The new realestate.com.au Home Loans portal has gone live, with two-thirds of Choice Home Loans brokers signing up to the new platform.
The platform, which is a jointly owned enterprise between REA and Choice, was first announced last year as an “Australian-first end-to-end digital property search and financing experience”.
It has now officially launched, with around 120 brokers operating under the new brand.
Speaking of the offering, Stephen Moore, CEO of Choice, said: “Consistent with the vision of combining digital and face to face, we're not just espousing a theory — we're living and breathing it in practice. Hence the decision to partner with REA to create a new broker business: realestate.com.au Home Loans. [This] is the marriage between digital and high-quality face-to-face advice on the broker side.”
According to Mr Moore, the decision to partner with REA was a deliberate one, meant to leverage its “very strong brand resonance in the broader marketplace” and its ability to “provide real opportunity for significant volume and quality of new client opportunities.”
He said: “Most importantly though, it’s [about] starting a relationship with the client as they're interacting to buy a house, as opposed to buying a home loan, and that is fundamentally different. So, we think it’s a really exciting future.”
Mr Moore said that the leads coming through the platform go through a “lead allocation system” to ensure that leads are distributed to brokers in a “fair and equitable way”.
“So, customers interact digitally and a number of customers will then choose to want to speak to someone and that is, more common than not, they go through to a contact centre that answers any questions that they may have. If any clients want to speak to someone face to face or any clients want to talk about other loans, etc., that is the trigger to then refer through to a broker,” the Choice CEO explained.
Noting that a third of Choice Home Loans brokers chose not to join the new realestate.com.au Home Loans business, Mr Moore emphasised that no broker had left Choice on the back of it.
He elaborated: “For those brokers who value digital in their business, directly being part of a digital business, and those brokers who put high value on new client opportunities, joining a new business becomes a no-brainer.
“For those who have a business that is self-generating, who have a whole series of high-quality referrals and it’s self-sustaining on those referrals, [they] may put a lower weighting on new client opportunities. And we found for those businesses, it has been a trigger for them to back themselves — and operate under their own brand.”
He concluded: “There are two ways to look at digital: one is digital as an enabler of business to run it more efficiently… the second is then from a consumer perspective (and it’s a noisy space in the broader fintech category) and our view is strong on this: We see the use of digital channels as supplement [that] don’t replace high-quality, face-to-face advice.
“That certainly has been our vision when it comes to digital for some time now and it still holds true today: It’s a combination of digital and face to face — that marriage — that we think is a real core part of the future. For brokers, the world is changing rapidly and no better example than in digital.”
[Related: REA to acquire major brokerage]
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