After stepping into his new position as CEO of Realtor.com in June, Damian Eales is already shaking up the industry with swift action and a bold expansion plan.
Last week, at the Tom Ferry Summit in Dallas, Eales took the stage for a fireside chat with Ferry where he shared his vision for the company’s future and how it plans to supplant Zillow as the No. 1 real estate portal.
Here are some takeaways from the session:
1. Not embracing the underdog status. Ferry, CEO of Tom Ferry International, pulled no punches with his first question: “How does it feel to be No. 2 — the second-largest real estate portal?” Eales didn’t shy away from the challenge. “It pisses me off,” he admitted. But he was quick to highlight Realtor.com’s strengths. “We’re first in terms of the audience that comes to Realtor.com with more intent to buy or sell than any other site. We’re the most trusted of all real estate portals, and we have more real estate journalism than any other site.”
2. Realtor.com’s commitment to the industry. Eales emphasized that Realtor.com is fundamentally different from its competitors. “We are not a broker. We have no intention to be a broker,” he stated. He expressed disbelief at competitors who label buyer’s agents as “fake agents,” stressing that Realtor.com supports buyer’s agents and aims to generate more listings. “We’re a partner of the industry. We always have been, and we always will be.”
3. The three-pillar strategy. Eales outlined his three-pronged approach for Realtor.com’s growth:
- Grow audience: Eales believes that Realtor.com has an untapped advantage. “We’ve run a billion impressions on News Corp. News Corp has an audience of over 160 million, and there’s a lot of that audience that doesn’t come to Realtor.com. My first priority is to bring them across.”
- Quality leads: Eales emphasized the importance of supporting buyer’s agents and helping them serve their clients better. “We want to leverage our broader capability to deliver more and better leads,” he said.
- Prepare for listings: Recognizing the cyclical nature of the real estate market, Eales stressed the importance of being ready for when the housing market turns. “There’s a pent-up demand for housing. There will be a new normal, and what might appear as a trickle of new listings could quickly turn into a torrent.”
Eales also clarified that Realtor.com is not for sale and has never been. Despite speculations and the departure of the former CEO David Doctorow, Eales firmly clarified that the company is not on the market. “We weren’t and aren’t for sale,” he said. He did note that there was an attempt to buy the company, but it didn’t materialize. Eales emphasized Realtor.com’s commitment to growth and its unique position in the real estate industry, underscoring that they were “born of the industry” and exist to serve it.
Eales, whose previous position was as executive vice president and global head of transformation for News Corp, is determined to steer Realtor.com to new heights. With a clear vision and a commitment to the industry, he’s challenging the status quo and positioning Realtor.com as a formidable competitor in the real estate portal space. As he succinctly put it, the goal is “more audience, more leads, more listings.”