The Unconditional Blog

The impartial voice of the industry


Archive for the ‘Cool sites’ Category


Adding a dose of humour to real estate search

Posted on: April 14th, 2010 | Filed in Cool sites, International, The lighter side Australia's leading real estate websiteThe leading Australian website (not related to – just smart use of domain name) has undergone a significant rebuild. There are many aspects of the site re-design that underlie the leadership role that the site plays in the Australian market. The site eclipses the nearest competitor, the Fairfax owned by a significant margin.

The last annual report showed the site with over 5 million unique browsers per month more than twice their competitor and with a content of over 570,000 listings.

The new site is worth a view as there are some very impressive developments. My favourite would be the “compare” feature which creates the ability of side by side comparison of favourite properties, much in the way you would do with a comparison shop or a digital camera.

However the thing that I found engaging is their digital media campaign. The site has 8 exclusively made 90 second videos that in a light hearted way pokes fun at scenarios where property seekers use all kinds of underhand (as opposed to “under-arm”) tactics to get the upper hand in property buying.

I have watched them all and think that they strike the right balance of suitable tongue-in-cheek, mixed with warmth and that great Aussie charm! If I had to select a favourite it would be this one called “Detour”. Enjoy.

And just in case anyone was wondering we have exciting news coming very soon in regard to


Twitter – a personal perspective

Posted on: March 23rd, 2009 | Filed in Agent Tips, Cool sites, The lighter side

istock_000000969383xsmallThe decision by NZ Post to cease collections over the weekend is yet another reminder of how our wired (or wireless) world continues to dominate our lives. Whilst the advent of the web has actually delivered benefits to mail delivery services around the world as a function of online ordering, the reality is less of us actually put anything in an envelope and walk down to the local post box.

More and more of us find the immediacy of email, blogs and now the fast emerging experience of Twitter is the most efficient and rewarding experience to keep in touch with friends, colleagues and connectors.

Twitter seems to have come from nowhere in the space of barely 3 months to be the thing almost everyone I know is talking about. I recall that I first heard about it at a conference in the states 18 months ago and at the time I said to myself a combination of:

  • “Tweet” ??”
  • “Why does anyone want to know what I am doing”
  • “I don’t want people following me”

Subsequently I have come to appreciate the merits of Twitter. For me the most compelling statement made about it came from a well respected online commentator who said in one of his frequent podcast episodes “the most frequent comment I hear from advocates of Twitter is that they all at some stage or other have said – I don’t get it!” – I can relate to that, I didn’t get it until 4 months ago when I started to get it and I started to use it!


Here is my take on Twitter:

  • It is a mico blog – and just with blogging it can mean various things to various people
  • It does not really matter who follows you – let them; it is there life and if they are fascinated to read my tweets then great, if they “unsubscribe” to my tweets then fine, my life does not revolve around them
  • I follow people I know and Tweeters who provide valuable insight and information – these are more often than not businesses rather than people who provide a steady stream of insightful comment in the form of content links not unlike an RSS feed, but far more organic
  • I tweet on a combination of subjects – my thoughts on and insight on the real estate market, things that I observe in my everyday life, events and things I discover.

When people follow me and this is brought to my attention I undertake two quick checks – firstly do I know this person? –  if so, I may follow them (they are part of my circle of friends / influence). If they are not someone I know I look to see what they post, if they are mainly posting a combination of answers to questions from others or they post about the minutia of their lives I just don’t follow them . What I am looking for in my twitter stream is interesting news and insight.

Happy tweeting ! – you can follow me at alistairnz – but don’t be offended if I don’t follow you – you will now know why. As to the relevance to real estate  well I recall writing a piece on just this subject back in August last year – have a read “Does Twitter have a place in real estate“.


