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Domain Holdings Australia Ltd
ASX:DHG

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Domain Holdings Australia Ltd Logo
Domain Holdings Australia Ltd
ASX:DHG
Watchlist
Price: 2.86 AUD 0.7% Market Closed
Updated: May 25, 2024

Earnings Call Transcript

Earnings Call Transcript
2022-Q2

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Operator

Thank you for standing by, and welcome to the Domain Holdings Australia Half Year Results Conference Call. [Operator Instructions]I'd now like to hand the conference over to Mr. Jason Pellegrino, CEO and Managing Director. Please go ahead.

J
Jason Pellegrino
MD, CEO & Director

Good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining me and CFO, Rob Doyle, for Domain 2022 Half Year Results Briefing.I'd like to start off today by acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to their Elders, past and present, and extend that respect to all First Nations people today. For myself, I'm on the land of the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation. We'll follow our usual agenda with an overview of the result and the pleasing progress we are making in implementing our marketplace strategy. I'll provide some commentary on the current trading environment and outlook, and then Rob will take you through the group financials. We'll look forward to questions at the end of our prepared remarks. Through the volatile trading environment of the past 3 years, Domain has maintained the pace of our business strategy evolution. We have responded to the changing environment while continuing to innovate for the future. I'm incredibly proud of the hard work of our team in progressing Domain into a fundamentally better business. We have positioned Domain to take full advantage of the rebounding property environment.The outcome of our strategic focus and the increasing value we bring to our customers and consumers is reflected in the outstanding set of results we are announcing today. We have delivered growth across every revenue line and 53% EBITDA growth on an ongoing basis and delivered on our commitment to deliver expanding EBITDA margins on an ongoing basis. The entire Domain team is delivering on the promise of our Marketplace strategy.The FY '22 half year trading results on a reported basis are significantly impacted by the timing of the JobKeeper grant and repayment and the benefits and costs of Zipline, our voluntary employee program undertaken during the early stages of the COVID pandemic. In the first half of FY '21, we received a net $8.7 million EBITDA benefit from JobKeeper and Zipline, while in the first half of FY '22, this reverts to an additional expense of $7.5 million. Rob will run through this detail later in the presentation.In order to provide transparency on the underlying performance of the business, we have provided 2 tables which summarize the results. The trading as reported table includes the expenses of JobKeeper and Zipline in the first half of FY '22 and the benefits received in the previous year. The ongoing table excludes the impact of JobKeeper and Zipline from both periods.For the first half, Domain delivered revenue of $175.3 million, up 27.9%; trading expenses of $114.3 million, up 36.7%; and ongoing expenses of $106.7 million, up 15.7%; trading EBITDA of $61 million, up 14.2%; and ongoing EBITDA of $68.5 million, up 53%; trading EBIT of $44.6 million, up 28.5%. Net profit was $26.1 million, and earnings per share were $0.045 with both increasing by 34%. An interim dividend of $0.02 was declared.The segment results on a trading basis are outlined on Slide 6. In order to focus on the underlying performance of the business, I propose to focus on the ongoing result on the following slide.Domain reported strong results across all our businesses in the first half. Residential revenue increased around 29%. Media, Developers & Commercial revenue increased 15%. Agent Solutions revenue increased 19%, and Property Data Solutions, which we have broken out for the first time, increased 21%. Together, these categories delivered Core Digital revenue growth of 26% and ongoing EBITDA growth of 43%.Consumer Solutions revenue increased 60%, and ongoing EBITDA losses reduced by 43%, benefiting as the business scales. Total Digital revenue increased 26%, and ongoing EBITDA increased 48%. Print revenue increased 75% as we resumed a full printing schedule, and ongoing EBITDA increased fivefold. Pleasingly, we delivered margin expansion across every segment with the ongoing Core Digital margin of 50.9%, a standout and all-time record.Domain is delivering to its purpose by creating a property marketplace to inspire confidence for all of life's property decisions. Our leading property brands, large, engaged audiences, effective listings parity and innovative technology solutions are delivering a cohesive platform that delivers value at every stage of the property journey and expands our addressable markets. Our cohesive ecosystem of services includes Core Listings, which connects Domain's audiences with properties and agents; Agent Solutions, which helps agents grow their business; Consumer Solutions, which delivers direct-to-consumer services such as home loan; and Property Data Solutions, which provides actionable and customer-centric solutions to financial institutions, governments and consumers.Domain's mantra of Better Together is driving impressive results across our Marketplace. Each of our solutions is leveraging their differentiated strategic position while maximizing the value for the group through close collaboration.In our Core Listings business, we achieved a 19% increase in controllable residential yield and record depth penetration. Core Digital EBITDA increased 43% on an ongoing basis and record margins, and our focus on high-quality audiences has resulted in an 18% increase in conversion from sale views to inquiry at a 12% lower cost per inquiry. In Agent Solutions, we delivered subscriber growth of 12% at Pricefinder and 54% at Real Time Agent with RTA's revenue increasing 88% year-on-year.In Consumer Solutions, our new management team delivered underlying revenue growth of 65% at Domain Home Loans, with DHL operating losses reducing by 34%, illustrating the strong unit economics of the business model as we grow volumes. Over the past 2 years, DHL has seen a 25% uplift in conversion to approval, demonstrating the increased efficiency of the business.In Property Data Solutions, we significantly expanded the size of our addressable markets with the acquisition of IDS, which serves the government sector. We continue to expand the size of the LeadScope trial with a 43% increase in strategic agent partners and ongoing delivery of high-prediction accuracy, and we accelerated the investment in our data capability to deliver value right across the group.Before I run through the detail of our results, I want to touch briefly on Domain's commitment to ESG initiatives. As a people-based business, we aim to be a home for everyone, where diversity are prioritized, and we are united by our purpose and values. Despite the personal challenges of ongoing COVID disruptions in recent times, the passion of our employees to contribute to the communities we serve remains powerfully on display. We have committed additional resources to progress our ESG initiatives and are working on plans to achieve carbon neutrality. Turning now to the detail of the results and the key drivers of Domain's revenue.Residential revenue increased 29% to $120.3 million, benefiting from a strong depth revenue growth of 33.5%. Canberra's first lockdown of the pandemic was a noticeable drag on performance, given Allhomes' strong market position. As lockdown conditions have eased, we have seen the Canberra market bounce back strongly in January. Excluding Allhomes, residential revenue increased 31%, and depth revenue increased 36.5%. Buoyant market conditions supported a 14% increase in new listing volumes, and controllable yield grew 19%, an exceptional performance. The chart on the left of the slide illustrates the high level of volatility in the new for-sale listings market over the past 3.5 years. The performance in the second quarter of FY '22 is particularly impressive given the market had already recovered from the COVID lows in the same quarter a year ago. Importantly, the specific actions we have taken since early FY '19 to establish a micro-market strategy have improved the resilience of Domain's business. While recent market conditions have clearly been supportive, this strategy is driving significant gains in controllable yields, you can see in the chart on the right, with a 19% increase in the 6 months to December. The 19% uplift was made up of a pleasing mix of 10% price and 9% depth, a strong endorsement by agents of the value Domain delivered. The successful execution of our micro-market strategy is the basis for our confidence in our long-term target of average controllable yield increases of 12% through the cycle.Our micro-market strategy customizes our approach to price and depth across individual zones. The results are summarized on this slide in broader buckets of established, expanding and emerging markets. Each of these broad market groups delivered solid listings volume growth in the first half with outperformance in our expanding markets driven by the strong bounce back in outer Melbourne and in inner Brisbane markets. The performance in our established markets was held back by the weak listings environment in Canberra, which experienced the