One of the country's largest agents, which houses a sizable property management division, believes agents' vanishing support of print advertising is the chief culprit behind REA Group's dominant market share of ad spend.
With the Ray White network getting vocal recently about print advertising being far from dead and still worth investment, Andrew Bell, CEO of Ray White Surfers Paradise, said he wasn't surprised by the price hikes and suggested agents are the reason the marketplace has become anti-competitive.
Mr Bell said he believes agents should be looking to focus ad spend on balanced marketing campaigns, incorporating print media and digital advertising.
“It’s simply in the seller’s best interests and will have a knock-on effect of keeping both forms of advertising in check on pricing,” he said, adding that it will rely on the entire industry becoming more supportive of print.
He warned with agents ignoring print, vendors were being left with no option but to spend on digital.
“If agents don’t see print media as a viable option, we as an industry are taking away the very competition that would have served to contain price rises,” said Mr Bell.
“If real estate agents fail to support print media and keep it relevant, they are the very reason realestate.com.au prices will rise," he added.
Mr Bell said the reality was that sellers in the past would have spent a certain amount of money on print media advertising, but it was no longer attracting the same vendor dollar because agents were not promoting its benefits.
"We still receive a great deal of enquiry off print advertising from parties who don’t follow digital mediums,” he said.
“It’s not surprising realestate.com.au has an approach that if sellers were prepared to spend a certain amount of money on print media, they can step in and capture that same dollar spend.”
Mr Bell said digital advertising became an attractive option to its print counterpart as newspapers were perceived to be too expensive.
“That sentiment has caused a great percentage of the real estate industry not to advertise in newspapers, but rather list online,” he said.
“So essentially we are the problem, and REA Group is merely running a commercial business, capitalising on the opportunities that exist in the current marketplace.”