ANZ buys real estate honesty agitator, realAs

ANZ buys real estate honesty agitator, realAs
ANZ buys real estate honesty agitator, realAs

ANZ has acquired the realAs website which exposes under-quoting among estate agents.

ANZ advised its purchase was to help home buyers access better information about the Australian property market.

RealAs was incubated in 2011 with an algorithm to predict property prices ahead of auction by the Melbourne buyer’s advocate David Morell, who claimed underquoting was “endemic."

"It’s grubby, it’s misleading and deceptive and it’s a fraud on purchasers," he said at the time.

RealAs says not all agents under­quote, but its chief executive since its 2014 launch, Josh Rowe said realAs aimed to "restore honesty" to pricing with its estimates.

The Collin Street based boss, who has been involved in the recent .au Domain Administration fracas, has long-viewed Victoria as "the underquoting capital of Australia."

In one expose he noted the hockingstuart Richmond agency was inaccurately quoting properties by 22 percent on average, ie a $1,000,000 agent quoted house would typically sell for $1,228,000, with Rowe subsequently advising the agency property price guidance had improved to 11 percent on average.

The website claims to have predicted prices within 5 percent of the eventual sale price over the 12 month period beginning September 2016 to August 17.

It recently advised the Sydney suburb of Eastwood topped the list for misquoting of property prices with underquoting being a way estate agents ­attracted bidders to an auction who assumed the price is within reach.

Melbourne’s Tullamarine was a close second.

Balwyn North ranked as the top suburb for accurate property price quoting in Melbourne and it was Blacktown in Sydney.

The REALas price prediction is calculated using the algorithm developed with RMIT University along with buyer feedback.

REALas.com will continue to operate independently as a wholly-owned subsidiary of ANZ.

The business was founded by David Morrell, who started the first buyers’ advocacy in Australia. He said the power was significantly stacked in the selling agent’s court and wanted to give buyers the ability to pay a fair price for their homes.

Morrell co-founded it with then Hawthorn Football Club president Andrew Newbold and former DDB creative director Jeremy Press.

It quickly upset agents and in 2015 Stockdale & Leggo, a large Melbourne-based group of agencies, accused the property start-up of defamation.

The agency threatened legal action with lawyer John Gdanski, saying a televised report “had serious, reputational, commercial and legal repercussions for our client”.

“For the record, our client does not engage in the practice of underquoting property prices. Our client vehemently rejects this allegation,” it says.

RealAs chief executive Josh Rowe reportedly shrugged off the legal threat, saying it was baseless and symptomatic of an industry that was unaccustomed to scrutiny.

He noted he had not mentioned the firm in comments made for the report.

“Through our lawyers, we have rejected Stockdale & Leggo’s allegations that we conveyed false, misleading and defamatory imputations about them,’’ he said.

“Stockdale & Leggo’s attempt to mute a new voice for home-buyers will only reduce the trust home-buyers place in real estate agents.”

The site has 2900 followers on twitter, 4500 followers on Facebook and 150 followers on Instagram.

Commenting on the acquisition, ANZ Managing Director Customer Experience and Digital Channels, Peter Dalton said it was an important acquisition for ANZ's digital transformation.

"We know customers are increasingly turning to online resources for help as they navigate the Australian property market.

“It’s also a great success story of an Australian start-up, so we’re really pleased to be working with them and looking at how we might incorporate some of their features into ANZ’s products and services in the future.”

RealAs CEO Josh Rowe said he was thrilled that ANZ has recognised the value in what was built over the past six years.

Rowe said the deal had been in the works for a year as in mid-2016 they were looking for further investment from investors outside of the original group.

In 2014 when realAs won the Westpac Innovation Challenge it advised the site was getting about 10,000 unique monthly visitors, with half downloading the app.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of our authors. Jonathan has been writing about property since the early 1980s and is editor-at-large of Property Observer.

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Underquoting Anz

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