The Unconditional Blog

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Archive for November, 2010

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Partnering with Westpac adds value to the new Realestate.co.nz iPhone app

Posted on: November 27th, 2010 | Filed in Buying / Selling a home, Online marketing, Technology

Westpac New ZealandThe new iPhone app has been undertaken as a partnership with Westpac bank. There is, in my mind, real value in being completely open and up front about this as it is vastly different to the traditional sponsorship model, where a large branded company pays money to “get their brand” on some other product or other. Often resulting in a sense of “selling out”!

The partnership with Westpac could have been with any bank. We chose to work with Westpac due to their pro-active, open approach from their marketing department. It also speaks to the logical synergy (ahh – marketing speak!) – banks, mortgages and property buying are all one inextricably linked event or activity and cannot for the vast majority of home buyers be unbundled.

Westpac have been a partner on realestate.co.nz for over a year now with a smart mortgage calculator on the property-for-sale side of the website and also another calculator on the rental side of the site, offering renters an insight into what their weekly rental payments could afford them if they put that towards a mortgage payment. This rich integration which pre-populates the selling price / rental price of property into calculators, is judged (based on feedback) as valuable and an added-value service. What is great news is that Westpac are delighted with the lead generation from these tools and the partnership.

Westpac site calculatorsWith the iPhone app we wanted to go further than just a calculator. The app has the ability to let the user call the real estate agent or email the agent from the phone when reviewing property from right across the street. So why not allow people to contact someone to discuss the mortgage? Westpac have mobile mortgage managers out and about in most areas of the country and these can be contacted through the virtual bank branch on the app. Just locate the closest branch on the map and dial up the mobile mortgage manager based there.

As well as accessing finance help and advice through the app, Westpac naturally have a vast number of ATM’s around the country and adding these to the map view of property search makes total sense – we all need to top up cash reserves, and knowing that there is one round the corner from the cafe seems to make sense and add to the interactive ability of the app.

Finally Westpac has the ability to communicate really effectively with our target audience in a way that benefits both of us. They have very highly trafficked website and featuring the app on that site reinforces the values of innovation with their customers. Their email campaign also accesses a large database of property prospects and then lastly their latest TV commercial being aired over the summer enables them to reinforce the value of this partnership and showcase the app.

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Realestate comes to the iPhone

Posted on: November 26th, 2010 | Filed in Featured, Technology, Website news

Apple - iPhone 4 - Video calls, multitasking, HD video, and moreIf you are one of the 200,000 odd people in NZ (or in fact one of the 74 million around the world) that own an iPhone then you can now discover NZ real estate on your smart phone.

Realestate.coIphone home page - cropped.nz has been since its launch 4 years ago a leader in online real estate marketing; through social media, rich property and community information as well as innovation through the adoption of Google maps. That is why we are pleased to bring NZ real estate to the iPhone. This is the first dedicated iPhone app for the whole NZ property market. It is also the most comprehensive app for discovering property for sale.

We built the app after extensive research from around the world. We wanted to build an app that was not just a website on a mobile platform – that is not what buyers want.

We reviewed the top apps from the US (Zillow, Trulia and Redfin) and from the UK (Rightmove), we also looked at specific real estate company apps (Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate). We wanted to bring the best experience we could to make sure we offered a great experience – something that people would love to use and love to share.

In some ways the app needs no description – it is designed without a user manual. It is intuitive. However here’s 10 great reasons why this app is a must for any house hunter or real estate enthusiast:

