Archive for July, 2009

Profile – how can make sure you are going to get that phone call to appraise a new listing?

At this very moment someone may be Googling your name – checking out your details before they meet you next week for an appraisal you organised – you need to be on that shortlist and you want to make sure that what they read about you is the best representation of your skills and experience.

You have to make sure you have at least a page on the web which you can use to profile yourself – it may be your own website or blog, it may be a page on your company website. It could be a free profile page we have introduced for everyone in this industry to profile themselves to prospective clients. We launched this service 2 weeks ago and the take up has been excellent – take a look at what some of your colleagues are doing – then ask yourself – how would like to be seen by prospective clients:

Another opportunity that these agents and many other have cottoned onto is the Featured Agent advertising on individual suburbs – these cost effective advert which are priced from just $15 per month (more popular and larger suburbs are charged at $75 and $150 per month). We all ready have many hundreds of committed agents who see this as the tool to ensure that they get the enquiry call to come and do an appraisal.

To access both of these great services log on now to our new Agent Pro website and build you client base and business ready for the spring.

July 20 2009 | New feature and Online marketing and Social Networking | No Comments »

Property Management – new service will appeal to all tenants

If there is one thing that differentiates property management from property sales it is speed of transaction – as a property manager you want to list a new property and have it tenanted by the end of the week!

The web is the fast and efficient way to find property to rent – that is why we regularly have over 75,000 unique visitors per month reviewing rental properties on our site – we host over 6,000 of them at any one time. However what is faster than the web and more convenient to tenants – mobile phones!

We are really excited about a new service we are launching today with a new NZ company called TextMe – in partnership we are able to offer all prospective tenants a text alert for new property listings – the moment they hit our site.

The service is free to subscribe. Alerts are sent to tenants specific to their search criteria – locations, number of bedrooms, price.
Tenants get these alerts for free which includes a listing number and the web address of the listing on realestate.co.nz. If they want to get the property address (if available) and the contact details of the agent to act on immediately they fire back an email response which then sends them the details for an additional 50 cents.
Here is the sample:


This is free for all listings of rental property on realestate.co.nz – another free service we provide to make your business more productive and to provide high quality services to your clients. Saving you from having to subscribe to expensive alternative services.

July 20 2009 | New feature | No Comments »

Impactful property advertising

Often we are asked to provide examples of the performance of our featured listings service – and each time we take people through the case studies they are blown away that we can achieve such massive quality visitor traffic.

Our original “side by side” comparison from January still holds true – 17 times the traffic.

How about this example of a multiple listing situation. Think how you can demonstrate to an owner that you are the best agent to have a sole agency – use a featured listing as below:


This property was listed on the website on the same day by 4 different agents.

Only one of them chose to market with a featured listing – they have had 2,522 views to date with a 14 day period with the bulk of the views.

The other agents have had between 83 and 360 views – an average of just 185 views. That is over 13 times the number of views by featuring.

Don’t forget that an advert of this effectiveness costs only $250 (inc GST) for a 14 day period – on the home page and suburb page of the website – to order your “vendor paid marketing” call the team on 0800 732 536. Click here to download a sales leaflet to assist in securing vendor paid marketing.

July 20 2009 | Online marketing and Special offers | No Comments »

Google Maps new real estate search facility

Google announced on the 6th July that they were offering NZ a new search feature – “search real estate listings on Google maps” – this service can be found as a part of Google maps as opposed to the standard Google search.

Google takes feeds from real estate websites and portals to provide a comprehensive overview of property in an area of the country – here is a view of Hamilton


The search results only show a few properties on the left hand side – otherwise you have to click on each red dot to see the property details and photos.

We took the decision on day 1 to feed all of the listings we have from our 1,160 customers representing 93% of all licensed offices to Google for the benefit of all customers. This amounted to some 100,000 listings (we do not feed business listings). Google is incredibly popular search engine with around 85% of all searches in NZ done on Google. We provide this service free for all subscribing offices meaning that your listings can be seen by an enormous worldwide audience – all for free. We are currently the only website outside of company sites feeding such content to Google – we want to help you gain greatest exposure for your client’s listings.

