The declining property market in Australia is wreaking havoc for major property sites and rental site Rent.com.au hasn’t been immune. The company posted an unexpected 17 percent decline in revenues for the first quarter of the 2019 financial year.

The result was a surprising — and substantial — blip on the site’s recent track record after 12 straight quarters of revenue growth. Chief executive Greg Bader (LinkedIn profile) attributed the result to declining property listings.

“While it’s not a core component of our long-term business model,” he said " target="_blank" rel="noopener">during an earnings call Thursday, “a reality is that at this early stage, advertising revenue is a significant contributor and a miss here has an obvious material impact.”

Revenue was down to $543,000 AUD ($384,725 U.S.), while EBITDA losses jumped 14 percent to $468,000 AUD ($331,594 U.S.) — well short of its previously projected EBITDA losses of $396,000 ($280,579 U.S.).

The result comes after the company missed its breakeven target of July 2018. But Bader said this didn’t reflect a problem with the company’s overall business model (a reference to its recent shift away from agent-dependent revenue), but rather a “specific issue at a point in time.”

“It’s a bump, and something we have identified and are addressing. Our core fundamental metrics are growing.”

He pointed out that revenue from “Renter Products” — which includes revenue from the company’s bond finance, insurance, and utilities connections service — grew to $326,000 this quarter. These products, which were launched in August, are already generating 12 cents in average revenue per user.

The company said it has also been making strides with its recently released mobile app. Record numbers of new “Renter Resumes” (tenant profiles) have been created. Rent.com.au’s rental payment platform RentPay is also ready to be integrated into the mobile app, “placing us in a position to be able to start marketing the system to our agent database.”

“If we are to be successful in transforming the way we rent property in this country for the benefit of tenants and landlords alike, we need to be influential; not only in the search phase of renting but also right into the tenancy period. RentPay is a critical component of this strategy.”

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