  1. It is a discovery device Download the app and first off it shows you a property that is for sale near you! Hit the “near you” button and you are instantly shown what is for sale within a 1km radius (actually depends where in the country you are – in a remote location means it will search a wider radius).iphone near me
  2. Open Homes We have highlighted open homes with a flag to allow you easily see what you could pop around to view today or this weekend. Great when you have a quiet afternoon.
  3. Refine your search From the map you can refine your search – fancy property over $500k but less than $700k with 3 bedrooms, no problem. Fancy spreading the net wider than just your current location – zoom out on map to see a broader range. Keep zooming out a far as you like to see the whole country if you like!
  4. Zooming! You will notice that as you zoom out we have clustered the pins into blue dot which are numbered – this is the aggregate of listings in this area.iphone clustering
  5. Check out all the photos Found that interesting property along the road? Just tap to see the full listing details and all the photos. Flick the iPhone round to see them in landscape mode. Like the property but want to know more? – just call the agent or send an email – all from the iPhone.
  6. Virtual open home notebook When reviewing any property (especially open homes) you can make notes on all aspects of the property. Hit the inspection button and you can rate, make notes and add photos (or video) for any section of the property – the living area, the kitchen, bedrooms, outside etc. Also check out the Tips for things to look for and checkout when inspecting a property. All these notes then become part of the stored “My Property” section of the app housing you favourites. At this stage we have not, given this is version 1 synchronsied these with your “My Property” section on the website, that will come later.iPhone taking notes at open home
  7. Search by location Find out about property for sale anywhere in NZ. Given the comprehensive content of Realesate.co.nz why not go check to see what is for sale in your dream location. Use the “Search” function on the home page and either select by region, district and suburb or else type in the name of the town or street in the search box at the top – whichever way you choose you instantly see what’s for sale there.
  8. What you see is what you get Seem simple but this app only shows properties on the map where we have an address supplied by the agent. If you want to check to see if there are other properties for sale then hit the “list view” button on the map result page to see all the properties for sale in the area.
  9. Favourites Your favourites you have saved as well as open homes and also the most recently viewed properties are all stored in the “My Property” section – we want you to easily find that great property you were just checking out.
  10. The Mortgage So you have found that perfect home – but can you afford it? We have partnered with our good friends at Westpac to bring you an affordability calculator for each property. Check it out to see what the fortnightly or monthly repayments might be for different terms and different deposits. Then check out the local Westpac branch near you – right on the app for the contact details of a mobile mortgage manager to assist you. Oh and by the way the maps also feature locations for all of the Westpac ATM’s so there is no excuse for being short of some cash!iPhone westpac

So as you can see we are excited by this new app, so please let us know what you think, go to iTunes and download the app or visit our download page for the iPhone and leave feedback or on iTunes.

We are conscious that this is version 1.0 – we will continue to develop and improve the app, so tell us what you would like to see and how we can improve it. We can learn best when we listen.

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Insight into online real estate marketing

Posted on: November 24th, 2010 | Filed in Featured, Online marketing, social media

marketing words croppedI was recently asked to do an online interview (they asked questions and I wrote a response!) for Property AdGuru on the subject of online real estate marketing. Whilst the focus of my response was addressed to the customers of realestate.co.nz – real estate agents and companies, I was conscious that the responses might well resonate with buyers, sellers and those who have a general interest in real estate.

Here are the full written responses.

What are the top three things you think agents need to include in their listing to get it noticed?

1. Photos

Magnificent Mission Bay - Realestate.co.nzSeems so simple, but in NZ as in so many countries the art of taking / commissioning photos of a property seems to be forgotten at best and completely ignored at worst. I still to my horror, see listings with no photos or photos of the bathroom or the couch as the first photo. So little time taken to make such a major impact. It really frustrates me to see the abdication of responsibility. I often see better and more insightful photos taken for a $20 item on e-bay than I see for a $300,000 property.

Having said all of that we do see the average number of photos per listing growing all the time, back in 2006 it was less than 4, by 2008 it was just under 10 and today it is over 16. Many are taking advantage of our policy of no restrictions and we have many listings with in excess of 80 photos for a single listing.

Not only that, the property and thereby the agent’s client is being poorly represented, but the agent is doing themselves such a disservice – a smart vendor checking out the capabilities of prospective agents will make fast work out of eliminating agents that fail at this very first huddle. The sad truth is these agents get away with it because they will spend proportionally more time composing, reviewing and proofing a single half page advert in the newspaper – an advert potentially seen by a fraction of the audience of the online advert.

2. Address

It’s a property they are trying to sell! – so why not share the most basic of information!

Only 60% of all listings on realestate.co.nz show the address on the website – often this omission by 4 out of 10 listings is not because the respective agents don’t want to display it, but rather as we found out the other day there are still offices and companies that have a policy that the default for upload of listing data is to not display the address (even though in the data file we have the address).