Birds eye view of properties on the web

Posted on: February 25th, 2008 | Filed in Cool sites, Online marketing, Website searching

I was drawn yesterday to the very large images splashed across the front page of the Herald on Sunday as I went about my weekly supermarket shop – Graeme Hart’s $20 million make over was the story. The images clearly were taken by some rather nosy helicopter-accompanied photo-journalist. However whilst fascinated as to what Graeme Hart decides to spend his money on may interest some people, my bit of voyeurism prompted me to solicit some opinion from readers of this blog as to whether it is a good thing or not that ever more detailed images of properties are available on the web for literally any property in the world.

Now I am not of the same league of Graeme – being of somewhat more modest means. But that does not stop me searching online to find images of my house, my neighbours house, my last house and most every house we have on the site. Now Google in NZ provides very good high resolution images from satellite to show a view from effectively say 500 feet, and we utilise this service to power the maps and satellite images for properties on the site.

Very good as this is – it is nothing compared to parts of the US and UK that are now searchable using Microsoft’s Virtual Earth “birds eye” view. This as you will see provides a very much more detailed view of property than we have yet in NZ. The property featured below is actually the first house I bought in the UK – many years ago! It is found on the website which is a sister site to the leading UK property site –

Birds eye view of property curtosy of Microsoft virtual earth

I like most people when presented with this kind of technology, tend to leap at the opportunity to check out current houses and past houses just to see what people have done since you sold up; in this case added the ubiquitous English conservatory! It is almost as popular as doing Google searches on old school friends and ex-girlfriends!

Now the power of Virtual Earth “birds eye” is the fact that the images are taken from a 45 degree angle so instead of seeing just the roof you get to see the side of the house from the North, South, East and West.

The question I am interested in hearing comments on, is given the leaps in technology it will only be a matter of time before the images can be so clear as to see colours of rooms as well as how well cut the lawn is, and if the car in the drive has been washed! Is this service a heaven-sent opportunity to provide us with a richer property searching analysis or a further invasion of privacy.

And finally I could not help but highlight that what we saw on Graeme Hart’s house – as if a rare treat, is common place in the US – try out Zillow’s section of their site highlighting TV star homes – see the home of the Soprano’s in New Jersey, of course who would not recoognise that gothic house from Six Feet Under or where the actual Friends NY apartment building is!

As to when we will have such high resolution, low level imagery in NZ ? – I did ask Microsoft at a recent conference, they were not specific, but their ambition is to map the whole world at this level by the end of the decade. Google are hard on their heals with their Google Earth product.


Real estate video – the good and the bad

Posted on: January 12th, 2008 | Filed in Cool sites, Online marketing

It’s a cliche I know, but when it comes to the good and the bad in this world (and especially in the context of real estate) – you never have to look any further then the USA, and in the US it doesn’t get any better than New York. This city has this week been playing host to Real Estate Connect a real estate industry conference bringing together real estate agents and technology companies in what has become a valuable insight into global trends in real estate marketing online.

I have had the pleasure of attending and sharing the NZ experience with my US and international colleagues; hot on the list of emerging trends this year has been the role of video in real estate marketing. Real estate video is a perfect match for video – rich images, exuberant personalities and persuasive selling – the pivotal ingredients of a 3 minute mini-movie!

However as you can image there is clearly a vast difference between the professional video shoot in the made-for-TV school style as opposed to the amateur handycam style. In wishing to reflect this emerging trend I was delighted to stumble across a fantastic site which today hosts a perfect snapshot of what I am alluding too “Best of the Bad – So bad it’s good - the good and the bad of real estate videos

This video is but one of a daily diet of short videoblogs created and hosted by Rachel Natalie Klein on “” – describing itself as the “home for daily videos about real estate-obsessed NYC”. This is the best videoblog I have come across and adds richness to New Yorker’s day by providing an inspiring and entertaining video-bite on the city’s second favourite passion after money – real estate.

It certainly is worth diving into her archives to capture a spirit of New York from a real estate perspective, but also to see the capability and effectiveness of videoblogging as a communication medium – could we potentially see such a feature revealing the true lives behind the curtain of life in Remuera!?

Alistair Helm