Publishers extend real estate battle into mortgage services

Publishers extend real estate battle into mortgage services

Australia’s major newspaper publishers have extended the duel between their real estate businesses into a new area, with Fairfax Media and News Corp Australia moving this week into mortgage brokering – a market that generates about $2 billion a year in commissions.

Fairfax Media’s real estate company, Domain Group, will provide home loan broking services from July, cementing its partnership with home loan platform Lendi. Domain will retain a 60 per cent stake in the venture, with the investment value remaining confidential.

News Corp’s REA group, which runs Australian site realestate.com.au, has acquired a majority stake in independent mortgage franchise broking business Smartline, and will link its average monthly audience of 5.9 million to more than 300 Smartline advisors around the country.

The Fairfax product, Domain Loan Finder, will connect homebuyers with more than 30 lending partners, including the four major banks, and link them to home loan specialists.

The product will be integrated into Domain’s current real estate site, creating what Domain chief executive officer Antony Catalano describes as “Australia’s first end-to-end property search and finance platform”.

“We expect Domain Loan Finder will quickly become a must-use and valuable digital tool for all Australians looking to secure a home loan,” he said. “We will actively market our home loan solution to our large and highly engaged audience of more than 4 million a month in a highly relevant, personalised and timely way.

“This new offering is part of the full complement of real estate products and services that Domain is building out to deliver on the modern needs of today’s property buyers, owners and sellers, as well as to grow new transactional revenues,” Mr Catalano said.

Domain Loan Finder will link together Fairfax’s other assets, including investments in utilities connections business Compare & Connect, home improvement and maintenance business Oneflare, and open for inspection check-in management system Homepass.

News Corps REA Group (top) and Fairfax Media's Domain Group (bottom) both introduced similar products to market this week.

News Corps REA Group (top) and Fairfax Media’s Domain Group (bottom) both introduced similar products to market this week.

REA group made its announcement of an 80.3 per cent acquisition in Smartline the previous day.

In addition to the ability to link its monthly audience of almost 6 million to Smartline advisors, realestate.com.au has strengthened its strategic partnership with National Australia Bank. The relationship between the companies was first established in December 2016.

REA Group’s executive director of financial services Andrew Russell said: “We’re delivering on our promise to simplify property search and financing by offering genuine choice when it comes to finding the right home loan.”

Choice Home Loans CEO Stephen Moore believes the service will create more diversity in the real estate landscape.

“The strategic partnership with realestate.com.au will deliver consumers an unmatched property buying experience that makes it easier and simpler for Australians to access the help, guidance and advice of a mortgage broker.

“We know most home buyers start their property search online and this partnership will further support our brokers in the increasingly competitive and rapidly evolving broking landscape,” he said.

Following the acquisition, Smartline’s existing management team will retain 19.7 per cent of its shares and will continue to operate the business.

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