Domain formalise Partnership with MyDesktop

3 minute read have formalised a partnership with Commerce Australia. MyDesktop, is used by many real estate agents across Australia to manage their property listings and also a range of other services. This deal is more of a formality as I understand a partnership has already been formalised in the past and this announcement just cements the relationship. I noticed in the press release that ‘real estate industry experts’ called it ‘best of breed’!

I must say I despise that saying, it is thrown up from so many companies these days and it really annoys me, everyone’s product is now best of breed! I think it is time for PR experts to come up with something better than that to describe a product or service. That said, I have heard many compliments about this product in the past. Below is the full press release.

Media release formalise partnership with agent solution system
4 April 2007 –, Fairfax’s digital property channel today announced the formalisation of an equity partnership with long time commercial partner, Commerce Australia.

Commerce Australia are the creators and developers of MyDesktop, commonly described by real estate industry experts as ‘the best of breed’ agent solutions system, incorporating sales and listings management; CRM; financials (inc. Sales Trust); communications, reporting and web site design and hosting.

MyDesktop has been built in collaboration with the real estate industry and experts, including consultation with Robert Bevan’s Best Practice. MyDesktop is also integrated with Rockend’s Rest Professional Property Management software and is now being used by some 530 real estate offices in every mainland state of Australia as well as the Northern Territory and New Zealand.

Sam Plowman, General Manager: Online Real Estate at Fairfax Digital said, “this partnership will enable Fairfax Digital to provide further value to our agency customers by integrating MyDesktop into a range of current Fairfax Digital products particularly, Australian Property Monitor’s property data service, Home Price Guide Professional.”

“MyDesktop is the now only agent solution system with its own historical data source,” Sam Plowman said.

Scott Wulff, Managing Director Commerce Australia Pty Ltd said “it had become obvious to us that the best way to grow and enhance MyDesktop was through the involvement of a partner who can bring value adding systems and resources.

“We are totally committed to taking the utmost advantage of the opportunities that have opened up through this allegiance with Fairfax Digital.”

“In aligning MyDesktop with Fairfax Digital, we believe we will achieve every thing that agents are seeking from an office system,” Scott Wulff said.

End of Release by Vida Redoblado (Red Agency)

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  • Robert Simeon
    Posted April 4, 2007 at 8:12 pm 0Likes

    A great merge from our business perspective as we already use Commerce Australia’s MyDesktop, as well as Rockend’s Rest Professional Property Management. So this merger will no doubt provide us with more “bang for our buck”. It will be interesting to watch how all the data is integrated and real estate agencies are provided with smarter online strategies.

    When I first heard of this some weeks ago what appealed to me most was that this is not a takeover rather, an equity partnership. This way we continue to experience the best of both worlds.

    A great industry announcement as we have subscribed to both businesses independently for a number of years now.

  • Peter
    Posted April 4, 2007 at 8:26 pm 0Likes

    Robert, I wonder, why do you have a franchise? It seems you do everything independently and still pay for a franchise?

  • Danny
    Posted April 4, 2007 at 8:33 pm 0Likes

    Hi Robert

    After disclosing your March Sales figures I thought you’d be making a take over bid for REA! Imagine all that RWM branding on a renewed REA home page.

    BTW, how good was Nick’s 1st April “press release” – genius stuff!

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted April 4, 2007 at 8:42 pm 0Likes


    You make an interesting point(s). Well actually Commerce Australia (CA) was initially introduced to us through a head office agreement to franchise offices some years ago. We have been using their back – end systems happily for quite a few years now.

    Our network Richardson & Wrench is different to other franchise groups as we are not charged fees based on sales performance. Rather a flat fee to use the name. From our perspective it works better this way as our business makes the ongoing decisions as against a head office trying to justify huge monthly payments for little delivery.

    The internet has placed franchisors under increasing pressures as all we want is the name. With a flat fee we save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year that previously went into head office coffers.

  • Danny
    Posted April 4, 2007 at 8:47 pm 0Likes

    Good question Peter .. and best Robert respond, but it’s my view that franchisors that levy franchise fees based on a % of turnover make the bigger franchisees question their value … we are living proof and took the leap of faith … Put simply – why should a successful franchisee pay 4x or 5x the fees that a neighbouring franchisee under the same banner pay for the same “service” – “merely a trading name”

  • Peter
    Posted April 4, 2007 at 8:49 pm 0Likes

    I suppose where I am coming from, is that you are super successful and you promote a brand other than your own each and every day.