The history of this tactic has been shared with me, as I am sure all in this industry will know, in that no address is thought to encourage the prospective buyer to contact the agent to find out the details. Well the world has moved on, and the consumers of today have a higher threshold expectation of transparency and so feel that the address should be there. Just as in the case of the photos, a prospective buyer not seeing an address will undertake to identify the address using whatever online tools they can – mostly Google maps and StreetView; if they through this super sleuthing find the address – the question will be – how will that reflect on their estimation of the agent?? – not that good!

3. Community information

Agents are flush with a wealth of information and knowledge. They are by the very nature of this industry, local experts. Their niche is the very small geographical boundaries that define their business area. They know so much about the houses, the schools, the transportation, the shops, the cafes (they are certainly experts there!) and the local amenities. This information is so vital for prospective buyers. It is valued and respected if the agents can get it across in a compelling and transparent manner.

The best advice is for agents to include snippets of this info in listings as sound bites and morsels that attract buyers to check out richer information curated on a personal blog. With websites allowing embedded html in listing details for blog links, this opportunity is a gold mine for agents that is seldom utilised.

What is the biggest mistake agents tend to make when listing a property?

Simply put; ignoring these key three points above!

- its a bathroomTo be more specific the critical importance of the first photo for a listing cannot be underestimated. It is the hero shot and has to work hard to really sell the appeal of the listing. As with poor quality photos, insufficient photos or no photos, choosing the wrong photo for the 1st place can be, and is often the case is the criminal mistake agents all too often make.

I have seen some horrible examples – photos of toilets, kitchens, untidy bedroom, couches – you name it we have seen it. Even the use of an image of the landscape view from the property can be poor choice. The mindset of the searching buyers is typified in having a brain hardwired to be evaluating property design types and looks. To throw in a view from a property is confusing.

Some agents tell me that this disruption to the regular type of photo is very successful in getting people to be inquisitive and get them to check out more photos. I cannot deny the logic of their argument, but as a marketeer I disagree as intrusive, out-of-context images tend to allow the viewer to eliminate; as that is the core task of a search / refine process – people need to eliminate to refine down to a meaningful number of properties to evaluate in detail.

image coming soonAnother appalling error (which I am glad to see declining in incidence) is the tactic of posting a new listing with a heading “Just listed – too new to photograph”, often accompanied with insufficient or no information. The logic for this behaviour from those agents is the desire to “get the listing online” as fast as possible – of course not appreciating that no content means no value to the target audience and going back to an earlier comment – blows the credibility of the agent. Added to the negative impact on the searcher online is the fact that all new listings are featured in the daily email to hot prospects – this one time medium is so powerful to target the listing to the right audience. As I say to agents, miss that first day and you have almost blow the campaign.

We did research recently on a sample of over 1,000 listings and found that over 40% of viewing for a property occur in the first week with the majority of that on the first day. So it comes down again to “proofing” a listing with comprehensive information before posting it to the web.

Besides creating high-quality listings, what else should Australian and New Zealand real estate agents be doing to market themselves online?

Every agent has to have a profile page on the web. This page must be the #1 link on a Google search for their name (with or without the reference to real estate in the search term – depending on the uniqueness of the name). Every agent needs to own this space. This is their reference tool 24hrs a day. Ideally the profile should be hosted on their own domain name, if not then on the domain of their company or as in the case of our site we offer profile pages on our site. The benefit of a profile page on realestate.co.nz is that if the agent changes offices/ company, the day of that change the profile page on our site changes, and maintains the same Google search page ranking, whereas the old profile on the old company website will still be there until the new profile gains ranking.

Step 2 after the basic web page is a web site, this is the opportunity for richer information to profile the agent and feature all the success and unique proposition they offer prospective clients. A natural evolution to the website is a blog. Today the lines between blog and website have blurred to the extent that they are one of the same. The feature set of being able to add dynamic content to a website is critical for an agent to build a profile as a local expert – or as a subject matter expert. This is or rather should be the ambition of every agent, this is their calling card, their prospecting tool, their letterbox drop all rolled into one.