first lockdowns of the pandemic.Our audience has continued to build on a very strong base achieved in recent years with a particularly strong performance from Victoria as it recovered from the prior year's lockdown. Agent coverage continued to grow with a higher number of depth contracts across our 3 broad buckets. While the highest year-on-year growth was delivered in our least-penetrated emerging markets, we continue to see pleasing growth in our more penetrated, established and expanding markets with standout growth in Queensland.In the first half of FY '22, revenue per listing benefited from our July price increase and strong depth performance with particularly strong depth growth in our emerging markets. Despite the COVID disruptions during the first half, overall depth penetration and Platinum penetration increased in every state to a new record. We are particularly pleased with the progress in Victoria and Queensland, both of which have been a focus area in recent years.Victoria's performance in the first half of FY '21 was held back by the significant restrictions on real estate activity that accompanied the COVID lockdown, and it is great to see the results of our efforts being delivered in the most recent period. The overall performance in Queensland and acceleration in Platinum penetration is equally pleasing. In the smaller states of South Australia and WA, the significant value we are providing has driven a substantial uptake of our silver and gold tiers as well as strong momentum in new Platinum depth contracts.Domain delivers large, high-quality audiences with a unique digital audience of more than 8 million in the first half. We continue to deliver growth in key audience metrics, building on the extraordinary uplift for the last 2 years. Our focus is on delivering the high-value activity that matters most to agents. We delivered an 18% higher conversion of sales views to inquiries. There is also continuing efficiency gains from this focus on quality, with cost-per-sale inquiry reducing 12% year-on-year. Domain's product teams deliver to our purpose by providing great agent and consumer experiences at every stage of the property journey. You can see examples on this slide with enhancements to our Early Access and Social Boost products for agents, enhancements to our listing, property research and Find an Agent tools for consumers.Turning to Media, Developers & Commercial. Revenue increased 15% with relatively consistent growth rates across all 3 verticals. Developers' solid performance benefited from good momentum in Victoria and significant growth in Queensland, somewhat offset by weakness in the ACT, reflecting the COVID shutdown. Queensland was the strongest performing of the states, leveraging higher audiences and delivering substantial yield gains.Commercial real estate's performance was underpinned by strong depth penetration growth with Victoria topping penetration rates by state and encouraging progress in Queensland. Overall, the listings environment was mixed with a strong performance in sale offset by weak leasing market, particularly in office and industrial. Media continued to build on its strong FY '21 performance, leveraging Domain's quality audiences and content with niche and premium advertisers.Our product teams continue to enhance the user experience for CRE and developers. I'll make particular mention of how we are building upon our commercial partnership with Nine to provide CRE agents with premium exposure to the Financial Review property homepage.In Agent Solutions, revenue increased 19%, benefiting from subscriber growth of Pricefinder and Real Time Agent. Our goal in Agent Solutions is to support each step of the agent property journey with an expanding suite of innovative workflow solutions designed to help agents grow their businesses.During the first half of FY '22, Pricefinder delivered a 12% year-on-year agent subscriber growth and is a great example of the Better Together approach of our Marketplace model. In partnership, our Core Listings and Agent Solutions team accelerated subscriber growth and reduced churn. RTA maintained its strong momentum with a 54% increase in paid subscribers and an 88% revenue growth. More than half of new subscriber additions came from outside Victoria, which was RTA's first market. We're also seeing expanded product take-up by existing customers.Our new payment platform, MarketNow, continued to rapidly onboard new customers. High utilization rates and strong market activity saw a tripling in the number of properties supported compared to the previous half.LeadScope is another Better Together example and is a result of a partnership between our Agent and Property Data teams. We saw a 43% increase in participation in the LeadScope trial and continued high-prediction accuracy. Impressively, during one 4-week period in December, almost 1/4 of listings of trial participants have been predicted by LeadScope. After joining the LeadScope trial, one large franchise group has experienced a greater than fourfold increase in the conversion of outbound cold calls.In August, I talked to you about the opportunity for RTA to establish itself as an open platform that provides agent choice integrated into the workflow. This open-platform approach is designed to support agents to operate as they choose. As we have seen with many other digitizing industries, open platforms tend to be more successful than walled gardens over time.The number of technology partners integrated into the platform has increased significantly over the last 6 months. We are particularly excited about the integration with virtually every CRM that matters as well as emerging solutions such as Before You Bid. Property Data Solutions revenue increased by 21%, with solid underlying growth of 9% from Pricefinder and APM and the contribution of Insight Data Solutions following the completion of our acquisition in mid-October.The business is included in the newest element of our marketplace include Pricefinder's non-agent customer base, Australian Property Monitors and IDS. Pricefinder and APM have a multi-decade track record of comprehensive and accurate property data and valuation models, while IDS is the market-leading data business providing land and property valuation into the government sector.Property Data Solutions is leveraging Domain's assets to grow new addressable markets. We are leveraging our strong position with agents and consumers to extend our reach into financial institutions, corporates and government. Our property intelligence platform, automated valuation models and research reports leverage data insights from Domain's broad ecosystem. We see significant opportunities to accelerate the monetization of this valuable suite of trusted and actionable solutions.Consumer Solutions revenue increased 60%, benefiting from strong underlying performance from Domain Home Loans. In August, I spoke about our expectations that Domain Home Loans' future performance would accelerate with the benefits of improving conversion metrics and a new management team. It's great to see that acceleration being delivered in the first half result. DHL delivers award-winning service with outstanding customer reviews.With a backdrop of strong market growth, DHL has continued to improve its conversion metrics, delivering a 76% increase in settlements in the first half. With a proven model, we continue to look at ways to scale DHL's very strong unit economics.Our marketplace model of Better Together provides many opportunities to integrate Domain Home Loans experiences, and you can see some of those illustrated in this slide. DHL featured in Domain's spring campaigns and is integrated into property reports, home price guide and sales listings. Print revenues increased 75% year-on-year, reflecting the resumption of the normal publishing schedule, together with strong property market conditions. The pause on print in the first half of FY '21 resulted in only 61% of the usual publishing schedule.Print experienced significant margin improvement in the first half, underpinned by the revenue recovery and continued careful cost management. Domain's magazines are focused on high-value, premium markets where print remains sustainable due to the value it provides to agents and vendors. Turning now to the current trading environment and outlook. Trading in the first 6 weeks of the FY '22 second half reflects ongoing strong year-on-year growth in new for-sale listings. Current leading indicators point to continued favorable listings momentum. However, year-on-year growth rates are expected to reflect the elevated base of comparison from FY '21 Q4, where listings increased 45%. The results of Domain's transformation to date underpin our confidence to continue to invest in our Marketplace strategy, while retaining our disciplined investment approach and commitment to ongoing margin expansion. FY '22 ongoing costs are expected to increase in the low teens range from the FY '21 ongoing expense base of $195.5 million. This excludes the impact of JobKeeper and Zipline expenses, which are included in the FY '22 first half reported trading expenses.Since our AGM update, strong market performance as COVID restrictions were eased in Sydney and Melbourne and targeted investment decisions have increased our FY '22 cost expectations by around $3 million. This is a mix of revenue-related expenses arising from the strong trading environment and targeted investment to accelerate the evolution of our Marketplace strategy.I'll now hand over to Rob to run through the financials.

