Anticipation for a great 2010 in real estate

For many 2009 has been a challenging year. As compared to 2008 it has been a lot brighter.

In the last 12 months there were a total of 67,197 residential sales as compared 60,981 in the period to October 2008 – a 10% increase. The good news is there is great scope to see sales rise even more in 2010 – based on a 10 year average of sales as a ratio to the number of houses across the country we should be seeing sales averaging 96,000 a year! – so there is upside growth in sales to come, hopefully we will see some of this in 2010.

(To get a fuller picture of these facts please read this analysis as presented on the Unconditional blog).

As far as activity online is concerned, this year has been nothing short of staggering. Over the past 12 months close to 50 million visitor sessions were undertaken across the 7 leading real estate websites (as monitored by Nielsen Online).

As the chart shows this growth has been unstoppable as each year more and more buyers turn to the web to search for property – so many in fact that total user numbers have doubled over the past 3 years.

For realestate.co.nz our rate of growth has been even faster, not only have we more than doubled since 2006 we are now seeing the number of individual visitor sessions per week up over 46% in a year; with now an average week seeing the website provide over 145,000 users with the most comprehensive real estate listings source of any website in NZ.

This is great news for the industry in general, especially when you remember that realestate.co.nz is your website – owned by the industry, your industry, protecting your long term interests.

That was last year now let’s think about the coming months. The first 3 months of the year are tradtionally the most active during which viewing and enquiry levels peak. The chart below clearly demonstrates this. The shaded area indicates the quiet Christmas break, with the top solid blue line showing the weekly traffic across all these websites to date. The dashed blue line then goes on to estimate the level of visitors traffic we can expect to see in January and February – potentially well over 1,100,000 visitors per week.

To take advantage of this anticipated peak in viewing and searching it is so important to use these next few weeks to prepare to get the most out of the next 3 months:

1.  Get those listings right

It seems so simple but too often the basics get forgotten:

(a)   Photos – get the best collection of the best images. Make sure the #1 photo (the first photo in the sequence) is the best representation of the property. Remember the more photos a listing has the more the number of visitors, it is a fact

(b)   Address – showing an address generates a map which buyers love so they can get a perspective of where the property is and what the area around it is like – they want to use Google Street View or Zoodle – so be their friend and help them

(c)    Description – provide rich information that enables a buyer to make an informed assesment on the property. Describe the key benefits of the property and the local community – be seen as an expert who is keen to share valuable insight into living in the area – an area or neighbourhood you know so well

2. Promote those listings

To have a listing on the web is just the starting point. You need to recognise that with more people search online nowadays than in print publications you need to look to focus vendor paid marketing online.

The “Featured Listings” on realestate.co.nz are used widely by so many agents who see the value of the $250 per 2 week investment in promoting their client’s listings and see the results in the greater exposure and increase in viewing numbers.

Get in quick to grab your chosen suburb for the summer perod – we often sell out as there are only ever 3 properties featured in each suburb at any one time.

3. Get out and promote yourself

Recognising that buyers searching online for new homes are more than likely to be thinking of selling their home means that advertising your services on realestate.co.nz is so logical.

The Featured Agent adverts which allow you to promote yourself as one of just 3 agents per suburb is so effective. We still have spots available from now until the end of March and from just $15 per month, there is no better way to solicit enquiries from the massive audience on the site.

To buy a personal profile advert for your chosen suburb all you need to do is login to our Agent Pro website at www.agentpro.co.nz (don’t forget this link is at the bottom of every page on the website) – sign up if you have not already done so, then choose your desired suburb, check that the month you want is available and then buy online with a valid credit card.

December 10 2009 | Market stats and Nielsen Online stats and Online marketing | 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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

What should not-so-busy real estate agents do?

This post is not intended to be flippant, it is just the question asked by one of the great marketeers in the world today – Seth Godin.

Seth is something of a maverick as typified by some of his book titles “Meatball Sundae” / “Small is the new big” / “All marketeers are liars” / “Purple Cow”. His views are classically very left field and personally I like what he suggests.

So with this in  mind I would recommend a read of the blog of the same name “What should not-so-busy real estate brokers do?” – in it he recommends starting a newspaper. Strange as this may seem it is all about a real estate agent being the centre of local knowledge. As for the concept of a newspaper – Seth actually recommends an email version, for me – a blog is a the answer. So give it a go and use the Voices blog platform to start your local news feature.

As for a recommendation of Seth’s many books – read “Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable” it is great.


January 22 2009 | Blogs and Online marketing | No Comments »

Make the best presentation of your listing on the web

It is no longer adequate to simply upload a handful of photos and craft a couple of sentences to make a listing on the web. You need to design and craft a listing with far more care and consideration than a magazine advert. For whilst it may not costs anything like the expenditure of a full page advert – a web listing will deliver far more enquiries and leads. Here are a couple of key pointers:

  1. Photos are the most important part of a listing – the more you have and the better their quality, the better your listing will look to prospective buyers and the more time they will spend looking at your listing – remember there is no restriction on our site – upload as many photos as you like, we commonly now have listings with between 30 and 40 photos
  2. Write a detailed description of the property – don’t abbreviate. The more information you provide the better the level of enquiry and the more you will be respected for providing rich valuable information
  3. Provide the address of the property – people expect it; and if you don’t provide it they will find it out. An address help buyer better understand the property, and with the benefits of Google maps on the site they gain an instant presentation of where the property is
  4. Be clear in the price expectation – we have made a major change to our site to allow you to be more accurate by adding text and prices to all listings. Have a read of this summary of this change in listing price presentation
  5. Promote your listing with a special featured listing – generate over 10 times the traffic of a standard listing – we have a new year special for you – check out a great way to start the new year – just $250 for 14 days of powerful promotion guaranteed to give you stand-out and over 10 times the views of an ordinary listing!

