In an announcement to agents obtained by Real Estate Business, which outlined the details of the “limited time only” offer, REA said customers who commit to signing its new service agreement will be rewarded with a payment of 7.5 per cent of their total spend, excluding subscription costs.
When contacted by Real Estate Business about whether the offer was a move to try to get agents back onside after its recent price hike, REA said the product is part of its "continuing business strategy and our focus on supporting and partnering with agents".
Arthur Charlaftis, general manager of sales and marketing operations, said agents will be eligible for the bi-annual reward over three years if they sign up to the services agreement during the offer period (1 July-1 September 2014) and have a Flexi subscription with market-based pricing.
"As part of the agreement, customers need to complete agency profile information within 90 days and provide all sold listings and sold prices for at least 80 per cent of advertised listings,” said Mr Charlaftis.
A director at a leading franchise office, who has held talks with REA about the offer but who doesn't want to be named, told Real Estate Business the "clever" part about the move is that an agent has to enter into a new contract with REA to enjoy the discount.
"I have only a few months left in my current 12-month contract and REA wants me to enter me into a new 12-month one - and if I do sign that I can enjoy the 7.5 per cent reward," the director said.
The director added that the move by REA is "without doubt" an attempt to lock agents into new contracts so as to dilute the impact of the new buying group Real Estate Digital Marketing Services (REDMS).
"They’re dangling the carrot by asking people to resign contracts and enter new agreements," the director added.
"It's a bit dangerous for agents because if agents get greedy and they buy into this offer, they could destroy the REDMS and fall straight back into the lap of REA," he added.
REA said the services agreement has been in the making for some time and its purpose is to drive a higher quality and volume of information to realestate.com.au.
"Several months ago we connected with some of the country’s top agents and their feedback aligned strongly with our proposed plans for this product and supported our decision to launch it this month," said Mr Charlaftis
Meanwhile, as part of the announcement, REA has confirmed that as of August 1, American Express will be available for direct debit and over the phone payments with zero surcharge fees.