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted April 4, 2007 at 8:49 pm 0Likes

    Danny too funny,

    You will read some amazing statistics tomorrow in VRN. REA is not on our acquisition list – just imagine Simon and I discussing strategies moving forward 😉

    Nick’s April Fools Day play will be remembered as one of the best ever. Would have loved to have seen Peter’s face when he read that one !!

    BTW – we have appointed a new public relations consultant her name is Avina Larf.

  • Peter
    Posted April 4, 2007 at 8:54 pm 0Likes

    I do understand why as an example a first time agent would go for the safety of a franchise, but a seasoned professional, I think I would go alone..

    That means every letterbox drop, every sign, every newspaper ad, every Internet ad, every contract, every handshake is done by myself or my team under my brand.

    It also means that when another office stuffs up (LJ Hooker House of Murder) then it does not affect my office.

  • Danny
    Posted April 4, 2007 at 8:57 pm 0Likes

    Mate I’ll be at Hawks Nest when VRN arrives – 3pm last week – too late for a Friday – I reckon the punters (including myself) would love to see it Friday am.

    My honest opinion because it’s a good read – but I usually don;t see it until Saturday.

  • Danny
    Posted April 4, 2007 at 9:03 pm 0Likes


    “Simeon, Simeon & Patrick” does have a nice ring to it!


  • Robert Simeon
    Posted April 4, 2007 at 9:12 pm 0Likes

    We actually like the Richardson & Wrench brand as it is one of the oldest and most respected in real estate. Even more so that it allows us to be a free spirit whereby we make our own business decisions moving forward.

    One can never rule out that any franchise will be a stand alone business. I am sure (guessing) that if Danny was on our deal he would still be a franchise operation. I enjoy the fellowship of being in a group however – I stipulate that we make all our ongoing business decisions.

    What I like most about our franchise is that we test and discover new online paths and I am more than happy for others to implement these industry initiatives. We (RWM) are certainly not an ego driven business as we like to assist all agencies in our industry. REA recently held a seminar and suggested that we run one of the smartest online businesses in real estate. I fielded eleven calls and I spent anywhere from 15 minutes to 30 minutes with each person free of charge. Why, because I love our industry.

    When you get it right it is great fun to run a business – yes one day we can get it wrong too. Here is where we currently are.A quote from tomorrow’s newsletter. “It was report time this week with the March quarter 07 now complete so we always compare quarters from the previous year

  • Peter
    Posted April 4, 2007 at 9:19 pm 0Likes

    Oh by the way I re-read my article, the negative comment was directed at the PR firm and not to MyDesktop or Domain.

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted April 4, 2007 at 9:20 pm 0Likes

    Danny – m a t e !!

    The Easter edition will come out early tomorrow just for you and the other 8,000 plus readership LOL

    Simeon & Patrick ?? Well we actually trade as Simpatico.

    Which means >>


  • Robert Simeon
    Posted April 4, 2007 at 9:27 pm 0Likes


    I read it that way – where it was aimed at PR. Commerce Australia are a great industry company. It will be interesting to watch their growth with this announcement. Fairfax don’t always get it right (we all suffer from this). However, this partnership has plenty of grunt and power for agents.

  • Danny
    Posted April 4, 2007 at 9:44 pm 0Likes

    Robert – have you come up with a name for “Barry O’Farrell” in future VRN’s?

    Is it “Barry the Biggest Loser” after his superb weight loss performance?

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted April 4, 2007 at 9:58 pm 0Likes

    Nah – I think he is best suited to Barry Oh Barrel !!

    I get a feeling that more defamation claims will be in the wind.

    Life would be boring without lawyers and their ongoing defamation threats.

  • Peter
    Posted April 4, 2007 at 10:18 pm 0Likes

    Yeah well as MyDesktop is one of my competitors so I didn’t want to make it sound like that. Anyway I think I am one of the few independents left.

  • Anthony
    Posted April 5, 2007 at 8:41 am 0Likes

    Peter – Agent Point is coming March 2007?

  • Peter Ricci
    Posted April 5, 2007 at 8:47 am 0Likes

    Already here Anthony, I am adding all of my clients across to new system each day. I just don’t have the time to create the new site which is ready but empty of content.

  • Elizabeth
    Posted April 5, 2007 at 3:20 pm 0Likes

    Good Afternoon,

    Peter I agree 100% in your comments about franchising.

    Robert you really should consider becoming an independent agent, and perhaps growing your own brand. Become the new McGrath!

    It sounds like you get all the Franchise benefits from Domain and MyDesktop anyway. All that is left from Ricky Wrench is the Awards night (which you come first in) and the Name on the door.

