Industry portal launch ‘imminent’, networks revealed

EXCLUSIVE: The identity of the real estate networks, independents and franchise groups banding together to take the online listings fight to realestate.com.au have been confirmed.

Real Estate Business has learnt that Belle Property, Century 21, Harcourts Group, IRENE (Independent Real Estate Network of Excellence), LJ Hooker, PRDnationwide, Raine&Horne, Ray White and RE/MAX have initially come together to develop a new portal.

It's also expected others will soon be on board, with the process of finalising shareholder agreements with other agency groups still ongoing.

Leading the portal will be its recently installed CEO, Nick Christian, who was formerly co-founder of PriceFinder and is a well-known figure within the real estate  industry.

For now, the name of the portal and its official launch date are still under wraps, but expected to be announced shortly.

The move by the industry comes after agents overwhelmingly slammed the new fee structure from realestate.com.au, despite REA Group defending the hikes.

Mr Christian confirmed the portal will be 100 per cent owned and controlled by the real estate industry, adding it will be representative of a "vast majority of the industry" not just some of the major groups or networks, and will include independent agent representation as well.

"There has been widespread discussion and concern within the Australian real estate industry regarding the current direction of third party, online real estate portals and the future of online real estate marketing,” said Mr Christian.

"There has also been significant demand for industry leadership to be shown in this area.

"Over recent days there has been considerable media speculation and rumour around an industry initiative. While this is premature, we believe with the current level of discussion and rumour it is important to communicate the imminent launch of a 100 per cent industry-owned and controlled real estate portal," he added.

Based on the successful model of New Zealand's number one real estate portal, realestate.co.nz, Mr Christian envisages the cost to real estate offices being maintained at extremely low levels, with basic listings at zero cost to member offices.

"This model will work," he said.

Although the portal will have no third-party ownership, it's been confirmed there's discussions ongoing with a number of strategic alliance partners who could potentially provide complementary services to the industry through the new portal. 

"We believe as an industry we must have control of our data and ensure realistic pricing for our industry and its clients into the future," said Mr Christian. “We must work together, putting aside brand competition and self-interest to make sure this becomes a reality.”

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