Domain chief blasts REA

Domain’s CEO has slammed realestate.com.au, claiming the latest fee hikes are an extortionate money grab and the listing site "holds the industry in contempt".

Antony Catalano has released a two-page beat-down on the country’s largest listing portal and implored agents to bring the monster to heel.

“If Australia's real estate industry had any doubts it is fuelling its own demise it need look no further than the reality behind REA's latest round of price hikes,” Mr Catalano said.

“It doesn't see the industry as its clients, nor does it treat them as such. It holds the industry in contempt.”

The outburst comes just weeks after realestate.com.au announced a change in fee structure, which according to the latest REB straw poll, is leaving 86.4 per cent of agents in a worse situation than before.

While REA was quick to defend the changes, claiming its fees provide good value for the size of its audience, Mr Catalano said views don’t equate to sales.

“The number of sales in the real estate market has no correlation to the audience size of REA," said Mr Catalano.

“There are approximately 400,000 sales transactions a year and 600,000 rental transactions. In other words, REA says there are 276 million visits to its site a year for just one million transactions.

“What they don’t tell you is how many of those visitors are your vendor, the next-door neighbour, other family, friends – or you and your sales and support teams. The fact is a large number of its unique visitors are not genuine buyers."

Former REA Group CEO Greg Ellis was also targeted in the tirade, with Mr Catalano claiming the fee changes were orchestrated as part of a master scheme by Mr Ellis.

“The grab for a 100 per cent share of the advertising spend – with its very serious implications for every agent brand in the country – is just the start of a plan articulated by former CEO Greg Ellis to disintermediate real estate agents and grab a bigger share of agent revenue," he said.

“In 2009 REA's Feature Property product was $75, meaning REA prices have increased by over 9,000 per cent in five years.”

But fee hikes aren’t the worst of it, according to the Domain CEO. He believes the next stage is for REA to bypass agents and go straight to the vendor.

“Once it has laid claim to the entire marketing budget, its plan to grow revenue even further in the next two years is to encroach on agent commissions through the introduction of paid vendor leads,” said Mr Catalano.

Mr Catalano said it was time to fight back, and that Realestate.com.au is "nothing more than a URL without content".

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