As ever building the website is only the beginning – it needs nurturing and growing to attract an audience, it needs referral links in both on an offline references. This requires work, the use of social media tool such as Facebook and Twitter as well as outreach to establish back links to other relevant and contextual sites in their community or business area. It take time, but as with anything the investment will pay back – and the beauty of the web is that it keeps paying back 24hrs a day.

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How marketing has been transformed in the past decade

Posted on: November 23rd, 2010 | Filed in Online marketing, social media

Social Media JunctionLast week I spent 2 days in the company of close to 200 people in Auckland, attending Social Media Junction #2. I reflected during the closing sessions on the transformational impact that the web has had on business in the past decade; and marveled, as I am sure many of my fellow attendees did,  as to what the business world might look like 5 or 10 years from now.

It is often said that things seemed so much simpler back in the 80’s or even the 90’s. In the case of marketing, I would have to say that view would be correct, especially as I grew up in brand marketing in those decades.

In those days the complexity of marketing revolved around the options of what was, by today’s standards, a limited range of media – TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, outdoor and cinema. All provided a stimulation (visual or audible) which was as we now call it “interruption marketing” although at the time we called it “cut through advertising”. The task was to allocate and prioritise the budget and ensure that the timetable for such advertising was scheduled well enough in advance. All done; we would then wait and watch to see the consequential impact on product sales or market research stats some months down the track.

Today we inhabit a vastly different world as has been ably demonstrated by this conference. We fully appreciate that the impact of “traditional media” has been blunted and today’s reality is that it simply does not deliver as it used to – added to which consumers can and do “tune out”.

To be effective in today’s world of marketing, requires so much more of a hands-on approach. You have to engage with your customers, you have to be social (as opposed to “doing” social) and you have to listen – all of which cannot be a part of interruption marketing. Added to this opportunity to better engage with your customers, is the challenge of a myriad of channels to utilise and the fact that largely most of what needs to be done, needs to be done by you! – the role of advertising and marketing agencies has similarly changed as marketeers can and need to engage more directly with customers.

That is why these style of conferences are so much more important. Marketers today need to not only learn the tools, they importantly need to share and discuss experiences and tactics with their peers. Such conferences are not about sales pitches for products and services; but critically are about good honest ideas and guides of what to do in a variety of situations; situations that those who present have actually experienced and learned from.

The great thing is that this new social media marketing transformation is not a winner-takes-all scenario, as a marketer you can learn and share good ideas with colleagues, you can be more open – even with competitors as in  this world driven by social media there is not a single successful strategy that beats all others, there is just good execution of many strategies. You have to be prepared to fail fast, pick yourself up and try something else.

I could not possibly do justice to the full range of content from the conference, so I would recommend that you read the summary of the event from Alex Erasmus on the StopPress blog and keep an eye open for a future Social Media Junction conference next year.

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More and more listings found online is great for consumers and the industry

Posted on: November 19th, 2010 | Filed in Featured, Online marketing, Website searching

blue bar chart growing - croppedI am sure that the phrase “Content is king” had relevance prior to the internet age, however in the past 20 years it has become a mantra of web companies. As consumers gravitate to rich content, so will be found the opportunity for product and advertising sales.

In the context of real estate, listings content is critical. A property searcher wants to find the most comprehensive selection of property for sale or rent ideally on one site (to avoid having to visit multiple sites). In the NZ market the challenge for the 2 main websites (realestate.co.nz and Trade Me Property) has been in attracting real estate agents to list their content. The chart below tracks the total number of residential listings (this includes homes, apartments, lifestyle properties and sections) on these 2 websites over the past 4 years.

real estate listings for NZ between 2006 and 2010

As is very clear from the chart, realestate.co.nz has long hosted a more comprehensive selection of content than Trade Me. Realestate.co.nz is a website owned by the real estate industry through a 50% shareholding by the Real Estate Institute and 50% by six of the large real estate companies. Trade me is a subsidiary company of Fairfax media.

