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Is the real estate industry about to dump Private Property?

When to dump your agent.resize

The FNB nav >>Home app has not only seriously irked the local residential real estate agent community, it has also brought to light the unauthorised sharing of agent listings by Private Property to the FNB app.

fnb nav

FNB App outrage – FNB responds

Since news of the app broke and the “agreement” between Private Property and FNB surfaced at the end of last week (see below), real estate agents, principals, and CEOs have called for answers from both FNB and Private Property – as the app now makes it possible for private sellers to list and sell their homes without the services of an estate agent.

Probably the boldest move to date has been that of real estate website designer and listing syndicator, Entegral, which declared that it would be cutting its clients’ feeds to Private Property – and, by virtue, FNB’s Nav Home app.

“We will drop the feed to any other portal partner that thinks agent listing IP is theirs,” the company’s founder, Adriaan Grove, wrote on Monday afternoon. “I also hope this sends a clear message to FNB and any other bank or institution that they can use agent data to promote their own agendas.

“…There needs to be full disclosure too to you (agents) on what happens to your (agents’) lead data, I wish for other service providers to follow our example if they share our values.”

The move has received a lot of support from the real estate community, with many hoping that it will send a very clear message that estate agents’ listings (their intellectual property) is not that of anyone else, except for estate agents.

“We will not offer a feed to Private Property from new clients; existing clients can keep their feeds but we are offering an opt-out option,” said Grove. “Last week we requested that Private Property halt the feeds of Entegral’s clients to FNB. The response from Private Property was that they would look into it, while FNB said they couldn’t disclose their [feed] sources. Since then and the demand to cut off feeds by 5pm on 1 November, we have had no further feedback.

“We then gave Private Property 24 hours’ notice of our intention to cut our clients’ feed and received a ‘noted, thanks’ response.”

Entegral feeds in the region of tens of thousands of property listings to the portal, according to Grove, which makes Private Property’s response to potentially losing the feed all the more insulting to agents.

“We have already had cancellations from some of our clients’ feeds to Private Property,” Grove said, noting that his company was putting together a proposal for a true 100% agent-owned property portal. “We just need to figure out exactly how this can be made a reality.”

It seems too that even board members of Private Property were unaware of the “agreement” between the portal and FNB.

RE/MAX of Southern Africa CEO, Adrian Goslett, today met with FNB to discuss his and his company’s concerns (more on this to follow).

On Saturday Goslett said that “if this (the feed of listings from Private Property to FNB Nav Home) is not resolved to my satisfaction by next week, I will rather resign as board member and move on”.

According to Goslett a satisfactory resolution would fix two issues.

“Number 1: Private Property withdraws and suspends listings to FNB. Contract redrawn to allow opt in/out for agent listings. Reinitiate feed (choice-based), and, two, FNB stops touting seller direct.

“That’s more a wish than a request as FNB must execute the strategy they believe works for them. I just don’t want to support them if they do as I see them as a competitor now.”

As this story continues to develop, one thing is certain: estate agents, when they collectively band together, have the strength to cripple entire institutions – the once-essential Saturday Star property supplement comes to mind. If Private Property does not look after agents’ interests – and be shown to do so – it could find itself with millions of visitors and no stock to service those visitors.

Private Property statement to its clients

Dear Valued Partners,

I’m sure you have all been keeping up to date with the recent discussions surrounding a press release from FNB in which they announced a new feature on their NAV home platform, allowing FNB customers to list and sell their homes directly to other FNB customers. We understand and appreciate that FNB’s new offering may be of concern to some of you and therefore considered it vital to communicate where we stand as a business as regards this feature development and how it affects our relations with FNB.

Private Property have had a long standing commercial relationship with FNB whereby we syndicate listings to their banking platform. The reason we adopted this strategy was to ensure your properties are available to a wider audience of property buyers and sellers in order to generate the most leads possible to boost sales for you, our real estate partners. Importantly, all leads generated are always linked back to the advertising agent and property ownership details are never disclosed.

However, we do understand that this new feature may be seen as step in the direction of a direct to consumer strategy by FNB so , although we are bound by our commercial terms with FNB, we are nonetheless engaging with them urgently to give them the opportunity to respond to the concerns that have been raised. We’ve also received requests from some of our real estate partners to remove their listings from the feed to FNB but would request that you please give us the opportunity to further engage with FNB to find a solution that addresses your concerns. We still believe that a strong relationship with FNB will be beneficial to the stakeholders in Private Property so would really like to find a solution that works for all.

We appreciate your strong feeling on this issue and will endeavour to resolve this as quickly as possible. We will keep you updated as we make progress and thank you for your continued support and patience as we navigate the rapidly changing property market in South Africa.

Please can I ask that you pass this communication on to your networks as well.

Kind Regards,
Mark Coetzee



David A Steynberg, managing editor and director of HomeTimes, has more than 10 years of experience as both a journalist and editor, having headed up Business Day’s HomeFront supplement, SAPOA’s range of four printed titles, digimags Asset in Africa and the South African Planning Institute’s official title, Planning Africa, as well as B2B titles, Building Africa and Water, Sewage & Effluent magazines. He began his career at Farmer’s Weekly magazine before moving on to People Magazine where he was awarded two Excellence Awards for Best Real Life feature as well as Writer of the Year runner-up. He is also a past fellow of the International Women’s Media Foundation.

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