REA Group buys full stake in end-to-end property sales interface Realtair

REA Group buys full stake in end-to-end property sales interface Realtair

Realtair co-founders (L-R) Shane Slater, Blake Williams and Peter Matthews. Photo via Facebook.

Realestate.com.au operator REA Group (ASX: REA) has acquired the remaining 63 per cent in Sydney-based prop-tech Realtair for an undisclosed sum to take full ownership, following a positive response to the partnership since its first investment in the startup in 2020.

Realtair's end-to-end property sales platform helps agents create customisable digital listing presentations, sign agreements on the spot, and manage auction and private treaty transactions.

Realtair co-founder and chief executive officer, Peter Matthews, says REA Group has been an important and effective partner, and is the natural fit to take the company into the next phase of growth.

"I'm proud of what Realtair has achieved over the past eight years and have decided that now is the right time for new leadership to take the business forward," says Matthews.

“As part of REA Group, we can be sure that Realtair will continue to unlock value for the real estate industry with innovative tools that help agents do business."

Matthews, as well as Realtair's chief operating officer Blake Williams and chief financial officer Paul Shaw, will remain with the business. In a release, REA Group says it looks forward to welcoming Realtair employees to the team.

"We are focused on helping our customers to better manage their workflow, increase efficiencies, and grow their business," says REA Group chief executive officer Owen Wilson.

"Realtair’s products will enhance our ability to deliver this and we’re excited by the long-term opportunities that our ongoing investment in Realtair presents.

"The positive response to our existing partnership with Realtair gives us great confidence in the benefits we can deliver for our customers. REA Group is well placed to help customers win more listings and with the added value that Realtair provides during the sales process, we can streamline the home buying experience for consumers."

The buyout comes within a year of REA Group's move in July last year to acquire the remaining stake in CampaignAgent, which has been described as like an 'Afterpay for VPA (vendor paid advertising)'.

In the group's annual report for FY23, Realtair was among several investments - also including CampaignAgent, mortgage application and e-lodgement solutions company Simpology, property management software platform Managed Platforms, and overseas investments Move and PropertyGuru - that generated a combined loss of $15.9 million.

This compares to a profit of $3 million in the prior year. Figures did not detail the specific performance of each investment. 

REA Group notes that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) was notified of the latest acquisition with all clearances received prior to completion. 

This follows the announcement in March that the group, which itself is majority owned by News Corporation (ASX: NSW), would not be proceeding with the acquisition of real estate forms provider Dynamic Methods.

REA asserted that the withdrawal was for commercial reasons, after a prolonged acquisition process required a reassessment of the commercial benefits of the transaction.

The process had been delayed because the competition watchdog had raised potential concerns about the consequences of the deal.

"We are concerned that by expanding REA Group’s existing ecosystem of products and services, this acquisition may extend REA Group’s already strong position and give it the ability and incentive to significantly harm competitors," ACCC Commissioner Liza Carver said in February.

"Industry participants such as real estate service providers have expressed serious concerns to us about how the proposed acquisition will entrench REA Group’s position of strength in the supply of real estate services.”

"Many are concerned that REA Group, which operates realestate.com.au, will have the ability to control access to, and data from, digital forms which are necessary for providing real estate related services."

In pulling out of the transaction, REA Group insisted that it remained confident that the proposed acquisition would not have lessened competition.

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