News Limited’s REA Group is again battening down the hatches after part agent-owned Fairfax joint venture Metro Media fired up yet another portal to lure house buyers.

Crikey can reveal that national listings site has rolled 12 leading agents and 250 real estate offices into the new business as equity partners in a deal that has been 12 months in the making.

All Victorian real estate agencies will begin to be offered free shareholdings from tomorrow in the site, which will be majority controlled by agents and listings on Fairfax’s existing would be part of the deal.

CEO Antony Catalano, a former Herald Sun cadet, called the deal a “game changer” that would ratchet up pressure on News’ Victorian commercial arm and the News-controlled REA across the country.

“It is without question the best offer I have seen in more than 20 years in the industry and clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of the merger between MMP and Fairfax Community Network Victoria,” he said.

He claimed REA’s was increasingly loathed by agents.

Yesterday, Crikey reported that News had been forced to despatch national real estate tsar Tom Panos to Geelong from Sydney after Catalano announced plans for a new version of The Weekly Review in Victoria’s second city — with local agents also dominating the share register. The Geelong ad market is worth $10 million, a swathe of which is now controlled by MMP.

The new title and website adds to the existing stable of 37 papers and mags across Melbourne, many of which were previously housed under the Fairfax Community Network banner.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey