'Massive' national movement begins against REA fees

Like-minded real estate groups across the country are coming together to take collective action against realestate.com.au's fees, according to the chairman of one of Australia's leading networks.

The news comes after it was revealed that over 300 offices in Melbourne had joined forces to establish a new collective bargaining group in an attempt to secure fairer listings charges.

Century 21 chief executive Charles Tarbey has confirmed to Real Estate Business that the movement by agents against the REA price hike is gathering pace on a national level, not just in Melbourne.

Mr Tarbey, who is one of the network leaders heading up a the new industry site, revealed he's aware of similar moves being made in South Australia and in the Illawarra region of New South Wales.

"I've never witnessed as much interest from various groups in the industry as there is right now,” he said.

"We’ve been raising the issue of the industry controlling its data for the last 15 years, but this is the biggest move I’ve ever seen. It’s very much a massive sign of the recent dissent [to fee changes] we’ve witnessed."

Mr Tarbey said it's not happening in a "uniform way", dominated by the franchise groups, but it's more of a national shift, including individual agents at a grass-roots level.

"I know about it because I get a national perspective, but I don't think the guys in Victoria would probably know that the guys in South Australia are doing something very similar,” he said. "It's all happening at the same time.”

However, Mr Tarbey warned that organising real estate groups to collectively negotiate fees with listings sites could only be viewed as a stop-gap solution.

“What are they going to do? Go to Domain or realestateview and still get charged?,” he asked. “Are they going to give someone else a monopoly and then in two years' time have the same problem? To me, it’s a temporary fix and won’t solve the problem."

Mr Tarbey also questioned how REA will be able to justify to its shareholders that they’re going to take a big hit if realestate.com.au needs to reduce its prices to do a deal with the newly-formed buying groups.

"How does realestate.com.au justify going back to its shareholders with a story like that?" he said.

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