A Real Estate Business straw poll has revealed a massive majority of agents believe their business will be negatively impacted by REA Group's rising advertising rates.
The news comes a day after REA acknowledged agents’ concerns about its fee changes, as it hammered home that agents remain crucial to its strategy.
The poll, which attracted a record-breaking 2,368 responses, and dozens of comments, asked: How will the new realestate.com.au fees impact your business?
Around 88 per cent (2,085 votes) of respondents claimed their business will be 'worse off' following REA's fee hike, while just six per cent (141) said the new fees will have no impact on their business.
Some 4.8 per cent (113) of respondents said their business will be impacted favourably by realestate.com.au's new fee structure.
Real Estate Business contacted three industry thought leaders, all of whom are nominees in the 2014 REB Awards, to gauge their opinions on the poll findings.
John Percudani, director at Realmark Real Estate Group, said there's obviously been an emotive reaction to the fee increase, but it's also a reflection of the reality that there's been a shift in mediums, "and the ongoing value of online mediums and the centralisation of that".
"None of it should really be a surprise to any of us,” said Mr Percudani. "Rather than taking a negative approach to it, we should be embracing the opportunities online and seeing where the next evolution of that might be."
Mr Percudani said the issue is very simple: "If people don’t see value, they will walk with their feet."
"It's up to the individual agents what's in the best interests of their customers," he added.
Doug Driscoll, CEO at Starr Partners, said the "perceived arrogance of REA" is a crucial factor in the poll findings.
Mr Driscoll said the reaction from agents is due in part to "a lack of two-way dialogue" by REA. "It's just been, ‘Sorry guys, your fees are going up again'," he said.
Mark McGill of Amber Werchon Property believes agents "just need to get on", stating they'll need to "adapt or die".
"At the end of the day, irrespective of cost, you have to deal with it and adapt," said Mr McGill. "You should always recommend what's best for clients, where the best spend is for client. In my area, there is better value in print media. Agents need to understand exactly where their dollars are best spent and consider the marketplace."