    How is Keith Wiseman going these days?


  • Elizabeth
    Posted April 5, 2007 at 4:01 pm 0Likes

    Good Afternoon,

    I have been thinking of this announcement some more. This is a good move for domain, as it brings them up to the same pace as realestate and myhome.

    It will be very interesting to see what everyone thinks of all their data being supplied to domain through APM and MyDesktop.

    However i do not think that this is the ‘first’ which Sam P thinks it is. In NSW there is RED Square who has been doing this for some time now.

    You might be right Peter, if the PR angle sounds good, say it and people will believe it.


  • Peter Ricci
    Posted April 5, 2007 at 4:14 pm 0Likes

    Hi E

    There are about 10 other companies that do what MyDesktop/HubOnline/PortPlus and Red Square do including my own, however I concentrate on agents property listing management and websites which is more limiting, but I think trying to be everything to everybody can have its draw backs.

    I think it is important for smaller companies like myself to be good at the one thing – rather than trying to be ok at everything.

    It does mean I get less clients but with my new system coming out for the public soon I hope it will be 12 months of hard work that pays off.

  • Anthony
    Posted April 5, 2007 at 5:03 pm 0Likes

    The other strategic positioning these companies are taking – is to own the workspace. Even if they co-operate with other property portals – by owning the agents workspace they ensure continuity of business – especially if there is a rush to reduce advertising prices to maintain market share in the future.

    It also allows them to be closer to their clients – and this must be good. I am sure all the portals will deliver better and better service offering and interfaces due to these relationships.

    As for the franchise – unless you create a multi office brand yourself – it is a slog establishing brand reputation. Plus the media buying rates are substantially less.

  • Elizabeth
    Posted April 5, 2007 at 6:13 pm 0Likes

    I have been hearing rumours that a consortium claiming to have links with Richard Bransons Virgin empire, is looking to enter the Australian Market.

    I cannot find any Virgin Real Estate offices online.

    Now if this is true, imagine the franchise landscape in Australia!

    Peter, perhaps a client for your new system.


  • Peter
    Posted April 5, 2007 at 6:30 pm 0Likes

    I have discussed Virgin entering the market before, whatever Virgin do it will be to shake up the established companies like the way agents charge to list properties. It would be hard also for a company such as REA or Domain to not allow them to advertise. If they have proven one thing, they do not do things by halves.

    Expect little Red Cars and Mobile Sales People and 1% commissions if they do all backed by quality advertising, a huge launch and a big brand!

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted April 5, 2007 at 9:32 pm 0Likes

    It would be most interesting to watch Virgin enter the property market. Although I would doubt that they would as failure would cause serious damage to their brand(s). Already Sir Richard Branson is finding that in Australia we conduct business quite differently.

    I always enjoy watching new business models evolve and more often than not dissolve. If they were to make an impression it would be a franchise based on flat fee, the days of percentage based on profit are causing enormous angst in our industry.

    I can see tumultuous relationships between franchises with franchisors on the horizon. As many are fast coming to the realisation that head offices are being paid too much of the franchise bottom line.

    I am yet to see a real estate business survive on a 1 per cent selling fee mentality.

  • Elizabeth
    Posted April 6, 2007 at 1:49 pm 0Likes

    Good Afternoon and Happy Easter,

    I am not convinced that anyone on this forum knows the business model which Virgin would enter the market with.

    If we look at Virgin Master Card, they entered with a low/NO interest rate for the first six months to get volume. The card itself was a different shape to make people using the card feel special, and for passers by to notice. Marketing 101.

    After Virgin achieved volume, the interest rates increased. A similar story with Virgin Blue.

    Robert, it is an interesting article you put forward to make your case, however let us look at LJHooker

  • snoop
    Posted April 6, 2007 at 7:25 pm 0Likes

    Isnt Financial services the real game though?.
    Hookers and Ray white make more money out of mortgage broking than they do out of selling houses I am told.

  • Peter Ricci
    Posted April 6, 2007 at 8:01 pm 0Likes

    E, very good.
    Virgin seems to enter markets that are dominated by set ways and usually gets it right (not always).

    I think having a centralised head office and mobile staff across Australia would be a model they would consider strongly. It mighty be a set fee based model that includes a certain amount of open homes etc. I doubt they would get into Auctions.

    With Wireless Broadband becoming ubiquitous across mainland Australia cars would be fitted with computers that directly access systems at a central location.

  • Chris
    Posted April 8, 2007 at 2:23 pm 0Likes

    I think Virgin have been most successful when they enter a market that is commodity based (finance, cheap air tickets) and compete on price.

