The multinational property group is hoping to reverse its fortunes in the financial services market by backing its broker network.
In its annual report, REA Group, the parent company of realestate.com.au, has affirmed its commitment to the broker channel, which it is hoping will drive growth in its Australian financial services business, which recorded an 8 per cent reduction in revenue in FY19, down from $29 million to $27 million.
The group highlighted the utility of the broker channel and noted its ambitions to expand its footprint via its subsidiary Smartline Personal Mortgage Advisors.
“We recognise the value mortgage brokers bring to people looking to finance their next property,” REA noted in its report.
“Through our ownership of Smartline and partnership with NAB, this year we had 400 brokers in market.
“Our audience, brand strength and digital expertise provides a unique position for long-term growth within the financial services industry.”
In July, REA confirmed that it had purchased the remaining minority stake in Smartline for $16 million.
REA initially acquired 80.3 per cent of the Smartline business in June 2017 for $67 million while also entering into a strategic partnership with NAB.
Following its acquisition of Smartline’s remaining minority stake, REA Group CFO Janelle Hopkins commented: “Since joining REA Group in 2017, Smartline has become integral to our strategy to allow Australians to search, find and finance property all from one place.
“[This] announcement will provide us with even greater scale and long-term capability.”
Sam Boer, CEO of Smartline, said that the acquisition is a further “step forward in the evolution of the Smartline business”.
“We are delighted to be further consolidating our relationship with REA Group, combining Smartline’s expert mortgage broking franchise and quality network of advisers with REA Group’s digital reach and expertise,” he said.