Aussies take control of Propertyfinder.com

Media magnate Rupert Murdoch’s News International and Australian website Realestate.com.au last week jointly bought UK property portal Propertyfinder.com.

The two firms purchased 95% of Asserta Holdings – which owns Propertyfinder.com – for 14.3m.

The new owners say the deal means Propertyfinder.com and its customers will benefit from the skills and capabilities of News International as well as those of Realestate.com.au.

The aim of the move is to shake up the online portal market and become the leading light in the field.

News International, which owns The Times, The Sun and News of the World, will use its newspapers and websites to promote the Propertyfinder.com brand and new distribution channels for the listings of Propertyfinder.com’s customers.

And Propertyfinder.com will use Realestate.com.au’s technology, product suites, and sales and marketing to boost advertising, subscriptions and visitor numbers.

The existing management team will remain in place and will continue to operate from its offices in London and Frome in Somerset. A separate board will be put in place to oversee strategic operations while Realestate.com.au will have day-to-day control.

Propertyfinder.com, in conjunction with industry partners, is also gearing up to launch a Home Information Pack scheme aimed specifically at independent estate agents.

The objective of the scheme is to allow independent estate agents to pick and choose the package they use, amid concerns that independents could effectively be frozen out of the market after HIPs are introduced in 2007.

Jim Buckle, managing director of Propertyfinder.com, says: “We have dedicated our website to serving the needs of independent estate agents, free from the control of big corporate agencies and the local print media groups.

“The News International deal will further this objective and is good news for all our stakeholders.”