Google, Facebook to challenge realestate.com.au, Domain in 2019?

Friday 04 Jan 2019

One network CEO is predicting that Google and Facebook will take an even bigger interest in real estate marketing in 2019 and move more deliberately into the traditional property portal space, dominated currently by realestate.com.au and Domain.

CEO at Professionals Real Estate David Crombie said that both Google and Facebook have the wherewithal to do it.

“Both these organisations have significant user bases and are able to very cost-effectively target real estate consumers on a local level,” Mr Crombie told REB.

“With Facebook Marketplace now having sections on property for sale and for rent, I believe you are going to see a greater move into the rental market by Facebook in 2019.”

Mr Crombie said that another big threat looming out there in the rental space is Airbnb, who now has 33,000 properties in Sydney and 20,000 properties in Melbourne.

“Just as new players are eroding the level of sales listings available to our industry, Airbnb is doing the same with managements,” he said.

He also predicts the use of AI to play a bigger part in the industry.

“As an example, ask Google, Siri or Alexa who is the best real estate agent in the suburb you operate in and you might be surprised by the answer,” Mr Crombie said.

He also said that there could be a reduction in the number of agencies in the industry as the market tightens up.

“This will result from not only new models and low-cost players coming into the industry, but also the effect that the fallout from the financial services royal commission will have on home owners and investors getting finance,” the CEO said.

Mr Crombie also said that changes to negative gearing will play a role too, if Labor gets into government at the next federal election. 

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In 2019, Mr Crombie said that he’d like to see less examples of poor marketing, consumer complaints and agents providing a poor service.

“There are some exceptional agencies providing an exceptional service in our industry, but there are many that are not and this needs to change.

“Agents need to not take a transactional approach to consumers, with many simply moving on after a sale, and should change the way that they see real estate consumers.”

He added that it would be good to see the industry “step up to the plate” and reduce their reliance on some of the third-party service providers.

“You may think that some of these providers are helping, but in some cases, you are only creating a rod for your own back and others in the industry as well.

“We have seen it before and it will only continue to erode the ability to get listings, meet increasing marketing costs and for principals to operate a sustainable profitable business.”

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Also, Mr Crombie said, with the threats and challenges that the industry is facing, he would like to see more empathetic, better-educated and more professional agents providing a better consumer experience — throughout and after the transaction.

“I look at what is going on in the industry as somewhat similar to what has occurred with the taxi industry with the advent of Uber, Ola and other ride-sharing services.

“While industries always change and develop, these companies would not have had the effect that they have on the taxi industry if they were meeting the needs of consumers.”

He said that consumers are changing.

“New models and players are taking market share and commission from the traditional real estate agents. We need more agents providing a better consumer experience because it is not always about commission or price.”

- Tim Neary