A key differentiation of Trade me as compared to realestate.co.nz is the fact that Trade me features private listings, something that naturally Realestate.co.nz and its owners are reluctant to do. This means that all of the listings on realestate.co.nz are from licensed real estate agents. Realestate.co.nz currently has around 95% of all of the listings of licensed agents in NZ featured on the site.

The growth of Trade me Property is impressive and they are to be congratulated. Their latest email for November celebrates this fact, citing that with “more than 70,000 houses for sale and rent.. that’s more than any other real estate site in NZ”. This is a fact if you add up all the homes for sale, together with lifestyle property and rental property Trade me Property has 72,835 and realestate.co.nz has 68,182.

This fact is a reflection of just how important the real estate industry judge the web to be in marketing property. This industry judges that in addition to their own websites and realestate.co.nz they wish to ensure that they all feature their listings on the largest trafficked website in NZ. As less people read newspapers and property magazines, with an ever growing use of the web for property searching it is completely logical that real estate agents on behalf of their clients would go for maximum exposure.

In most countries around the world now as newspaper and magazine advertising for property dwindles in relevance so each country begins to rely on 2 or 3 major real estate websites. In Australia it is Realestate.com.au and Domain. In the UK Rightmove.co.uk and Primelocation.co.uk. In the US – Realtor.com, Zillow.com, Yahoo real estate and Trulia.

However returning to the opening statement – content is still king and for the sake of transparency I think it is valuable to dive a little behind the headline figures provided in the Trade me Property newsletter. The chart below breaks down the number of listings by category. It is very clear that whilst Trade me Property holds a significant advantage in rental property (a significant part of that segment is made up of private landords) when it comes to homes for sale, lifestyle property and sections for sale, realestate.co.nz still holds a more comprehensive portfolio.

Real estate listings at Nov 2010 for NZ leading two portals

As a final analysis it is worth recognising that as mentioned earlier Trade me features listings from private sellers and private landlords. This richer data set will in time mean that as Trade me gains real estate agent subscribers, the total of listings on their site will grow ahead of realestate.co.nz. This component of private listings was estimated by Trade me back in January of this year at 16% of the total. Applying this calculation to the current listings produces this view of the comparison between the two websites.

real estate listings online as at Nov 2010 showing private listings and agent listings

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When it comes to searching for property nothing beats the ease and functionality of the web – true?

Posted on: November 12th, 2010 | Filed in Agent Tips, Featured, Website news

Searching for a home istock - croppedThat fact holds so true and has been validated in consistent research and usage – especially as everyday close to 100,000 unique visitors check out property information online in NZ (on realestate.co.nz we average of 22,000 per day) – far in excess of any print media. They love the ability to refine searches and be notified of new properties; as well as view dozens of photos, maps, videos and property statistics; all from the comfort of their couch or desk.

Having said all of that, there comes a time in the process of house hunting when printed information is invaluable.

The printed page is still one of the best ways of sharing vital information in a close group of people. In the case of open home viewings, I know from personal experience the ease of grabbing a set of printed details for each of the properties we are going to visit. From listening to our customers this is often their experience as well. It is interesting how that contrasts with earlier responses I remember well when the response was “we are a website – why would you want to print details?”

To help just such people (I suspect more than we might imagine!) we have made some tweaks and added some technology so that now you can print details of an individual listing in a nicely formatted pdf file that can be shared with your friends and partner.

pdf printThe print function lies at the top right of every listing page (and has a clear highlighter saying “New PDF”) – depending on the browser you use, it will create and download a pdf or it may open a new tab showing the document.

In addition to collating all the information presented on the listing – photos, address, specifications and a map; we also have added the latest data of viewings for the listing. These statistics are presented in a chart showing the number of viewings of the property day by day over the past month as well as where those viewings have come from, anywhere around the world.

Sample pdf print of a realestate.co.nz property listing

Listing view stats(By the way these charts are accessible for any listing and are updated dynamically – just click the link in the top right hand side of the page marked “listing viewed xx times”).

So whenever you want to grab a record for a property and scribble some notes, then you can now use this great tool and have all the information laid out in an easy to read format.

We do however ask you to act responsibly and not print excessively! – we don’t wish to be the cause of environmental devastation as our print media colleagues are!