R
Robert Doyle
Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Jason, and thanks, everyone, for joining the call today. Slide 36 provides a reconciliation of the statutory 4D to Domain's trading performance, excluding significant items and disposals. I'll run through the significant items later in the presentation.Starting with the items below the EBITDA line. Depreciation and amortization expense of $16.4 million decreased from $18.7 million in the first half of FY '21. For FY '22 H2, depreciation and amortization expense is expected to be slightly below the first half level. Net finance costs of $3.3 million was slightly below last year. We expect further reductions in the second half as a result of the debt refinancing undertaken in December.Tax expense of $13 million is an effective tax rate of 31.5%, and we expect a similar rate in the second half. Net profit attributable to noncontrolling interests, or NCI, of $2.2 million reflects the share of profits or loss attributable to the agent ownership models and other consolidated nonwholly owned entities. NCI increased from FY '21 H1 due to lower losses at Consumer Solutions and the improved performance of print. Further detail is contained in Appendix 1.Slide 37 provides the reconciliation of statutory to trading performance for FY '21 H1.Slide 38 provides the detail of Domain's cost structure and a reconciliation of statutory to trading expenses and ongoing expenses.Trading expenses, which exclude significant items and disposals, increased 36.7% to $114.3 million. As Jason mentioned earlier, in the first half of FY '21, we received a net $8.7 million EBITDA benefit from JobKeeper and Zipline, while in the first half of FY '22, this reversed to an additional expense of $7.5 million. The more relevant measure is, therefore, ongoing expenses, which increased 15.7% year-on-year.Ongoing staff costs increased 21.5% due to higher share-based payments and incentives arising from improved business performance, increased headcount and pay increases. Production and distribution costs increased 24%, reflecting the strong bounce back in digital revenue and the full resumption of printing.Promotion costs were largely in line with last year, reflecting efficiencies from our targeted strategy. Our focus on high-quality audiences has significantly reduced our marketing cost per inquiry as Jason outlined earlier. Software and communication expenses were in line with last year. Other costs increased 25%, largely as a result of higher market-wide increases in D&O insurance rates and some increase in discretionary spend. Slide 39 provides an overview of significant items. Restructuring charges of $5.3 million largely relate to the implementation of new finance and billing systems and costs relating to organizational restructuring. The loss on lease modification of $2.4 million relates to write-offs arising from the reduction of our office footprint in Sydney. Costs of $1.6 million related to M&A activity. These items were somewhat offset by a gain on the December refinance of our debt facility of $0.7 million. Turning to cash flow on Slide 40. FY '22 H1 cash from trading was $44 million, up from $33.5 million in the prior half. The cash tax payments of $12.9 million reduced versus the prior year due to the timing of income tax installments. Investment in PPE and software of $8.5 million was in line with last year. For H2, we expect a higher rate of investment, partly due to changes in our office footprint.Net investment in businesses of $52.9 million relates to the acquisition of IDS, deferred payments for RTA and deferred receipts from for MyDesktop. Dividends paid of $27.6 million increased substantially versus the prior period, reflecting the resumption of dividends in the second half of FY '21. Lease payments of $4.5 million were in line with last year. The net payment per share purchase of $24.8 million related to share issuance associated with Zipline and long-term executive incentive schemes. The net cash outflow from financing activities benefited from borrowing proceeds of $48.5 million. Domain finished the half with a cash balance of $52.6 million.Slide 41 provides an overview of Domain's debt facilities. In December, we increased our bank facility by $130 million to $355 million. As of December, the facility was drawn down to $220 million.Slide 42 shows the balance sheet of Domain Group as at December 2021. Domain has a strong balance sheet, ending the year with net debt of $166.4 million, an increase from $79 million at June 2021. This represents a leverage ratio of 1.4x ongoing EBITDA. And with that, I'll hand back to Jason for some closing remarks.

