Website takes aim at REA, Domain

A ‘bare bones’ listings website has scrapped the idea of appealing to consumer demand and is instead gunning for consumer data.

Squiiz has been designed to give an "equal footing" to all properties listed, drive the use of an ‘industry-owned’ portal and retain any sales data gained through the listings process. It has been designed to level the playing field against the likes of REA and Domain due to it's transparent publishing process and lack of heirachy in the listings it displays.

Managing Director of Re/Max Australia and New Zealand Michael Davoren said the development of the website was borne out of frustration that industry players were casually watching non-industry players take control. The website is an attempt to claw back the data and minimise any potential casualties within the real estate industry.

In an exclusive interview with Real Estate Business, Mr Davoren said the main reason they have designed the platform is because they saw no-one in the industry take control of sales and listings data on the ground level until this venture.

“The industry wanted to do this and it was borne out of frustration, nothing more, as the industry should protect all the data it collects and many have been trying to put something together for years - the REIA has looked at state-based portals, held discussions on national portals and a few franchises have attempted it,” Mr Davoren said.

“The industry is united in wanting to do this because we have seen other industries, such as travel, sit back and watch the non-industry players take control.

“This website will be one very big bell and whistle and that will be the fully developed application, we give equal exposure which is less confusing for the public, they can see all the listings and not just the ones where the owner can afford a different package.”

Speaking to Real Estate Business, independent real estate trainer and general manager of real estate sales for News Corp, Tom Panos, said plenty of other portals in the past, and present, have had similar aspirations, to relative success. Mr Panos sighted homehound and realestateview as two such websites that met with market resistance, but he added that a new player in the market is a good thing for the industry and may even present a challenge.

“In theory it would be great to have some sort of portal that the real estate industry owns,” Mr Panos said.

“For the data to be credible you need to have lots of it and not just data from one particular real estate company. Whatever analytics you can work out of the data will only work if you have all the data, because with one error all data credibility can be undermined.

“At the moment, big companies like RP Data have got a big advantage because of stringent data collection methods.”

Domain chief operating officer Tony Blamey said the emergence of Squiiz is a reaction to the pains of REA and the way they have gone about pricing, and said anyone who goes into this market must do so with their eyes open.

Mr Blamey added Australia is not a massive market but a valuable market and alternatives are a good thing. However, today’s consumers want much more than a basic website. They want innovation and content available on any platform.

“Consumers have high expectations and their high demand for data empowers them,” Mr Blamey said.

“Domain has taken the view that we want to collaborate with industry, we encourage it and take a demonstrated view with agent participation models launching, but anyone entering this market must go in with their eyes wide open in terms of the level of investment required. We have dozens of product developers to keep innovating and invest tens of millions each year to hone audience acquisition and engagement, and that should not be underestimated.”

Squiiz CEO Nick Christian is in the middle of a national roadshow informing agents what the product will do, and said they will initially launch a viable product in beta on October 15. During the Brisbane presentation on Thursday heavyweights from REA were spotted listening intently to Mr Christian's presentation. 

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