room for listing portals to generate revenue through third party advertising, not through the industry.

However, talking to Real Estate Business after the story was published, Douglas Driscoll, CEO of Starr Partners, said the key to starting a successful industry portal is to create public awareness through a small monthly advertising fee.

“I have spoken to many agents who are more than happy to pay an advertising fee of $20 to $30, even $100, a month to go towards consumer awareness and advertising campaigns,” he said.

“Why would they not? That small fee in comparison to what they are paying now is nothing, and it will ensure the brand is recognised by the consumer.

“I’ve got offices that are paying near to $300,000 a year to REA,” he added.

The anger around rising subscription costs comes as REA Group reported a $41 million on-year rise in revenue in the nine months to 31 March 2013, taking it to $244 million. The result, which was unaudited, was part of a filing by News Corporation with the US Securities and Exchange Commission in New York.

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