J
Jason Pellegrino
MD, CEO & Director

[Audio Gap] in their focus on evolving Domain's business model to leverage the opportunities available to us from our unique assets and trusted relationships with consumers and agents. Our strategy responded to the challenging market conditions of recent years while building for the future in a disciplined and purposeful way.We continue to build momentum behind this transition to a property marketplace, demonstrated by the scale of the change in our business performance metrics over the past 3 years. Our micro-market strategy has supported Domain in benefiting from a recovering environment with controllable yield expanding from 6% in FY '20 to 19% in the most recent half. During that time, our investment strategy has also evolved. Through the different phases of the property market, we have maintained the appropriate balance of cost discipline and investment in innovation to prepare the business for the future. As a result, Domain's ongoing digital margin has expanded from 34.4% to 48.4% in FY '22 first half on an ongoing basis.We have built a higher-quality, higher-margin recurring revenue business with digital growth more than offsetting the structural headwinds in print. In FY '18, Domain generated more than $77 million in annual print revenue. Over the past 3 years, we have reduced our exposure to print from 18% of total revenue to just 6%.Looking to the future, we are committed to maintaining the right balance of cost discipline and innovation in our Marketplace model as we continue to inspire confidence for all of life's property decisions. We are all excited by the opportunities that lie ahead. With that, I'll hand back to the operator for Q&A.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Your first question comes from Darren Leung from Macquarie.

D
Darren Leung
Analyst

And good result. Just 3 from me now. The first one is just on your listings outlook, with more of a subdued time versus what it was 6 months ago. Just came to get a bit more understanding as to what you think has changed in the market since then. And then the second one is just on your 19% yield growth. Are you able to give us a bit more color in terms of what's the split between geographic mix and Platinum or depth penetration? Obviously, a very good outcome on a state-by-state level.And then the third one is just on the display business. I mean do you expect this to actually come back a bit in terms -- just given the supply outlook in the market and how developers are thinking about their advertising and marketing spend, please?

Operator

Apologies. It appears that Jason's line has just disconnected. I will just reach out to see if we can redial him back in.

R
Robert Doyle
Chief Financial Officer

Darren, let me pick up the second question while we're waiting for Jason, just on the yield growth. So you're right, the controllable yield growth of 19% comprised 10% of price growth and just under 9% on depth. And as you can see, obviously, a very pleasing and strong growth in depth penetration across all states and really one of the highlights of the result overall.In terms of the other elements that feed into that bridge, I suppose, to the depth revenue growth, market mix, which is a combination of geographic mix and also price band, increased by just over 10%, and that's skewed actually towards the price banding, just given the movements in the property values that we've all seen through the half. And then offsetting that is what we call other, I suppose, which is a combination of Allhomes and rents and some other elements, which was a 10% headwind.So obviously, Allhomes had the first lockdown that they got in Canberra in Q1, and the trend in rent continues to be a bit of a headwind as well. So effectively, the market mix and the other elements more or less net out, which leaves you with market volume of around 14% and the controllable yield growth of 19%.

J
Jason Pellegrino
MD, CEO & Director

Sorry, Rob. Sorry about that. My phone went dead right in the middle of Darren's questions. Actually -- and Darren, I didn't actually get the question. So I know -- I think Rob was answering one of them. Do you want to...

R
Robert Doyle
Chief Financial Officer

I answered the second one around the yield growth, and...

J
Jason Pellegrino
MD, CEO & Director

Do you want to just repeat the first and third one?

D
Darren Leung
Analyst

Yes. No problem. The other one was just around the listings outlook. So it feels like your commentary has been more subdued versus 6 months ago. I came to get a feeling for what you think has changed in the market since then.

J
Jason Pellegrino
MD, CEO & Director

No. Sorry. And the third one?

D
Darren Leung
Analyst

Yes. And then the other question was just in the display business, given the supply outlook, [ the less ] developer commitments, et cetera, do you think the display business sort of gets back to where it was pre COVID? Or does it sort of just stay as it is?

J
Jason Pellegrino
MD, CEO & Director

Did you say display business?

D
Darren Leung
Analyst

Yes. Media business.

J
Jason Pellegrino
MD, CEO & Director

Okay. Perfect. So on the first one, I definitely don't read into the commentary of any form of lowering of expectations. It's actually an incredibly strong listings environment. We saw some weakness in early January, particularly in Melbourne. It's bounced back very strongly in the back end of January post Australia Day and February, and we just put that down to, I think, just an expectation that the market looks intact and returning to normal and agents of the market deciding to take proper holiday for the first time in a couple of years through that period. And so I would read into that in the market actually being quite confident of the returning patterns. I -- we're just setting some expectations, I think, moving forward that the comps start to get quite interesting. If I look at Q4 last year, we reported a 45% growth on listings environment. Now that is -- that's extraordinary growth, and it relates to the prior Q4, which was COVID lockdown.So we just start the cycle with some stronger comp through there. So just it's setting expectations, I suppose, on the year-on-year numbers, but overall, I think the environment remains very strong. If I look at the media business. There's probably 2 lenses to look at that. We have really high-quality audiences that are very, very engaged and particularly around incredibly valuable audience segments that relate to property, whether that's directly to developers, for example, or sort of major property vendors or anything associated with house purchases. So directly with furnishings and renovations but also indirectly. There's a very strong correlation, for example, between house purchases and car purchases. So that's -- we still see good strength there. And our relationship with Nine is evolving that even faster. So we're seeing the use of Domain assets and audiences and extension of Domain brand across Nine at an accelerated rate. You'll notice in the last half, we fully integrated Domain commentary and content into The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age sites. So you'll see smh.com.au/domain property, and it's fully integrated in there. So that's an ongoing evolution. You're seeing CRE ad units sitting in the AFI now in the Property section. So we're offering our property advertisers increasing sort of display opportunities across different assets there. That's great.The piece I would point out is we are very, very focused and serious about the transition of this business from a media business to a technology business. So we see media sales as a high-quality ancillary revenue stream, the reverse of 3 years ago.And on the counter to that, we see data commercialization as core to our strategy rather than sort of ancillary sort of revenue sales. So we've almost flipped those through, and that's why we've broken out the Property Data Solutions business because we are -- we see that as an incredible opportunity to access new markets, new opportunities, new addressable revenue streams. And that's why we've invested in businesses like IDS to actually access that. And we see the opportunity there as being really part of Domain's future.

