Archive for April, 2009

Handling email enquiries

We are currently undertaking a series of presentations around the country sharing insight with licensees, salespeople and admin staff on all aspects of real estate marketing and the online world. One of the components discussed at these presentations is the best way to handle email enquiries coming from the web. Every day we pass on emails from website visitors keen to seek more details regarding your properties or to schedule meetings with you to discuss properties, handling these in the most professional manner will leave these people with a great feeling of support and assistance from you.

As a guide I would like to share some observations on handing email enquiries which come from research from the web and conferences I have attended. There are 4 basic principles:

  1. Be responsive – timeliness is key.
    Enquiries are often looking for answers to questions. The sooner you can respond the better – expectation is that emails should be answered in 2 hours or less. Look to see how within your office you can receive alerts on your phone by text or email so even though you are out an about you can respond and be kept informed.
  2. Be respectful and don’t be pushy.
    An enquirer has emailed you for a reason, in choosing to email they did not want to start a conversation and in general want to remain anonymous. Try and avoid being pushy and insisting that they call you receive information. Remember they could be the buyer you have been looking for of your listing and you need o create a good impression.
  3. Answer their question.
    The majority of email enquiries are a question, the question is best answered simply and directly (if you can) – this builds trust.
  4. Recognise that the person sending the email may be at an early stage of looking for a property.
    This is probably the most important thing to think about when answering email enquiries. The more you respect the sender and respect their anonymity the more they are likely to come back to you.

Taking a practical example let me share an example of how an email could be handled by you.

Hi,
Could you please give me an estimate of the land area of this property please?
Thanks Graeme

My recommendation on a reply would be

Hi Graeme,
Thanks for your email regarding the property at 45 North Street. The property is described in the legal title as being 645 m2.
I recognise that you may be at an early stage of looking for a house in this area, however if there is any further information you may require on this property or any other property you may be interested in please do not hesitate to contact me.
Yours Sincerely

Regards

The outcome of this email response from you could be one of two things – firstly the enquirer could feel very comfortable, the question was answered and the response let the person feeling valued by not threatened. Alternatively the second outcome could be that the enquirer immediately emails or picks up the phone to say to you that they want to discuss this property immediately – by placing them at ease they are far more likely to want to work with you.

Email responses

Over the course of the past two and a half years we have sent out over half a million emails leads to this industry from the website, together with a similar number of referral links back to your website. It is always at this point that we leave you to make the connection and facilitate the sale of the property. We do not however forget that whilst we cannot facilitate the sale we value that lead as it came from a visitor to our site.

We have in the past undertaken research as to the number of emails that are answered by agents and how quickly they are answered – remember that the expectation of the public is that agents should ideally answer an email within 2 hours!

These two prior research studies back in 2007 and 2008 showed that whilst performance of email response was improving there was still a long way to go. An original response rate of 69% of all email being answered increased to 87% – however that still means that 13 out of every 100 emails were never answered. This month we are repeating this research, we will be anonymously sending out 100 emails from the site – if your listing is chosen then we will respond (once you respond) to let you know that the enquiry was part of a research programme.

I appreciate your assistance in this research – I will publish the results when they are available.

April 20 2009 | Online marketing | 7 Comments »

Website Business Report – March 2009

The real estate market enjoyed a strong performance in March with total sales of 6,694 a 29% increase over March 2008 – certainly not of the volumes seen during the heady days of 2005 -2007, but certainly enough to stimulate some optimism that we could be past the bottom in terms of sales volumes.

In the online world the level of activity continues to grow and grow. The latest statistics from research in the USA for the latter half of 2008 shows that 94% of all property buyers aged 25 to 44 used the web as part of the buying process! The update for the NZ data will be released in late June of this year and is likely to show similar high levels.

In terms of visitor numbers for the period covering February and March total visitor sessions across all real estate websites (as measured by Nielsen) consistently exceeded 1 million per week, up 21% on the prior year.

Realestate.co.nz continues to outperform the market with a significant 377,939 Unique Browsers in March an increase of 42%; more than twice that of our competitor and over 4 times the market growth.

