PHOTO: Selling to the pre-existing network: This 19 Ross Street, Toorak, house was purchased for $4.5 million by a Hong Kong-based buyer who contacted the agent by Whats App.  

Vendors in a sharply weakening market are refusing to pay the thousands of dollars upfront to advertise their properties, prompting agents to promote homes off-market and rely on their own networks – rather than listing portals and Domain – to find buyers.

The ban on public auctions and traditional open inspections that prompted more than half of last week’s scheduled 2684 auctions to be withdrawn has already prompted one real estate agent to demand a significant change from the two largest real estate portals – free listings.

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“It’s really important that we continue turnover,” said John Bongiorno, a director of Melbourne agency Marshall White. “My proposal was they offer clients a 45-day free listing on both portals and in the event the property sells, the client pays.”

Free listings without any payment is definitely not a viable option for us

— REA Group CEO Owen Wilson

Under pressure, the portals are trying to make concessions. REA Group, the owner of market-leading, is already offering vendors the chance to relist their property for free if it doesn’t sell after a 45 or 60-day paid campaign and is for now rejecting the idea of free listings.


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