In a video interview with Toop & Toop managing director Anthony Toop, Domain chief executive Antony Catalano said REA’s previous CEO made it “very clear” in presentations in the UK and elsewhere that REA want to disintermediate the agent.
“[REA] wanted to take the agent out of the function of the intermediary, the deal between the seller and the buyer; he made that very clear,” he said.
“I think if agents aren’t careful they will become nothing more than brokers in the transaction.
“Greg Ellis made it very clear that it was an agent, seller, then viewer focus, and it is now going to become a consumer, then seller and then agent last - and his words were ‘last’.
“I think REA stands for what they want to be - real estate agent,” he added.
Speaking to Real Estate Business, an REA spokesperson responded to the claims, stating: "The comments attributed [to] the former CEO of REA Group, including comments made after his tenure as CEO, do not represent the views of current management or of the board."
Mr Catalano said he “honestly believes” some of his competitors' behaviours threaten the real estate industry.
“I think agents need to think very carefully about the kind of information they hand over for free … as it basically disintermediates their function,” he said.
“As a consumer, I need a real estate agent who tells me what my house is worth, how I should sell it, what are the best methods, what I can get for my property, how to market it best - the risk for agents in what they are being asked to do by some of the competitors is that you lose that knowledge base.
“I think the industry is naïve if it hands over that information and doesn’t have a hand in how it is managed in the future,” he added.
The REA spokesperson added that agents are a core part of REA's business - "they always have been and always will be".
"This commitment has the full support of our management and board, and any assertions to the contrary are simply incorrect," the spokesperson said.
"Unlike many of our competitors, we demonstrate this commitment by only accepting listings from licensed real estate agents."
View the full video interview between Mr Toop and Mr Catalano below.