The full report can be downloaded here

April 20 2009 | Market stats and Nielsen Online stats and Special offers and Web facts | No Comments »

NZ Property Report – new insight into the market

Earlier this month we launched to the public and the media the first of what will become a regular monthly Property Report. The report is compiled from statistics of the website and provides a unique perspective on the real estate market as seen from the new listings coming onto the market.

The report which is being produced on the first day of each month will hopefully in future months be seen as an early indicator as to the state of the market as measured by movements of inventory of new listings as well as the trend in the asking price of property listings.

Our aim is for this indicator to be judged by the industry, the public and the media as a new complementary guide to the state of the market – is it judged to be “a buyer’s market or a seller’s market” matched to “price expectation rising or falling” – monitored in the same way that the REINZ sales data and median price data is reported.

The website is in a unique position to produce such a report being the most comprehensive source of real estate listings (58,000 properties for sale from among 112,000 listings) – as represented by over 93% of the licensed offices in NZ.

This first report which benefits from being able to track back to January 2007 highlighted what had become a growing trend of increasing price expectation for new listings up to a median price of $399,000 for March. Equally reflecting the current state of the market in general new listing numbers are down.

Read more details of the report here or download a copy to share with your clients and colleagues

April 20 2009 | Market stats | No Comments »

Featured agent – space still available

The launch of this new premium service was enthusiastically received on the 2nd April when we took the first bookings from agents to feature themselves on individual suburbs for up to 3 months in order to seek listing opportunities.

Within hours we were receiving online bookings which meant that some suburbs sold out very quickly.  To date we have taken orders from over 600 agents across the country.

There are still some suburbs available and I would encourage you to check out the opportunity – as from a low $25 (inc GST) per month you can secure one of just 3 premium spots to feature yourself in front of keen buyers and sellers checking out the listings in your chosen suburb.

In the next month we will outline details of the booking process for the remaining months of the year. To register to use the service click this link to go to the registration page.

April 20 2009 | New feature | No Comments »

Featured agent – your chance to promote yourself on realestate.co.nz

I am delighted to offer this industry a new opportunity for every agent to promote themselves to your target audience of prospective vendors – 24 hours a day – both here in NZ and overseas!

With over 350,000 unique visitors to the site every month the web is the perfect place to profile yourself and your local suburb is where you want to be seen as a proactive agent.

From today you can promote yourself as the local real estate agent and from just $25 per month per suburb as an introductory offer; there is no more cost effective medium.

Everyday around the country agents grab the opportunity to advertise through a variety of advertising publications to raise their profile in their local community in an effort to secure listings and the chance to talk to prospective vendors. As is well known in this industry the majority of buyers are vendors and visa versa, so we know that most people searching for property on our website are likely to be looking to sell and therefore could be interested in talking to you, that is why realestate.co.nz is a great publication to use to promote yourself.

A featured agent profile is limited to just 3 agents per suburb – first come – first serve. You can book up to 3 months in advance and we have made it as simple as possible to book – all you need is a credit card.

First set yourself up on our new registration page at Agent Pro. You will need to know your REINZ membership card number. If you are working for Barfoot & Thompson then please set up using your own unique B&T number.

With your REINZ / B&T number we will be able to immediately send you a confirmation login and password. This email will be sent to the email address we hold in our database for you, it is the email address which we use to send buyer enquiries to you from the website. If you do not get a confirmation email within 5 minutes then please call us on 0800 732 536 or email us and we will help to get you set up.

Once logged in select the suburb you are interested in buyers as the featured agent – this is done just like the website, chose the region and district and then select suburb. We will then tell you which months are available and also tell you how much it will cost.

We have set up introductory pricing for suburbs based on demand and interest from buyers with 3 tiers of suburbs – Gold suburbs of which there are just 73, cost $150 per month; Silver with 245 suburbs cost $75 per month; all the other 1,301 suburbs across the country cost just $25 per month. All prices are inclusive of GST. Here is a complete list of suburbs with pricing.

Add your selected suburbs to your “shopping cart” and proceed to the checkout like any other online purchasing website. Once we have confirmed your purchase you will be live on the website under the search for that suburb.

To help answer any questions you may have we have created a page of “frequently asked questions” – check these out as we are sure we have thought of everything! – if we have by chance missed anything then please post a question or comment here.