One very important fact to remember with any of your listings is that if you do not provide an address or allow an address to be shown on a listing then it will not show on any mapping – be that a map on realestate.co.nz so please display the address for your listing.

We currently have around 60% of all listings with a display address – in today’s world with Google maps, satellite imagery and Google StreetView – the question has to be asked as to why would you not display the address?

Just so that you know that I am not alone on this matter – this recent post by Paul Middleditch from Harcourts in Christchurch makes a genuine plea “C’mon fellow consultants – do the basics, please!

July 20 2009 | Online marketing | 5 Comments »

Professional respect in regard to marketing material

If I get 3 calls on the same subject in a week – I judge that this is something worth highlighting.

The issue I have experienced this week is in relation to photos of properties for sale. When a property for sale switches between one agent / salesperson and another agent / salesperson should the photos be able to be used by the new agent?

We received a call and a couple of emails from salespeople who wanted to know if we could in some way block others copying photos from our site without their permission. They were incensed that another salesperson would “steal” their photos to use on a new listing for that property.

There are a couple of ways of looking at this issue – technical, legal and professional.

Technically

The web is an open platform – in almost all scenarios you can “right click” on an photo and save it. You can then use it wherever you like – that is from a technical standpoint.

Legally

Images in the form of photos are intellectual property (I should point out I am not a lawyer – this piece should not be taken as legal advice, just observations!). Someone paid someone to take photos of a property for sale – or the selling agent took the photos. Those photos are the legal property of someone. Unless that person informs people in general that those photos are freely available then it should be assumed that they are not freely available to download and copy.

As an instance the content of this blog as with all photos on this blog is accessible under what is becoming a very common structure for the web called Creative Commons – simply put – I am happy for the content of this blog including all facts, words and images to be freely used and copied as long as (a) statements are not presented out of context, and (b) appropriate attribution is given – just tell people where you got the content by referencing the source – through a web link.

Despite this many people believe that as content on the web is accessed for free that somehow that makes it free of any copyright, and they can do what they like with it – that is not the case.

Professionally

Whilst it may be very easy to copy photos from one listing to another and in so doing save time and money, the key question that should be asked is “what message does that send to the vendor” irrespective of who owns the photos – even if the rights to the photos have been granted by the property owner.

When a listing transfers from one listing agent to another – it should signal the establishment of a new marketing approach for that property on the market. This process should seek to review all components of marketing for that property – price, description, photos and marketing material. To do anything less would be dereliction of duty of the part of the new listing agent.

To “just” take the the listing and not try and add personality and a new marketing focus would seem to speak to a lack of professionalism on the part of the new agent, and would in my mind awaken the question in the mind of the vendor as to what value this new agent really brings to the process if they are prepared to “re-cycle” somebody else’s marketing campaign.

July 19 2009 | Online marketing and Photos | 1 Comment »

Featured Agent – Equitability in marketing for an agent

The launch of Featured Agent in April was undertaken after valuable feedback from within the industry. We had been actively testing and discussing it since January.

However as is the case with any new feature you need to be ready to handle situations which may not have been readily visible at launch. It is clear given the take up of the service that there is a growing sense of competing interest vying for the 3 spots – this competition has exposed an issue which arose this week and has as such helped us to learn better how to adapt the principles of the service.

The current booking process is best presented as a “first in – first served” race. However we experienced a situation where a single office has “block booked” all 3 spots which has lead to feedback from other agents in the same suburb wishing to register a complaint that this is not fair, especially of an industry owned website. In their view we should be portraying to the public a balance of options when it comes to agents in an area.