Operator

Our next question comes from Siraj Ahmed from Citi.

S
Siraj Ahmed
Associate

I'll ask 3 questions just in order. Just the first one, Jason, on the listings outlook, I understand this is difficult to forecast, but do you expect positive listings growth in the second half? Or how should we think about that?

J
Jason Pellegrino
MD, CEO & Director

Do you have other questions, Siraj...

S
Siraj Ahmed
Associate

Yes. So second one, just on cost growth, right? So sort of the guidance sort of implies, what, 12% cost growth, 11%, 12% cost growth in the second half. How do we think about FY '23? And is the expectation that even if listings were to decline that you're looking for margin expansion?And the third thing, Rob did sort of give some details on the price growth or the house price increase impacting depth growth, residential growth in the first half. Can you -- how should we think about the sensitivity to house price growth and that factor? I think previously, you had said that this is not a massive factor in your growth, but just keen to understand that, especially given concerns on house price declining next year.

J
Jason Pellegrino
MD, CEO & Director

Okay. I'll sit through -- I'll touch on those. So look, it is very difficult to forecast accurately listings volumes. That's why we've actually repivoted and positioned our business to focus on controllable yield growth. This is what we control. There's no point trying to set out -- trim our sales to the overall way group sort of movements of the market. They are what they are. They're out of our control. We have to actually be mindful of the overall sort of environment, but we are really deeply focused on what we control, which is control of yield. And with that in mind, what you've seen is our ability to build a much more resilient, higher-quality business in terms of revenue streams.So there's been incredible volatility in listing volumes over the last 3 years. There's a slide in our pack that sort of breaks that down by sort of quarters and halves, and it's not just a pattern of that. What I'm really proud of, if you look at the right hand of that slide versus the left-hand side is despite the ongoing volatility in listing volumes, we've managed to actually build out much more resilient, controllable yield growth, and that's what's underpinned the growth in controllable yield from 6% in FY '20 to more than 10% in the last half and our confidence that 12% through the cycle, irrespective of sort of listing volatility, is the right number for us to aim aspirationally for us to actually achieve, and that's the way that we're setting our business. So look, in the second half, we will most likely move to sort of negative listings growth in Q4. We're tracking against 45% year-on-year growth and a market that was in catch-up mode in that sort of late May, June period, which is typically a downturn. I think we'll return to much more normal patterns where the typical pattern is people taking a break through the winter months. But overall, the controllable results, I think we're expecting strong outcomes.So on question 2 you had, how do you think about cost growth? I -- think about it the same way we do. We've committed to and we're focused on ongoing margin expansion, which -- and what does that mean? That means, yes, for FY '22 and yes for FY '23 and as far as we can sort of see. We think it's the right thing to do. We are delivering on the opportunity that's in front of us. We are investing well thoughtfully and purposefully for -- to set this business up for the future, with the new markets we're opening up, with the addressable revenue opportunities that sit there into Agent Solutions, Property Data Solutions and into sort of mortgages and ancillary services. So I would actually sort of point to what our key focus is, absolutely on EBITDA margin expansion. Now that might be a little bit volatile quarter-to-quarter, but sort of on an annualized basis on a run rate basis, that's the way to think about the business because that's the way that we are thinking about the business and managing our cost base in an incredibly disciplined way.And then the third is around house price increases. But I think the last few years have really underpinned my view on house prices, and house prices is -- we've got an incredibly resilient business that is showing the ability to drive controllable yield growth when house prices are declining, when house prices are increasing, when house prices are flat. And there's not many other industries and organizations out there that can say that in terms of their market activity. What I would say is the sweet spot is moderate growth or even sort of stability or moderate decline. That's when people have the confidence to list their property because they know that when -- the vast majority are looking for other properties to move into, but I feel that they're sort of moving into or taking a risk in the purchase of the new property, whether it's fast declining or fast increasing.So that midpoint of tempering price growth is -- I think, sets a much more positive environment for people, agents, our customers, for example, to take longer-term decisions and commitments to debt contracts, which do come with a 12-month commitment. But we can set out our expectations and sort of meet the market even in times of sort of rapid price increase or rapid price decline.

S
Siraj Ahmed
Associate

Jason, that's super helpful. Just can I just follow up on that? I mean do you have a sense for the -- I completely understand that where you're focused on, and that's the right strategy. But just on -- I mean is there a way of thinking 10% house price growth is like 1% or something? Just trying to understand, some sort of sense really, and I understand this is difficult from a geographical mix.

J
Jason Pellegrino
MD, CEO & Director

Yes. Clearly, we get a benefit from our new commercial products and structure in that we do have banding in pricing. And so there is a benefit from house price rising or people moving through the band. But you also got to expect that we will reset those, and it's appropriate for us to reset those because that commercial contract is set to drive real value to our customers and to our vendors. We're not setting up a business where we want to generate incremental return through bracket crew.So look, I would think through the most appropriate way to look at this market is sort of take a view of our ability to drive controllable yield growth and then an underlying view of overall listing volumes, and I don't think through the long run that pricing and property prices will have a material impact on our revenue generation.It might -- just because of the ongoing effect of people's confidence at periods of time might change the sort of the speed at which controllable yield can grow because of the market conditions might be favorable and unfavorable.