April 02 2009 | New feature | 3 Comments »

Featured Agent – Frequently asked questions

To assist in answering the questions that have been asked of us as we have been setting up Featured Agent profile service we have captured the answers to the most common questions below:

How do I find out the cost of my suburb?

Easy either select your suburb on the “AgentPro” part of the website by choosing your preferred suburb or download the complete list of all suburbs that are gold or silver.

We have priced the suburbs at an introductory price level. The levels are $150 per month for gold suburbs $75 per month for silver suburbs and the remainder cost just $25 per month.

There are 73 gold suburbs, 245 silver suburbs and 1,301 bronze suburbs.

What basis is used to make a suburb a gold / silver or bronze?

When discussing this concept of Featured Agents for a suburb as an advertising opportunity all the people we spoke to told us that we needed to be fair and charge an appropriate rate based on the popularity of each suburb.

We did some analysis and looked at the number of listings and the number of viewings of listings for each suburb over a 6 month period. By combining these two sets of data we were able to come up with an objective means by which we could differentiate 3 different levels of suburbs and in so doing be fair to all in this industry.

My suburb is full – what can I do?

Unfortunately if all 3 slots for this month have been  booked then it appears that you missed out. Have a look to see if a future month is available to be booked. We will be releasing future blocks of months in the coming weeks so check out this website and make sure you subscribe to our regular monthly email from realestate.co.nz.

We chose to restrict the Featured Agents to just 3 per suburb as this ensures that the impact on the buyers looking at the site is not interrupted by to many Featured Agents, equally we wanted to ensure that there was a balance and therefore 3 agents seemed like the best number.

Why has realestate.co.nz started this initiative?

We have launched this service at the request of individual agents who wanted to take advantage of the large audience on the website to promote themselves in order to seek new vendor enquiries.

We felt that we could provide a more cost effective means for agents to advertise themselves than is currently being offered by newspapers and magazines.

The revenue from this service is part of new income which we hope in time will allow us to offset and subscription changes and hopefully if we are successful enough with this and other initiatives like Zoodle allow us to reduce the subscription fees charges to offices. This is only possible as a result of the website being owned by the industry and the reinvesting any profits made from the website back into the business rather than distributing to shareholders.

What if I want to buy a whole year

We have started off just offering 3 months (April / May / June) – we want to measure the results of these initial months and then with feedback plan the forthcoming next 6 or 12 months. This also ensures that in this initial period we can ensure broad awareness within the industry. With the best will in the world we know not everyone will find out about this on day one and we did not want to frustrate people by having them find their chosen suburb is booked for the next 12 months at this early stage.

How can I find out if there is space available for my chosen suburb

To find out is a slot is available for this month or a future month login to your AgentPro account and search for your chosen suburb.

We do not provide a status that shows which suburbs have available space. To do so could lead to people block booking areas. In the consultation we have had with the industry prior to launching we received clear feedback that we should drive this service at individual agents who want to be profiled on their chosen suburbs rather than offices or groups who might want to buy up areas of the country deliberately to exclude others.

Can I add my blog or my website as the link

The link provided in the Feature Agent advert takes the enquirer to the listing profile page of the agent on realestate.co.nz. On this page there is the opportunity for external links to office website, agent website and also an agent’s blog.

Why is my office logo not showing?

The primary purpose of the advert is to promote the individual agent and as the cost is borne directly by the agent paying online by credit card we judged based on discussions with the industry that the focus should be on the photo and contact details of the agent

My featured agent advert shows my office telephone – I would prefer it to show my mobile number?

If your mobile number is not showing it is because we do not hold that number in our database. We have set a priority rule for the display of contact details. Firstly we show the mobile number, if that is not available we show the home number, if that is not available we show the office number. If you would like to provide us with your mobile number then please contact our team on 0800 732 536 or email info@realestate.co.nz

What happens if I do not have a credit card?

The service of Featured Agent is based on first-come-first-served. Due to demand and to the processing costs of managing orders, invoices and cash collection we do not offer this service. Unfortunately if you do not have a credit card you cannot purchase this service.

Can I buy a feature half way through a month?

You can buy a Featured Agent advert at anytime as long as the space is available. However we do not discount the charge is less than a full month is available.

April 02 2009 | New feature | 5 Comments »