AS RENT.COM.AU MOVES a step closer to its goal of becoming the ‘Home for Renters in Australia’, CEO and Founder Mark Woschnak shares his insights into the company’s seven-year journey and future vision.

WE ARE AT the beginning of a significant, long-term growth phase for the property management industry. The type of renter growth anticipated nationwide highlights a noteworthy and increasing emphasis on rental marketing, services and rent rolls, with a focus on property investors in the year ahead. It is a genuinely exciting time to be involved.

As the first ASX-listed property portal dedicated solely to rentals, we see an opportunity for tremendous growth ahead, especially when combined with the current collaboration with the agent industry to provide better services and industry insight to property managers. The market demand is both significant and growing – in January, RENT moved up to number seven in AC Nielsen’s ranking of national property sites and had over 615,000 renters use it.

RENT has enormous benefits for property managers. The site offers a free listings service, together with a range of paid subscription services to enhance listing visibility and optimise enquiry rates.

A number of our services are provided on a ‘first come, first served’ basis, so now is a key time to subscribe as we gear up for our expansion objectives.

The most significant benefit for the industry comes out of our pure focus on rentals. With this, we are able to look deeper into the moving process, from a whole-of-market viewpoint, and work proactively to create innovative solutions.

In creating a portal that focuses solely on the rental process, we are able to eliminate the time wasting and frustration experienced by renters and more accurately address their needs and those of the wider industry. Our pure focus also helps us to look deeper into the process and work proactively to create innovative solutions, combined with better products and services for property management departments.

Our main growth driver is not at the expense of other portals. Instead, we are entirely focused on the under-serviced rental sector, and therefore represent an important complementary addition to the online marketing mix for any agent. RENT’s point of difference is in its opportunity to reach a unique audience of renters that do not go to other main portals (over 50 per cent) and to access landlords and secure new managements from owners seeking to appoint a property manager.

From a ‘total market’ perspective approach, Rent. com.au allows private landlords to list their properties, making the site a genuine channel for property management teams seeking to grow their rent roll with new managements. Looking at global benchmarks, we see that creating a marketplace of rentals is crucial to providing renters with a first- class search service showing the best possible range of rentals via agent and private landlord listings. Renters are our ultimate consumer in this regard, as they just want choice and don’t care whether the listing is agent- or landlord- managed.

We have had strong endorsement from the property industry, including the likes of Professionals CEO Shane Kempton, who applauded the vision demonstrated by Rent. com.au in providing opportunity for landlords to advertise side- by-side with real estate agents for the benefit of all parties.

Notwithstanding our strong traffic results in January, there remains a significant upside in the size of the renter traffic available to us. As we move into our next phase of growth, we are actively seeking to obtain the balance of listings from agents who are not yet using the site and continue to shift the private landlord market online at rent.com. au. We are looking to launch further products aimed at making the moving process easier and commencing the next phase of the national branding campaign.

Our most important goal going forward is to raise awareness of the RENT brand, which we will continue to do with our strong online positioning as well as via the forthcoming further offline marketing. In developing and facilitating the fast growth of the rent.com.au marketplace, we will seek to develop and use our supporting assets of lease.com.au, rentalproperty.com.au and propertymanager.com.au.

A full national field sales team is now in place, helping all agents understand the unique points of difference of RENT and at the very least demonstrate how agents can capitalise on the level of enquiries generated from the unique renter audience.

Principals should note that the RENT service demonstrates a break-even proposition and is a very low cost per month to help build rent rolls, attain greater efficiency and target additional distribution to renters not found elsewhere.

It’s an exciting time to be in the industry as we seek to follow a well-trodden pathway to success. We focus on the quality and depth of services in the rental marketplace for the benefit of all participants involved. This has been a long- established and well-identified opportunity, and the future looks bright.

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