Operator

Your next question comes from Entcho Raykovski from Crédit Suisse.

E
Entcho Raykovski
Research Analyst

So I've got 3 as well. The first one on controllable yield as well. So good outcome, 19% in the first half, and what's interesting, it's obviously accelerated in the second quarter. I think you were at 17% in Q1. So it looks like it was particularly strong in 2Q. Can we extrapolate some of that into the second half? Or should we expect a moderation, maybe just some of that Sydney rebound, which was particularly powerful in the second quarter? So just sort of broad expectations from 2Q into the second half?And secondly, it looks like some of the increase to cost guidance for FY '22 is discretionary, albeit only $3 million increase. But -- so from that discretionary impact, how do you think about the return on that investment, that additional OpEx you're putting in and perhaps the time line? Any sort of broad comments would be useful. And finally, you've obviously moved to a July price increase cycle now, but I'm just wondering if there's any opportunity for you to be more dynamic on pricing where you're not just changing prices every 12 months, and you can sort of move with the cycle or whether really -- because agents have a marketing schedule, that's pretty prohibitive and just sort of stick to whatever schedule they've got and give them some clarity for a period?

J
Jason Pellegrino
MD, CEO & Director

Okay. I'll sort of sit through this. In terms of controllable yield, look, again, you've touched on it. We're really proud of the results. 19% controllable yield is extraordinary, particularly the mix of price and depth. Yes, that is a very strong price result. That reflects our confidence in the product that we've had. We've taken that price out to market. We delivered above-market price increases on a relative basis, a 10% increase. And then -- and that has been met favorably by agents who stepped into depth product and helped us drive 9% increase in depth.So I think we've -- across both of those factors, we're sort of ahead of market, which is underpinning our confidence and, it's great to see that. I think that, that result is even more impressive when you actually take into account the drag impact overall of that business on Allhomes and particularly the Canberra market.So our total residential revenue growth, excluding Allhomes, grew 31% overall, which is a really strong result, and we had a 2% to 3% drag headwind from Canberra. And that's purely because Canberra experienced their first lockdown for the entire for the COVID period and didn't have -- it was trading again really quite strong comparable of the prior year.So look, that's the environment we move into. As we move into the second half, we start to cycle strong comps. So we do expect the moderation in controllable yield growth. But what I would say is what we were seeing early in the first is continuing strong sort of price growth, some moderation in the depth, but it's just literally cycling stronger depth growth on the prior year.So the overall patterns are pretty similar, and we're quite strong, and we look to the sort of price increase and commercial package we'll put forward for the next July increase with real confidence in our ability to deliver results here or the willingness of agents sort of back us and the value that we're putting on our products. Controllable depth growth, basically not controllable, but the depth growth across every state in the country is at record levels, and we're seeing that pattern continue in the early part of this half.So I would expect the moderation, but it's more around year-on-year comparables rather than underlying depth contract numbers declining, if that makes sense.Cost and discretionary. Look, we put that commentary in specifically because just to make sure that everyone sort of understands the quantum of the cost impact. Like we have upgraded our cost guidance from high single digits to low double digits. But the overall impact of that is a $3 million increase on a cost base -- ongoing cost base of $195 million last year.So it's quite small, and a big portion of that was revenue-related expenses. So you got to take that out. That -- I'd like to have that problem every single half. This is -- now we're overtrading our expectations on revenue, and that brings some costs with it, and that's fine.Where we have made discretionary cost investment, it has been in product and technology staff primarily, and it has to do with specific products and strategies that we feel it's appropriate to accelerate our investment because we're seeing the early phases of where that revenue will sit. We've got commercial in confidence. I'm not going to sort of outline that, but we do run an incredibly detailed sort of investment plan of where we want to actually invest in heads, where we want to invest in capacity and where the return is going to be, and there has to be a commercial return against that. What I would say is there's absolutely opportunities in our Core Listings business, but we're also seeing great opportunities in Agent Solutions, for example, our ability. We've got a great business there that is really delivering across business-changing, business-growing solutions to the agent sector and has the capacity for us to invest faster and deliver returns. We have products that are generating revenue right now and profitability that we can actually sort of accelerate through. And that's balanced with some longer-term bets, for example, in businesses like IDS. IDS has come on board. And actually, we've been really, really pleased with that business coming on board. It's tracking ahead of our expectations from when we acquired that business in terms of -- they've had a couple of really good wins that we weren't sort of expecting so quickly, and that just gives us the confidence to actually -- to invest slightly further to actually -- to help that business with bigger wins in the future.And then the July increase and movement, the dynamic. I've been saying that, like I mentioned, this market will move to dynamic or more dynamic price increases over time, and not only saying that our movement of the new commercial model that we put in is a step towards that. The challenges of a full dynamic yield-based pricing, where there are fundamental benefits for agents and vendors, it's not just about price increases. There are times in the market where, actually, the supply and demand imbalance would actually result in a cheaper product, for example, for vendors. But overall, there's a benefit on a sort of net basis across there.The 2 barriers are the same. There's a technology barrier because we need to overcome marketing schedule that sit on PDS, for example, on piece of paper. And the second barrier is historical momentum, people doing what they like to do.The third challenge we're absolutely in, that's our Agent Solutions business, and this is really the crux of why we are so excited about the Agent Solutions business because we have a market-leading suite of products that we touch on 35% roughly or more of every transaction listing in the country outside of marketing, which is a leading position across multiple different products and solutions.And the reality is only 20% of workflow tasks across agents are digitized. So digitizing that PDS marketing schedule is absolutely part of our plans and that being a better platform to be able to put in much more dynamic pricing in a way the agents who are not marketers, who are not traditional marketers, can deal with pragmatically. We can overcome some of the historical [indiscernible] momentum in the industry.

