MY ADVICE FOR THE FUTURE – RIGHT CLICK & SAVE

MY ADVICE FOR THE FUTURE – RIGHT CLICK & SAVE

Many will remember the year 2000 as the year that Sydney hosted the Olympics. At the time the Olympics were being staged, we launched our e-business to the world, and we certainly have not looked back. As an agency we needed to identify a point of difference. All the products in our industry are basically the same, so we went about using the Internet as our channel of communication. We dared to be different and history has now judged us. In August 2000, we created a new site www.rwm.com.au and stopped supporting our site at www.randw.com.au/mosman. This radical move has seen the majority of agencies of today adopt abbreviated domain names. RWM was to become our new brand name as we utlised the convenience of the Internet, to service our target groups of current and potential clients. We chased solutions for long-term survival, to build the strongest brand name possible. What now remains to be seen is whether or not the vast majority of agents who refuse to embrace the Internet, will change their Internet ‘illiteracy’.

Since we launched ‘Virtual Realty News’ and this is our 104th edition, we have made 86 sales to subscribers totalling $146,184,500 so it would be fair to say that our voyage into Internet Technology to-date has been very successful! I have also shared a fascination with the online property classified websites, and was intrigued to read an article in The Financial Review by Miranda McLachlan titled “Real estate websites ripe for mergers”. One of the most interesting comparisons is that of domain.com.au and realestate.com.au, as they battle the agents to win their business and their biggest hurdle is trying to convince agents that the Internet works. We subscribe to both property portals, and they provide an excellent service. Current figures reveal to us that they are running neck and neck with unique visitor numbers. In February 2003 we had 5645 views of our properties via domain.com.au and 4561 visits via realestate.com.au. In March 2003 we had 3652 views on domain and 3484 on realestate. We should also add that with domain.com.au, we are listed on their premium package, and just this week we up-graded with realestate.com.au to their platinum package. We have found that the real estate market has strong demographic markets, and our market has a very strong association with Fairfax newspapers… oh, the power of Title Deeds!! Our e-mail enquiries and subscriber ratio runs at about 3:1 in favour of domain over realestate, and that is the statistic that I watch the most, as it is alright just to look, but we need the buyer interaction.

The best news for both of these property portals is their growth over three years, with realestate.com.au attracting 652,437 individual visitors in February 2003, which is almost five times the number of visitors in February 2000, according to RedSheriff. In February 2003 domain attracted 387,757 visitors, last month when they offered a $20,000 off your mortgage competition they jumped up to 435,461 visitors.

I very much look forward to the day when either, or both of these portals offer a poll to the users so they can find out what the visitors think of their sites. I am sure that they would be in for a few surprises.

For successful agencies to move forward in the Internet, the first strategy is to stand alone and host their own website, so that they can target their niche market. This in years to come will cause major problems with the respective franchises, as they don’t and won’t allow the individual offices to stand alone on the Internet. As the Internet continues to prosper the major franchises will lose some of their ascendancy as the market will focus on this new medium. LJ Hooker and Ray White have invested in realestate.com.au to protect their interests and have a say in the direction of this portal. Some franchises face major headaches within the next three years, as their offices will insist on hosting their own sites, and control their own direction on the Internet. Whatever the scenario, the Internet is here to stay and will continue to increase its market share as it has proven beyond any doubt that it is the preferred medium.

Our children are being brought up on the Internet, and they will ensure the longevity and domination of e-business in the future. Today, there is very little sharing of ideas and concepts as individuals seek new resources and concepts to further enhance their IT development. This is what makes it such a unique resource. We have spent nearly three years designing and constructing our new software programme which will allow other agencies to do what we’ve done using the Internet. We own all the intellectual property, and we’re way ahead of any of the current software programmes that are being released. All things going well we will be in a position to release it for sale in June this year.

The noticeable difference with the property market in 2003 as compared with 2002 has been a considerable reduction in the properties offered to the marketplace. So far this year we are down approximately fifty per cent on unique visitors, because we are not carrying anywhere near as much stock as we did in 2002. Lately when we list a property, it’s sold within forty-eight hours so we reduce our audience considerably, which explains why our traffic has been reduced. Whilst some may say that the Internet is a clear winner, one should never forget that it is also the purchasers and vendors who are also reaping the benefits, and it is by far and away the most economical way to advertise a property, and attract a large audience.

Oh yes!! So what happened in the property market this week? Not much, as stock levels are getting smaller and smaller. It still is definitely a vendors market which was evidenced with our $30 million plus sales last week. With Easter and Anzac Day fast approaching we are recording some very interesting off-market sales which only further identifies the strength in the market. The present market could possibly be the strongest that we have ever encountered. The sales evidence would certainly suggest this.

Whatever the scenario the real estate industry has never been more exciting. The combination of property and Internet is a perfect marriage. All that remains to be seen is who comes up with the smarter strategies. It has moved an enormous distance in the last three years and my tip is that it will more than double in the next three. It will be a ‘survival of the fittest’ and innovation and those who ‘dare to be different’ will be what drives it. Watch this space… cheers and clink… ^__^

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