One of the country's leading boutique agencies has refuted claims by realestate.com.au that the recently established Real Estate Digital Marketing Services (REDMS) is being controlled by parties associated with REA's rival Domain.
Paul Stoner, CEO at Biggin & Scott, one of the agencies involved in REDMS and a nominee at the REB Awards for boutique network of the year, told Real Estate Business that there was "absolutely no truth" in media reports suggesting that Domain may be pulling the strings behind the scenes for the new group.
"The REDMS is simply a members group of real estate agents,” said Mr Stoner. “It’s not for profit and the only benefits sought is to get fair and reasonable rates for our vendors.”
Mr Stoner’s rebuke comes after a notification was sent by the REA Group to agents that outlined its stance on REDMS, in which it provided reasons why it would not currently be able to enter into discussion with the new group.
The reasons provided by REA include questioning whether REDMS current and proposed arrangements comply with competition laws and meet the requirements of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
REA also questioned the ownership structure of REDMS, stating that "as it appears that it is owned and controlled by parties associated with our direct competitor Metro Media Publishing (MMP). Nor do we have a clear understanding of which of our customers REDMS is purporting to represent".
"Unlike other property portals we do not accept private listings We therefore are extremely cautious about engaging with parties that are not themselves licensed real estate agents, particularly given that we do not have confirmation that REDMS is now and in the future acting in the best interests of, and in accordance with the contractual relationships with, our customers,” said the REA statement.
"We believe it is in the best interests of agents – and the industry as a whole – to ensure that proposals such as REDMS are transparent, compliant with the law and for the benefit of the industry, agents and their vendors in the longer term,” it added.
Fairfax Media has stated that a large number, but not all, of the agents involved in REDMS are also shareholders in MMP, which is a joint venture between Fairfax and Domain.
Mr Stoner said the motivation behind establishing REDMS was purely for the benefit of vendors and to get rid of the confusion agents were feeling about changes to listing fees.
"It’s very uncomfortable sitting at a dining room table with a vendor trying to justify why realestate.com.au, or any other digital marketing platform, is so expensive,” he said.