Realestate.com.au has recently introduced a feature allowing tenants to hide listings that are not of interest. According to realestate.com.au, this is the enhancement most requested by users searching for rental properties. While I understand that tenants are looking for a way to simplify the search process, the mechanism adopted on the site raises a number of concerns.
Many of the owners I work with like to test the market for the first week or so at the higher end of their price guide, before adjusting to meet the market. In my view, if an owner is paying for an advertisement, the owner should have the option to market their property at a certain price and then reduce that price to meet the market, without being disadvantaged (i.e. because the advertisement was hidden when it was previously in a different price bracket).
Of course, it is the real estate agent’s role to provide a comparative market analysis and have a discussion with the owner around pricing the property correctly to begin with, but carrying out some market testing at the start of a campaign is something many owners will continue to want to do. This new feature will need to be taken into account in setting the initial asking price.
In its explanatory remarks relating to the new feature, realestate.com.au has referred to the frustrations of tenants seeing listings over and over they are not interested in. In my experience, the price is always a critical factor in a tenant’s decision as to whether or not they are interested in a property. If the price knocks a property out of the running for a tenant and they choose to hide the listing, they won’t have an opportunity to reconsider that property, even if the price is reduced. This system seems problematic for both the paying customer and prospective tenants.
Realestate.com.au has also indicated that the new feature does not negatively impact listing engagement or the rate of listing enquiries.
It is difficult to see how this could be correct. If a tenant is unable to view a property because it was previously out of their price range, but it is now within their price range, listing engagement must be impacted.
I believe realestate.com.au is a fantastic site and still by far the best tool for agents, tenants and landlords. I am also in support of this feature, which aims to deliver a more streamlined, customised experience for the tenant user. However, I believe it needs some tweaking. I query how many real estate agents (paying the monthly subscription) and landlords (paying for advertisements) were consulted in the design of this new, important site feature.