Technology

News Corp. out to eliminate ‘premium’ charged to Chinese buyers

CEO says new luxury listing portal puts rich international buyers on 'equal footing regardless of location'

Learn the New Luxury Playbook at Luxury Connect | October 18-19 at the Beverly Hills Hotel

More than a few opportunistic sellers have offloaded luxury properties to Chinese buyers for considerably more than they would have fetched from American buyers, according to News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson.

The reason sellers can charge a “premium” to Chinese buyers is largely due to the fact that well-heeled buyers across the globe haven’t had an easy way to gauge the market value of luxury listings, Thomson told Inman at a launch party for Mansion Global, News Corp.’s new international luxury listing portal.

But Thomson says Mansion Global is changing that.

Robert Thomson

Robert Thomson

The property search site, which debuted in May, is bringing “pricing transparency” to luxury real estate so that upper-crust buyers are on “equal footing regardless of location,” Thomson told Inman, as a throng of real estate bigwigs schmoozed in a Manhattan rooftop bar Wednesday night.

Mansion Global features high-end properties from around the globe in English, Spanish and Chinese.

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The majority of the more than 75,000 listings the site launched with in May came from franchise network Sotheby’s International Realty.

But Mansion Global wants to source many listings directly from real estate agents. It charges a monthly fee for agents to post their listings. Generally, only properties priced at $1 million or more are eligible for placement on the site.

Judging by the guests who showed up at Mansion Global’s launch party, such as Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate CEO Sherry Chris and Compass President Leonard Steinberg, the listing portal seems to be making headway on that front.

In casual conversation at the event, one guest claimed that, in New York City, no real estate professionals pay any attention to realtor.com, whose parent company, Move Inc., was acquired by News Corp. in November 2014 for nearly $1 billion.

But his attendance suggested that agents in the Big Apple might treat Mansion Global differently.

A large part of the listing portal’s mission is to provide an inclusive alternative to existing luxury real estate sites, many of which are operated by particular brands or organizations and may show a restricted pool of properties.

Establishing a hub for high-end listings alone could help Thomson realize his vision of enabling international buyers to avoid paying more than they should for properties.

So might offering automated valuations of luxury properties.

Mansion Global hasn’t taken that step (online property valuations would probably be a turnoff to potential customers).

But the listing portal does display rich visualizations of comparable properties on every listing page, which could certainly give many international buyers a clearer picture of a property’s value.

Mansion Global may be going as planned.

But what about another key component of News Corp.’s master plan to dominant online real estate search?

Thomson said he’s pleased with how realtor.com is using content marketing to attract more visitors. The beefed-up editorial content published on the site is yielding six times as much traffic as it used to, he said.

Asked when, or if, realtor.com would unveil a revamped user interface and website design, Thomson said, “Soon.”

Email Teke Wiggin.