Operator

Your next question comes from Kane Hannan from Goldman Sachs.

K
Kane Hannan
Research Analyst

Just 3 from me as well, please. I suppose just looking further out to FY '23, obviously, a very strong year this year. But just interested if you could talk through some of the drivers of incremental growth for '23 if we were to get a decent normalization in listings. It sounds like you're still thinking about the 12% controllable yield sort of margin expansion coming through, but the other deltas like commercial and developer, even rental, just interested in your thoughts around the drivers of growth into '23.And then 2 quicker ones. One, just obviously talking about driving the EBITDA margins higher over time. As the business is transitioning to that Marketplace model, where do you think that can get to longer term? And then probably a similar sort of question around Consumer Solutions, how do we think about the road map to break even from here?

J
Jason Pellegrino
MD, CEO & Director

Thanks, Kane. I think one -- someone is going to have to break the norm and actually do 2 questions or 4 questions, and then we'll say how we go through this, but I'll answer the 3 questions. So look, to talk through really incremental drivers as we think through. So let's break down the business into 3 component parts. The first component part is our Core Listings business, and the way that we think about the -- the way we're setting up is absolutely about that 12% controllable yield growth, but that's where we really want to start sort of driving it. Now FY '23, it's a little way off. And so we will have a look as we get closer to that as to what we expect the listings environment to be and as we get closer. But if that turns out to be sort of a more normal environment, and look, all indicators are pointing towards those returns to sort of normalization, then absolutely, that 12% is our aspirational target to sort of deliver across that.If we then break into the second section, which is the sort of the developer, CRE, media, other sort of ancillary revenue streams or industries that sit off that real estate where products are quite similar, both developers and CRE are coming out of pretty significant market-based impacts and are looking to improve. We're actually very, very proud of the performance of CRE and depth by both of them sort of delivering across that mid-teens, 15% year-on-year growth across that segment, is we think it's a really strong environment. Given that developers, we're still waiting on the returns for large-scale developers. We're still sort of generating revenue off some of the more boutique developments through there. And CRE, obviously, commercial real estate, is quite complex, patterns that are moving between sale and lease and across different sectors of retail, industrial and office.So my expectation is what you'll start to see in FY '23, is again, a return to sort of more normalized patterns of growth, and that's how we sort of set the sales for that business. The third bucket is our outstanding Marketplace businesses. And again, we're really proud of PDS' growth, yes, very strong as in '20. We'll see IDS' revenue come through for the full year. And with contract wins in there, which is fantastic to see, we will see Agent Solutions grow, RTA particularly is on a tear in terms of contract growth and revenue growth.What's really pleasing about RTA is 50% of our customer acquisitions are now outside of Victoria, which is their traditional heartland. But we're also doubling down on existing customers and taking up more and more products across that suite, and that's absolutely what we're setting ourselves up for. RTA is an open platform that allows agents to plug in whatever products that they feel they need to use to run their business. It's an open ecosystem. We provide the spine by which they can make all those products work together. And we feel that, that open strategy is unique to us, and we're uniquely positioned at scale to help agents to deal with the complexity of over 350 PropTech businesses knocking on their door with point solutions. Our ability to actually help the agents sort of navigate the maze of that and take advantage of those point solutions into an overall workplace solution is absolutely what we're focused on.And as you look forward to Consumer Solutions, this sort of move into your third role. We're very excited about the opportunities ahead. And I'm going to really simply admit, it's an extraordinary product. The product review score is like -- half year in, half out, we're coming to you and saying, "The product review scores are at 4.8, 4.9, out of 5." As we scale those businesses, they remain an absolute outlier in the industry for customers' experience.And at the end of the day, as a technology and a product company, you live and die by the quality of your product experience. The unit economics of the product are exceptional. The broker efficiency, the unit economic [indiscernible] are exceptional. The piece that we are absolutely working on is volume. We need more volume through the funnel. Like once we actually get volume and audience through there, convert incredibly well, the customer experience is fantastic and the unit economics of that volume convert to a revenue outcome really well.What you've seen in the last half in consumer is the benefits of the beginning of that scale and acceleration of our business driving an improvement in the EBITDA position, and that will continue going forward. At this scale, the EBITDA will improve, will get to profitability, and that profitability will scale really impressive margins. But we are absolutely focused on, and we're confident in the business model now, particularly with the new management team, to work with Lendi on sort of driving greater volumes through that part.

Operator

Your next question comes from Roger Samuel from Jefferies Australia.

R
Roger Samuel
Equity Analyst

I'll stick to 3 questions, hopefully quick ones. Firstly, I'm quite intrigued about the LeadScope, and I'd like to confirm whether that's the buy a lead or sell a lead because in the past, you were quite reluctant to charge the agents for any leads. I'm just wondering how you would monetize LeadScope.And secondly, just on the extra $3 million in cost. Is that baked in into your low teens growth in the year, low teens growth in your cost in FY '22? And the third one, and just your comment on what happened in Queensland and Victoria. It seems like you've increased the depth [indiscernible] quite significantly in those 2 markets, and I'm just wondering what you did differently during the half.

