A state-based real estate institute has defended its decision to introduce fees on its listings website.
Under the changes that came into effect last week, Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) members will now be charged $25 per sales listing and a $10 rental listing fee to use reiq.com.
The listings component of reiq.com was launched in the second half of 2011.
A spokesperson for REIQ told Real Estate Business the changes were introduced to deal with the costs of advertising and product development.
“In order to provide a modern, relevant and up to date website, we have needed to invest heavily to make this alternative a viable proposition,” the spokesperson said.
“This could not have occurred off the back of membership fees revenue alone. Revenues raised by the site will be re-invested into the overall business in order to best support the members.”
However, some agents say the fees will mean they will pay the same or more than they would on realestate.com.au.
In a column in Business 2, general manager at First National Real Estate Nerang Glenn Batten said while he supported the REIQ’s decision to charge, with no monthly cap in place some offices were going to be hit with massive bills.
“It’s not unusual for medium-sized offices like our office at Nerang First National to do 30 or 40 new sales listings every month," he said.
“That would mean we are paying about the same for REIQ as we do for realestate.com.au. What about large offices like Ray White Surfers Paradise, which would do hundreds of sales listings every month?”
Mr Batten said the pricing structure was specifically weighted for smaller offices.
“I believe that the per listing charge of $25/$10 is massively out of step and that omission of a cap is wrong," he said.
“I think if the REIQ lowered the per listing charges to, say, $10/$5 and then set a cap at around $199, most of the membership would be in favour. The charges could be increased in following years, as the performance stated.”
Mr Batten said he estimated that about 70 per cent of agents would stop using reiq.com to list their properties as a result of the fee charges.
The REIQ spokesperson explained that the subject of pricing had been discussed with the board and at council meetings for the past year.
“We considered monthly fees, mergers with other private portals, mergers with the other REIAs but in the end, we arrived at the current costing,” the spokesperson said.
“Our pricing structure is significantly different ...[as] other portal providers charge a monthly fee with additional costs for other marketing premiums."
She added that a pay per listing system was fairer as it enabled members to pick and choose their listings.
“We have feedback from some members supporting this move and insisting we should have charged more,” the spokesperson said.
“Of course, everything is subject to review and we have a number of review dates already set for this project.”