When we set up this service these were the principles:

  1. Featured Agent was established at the request of salespeople who wished to have a means to promote themselves on the site to prospective vendors.
  2. The core principle of realestate.co.nz as an industry owned site is to act in a consistent and transparent manner to serve all professionals in this industry with a cost effective marketing tool
  3. A judgment was made to restrict the number of agents per suburb to just 3 – in that way allowing the public to see a representative selection of keen agents ready to promote themselves in that suburb.
  4. The buying criteria is first come, first serve with no ability to pre-book or blanket book for periods of more than 3 months

With these principles in mind we have made an amendment to the terms of business for booking of Featured Agent which will be implemented at the next release of Featured Agents which will be for the months of October onwards. This will be communicated on this website and through email prior to this date. This then is the situation and solution.

If a suburb is booked solely by one office within that suburb, and realestate.co.nz receives a challenge from other agents in that suburb. Such a challenge will be entertained by other offices who feel that in having an effective block booking attained by one office is not in the best interests of the website as judged by the consumer viewing that page and seeking to assess the capabilities of a range of agents for that suburb. Each case will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and the judgment will be made based on objective and transparent criteria for such an evaluation.

The recommended solution will be to allocate a single featured agent to each office in the suburb (only of those offices that raise an objection). If the number of challenging offices together with the original featured agent office exceeds 3 then the allocation will be based on a random drawing to see which offices will be featured.

In addition prior to the completion of each feature period (the current 3 months for example – Jul/Aug/Sep) an assessment will be made as to ascertain which suburbs were fully booked with featured agents. For all these “fully booked suburbs” with 3 agents a draw will be made from the existing customers of featured agents as well as the invitation of any offices and their salespeople who may wish to buy a feature agent profile in that suburb to participate in a random draw to allocate the 3 slots. These “fully booked suburbs” will be notified well in advance of the renewal date and a draw made prior to the start of the new period.

July 15 2009 | New feature | 6 Comments »

Enhancements to Featured Agent

The web is the most important and effective way for you to promote yourself to prospective clients. To make it easy for you, we are creating simple ways to get started and promote yourself to win clients.

We launched Featured Agents adverts on the website back in April. We were blown away with the response from this industry – within hours agents were signing up and securing these key advertising spots – in some cases the 3 slots per suburb were sold within hours.

Now we are back to release the next 3 months of Featured Agents (July / August / September). In addition we have added an even better offer for all salespeople in the industry. How about a free webpage for every single salesperson? – this is a great opportunity to create a personal profile online to highlight your unique skills and experience and explain how you can best serve your clients.

So what have we done and what will this mean to you.

  1. Firstly we have redesigned your exclusive page on realestate.co.nz which shows your listings.
    This page is now called “Your profile” and can easily be found via a link on every one of your listing pages on the website.This profile page is now customisable, so it can now become your own web page – all provided for free.
    You can add your own photo and write your own profile as well as providing links to your other profile pages on the web – be it your blog on Voices (or any other platform), your LinkedIn or Twitter account or your own webpage. You have complete and secure ability to make this your own web page.
  2. We have listened to your feedback and created separate Featured Agent adverts for each category of real estate business.You can now sign up to buy a featured agent profile for your chosen suburb and decide if you want to be profiled as a residential agent on the residential listings, or do you want to be profiled as a commercial agent only on the commercial listings; or maybe you want to profile yourself just on farms and agricultural land. We also have a profile opportunity for property managers.
  3. We have redesigned the login page and sign up page. Once logged in you are taken to your private Agent Pro page – on this page you can edit and build your profile, you can buy featured agent profiles and you can check your account with us. All managed online 24 hours a day from any computer anywhere.
  4. We have also listened to your feedback over the past 3 months in regard to the pricing of particular suburbs – more particular those suburbs which classically sit just on the threshold of the pricing bands of Gold, Silver and Bronze.
    Overall the response to the current pricing has been great, we did want to show that we do listen and we have revised the cost of some suburbs, so check out your favourite suburb or suburbs as you may be pleasantly surprised. Even better news we have revised the cost for the bulk of residential suburbs (bronze category) previously we charged these at $25 per month.We have decided that in order to encourage you to try and capture a wider profile across this range of smaller suburbs we have dropped the price to just $15 per month.
  5. We have introduced new prices for the new categories of commercial / business, property management and farms and agricultural land. These prices are detailed below:

