A group of 170 Australian real estate agents who planned a boycott of major property portals for a dispute over “excessive prices” has been dealt a blow, reports Real Estate Business.
Property Media Group Pty Ltd (PMG) made an application to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on behalf of itself and 170 individual and franchise real estate agents to collectively bargain and boycott suppliers of online and print real estate advertising, including realestate.com.au and domain.com.au.
PMG began the process as a protest over the portals which have “significant market power, charging excessive prices and essentially forcing real estate agents onto premium contracts”, the ACC said.
PMG was hoping to “collectively negotiate terms, conditions and fees with any suppliers of online or print residential real estate advertising in Australia”.
“It also seeks authorisation for agents to boycott realestate.com.au or domain.com.au in certain circumstances. A collective boycott involves two or more competitors agreeing not to acquire goods or services from a target supplier. In this case, PMG has indicated that a boycott may include agents not agreeing to acquire premium property listings, or participating agents in a region agreeing not to enter into contracts with a real estate platform.”
However, ACCC commissioner Roger Featherson today announced the regulator is not satisfied with the proposal and will deny the request, saying there was sufficient competition in the industry.
“While the ACCC considers that collective bargaining and boycott action can be in the public interest in certain circumstances, we are not satisfied that the conduct proposed by PMG would result in significant public benefits,” he said.
“…the ACCC considers that while realestate.com.au and domain.com.au have some market power, there is evidence of competition between each other and from other small mid-tier players,” he said.
“The ACCC also received information which shows that real estate agents can and do enter into a diversity of contracts and listing types, including within the same region.”