Domain Group recently announced the launch of their Developer Portal, which in essence makes available a significant range of its data via an API.
For the uninitiated, API stands for Application Programming Interface. In a nutshell, it effectively means that you can use Domain’s data in your own software applications. This is a very bold move and one that the real estate industry should be applauding.
I wrote a separate article about how the major blocker for automation in the real estate industry is the lack of open, and accessible, APIs. But more than just the automation capabilities, having data locked up behind bars will limit our industry’s ability to innovate.
In a nutshell, Domain’s API provides data on agencies, listings, properties, sales data and editorial content.
Agencies & Listings
In this package, Domain makes available its database of residential, commercial and business real estate agencies and agents, along with on-market and off-market property listings. On a Business Plan, you can also get access to price estimates.
Properties & Locations
This package gives you access to an address lookup service along with basic property data and recent sales data. Again, the Business Plan offers more data including suburb demographics and statistics.
Finally, Domain is also offering its editorial content, covering the latest property news and trends across the residential and commercial markets.
So why is this important?
Let’s say that there’s some 13-year-old coder out there with a cracking idea on how to dramatically change the user experience for property portals. They now have the content out of the box. If you’ve ever tried to start a portal before, you would know that the hardest obstacle to overcome is getting the listings in the first place. Barrier now gone. Go forth and innovate my little geeky geniuses.
History has proven that “platforms” are more valuable than “products” when it comes to technology. By opening up their data, Domain can position themselves as the dominant platform for property content in the country. Without barriers to access, their content will potentially have a greater reach than any other supplier.
Think of how Apple’s App Store became the “platform” for people to build entirely new solutions that drastically improved the value of the smart phone itself. The fact that Apple opened up its App Store well before Google meant that it got the jump on taking new apps to consumers. And this dominance in content and value was one of the key drivers of the iPhone’s early success.
So what could go wrong?
Quite frankly, a bunch of stuff.
If it works, and new innovation is spawned, it could tip the tables in the favour of Domain and, over time, put them in as strong, if not stronger, position than its competitors. Meaning that we end up with either competitive forces, which help keep prices stable, or a duopoly that collectively means we’re worse off. Hard to tell what will happen there. My gut feel is that when more competition is created in a market, the end consumer wins. Fingers crossed.
Domain has some smart cookies at the helm. They’ve publicly stated that they want to expand “beyond that core property discovery and search experience to embrace the end-to-end property life-cycle”. The question is – will the innovation that is spawned from opening up their content give Domain the missing link in the holy grail of the property transaction – bypassing the agent?
Only time will tell. Like any change, there will always be winners and losers. I believe, for now anyway, this is a win for both consumers and property professionals.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.
Ian Campbell has over 15 years experience in the property industry and has worked for some of the biggest brands in real estate. Ian established Aire. in 2017 with a goal to push the boundaries of how technology is applied in the real estate industry.
As well as building some cool stuff, Ian has consulted to some of the biggest brands in real estate, including Ray White Group, CoreLogic, Pricefinder, homesales.com.au, onthehouse.com.au, Console and Excel Group. Ian has held senior executive positions for the Ray White Group and Onthehouse Group in the areas of product development, sales, marketing and strategy.