Domain, the neglected middle child of Australian real estate sites, is finally getting its chance to shine. And boy, is it making up for lost time.
Besides having two international suitors on the line to open their cheque books and acquire the real estate business, Domain made a big splash this week with news that it’s launching its own education program, called Domain Academy.
The brainchild of Domain chief executive Antony Catalano, Domain Academy will offer events, training and coaching to help Domain’s customers — namely residential real estate agents — succeed in real estate.
It’s an ingenious little plan, if you think about it.
Over a decade ago, Tom Panos, News Corp. real estate advertising director, started the Real Estate Gym, an intensive training program for real estate agents, that became so highly sought-after it would book out within hours of being announced.
Real estate agents from all over the country wanted to learn how to become million-dollar agents from Tom Panos. And if that meant advertising more in News Corp. newspapers (and on REA Group’s real estate platform), because Tom said so, that’s what they did.
It was an excellent way to build brand loyalty with agents and ensured that – as the company’s de facto salespeople – they would always prioritize advertising in and on News Corp.-owned newspapers and real estate sites. (News Corp. is the majority owner of REA Group (ASX: REA), operators of Domain rival RealEstate.com.au.)
Catalano’s Domain Academy education program, which is due to be launched in the next few weeks, will be delivered through a network of Domain ambassadors and experts, and the training courses will count towards a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) accreditation.
It’ll also help Domain further diversify and expand its business from merely a real estate listing site to a business that provides agents with all the tools they need to run a successful business — a real estate CRM, content marketing, and now training and education.
“We intend for Domain Academy to become Australia’s premier agent training program,” Catalano said in a statement. “This has been a long-desired personal project of mine and I’m delighted our teams are now rolling this out across the country.”
Domain might just give REA Group a run for its money yet. The current TPG and Hellman & Friedman offers value Domain at $2.7 billion AUD ($2 billion U.S.) and $2.9 billion AUD ($2.2 billion U.S.) respectively.
Domain is due to be separated from its parent company Fairfax Media (ASX: FXJ) and listed as a separate entity on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) at the end of this calendar year. Formal bids from TPG and H&F are expected the end of the month.