Which real estate listings website is the best?
The days of checking real estate listings in your local paper, or in the shopfront of a local agent, are long gone. When Australians want to find a property to buy or find somewhere to list their home for sale, they head online.
The two dominant players in Australia’s online real estate listings market are realestate.com.au and Domain. Both boast hundreds of thousands of listings and both are regular ports of call for home buyers, but which comes out on top?
We broke down the features of each website to find out.
By the numbers
Domain Group is owned by Fairfax Media, and realestate.com.au by REA Group, which is itself majority-owned by News Corp Australia. When Domain Group claimed the title of Australia’s number one property app in 2016, REA Group was quick to respond and the matter quickly ended up in court. REA Group claimed realestate.com.au was Australia’s number one property app, with 18 million-plus “sessions” monthly, compared to 17 million-plus for Domain. Domain also claimed its app had 4,241,258 downloads in October 2015, which was significantly less than the 4,807,736 recorded by realestate.com.au.
This latest courtroom battle is a sign of a rapidly intensifying battle between the two real estate juggernauts. Although this market sector has been traditionally dominated by realestate.com.au, which was established well ahead of its rival, Domain has closed the gap in recent years thanks to an aggressive growth strategy based on offering cheap listings.
Despite this, figures from Roy Morgan Research released in February 2015 revealed that Domain’s total audience share in the six months to December 2014 – 1,698,000 – was still well down on realestate.com.au’s 3,572,000 for the same period.
Meanwhile, buyers are more interested in the number of listings available on each website. When we checked the sites on 24 August 2016, Domain had 353,111 listings to browse, but no such data was available on realestate.com.au.
To give you a better idea of the listings available on each site, let’s take a closer look at some regional areas and capital city suburbs around the country.
Number of listings (at time of writing)
|Rockhampton City, Qld||66||87|
|Ballarat North, Vic||24||29|
|Mt Gambier, SA||517||502|
|Alice Springs, NT||6||5|
As you can see, while results vary from one location to the next, realestate.com.au seems to have a slightly higher number of listings in most locations surveyed. However, it makes sense to regularly compare listings on both sites to make sure you don’t overlook any properties.
The features offered by both websites are very similar. Both offer user-friendly search engines that allow you to search for a property by state, suburb or postcode, and both provide similar details and photograph viewing options in their listings. The two sites differ slightly in terms of how you can refine your search to find exactly the right properties, but this is quite a minor variation.
However, there are a few key areas you should consider when comparing the two:
- Maps. How easy is it to assess a property’s location from the listing?
- Inspection times. Which site makes it easier to view open for inspection times or auction dates and add them to your calendar?
- Agent contacts. Is it quick and easy to find the listing agent’s contact details and get in touch?
- Additional information. Compare the additional information you can access about a suburb through a listing, including school catchments, suburb profiles, demographic information and market trends.
- Cost. If you’re a vendor, it’s worth considering the cost involved in placing a listing. Ads on Domain cost $660 for eight weeks or $770 for 12 weeks. You’ll need to contact realestate.com.au directly for prices, as they vary based on where the property is located.
- User-friendliness. Because the two sites are so similar, your choice will come down to personal preference. Try out each site to decide which one feels the easiest and most user-friendly to you.
How to search for a property on realestate.com.au
- Visit realestate.com.au. Make sure the “Buy” tab is selected.
- Enter search details. You can search by state, suburb or postcode.
- Choose additional options. If you wish you can select a range of other options to narrow down the results: property type, number of beds, minimum and maximum price. You can also tick or untick the box to include or not include results from surrounding suburbs.
- Search. Click Search to bring up a list of properties matching your criteria.
- Browse properties. Look through the results generated and click on any listings that interest you. You can then view photos and property details, floorplans, open-for-inspection times and real estate agent contact details.
- Refine your search. If you wish to refine your search further, click on the “More refinements” dropdown at the top of the search-results page. You can then enter additional property features such as the number of bathrooms or car spaces, add keywords, and exclude properties under offer or contract.
How to search for a property on Domain
- Visit domain.com.au. Make sure the “Buy” tab is selected.
- Enter search details. You can search by region, suburb, postcode or address.
- Choose additional options. If you wish you can select a range of other options to narrow down the results: property type, number of beds, number of bathrooms, number of parking spaces, and minimum and maximum price. You can also tick or untick the box to include or not include results from surrounding suburbs.
- Search. Click Search to bring up a list of properties matching your criteria.
- Browse properties. Look through the results and click on any properties you would like to find out more about. You can view photos and floorplans, read a property description, check open-for-inspection times and contact the listing agent.
- Refine your search. If you wish to refine your search further, click on “More options” on the left-hand side of the search results page. You can then include keywords, specify your desired land size, or select any special property features you would like to search for.
Australia has the second-highest rate of smartphone use in the world, and searching for property on-the-go via your smartphone is an increasingly popular option among house hunters. Both Domain and realestate.com.au have free mobile apps to help you research properties, suburbs and market trends whenever you like.
Both apps are available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices, but the Domain app is also available on the Windows store. Just like the two websites they represent, the apps offer a remarkably similar range of features such as search for a property, use maps and GPS functionality, view high-quality photos and short-list properties.
As of 14 October 2015, Domain had the higher consumer ratings for a property app on iPhone, iPad and Android, but download both apps and judge for yourself.
It’s hard to say one app is better than the other; it really depends on your own preference and circumstances. While both sites are fairly similar, you may find that you prefer the overall usability or search functions of one site over the other. Also, depending on where you live, one site may provide more listings than the other.
The majority of real estate agents list properties for sale on both sites, unless the vendor only books a budget marketing package, in which case that property may only feature on one site. So even though you may lean towards one site, it’s still worth checking listings on its competitor every now and then.
If you are selling a property, the best bet is to advertise on both sites. Although realestate.com.au and Domain may disagree with one another about their audience reach, they undoubtedly both offer a high level of exposure to buyers, and listing on both sites could mean the difference between getting a good price for your property and getting a great price.