Industry portal needs independents onside to survive

With some independent agents raising concerns about where control of the new industry portal will lie, the head of one of the country's leading independents believes agencies like his need to be on an even playing field with the major franchises for it to work.

Speaking to Real Estate Business, Ewan Morton, managing director at Morton & Morton, a finalist in next month’s REB Awards, said the new portal needs the independents because they remain a "substantial listings force".

"For the portal to be taken seriously, and if they want it to encompass the whole industry, it has to contain all the listings, so it has to include the independents,” said Mr Morton. "That's the bottom line.

"I would have thought that if they want it to succeed they need to have all the listings, so they’ll have to help the independents,” he continued, adding that the new portal was here to take on realestate.com.au, not the independents.

Part of the group organising the new portal is the Independent Real Estate Network of Excellence (IRENE). Real Estate Business contacted its director, George Collins, to get his view on what input independents will have in the new venture. However, Mr Collins said he was not in a position to comment before the official launch of the portal. 

Mr Morton believes the biggest question mark around the new portal is how it's going to turn eyeballs away from the traditional powerhouse listings sites of Domain and realestate.com.au.

"How are they going to drive the traffic there? What's their plan?” he asked. “It’s fantastic we’ve got another entrant into the marketplace, but what’s the plan to drive buyers and renters to the site?"

Meanwhile, one independent agent on the Gold Coast has welcomed the news of the imminent arrival of the new industry-backed portal.

Alex Hocking, principal at Real Estate Real Easy, said that she's been “appalled” with what realestate.com.au has been doing with its fees in recent years, revealing she knows of dozens of other independents in the region that feel the same way.

“I know an awful lot of real estate agents up here and they all have the same opinion of realestate.com.au,” said Ms Hocking. “We feel they’re very arrogant. There's a lot of independents up here on the Gold Coast, more so than franchise groups, and we’ll be welcoming the new alternative.”  

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