Petra Sprekos

Survey Reveals Lengths Buyers Will Go To, to Purchase Property in 2010

A recent national survey of 1100 users, conducted by Real Estate View aimed to gather data on potential home buyers in 2010 and their feeling about the year ahead, as well as the sacrifices they would be willing to make to purchase a property.

While rising interest rates and house prices are concerns echoed by many home buyers, people still seem to be optimistic about successfully purchasing a home in 2010, although it may not be exactly what they had in mind when they originally started their property search.

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How market demand and price increases are changing buyer decisions

With the market showing record growth over the 4th quarter of 2009, there was no surprise that buyers were reviewing their budget to buy in 2010.   In fact a whopping 2 out of 3 people expected to have to increase their budget in order to find a suitable property in a suitable location in 2010, with 72% of these individuals expecting to raise their original budget by over $20,000.  Showing that potential buyers are at least prepared for what the year ahead may bring.

However it seems that increasing their budget is not the only consideration buyers are making.  When asked about what compromises buyers are making it seems many of them are considering other alternatives to their find a suitable home.  62% of those surveyed thought they may need to look ‘further out’ than they originally planned, whilst 55% of people would look for a property of smaller size and 51% would look for a home of lower quality than originally planned.

So while prices are still rising it seems potential buyers out there are prepared to make some sacrifices to get onto the property ladder.

Overall market data such as that provided by Realestateview Property Data seems to point to the fact that the prime inner suburban properties will continue to be snapped up, but more humble buyers as shown from the realestateVIEW.com.au survey are willing to move ‘out’ to find something that suits.  They may not be getting a house that is as nice as they originally planned or the house as large as they might first have thought, but they know that there are ways to make this work.  It seems that demand may not slow; it may just change a little.

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Petra Sprekos

Is Your Agency Socially Ready?

In March, Facebook has become the world’s most visited site, trumping even Google.  So whilst some people are still skeptical about social media’s longevity – this latest further cements that the social phenomenon is unlikely to face its demise any time soon.

The Social Media Landscape In Australia

Australians are amongst some of the world’s largest creators and consumers of social content online.  We as Australian’s now spend over 8 hours per month on social sites alone, this is 1.5 hours greater than the world average.

So where are they?

Statistics show;

-           59% of all online Australians have a profile on Facebook

-           Twitter receives over 1.2 million unique visitors a month

-          LinkedIn in Australia has over 1 million subscribers

With all of this activity in the social space agents therefore need to consider how social media fits into their plan.   Many agents are however of course confused about where to start.

For agents I believe the first crucial step is to develop/put a social media policy in place for your agency or franchise group.

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Why is a social media policy important for your agency?

With social media, consumers and staff alike are empowered to have their say online and share their views amongst their family, friends as well as associates and professional contacts.   With traditional word of mouth, disappointed consumers tell 8 to 9 people about their unsatisfactory experience, however online this is magnified through the social phenomenon – with some people having in-excess of 300 friends on Facebook or 1,000 people following them on Twitter.

To ensure your agency staff are singing from the same song sheet it is important to put in place some guiding principles to avoid an online disaster.

Here are our top tips;

1) Define who is responsible? One of the first steps is to identify who within your organization is responsible for monitoring your staff and your brand online.  This is of particular importance to deliver effective resolution of complaints and to ensure staff are not disclosing sensitive business information.  It is important that this individual becomes the internal champion of social media and that they regularly communicate with the organisation about the organizations policies as well as any issues that have arisen and how they have been dealt with.

2) Define the boundaries; The lines between social and professional become blurred within the social space.  Many of your staff may be connected to both social and professional contacts through their Facebook profile and therefore they need to ensure they consider this when sharing information online.  An unhappy staff member may vent their frustrations online without considering the professional ramifications of such an act.  As a result it is really important that you set guidelines about what can and cannot be discussed about your organization in the public domain.  This also includes boundaries for how to / and how not to respond to client frustrations or general consumer enquiries.

3) Be Genuine / Authentic - If you have had a consumer complaint the last thing you want to do is provide them with lip service or some standard generic marketing message. The savvy online consumer can sniff a fake from a mile away and this will only inflate the situation rather than ensure a good resolution is found.

4) Consider Your Audience

When educating your staff about operating in the social space it is important for them to consider who will see / read information and complaints about your agency.   Whilst we may feel frustrated by consumer’s negative comments, your response will not only be seen by the unsatisfied client but by potential customers, and current / future employees.   Staff members need to understand the full ramifications of their actions and by acting inappropriately this may impact future sales or attraction of staff.

5) Don’t ignore it

Peer to peer discussion, reviews and interaction online is highly influential.  Ignoring the social space will not make it go away, rather it leaves you vulnerable in an industry where consumers have more knowledge and power than ever.

Any other tips please share them below.

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Petra Sprekos

Counting the real value of your advertising

Australia is a market of duopolies. In every sector there are 2 to 3 players which dominate the landscape and in our market it is no different. As a select few players have such a strong presence in the market, real estate agents are at the peril of the industry and face the rising costs from portals for online advertising.

So whilst advertising your properties online and offline is integral to get the best sale price for your vendor, agents need to scrutinize their advertising spend to drive more value from their existing activities.

Re-thinking your advertising budget

So how can you drive more value from your existing budget?

STEP 1; The first step is to evaluate what parameters you use to buy advertising. Whilst some sites have high numbers of unique visitors, they also have more noise surrounding them, making it difficult for your listing to get the exposure it should for the investment you make.

Rather than buy based on total visitors, look at how many visitors are searching for your local area, and how many enquiries agents are receiving per listing on the sites you are using. This information should be able to give you more of an insight into what you will get from your investment.

STEP 2; The second step is to review your cost per view/lead target. Rather than look at the overall number of leads generated for the properties you are advertising, break the cost down to understand how much you are paying per view or per enquiry. By understanding this information in more detail, you will be able to compare sites like for like to determine which site provides the lowest cost per view and lead.

Once you have this information you will then be able to determine which sites provide the best return on your spend and re-allocate funds on this basis. It is also important to realize that some sites may perform better in certain areas ie renting vs buying thus it is also important to look at the value derived for each part of your business.

STEP 3; The third step is to set targets to achieve. Now that you understand how much you are paying per lead or view, put some targets in place to reduce your average costs then work towards achieving them.

There is no doubt that you will need to use a mix of sites to achieve this, but the aim is to optimize the return you get from your spend. Apart from maximizing the value derived from advertising spend on third party sites, you need to consider how you can attract more buyers / renters to your own site.

With over 80% of Australians looking for property online, a little bit of investment in SEO may go a long way, and this is one area that should not be ignored in your online advertising strategy.

Although the economy is picking up and the market is strong, putting the fundamentals in place to run a lean business will ultimately provide your agency with greater returns. Understanding the value from your spend now, will ensure your business will be able to effectively deal with price rises in the future.

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