Brendan Wong and Stacey Moseley
Australian listing portals will need to embrace the models already successfully established in the United States, according to several leading industry service providers.
“If you look at Trulia, Trulia has taken it to the next step and they now have talk about your neighbourhood, find out what’s in the area,” said managing director of Real Simple Property Gary Odewahn.
“If you want to talk about finding an educator, if you want to talk about finding a home loan ... so in theory, they’ve created an ecosystem which essentially is what social media is.
“The fact that a real estate portal is doing it for the real estate agencies, I think is very very clever. The integration is absolutely phenomenal.”
Mr Odewahn said there were signs such trends would arrive in Australia after James Packer increased his stake in Zillow earlier this month, making him the second biggest shareholder in the company.
CEO of Onthehouse Holdings Michael Fredericks said his portal had a similar model to Zillow and Trulia, which is focused on trying to aggregate as much information as possible on a community level.
“We grab all the government’s data and the industry data and give that away for free to consumers,” he said. “It’s a broader definition of real estate content and not just around classifieds."
Mr Fredericks said Onthehouse.com.au had the support of every major real estate group, with the exception of Ray white, and had been able to attract a large advertising base from the major banks.
“We’re giving half of that back to the industry so we’re not only a service provider and offering competition in the market, it’s sharing it back to the industry,” said Mr Fredericks.
While a number of businesses had previously tried the idea out and failed, he said, it is an area that technology can capitalise on.
“I think the reason real estate has an opportunity to make that work is the technology,” Mr Fredericks said.
“We have some fundamental data that’s of interest to the community, so you need some base, something to hold on to and give them some value, which is what Zillow does.”
Tony Blamey, general manager, real estate at Domain said diverse revenue streams for portals are important.
“From a Domain point of view, we’re not reliant wholly and solely on an agent to drive our revenue channels so lead generation demands are pretty critical,” he said.
“But also we’ve invested in a data business, we’ve invested in CRM businesses and we have print assets. We certainly see ourselves as a diverse media and services company that isn’t just reliant on putting prices up for subscriptions in order to generate growth.”