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Homestar – energy efficiency rating for your home

Posted on: November 10th, 2010 | Filed in Architecture & Construction, Featured, Green

homestar logo horz RGB.jpg-1

We have long heard the media coverage of how close to 1.0 million out of our 1.6 million homes are poorly insulated, inefficient in the use of energy and potentially unhealthy. The big question as has often been asked is “how can I check out my own home to see if it is efficient”?

Well with the launch of Homestar you now can.

Through its online self-assessment tool you can complete a very detailed evaluation of all aspects of your home, from construction type, insulation, lighting, power usage, heating source, orientation, water usage.. the list goes on and on. The survey provides you with a rating score from 1 to 10. Further than just making you feel good (or depressingly bad!) about your score, the tool provides a superb report covering all aspects of your home to advise as to how to improve its performance with ranking as to how expensive such developments could be, how much benefit they could bring and how easy they are to implement.

This report and online tool should be a must for all homeowners, as well as landlords (and tenants). If you know what things could be done, easily and cheaply to improve the rating, then you are more likely to do it.

The good news is that as a country we are beginning to address this broad issue of energy usage and comfort. At the launch of the Homestar initiative this week, the Minister for Building and Construction, the Hon. Maurice Williamson shared the extent of the uptake of the government subsidy for insulation (warm up campaign) – some 61,000 households had applied for the subsidy since it was introduced, very effectively demonstrating the power of financial motivational over legislative mandate to drive homeowner behaviour.

The Homestar initiative, brought together through an industry collaboration with government support, goes well beyond just an online self-assessment tool. Certified Homecoaches will be trained to provide specialist advice as to how the recommendations of the self-assessment survey can be implemented, leveraging the private sector parters; who are the product and system suppliers to the solutions required and identified in the survey.

A very important third component of the scheme is of great interest to the real estate industry, and with the support of realestate.co.nz could become a very key part of selling and marketing a property in the near future.

Licensed certified assessors will be appointed by Homestar to carry out independent assessments of properties in the same way a valuation or a building report will be undertaken. This independent survey will then be public information in the form of a unique individual registered rating, which will have a value in the minds of prospective buyers. There is robust information from overseas examples which show that such rated houses put up for sale, performing highly in terms of energy efficiency and environmental impact not only attain a sale price premium, but also sell faster.

The screen mockups seen here provide a concept of how the information could be added to the details of a listing and through the addition of a search filter could profile such properties as well as allow buyers to filter to specific performance criteria within their geographical and price boundaries.

Homestar Realestate.co.nz Nov 8 2010.ppt

As ever the critical success of this scheme and the full initiative will come from the advocacy within the core groups of which the real estate industry is so key. If real estate agents embrace this certification in the promotion of comprehensive data for listing a property it will provide value for their clients (the property owner) as well as enormous value for buyers.

7

Social media – return on investment ?

Posted on: November 9th, 2010 | Filed in Featured, social media

Social media croppedSocial media is here – that is a fact; and as more and more of us incorporate it into our everyday lives (personal and business) the key question as ever is – is this a good use of my time?

Running the website of Realestate.co.nz and writing this blog – (which is now celebrating its 3rd birthday with this the 503rd post written!) has given me a perspective of how to evaluate the ROI for social media.

The judgment I make is based on objective and subjective insight. Objectively, I can look at the value of social media in terms of search engine optimisation (SEO) and the value of incremental web traffic. Coupled with this is the more subjective value of the deeper and richer loyalty of engagement with our customers. This has been achieved by providing the Voices blogging platform for real estate agents.

Overall social media has been a excellent vehicle for developing and hosting a valuable portfolio of statistics and analysis which has been leveraged through the media to build the profile of the brand and establish the company in a position as a knowledge leaders in the market.

A core part of embracing these new technology and media formats is keeping informed of developments and learning from others. This year has been notable for the value of conferences I have attended, not by their abundance but by their content and presentation, and also more importantly for their interactive ability. In years gone by conferences tended to be dry and laboursome – today through the interactive ability, especially of Twitter, it is possible for all conferences to become highly interactive events.