    You can now go in and book up for your chosen suburb(s) for the months of July / August / September – be quick get in quick because there are only 3 spots available each month for each suburb.
  6. We think we have taken the time to make the process of registering, logging in, editing your profile and buying featured agents adverts as simple as possible. If at any stage you have a problem or can’t seem to do what you want to do, then I would ask that you call our team in Auckland and they can help you.
    We recognise that it can be difficult, but rather than email back it is best to pick up the phone and call 0800 732 536 and speak to one of the team; they will be pleased to help you get established online quickly.

What you see released today is just the start of how we see Agent Pro evolving in the coming months as it becomes a great place for us to offer you tools and services to enable you to better manage your online profile as well as market yourself and your listings online.

Coming up in the next few months we will introduce a dashboard which will detail live information on the number of viewings you are getting to your profile page as well as the performance and viewing of your featured agent profile. We hope you will start to see the Agent Pro site as a place you visit on a regular place where we can communicate with you on a personal basis and we can help you to build your real estate business.

July 02 2009 | Online marketing | 1 Comment »

November 17 – a key date in the history of real estate

You may be aware that in just 140 days the new Real Estate Agents Act (2008) comes into force and all real estate agents, salespeople and licensees in this industry will be bound by the new Act.

As an industry owned website I think it is incumbent upon us to bring this subject to the attention of all in this industry, as we all will be impacted by it and need to be aware of it and all of its components. The problem is that the Act is written as all laws are in legal terms to ensure that there is no ambiguity and confusion.

You are most welcome to read the Act which can be downloaded here from the NZ Government website. As an alternative I would like to recommend you read a summary of the Act which has been written by a real estate agent.

John Bradley has 10 years experience in the real estate industry and has run a franchise as well as trying some innovative new ideas in this industry. He has taken the time to read the new Act and write a book on the subject to provide this industry with a very easily read summary. He has also established a website www.november17.co.nz where you can download the book.

The book which I have read is a fairly easy read. Don’t be daunted that it is 92 pages – it only takes about 40 minutes to read. In the book John has not only detailed what he sees as the key elements of the Act – he has also provided his opinion if what may be the consequence of the changes in the Act on the way the real estate industry is structured and operates in the future.

I have taken the decision to highlight this book for no other reason than I think it is great that someone in this industry has taken the time to think about how this new Act will affect this industry and all who work in it – and did I mention the book is free, you can download it here now, or read it online here.

You may not completely agree with what John has written, you may have an alternative view – if you do that is great. To enable a secure discussion on this subject I have started a couple of threads of discussion on the Realestate Forum. I would really encourage you to join in what I think could be a very valuable discussion.

As an alternative please share a comment below for others to reflect on as they read this post.

July 02 2009 | News | No Comments »

Professional Partners : 4tax

From time to time I like to bring news of businesses/services that may be of value to you in your role in real estate. I am sure for all of you completing your tax return (IR3 form) can be a daunting process and one you may wish to put off. Additionally it may incur costs of up to $1,500 or more in paying for such services.

A new company – a virtual accountant has been established by a New Zealand business accountant, Mike Pirovich. He has created an online tool 4tax.co.nz to provide this service to you, simply, easily.

This website assists you in automatically calculating home office and vehicle costs; providing an online asset register to help claim depreciation for your vehicle and other business assets; and is fully compliant with the latest tax laws enabling you to minimise your tax and maximise your refund.

There’s no risk involved either; the site is safe, secure and easy to use.

Best of all, a 4tax.co.nz virtual accountant saves you around $1500 in accounting fees – it costs just $99 with a money back guarantee of satisfaction. Check it out the service now at www.4tax.co.nz

July 02 2009 | Professional Partners | No Comments »