We don’t need any more marketing portals, says Lisa B. We just need to start thinking more carefully about how we use those that currently exist.
HOW ARE YOU shaping up after the much- publicised outcry against one of the major real estate portals increasing their fees?
In the last few months, rival CEOs have publicly attacked the practices of their competitors and agents are quietly – and not so quietly – undertaking massive action in their areas. Huge developments are happening nationally within the industry. We are clearly on the battlefield.
With regard to the war, I want to put the real estate portals aside for a moment and discuss two clear sides that have emerged from within the real estate industry.
Which side of the fence are you on?
The first side are the agents looking for answers; business minds that are actively assessing what they need to do.
They are assessing the situation with business acumen. They are looking to be the change and they are looking to enforce the necessary changes.
Within this same group of agents, there are those looking for a magic pill to be handed to them. They are not looking to be a part of the solution; they just want someone to tell them what to do. They are hoping they will receive an email that says ‘from now on we are all going to move forward in this direction’.
Then on the other side of the fence, we have the agents who run with whatever is thrown at them. They bury themselves in the actual day-to-day operations of their work, not really looking at the long-term effects of what their lack of action working on their business may mean in the future. They are busy working in their business, not on their business. If they were truly working on their business, they would be looking at how they can use the thousands of dollars they spend on real estate portals in their own business. They would become the thought leaders.
Now let’s look at the real estate portals. There are two clear leaders: realestate.com. au (News Ltd) and domain. com.au (Fairfax). The two biggest players own the real estate portals and they own the newspapers in the areas they dominate. Their online domination is not a coincidence; for example, The Illawarra Mercury in Wollongong is owned by Fairfax, who also own Domain. Their whole property liftout is dedicated to Domain property portal, so of course the action is going to be bigger for Domain in that area.
So where is all this going now?
In the last few months, out of the woods came some major players banding together, developing another ‘industry owned’ site called Squiiz. They are hoping for massive agent support. Will it work? Let’s see what the site is like. Let’s see how they market to the consumer. That will be the real test. It really won’t be that hard bringing awareness to the site if they can get it right. But let’s not forget how REA began, as a bunch of agents doing exactly the same thing, and let’s hope history doesn’t repeat.
Earlier this year, when people saw that REA was under fire from real estate agents, it led some people to think that we needed more real estate sites. We don’t. Well, not like what everyone thinks we do.
There are many free sites that add little or no value whatsoever. However, in their attempt to resemble Santa at Christmas, agents add their owners’ property to many, many sites, so that they can appear to be covering every inch of the world in marketing. They are attempting to show that they have their marketing covered globally.
The point I have taken from all of this is what we want and what we need are two very different things.
We have been conditioned to believe that we need a national portal to advertise every property.
That’s what we’ve had, and that’s what we are used to. This is how the big portals have trained us, to train the buyers on their brand awareness. We have become lazy because there are other easier options, and until this changes nothing will change.