I recently had a chance to catch up with Simon Baker, CEO of REA Group who walked me through the company’s operations; which would be the envy of any Real Estate 2.0 company in the US.
Based in Melbourne, Australia, REA Group runs 18 web sites and a network of brands across the world; including the UK, Italy, France, Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg, UAE, Hong Kong, New Zealand and their flagship site in Australia, RealEstate.com.au
Network-wide they reach about 9 million unique visitors per month (nearly approaching Realtor.com’s reach of around 11 million).
They are listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (REA.AX) with a market cap of about $800 million and they are also partially owned (55%) by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
The interesting part of their business model is that because, outside North America there is no MLS, REA Group is a true media play. Agents who want to advertise their listings online in any capacity must pay to do so. Baker estimated that in Australia 95% of agents paying to use their services.
It’s a business model I’m sure many of their US-based counterparts would love to have.
I asked Baker what their REA Group’s operations meant to US Realtors. He prefaced his comments half-jokingly, saying that he was happy he wasn’t operating inside of the US market right now and that overall the international market was doing much better.
He also said that the company had no immediate plans to enter the US market – unlike Dothomes, another international operation which recently opened up shop in the US (see International Real Estate Search Site Makes a Move into US) – though he didn’t rule it out as a possibility in the future.
Bottom line however, his advice to agents to begin think of the local market as really being international in scope these days, as more and more consumers around the world are moving online to research real estate and looking at properties in other countries. To that end, there are all kinds of marketing and online advertising tools (including those offered by REA Group, natch) you can use to reach out to potential buyers beyond US borders.
To learn more about REA Group’s businesses, click here.
Also, here’s an interview I did in January with Simon Baker, where we discuss some of the history behind REA Group.