    Isn’t real estate all about local experts? Professional, trusted, well known members of the local community?

    RUN property are finding out the hard way that Real Estate in Australia is not yet a commodity based industry….

    Friends in London talk about Foxtons and friends in the U.S. have mentioned simliar commodity based approaches to Real estate…perhaps it is only a matter of time.

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted April 8, 2007 at 11:49 pm 0Likes

    Commodity based real estate franchises simply don’t work in the real estate industry. Yes, you have a product however, nothing happens without service. I agree RUN is a classic example since day one the common theme of this business plan is to continually chase further investor injection of funds.

    If you look at the franchise models which are significantly over valued in terms of delivery from franchisors – you will note that many franchisee’s are questioning the percentage turn-over ratios. Franchise offices should be on a flat fee !!

    Most recently we have seen Remax, Harcourts and Coldwell Banker who have made little to no impression on the Australian real estate markets. Their progress declines not increases.

    One then has to go back some 15 years ago when the only franchise models that made an impact were Ray White and Century 21.

    I share an opinion that franchisors will have greater difficulties pacifying existing franchisee’s where they attempt to justify their income formulas.

    Much like the NSW state government where the Stamp Duty formula was set back in 1986 when just a dozen homes were valued over $1,000,000.

    Yes – times change.

  • Elizabeth
    Posted April 9, 2007 at 4:53 pm 0Likes

    Good Afternoon,

    Robert you are correct when you mute that the times are changing for the Franchisors. When you look at how LJHooker has started to crumble you realise that not one of the franchisors is immune.

    The LJHooker Franchise offering is their ‘system’, yet my colleagues within this franchise tell me that they have been waiting for over two years for updates to this ‘system’.

    They see other franchise groups forging ahead with mydesktop and other systems which they are realising are superior to what they are using now. My understanding is that the LJHooker system cannot even upload to the portals.

    Even the brother of the CEO left LJHooker and took his offices to Ray White.

    When my colleagues tell me they pay technology franchise fees as well as marketing and turnover fees, I just sit and wonder!

    Times are indeed changing.


  • Robert Simeon
    Posted April 9, 2007 at 10:16 pm 0Likes


    I understand that Hooker’s will roll out their ‘new’system in two weeks time. Although I seriously doubt that it will achieve much as unless these innovations are introduced by the owners of the respective businesses – with IT it always appears to fall on deaf ears. If head office introduce a system you can lead them to it however they rarely drink from it. As against an owner who introduces a system the staff either sink or swim – given that if they don’t follow the system you remove them from the business.

    My understanding as a business owner today one has to learn as much about IT as humanly possible and implement the systems. Then ensure that everyone is singing from the one hymn book. It is very easy for business owners to get distracted whereby they deliberately ignore the oxygen that is derived from IT as they simply don’t understand it- especially when an outside body is driving this technology.

    We are presently seeing more and more real estate businesses becoming a modern day Jerasic Park.

    I would bet pretty strongly if an IT test was sent to all directors of the franchises which franchise would record the worst results in terms of IT knowledge.

  • Glenn
    Posted April 10, 2007 at 9:21 pm 0Likes

    I have to agree with you there Robert.

    The groups need to concentrate on educating their membership rather than preaching to them about technology. The group that cracks that issue correctly will leap ahead of the pack in leaps and bounds. I am not talking about the sheer number of members… I am talking about the quality and performance of each of its members. If I am right, some of the groups with smaller IT budgets will show a few of the bigger and wealthier franchise groups a thing or two over the next year or so.

    Educating the membership may sound easy, but its not. Quite often they want to be led directly to the solution but showing them the end solution without teaching them an understanding will always produce poor results.

    I know agents in our group that have tried to copy our CRM system. Without the discipline, understanding and the policies and procedures in place using our letters and our activity trails in the same software package will not give them our results. There has been successes though and each one of those took the time to really work out what was going on, how that fitted into their offices, adjusted it accordingly to implement it well into their offices and then, and only then flicking the switch and using it live. They invested their own time and used what we gave them as a starting point, rather than the end product.

    An investment of 100 or 200 hours (or more) in some of these systems is often what is needed. Most agents are instant hit junkies and want results for very little time invested. They run an ad and are only interested in how many buyers call from it today not how that ad will help them build a profile over time.

    When applied to technology that same “rush” only causes problems as technology is moving so fast itself. They want to spend $100 on it this month and want it to immediately return tens of thousands of dollars next month. Unless the groups can figure a way to change the way agents think about technology they will always get the same results.

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