Agents feel trapped into using major portals

More than 70 per cent of agents feel they have no choice but to advertise on major portal sites to stay competitive in the market, according to a recent industry survey.

The Real Estate Business Half-Yearly Sentiment Survey has revealed 73.1 per cent of 279 respondents are not satisfied with their current rate and pay structures with their listing portal, but pay the cost to stay competitive.

The survey also confirmed the dominance that realestate.com.au had on the marketplace, with 83.2 per cent of 287 respondents saying the site was the portal they used most to list properties.

Owner of Kawana Coast Realty Geoff Batten said the problem with realestate.com.au was that it was too strong and had a monopoly on property listings.

“They’re swinging the big bat and they’re knocking the other agents around,” he told Real Estate Business.

“At one point, I was spending $1,150 on them. But I went back to the standard subscription, which I think was $590, which was about two years ago, and now I’m paying $790.”

Some agents have claimed to be paying thousands in subscription fees for realestate.com.au.

While realestate.com.au continues to grow at an accelerated rate, REA Group, the owners of the portal, reported this week that its revenue for the last financial year was $336.5 million, a 21 per cent increase from the last year, and its net profit was $109.7 million, a 26 per cent jump from last year.

At the recent Real Estate Business Executive Roundtable, CEO of Starr Partners Douglas Driscoll said realestate.com.au’s dominance was the single biggest issue facing the industry.

“I ask people across the traps what affects you at the moment and more often than not the answer is online portal advertising. I think the big thing is how much online costs have risen over the last couple of years – I mean 20 to 25 per cent increase over the last two and a half to three years. I think something has to happen, soon,” he said.

According to CEO of LJ Hooker Georg Chmiel, the key was an industry-run portal - but it would need to make a profit.

“If we had a truly cooperative side of the industry, the profit would go back to the shareholders, and those shareholders would be real estate agents,” he said.

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