November 27 2008 | Online marketing and Photos and Special offers | No Comments »

Smart marketing with realestate.co.nz

The real estate industry is facing a challenging environment – the scale of business being transacted is down significantly and the immediate outlook is not bright. However the industry as a whole will be around next week, next month and next year – it provides a service that the public value.

The key element of success for long term thinkers in this industry at this time is investing wisely – whether that is time or money. I want to reinforce to this industry some really important points about marketing – because marketing is so much of what this industry does. Lets look at the facts:

  1. FACT – over 80% of all real estate searches start on the web – that number grows everyday

  2. FACT – the web is the most important media for marketing your listings, it is not a nice to have – it is a necessity

  3. FACT – people looking for real estate use search engines – thousands of searches everyday

  4. FACT – Google is the home of search in NZ used by over 90% of people

  5. FACT – Google loves realestate.co.nz, whatever you search for you will find links to realestate.co.nz – try some of these searches:

  6. farms for sale in waikato

    farms for sale in hawkes bay

    lifestyle property for sale in Northland

    Try a random search for yourself – just go to Google

  7. FACT – realestate.co.nz is the most comprehensive website in NZ, currently 111,000 listings as compared to Trade me with 89,000

  8. Have a look at the breakdown within the important Rural category – the appeal to the buyers of a single source of the most comprehensive content is compelling that is why over 20,000 visitors per month just look at farms and agricultural land

  9. FACT – realestate.co.nz attracts more international visitors than Trade Me.

    Whilst Trade Me Property has on average 690,000 unique browsers per month looking at their listings, only 67,000 of these in a month were from overseas. Over the same period the visitors to realestate.co.nz from overseas was 91,000. That is a 1/3 more visitors looking at your listings

  10. FACT – realestate.co.nz is focused on real estate

    It may sound strange but this sole focus ensures that the visitor to the site gets quickly to what they want with rich information. That is why we have a dedicated Farms and Agricultural Land section of the site separate from Homes. That is why we provide rich information of Google maps with Terrain perspective valuable to analyse topography of property. That is why we provide dynamic traffic reporting graphed by property. That is why we uniquely offer video presentation for any listing

  11. FACT – realestate.co.nz is the best value marketing on the web for real estate

    The cost of using the website, profiling your listings to an audience of over 270,000 unique visitors per month costs $200 per office – the same price now as when we launched 2½ years ago – in that time Trade Me Property has increased per listing fees from $49.95 to $99 (June 2006), from $99 to $149 (May 2007) and from $149 to $199 (Jan 2008). A 298% increase in 2½ years.

  12. FACT – realestate.co.nz is industry owned

    It is established and run with a business model to first and foremost protect the online interests of this industry from the profit aspirations of media companies. The commitment of the industry to the website has enabled it to grow and challenge all other websites for the attention of the buyer – it is very clearly the strong #2 player with a clear view of objective of being the #1 website for real estate.

October 30 2008 | Online marketing and Web facts | No Comments »

Dominate your marketplace with a featured listing

This is a tough market with as likely-as-not, a lot of very demanding vendors and a scarcity of buyers. What you need is help to sell those listings – what you need is a competitive advantage to get more prospective buyers to see your listings and really consider buying that property – we are here to help you.
We have featured listings – as we have said in the past these high profile adverts drive over 10 times the traffic as compared to a standard listing. But you may not know that they also enable you to completely dominate the local suburb search. Look at this example to see how this works.

This property was listed at the start of September with a 4 week campaign leading up to the auction on the 1st October.

For the 2 weeks in the middle of the month the property was bought as a featured listing on this website by the agent. The result was an enormous spike in visitors the listing! – during the month of September total viewings amounted to over 4,400 with 4,250 of those viewings during the period of the promotion, on one day total views exceeded 900 – so in this situation featured listing drove traffic not 10 times – but over 28 times!
Not only that but during the weeks when this property was advertised as a featured listing it completely dominated the suburb viewings. At that time there were 18 properties in the same price range in the same suburb. In each of the 2 weeks of the featured listing campaign on the website this property had over 70% of all the viewings of that suburb for that price range! – 7 out of every 10 people looking at Cashmere Hills property with a budget of between $700k and $1.3m looked at this listing.

So – you may well ask – what happened at the auction last week – did it sell?

Well it did not sell. But the fact is realestate.co.nz is a marketing tool – it does not sell properties – that requires your skill and expertise matched to the market, and just as magazines don’t sell properties, what we do is provide a very powerful marketing tool for your listing. You may also be interested to know that this property received over 28 emails from this website during the campaign, many from overseas.

Featured listings work! – every week more and more agents are choosing them over traditional newspaper ads and reaping the rewards. Normally priced at $795 for 14 days – we have a special promotion until the end of the year – just $295 or for $395 with a free “Website Telly” video presentation. Give us a call on 0800 732 536 to check out the availability in your suburb!

Check out the quality of these Website Telly videos by viewing the video on this listing – the professional voice over and music enhance the existing photos to really sell this property – this video has been viewed over 900 times so far – how would you like a 30 second TV-like commercial for one of your property listing??

October 07 2008 | Market stats and New feature and Special offers and Video | 2 Comments »