I have attended quite a few conferences this year from the Inman Connect conferences in the US to the Social Media Junction conference, to the first of our own Future of Real Estate conference. All have been past fast paced with a wealth of domestic and international speakers, and all have leveraged the power of live tweeting to allow questioning, feedback and interaction so that as a participant or a speaker you can truly sense the feedback and if necessary modify the delivery.

So just as the year draws to a close I wanted to highlight a further opportunity of a conference coming up in the next week, which is a second Social Media Junction conference put on by Bullet PR. The first conference back in May attracted over 200 attendees from across the spectrum of NZ business and such was the appeal that the event is being put on again, this time in an extended format. This time the event covers 3 days. The first day is a specialist day for the public sector, this being a clear demonstration of not only the feedback from the first conference attendees but also a realisation of the engaging opportunities of social media for this sector.

The main conference is on the Tuesday and Wednesday the 16th-17th November and incorporates a range of new media visionaries from the US, UK, Australia as well as local practitioners who will offer their insights into how to ensure time spent on social media has a positive impact on the business’ bottom line.

The second day is what is described as a social media content masterclass with Lee Odden from the US, CEO of TopRank Online Marketing Blog. Lee sessions are designed to provide insight into how to deliver online content, how to build a community and how to drive your company’s SEO.

Both days are designed and structured to get to the heart of what works and what doesn’t in the world of social media and online marketing and what can be done to improve business performance as a result. The speakers will cover all the current trends in the market and really look at why you should invest in social media into what you can do to link everything to tangible outcomes.

Social Media Junction is a must-attend event for anyone interested in securing ROI from Social Media marketing.

Thanks to the generosity of Bullet PR they have given me a ticket for the 2 days of the conference to give away to a reader of this blog. The ticket covers entry to the sessions on the 16th and 17th – only, not travel, accommodation or other costs – just the sessions!

The lucky winner will be the first to post on this blog as a comment the answer to this question:

The film “The Social Network” comes out at cinemas on Thursday this week and charts the story of Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg. The question is “what was the original name (full web address) of the website that later on changed its name to become Facebook?”

0

L J Hooker acquisition of Harveys propels them to 3rd largest group

Posted on: November 4th, 2010 | Filed in Featured, Market News

Harveys_and_L_J_Hooker

It was announced today that L J Hooker is acquiring the real estate business of Harveys Real Estate.

Both L J Hooker and Harveys are franchise groups with L J Hooker operating 53 offices in NZ coupled with a further 642 offices across Australia and Asia. Harveys on the other hand is a NZ company with 38 offices.

The acquisition is a complementary fit as the two companies do not overlap regionally, with Harveys strength in the Auckland, Waikato and through the Central North Island whilst L J Hooker has a good coverage especially in the South Island where Harveys is not really present.

The move will leapfrog L J Hooker from the 8th biggest group by number of offices in NZ to the 3rd largest player with a combined 91 offices as the charts below show.

NZ_real_estate_market_by_offices_Oct_2010

As the industry adjusts to the current level of sales which this year is heading for around 60,000 sales as compared to 70,000 last year, and compared to 100,000+ in each of the years spanning 2002 to 2006, the pressure on margins and overheads will and have already lead to closures of some offices and industry consolidation. As ever under such pressure there will always be opportunities for those well capitalised companies to take advantage to grow market share through marketing or acquisition. This move by L J Hooker is just such a move. It will be interesting to see if this is the only development or if we will witness others in the coming months.

The likely result of this acquisition will see a rebranding of Harveys offices as L J Hooker thereby leveraging the brand franchise as operating two separate brands provides no beneficial economies of scale in marketing.

As a point of disclosure both L J Hooker and Harveys are both shareholders in Property Page (NZ) Ltd which owns 50% of Realestate.co.nz Limited.

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Webcast – NZ Property Report Oct 2010

Posted on: November 3rd, 2010 | Filed in Buying / Selling a home, NZ Property Report

The following 3 videos provide a webcast of the content of the NZ Property Report for October 2010. We have broken the report down into three shorter 5 minute videos to assist in focusing on relevant content. The first video covers the big picture of trends across the country in the past month. This is followed by a specific video covering each of the North Island and the South Island.

North Island Summary

South Island Summary

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