J
Jason Pellegrino
MD, CEO & Director

Roger, so I'll answer 1 and 3, and then I'll just let Rob touch on the cost trajectory. So LeadScope, it's very clearly vendor leads. The Australian market is not really attuned for buyer leads. We just don't have a big or appropriate buyer lead market, unlike the U.S. Interestingly, where you see the U.S. and lead products coming out of the U.S., they are fundamentally primarily buyer lead, and that's where you're getting scale out of there. Because on the buyer side, a cost per lead model makes absolute sense because if you're a buyer's agent, you have to think about the way you market and invest. You don't have properties that you're selling to help carry your brand and attract the next listing. So you are looking for buyers to come and support, and the cost per lead makes sense. And that's why you're seeing rapid take-up of those lead models in the U.S.In Australia, on the vendor leads, they have been reluctant, and look, we said from the beginning that we don't believe that cost per lead transaction is the way to do it. So what we have done with LeadScope is provide some optionality around rather than selling leads, we're selling a service. So those statistics that we call out are about agents using the service to increase the efficiency of the prospecting they're doing.So prospecting is the single most important activity that any agent will do. They live and die by prospecting because it's the only income source that a sales agent actually has. And our product actually makes that sales prospecting materially more efficient, and you've seen some of the examples we've pointed to today [indiscernible]. The way we actually commercialize that, just to be clear, we're not -- I think you might be sort of mixing up other statements in market from other players about reluctance to pay for leads and everything else. We don't have any reluctance from agents and their ability to commercialize the value proposition that we're delivering and as we scale this out. What we're doing is we're exploring different ways that agents could actually choose to actually pay for that product, whether that is bundled in with a depth or a more premium depth offering for agents who are willing to go to market with a more expensive marketing schedule or there are agents out there who would much more prefer to actually pay for the product, the service directly as part of our own P&L as cost of prospecting.And we don't really feel that we should be actually demanding that our customers fund this in any way. We can easily provide the flexibility. So why wouldn't we provide the flexibility? What you're seeing in that first half is definitely some of the benefits of depth growth supported by LeadScope and agents in that. What you'll start to see through calendar year '23 is growth in the direct subscription model and commercialization of direct subscriptions.So that's the first one. On the third one, which is around Queensland and Victoria, it's really about momentum, Roger. We've been working hard at these areas for a number of -- number of halves, number of years now through that. It's really our market-to-market strategy that's going postcode by postcode what we need to do to deliver value to our agents to build trust and respect. And we're seeing agents in those areas step forward and take on depth contracts at record rates.So I don't think -- we haven't done anything specifically different in the last half. What you're seeing is the ongoing build of the momentum, the confidence and the trust of everything we've been delivering, and we will continue to deliver in those markets.In terms of your second question on cost, I'll pass it off to Rob.

R
Robert Doyle
Chief Financial Officer

Roger, this will probably be the shortest answer today, but yes, absolutely, it's baked into that guidance.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Your next question comes from Paul Mason from E&P.

P
Paul Mason
Executive Director of Technology

I've got 2. So the first one is just on Real Time Agent. I was just wondering if you could give us a bit of extra color around what you think your market share is there in terms of number of agents using it and sort of maybe your bit about what that looks inside Victoria and outside Victoria at this point in time.And then secondly, just on the impact of the Canberra lockdowns. Has that actually had a big impact on your Slide 15 depth chart in New South Wales in total? Or has that not actually impacted the shape of those graphs?

J
Jason Pellegrino
MD, CEO & Director

So on the first question around RTA. So the real -- RTA always had a strong heartland in Victoria, and it has dominated those sort of services across Victoria, particularly inner city Victoria. So when you get to statistics, when we bought that business, they did cover a fairly substantial proportion of option volume going through Victoria and that increased pretty significantly. So they would be clearly the leader and by a significant margin in Victoria.We're seeing really strong growth across New South Wales and Queensland. I think overall, we -- RTA in terms of solution they provide are the material leader across that solution set, but we are building an integrated platform. So if I add together agent solutions, which is Real Time Agent, which is Pricefinder, which is Homepass, our goal across Agent Solution is to actually support every single listing transaction in the country with at least one product. But we think that our Better Together strategy means that one product will lead to 2 because we can deliver a seamless experience. Our open platform strategy sort of leads to that as well.So across the country, we think we've sort of -- we touch some -- outside of [ list market we listed ], I do not include it. Marketing listings are completely different workflow. But in terms of the workflow solutions that we deliver from the agent appraisal through to signing the contract, managing the open-home inspection, auction or contract negotiation and then contract signing, we think we cut somewhere in the order of 35% to 40% of listings across the country.There are a couple of other providers who are in that 30% to 40% space, but they are a single product, so something like RP Data, for example, [indiscernible] pretty significant, but it's only a one solution. That 35% to 40% for us is across multiple solutions and touch points.And then other than sort of RP Data and probably one other provider, you really go down to everyone else is a single digit, 0. estimates, sub-scale and working through. So look, at the end of the day, you have to provide solutions to agents that make their workflows better. There are 350 prospects, as I mentioned, going in and trying to deliver point solutions for individual workflows. And in many instances, agents and officers that have been enticed to those point solutions have realized that whilst those point solutions are better, the overall impact on workflow and efficiency is backwards. And that pattern is exactly the same as you're seeing in the digitization of any other industry, the auto industry, the retail industry. So look, we're quite confident in the strategy there. In terms of the impact, ACT runs a slightly different model around depth and whatever. So we don't pollute the depth chart with ACT. So that New South Wales does not include ACT. Allhomes is quite a unique business with a slightly different commercial model. It's historically been different. The ACT market is different. It's what gives Allhomes its strength and its resilience in that market, and it's not something that we would be looking to sort of interfere with or change because we think it's a great condition through there.So the short answer to your question, Paul, is no, the sort of the headwinds that we did face in the ACT are in -- total depth revenue are in total -- sorry, in total residential revenue but are not in those individual depth chart.

Operator

There are no further questions at this time. I'll now hand back to Mr. Pellegrino for closing remarks.

J
Jason Pellegrino
MD, CEO & Director

Thank you, everyone. Really appreciate the time for being on this call and the questions. We did get to a 2-question slot right at the end, which is excellent. But look, thank you. I really appreciate you taking the focus on a what's going to be an incredibly busy day, if not already for you. Look, we're very really confident in what we're doing with the business. We've had an extraordinary half result. We said that we were setting up the business to benefit from the inevitable rebound in listings, and the last half result has demonstrated that. What we're even more confident for is we're setting up the business continuing. You need to benefit from the ongoing and accelerating digitization of the property industry going forward, and Domain is uniquely positioned to provide a wider and wider range of solutions to support and benefit from that digitization.So with that, I'll call it a wrap, and we'll see many of you over the coming days and in our next reporting update. Thank you.

Operator

That does conclude our conference for today. Thank you for participating. You may now disconnect.

All Transcripts

2022