Inner West Council Elections

Who would have thought it’s been over a year since Leichhardt, Marrickville & Ashfield councils were forced to amalgamate. According to the census last year the #innerwestcouncil covers 35 square kilometres and has 182,043 people in it, which if my calculator is to be relied upon is 5201 people per square kilometre. Compare that to the New York borough of Manhattan of 65,600 people per square kilometer or Oberon Shire Council way west of Sydney 1.44 people per kilometer. What does that tell us about the inner west council and demographics in general, not much, but its kind of interesting.

Since May last year Richard Pearson has been the administrator and he has been telling us he is listening to our fears and concerns about West Connex, Amalgamation of the councils, Smoke Stacks, Traffic congestion, our rubbish removal, trees, development applications the list goes on. BUT come the 9th September we get a crack at electing some our own councillors.  As you can see from the map above the council will be split up into the 5 Wards of Ashfield, Balmain, Leichhardt, Marrickville & Stanmore so once all the votes are counted we will have 3 elected councillors in each ward a total of 15 including the mayor. They are elected for 4 years so make sure you get out there and vote, 4 years is long time between drinks. The joining of the three councils has caused many debates and caused much anguish. I only hope that the end result will on balance be a positive one for us all.

1917 The Great General Strike Across Sydney

 

 

100 Years ago this space was full to capacity with angry workers from many different industries. Fearful that their employers would take unreasonable measures to check on their productivity. This space at the Eveleigh Railway Workshops in Redfern better know as Carriage Works must have been a rush of energy, anger and excitement. People of all ages from young boys to old men rallied at the work shop and later took to the streets. Fast forward to 2017 I wonder what would get us so fired up on mass that we would stand shoulder to shoulder and rally together for something we believe in.

The digital evolution in the real estate industry.

The marketing landscape has been transformed over the last 10 years. Ten years ago the most targeted and pervasive advertising campaigns were being blasted through our TV and a newly-hatched Facebook was trialing it’s ‘Beacon’ advertising software. It was also when I sold my first property. Print media was the mode de jour for vendors to get the word out about their property, with money being splashed on expensive campaigns in major newspapers and little regard given to their digital presence.

Jump forward a decade and Facebook has recovered from the clunky launch of ‘Beacon’ and is breaking new ground every single day in respect to targeted marketing. The most effective and creative marketing campaigns are being held in the digital sphere, with the digital footprint of a property being its biggest asset. The age of the internet has brought about the opportunity for a revolution in property marketing, which is being sorely neglected by agents stuck in old world thinking. Every franchise has their own tired model of marketing, partnerships with their local papers spanning years and their 16-space front window as the pinnacle of advertising.

With the internet being such a pervasive and persuasive force, deeply integrated in to everyone’s lives, you (and your property) are missing the opportunity to create an impactful connection to your potential buyers by not having a strong digital strategy. When you are assessing the most successful businesses in the digital age, you begin to see the common thread of them all is 24/7 engagement and a client-centric model of service. To this moment, the real-estate industry is lagging. There is however an emerging wave of agents and agencies that are seizing the opportunity to find the ‘New Way’ of doing real estate.

Old Ways New Ways
Agents are available business hours, Monday-Saturday. Building a digital presence allows 24/7 engagement with your target audience.
Clients and properties are fit in to the agency’s way of doing things. The agent is open to collaboration and creative thinking. Working only with the best.
Existing policies and procedures are standardised across multiple franchises or companies. Bespoke services are curated to meet the needs of the client.
Methods of advertising are wide-reaching and more money = more exposure. More effective and efficient methods are advertising are prioritised, where smarter investment = targeted exposure
Send email alerts to buyers who aren’t buying and sellers who aren’t selling. (Push marketing) Give clients the opportunity to opt in and out of marketing that is most relevant to them.

The Old Way of doing real estate places the onus of responsibility on the buyer to chase the agent and doesn’t take in to account the ways that the modern consumer wants to connect. Reliance on tradition can be a real deal-breaker when your audience is used to instantaneous gratification. They expect it of their shopping, their Netflix and education, so why shouldn’t you be held to the same standard? When sitting down with clients, it is imperative that they understand the value in different types of marketing. Traditional print products including agency magazines

Another old chestnut the ‘old school agent’ will pull out is the large database of buyers that ONLY they control and will just LOVE your home. Remember those emails you get from agents you spoke with 10 years ago and haven’t spoken to since? You make up one of the 10 000 buyers who that agent believes (or would like you to believe) will be exclusively interested in your property! 2017 agents will layer their campaigns using Google and Facebook tools to help get fresh eyes and the right eyes on your property.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it… Right?

 A lot of agents rely on print media as it helps to showcase their agency & properties. It’s a model that’s been around for years whereby older agents and new agents who will often have KPI’s around selling print to vendors. Agents that sell a lot of print media also have prepared anecdotal stories on hand about how ‘JUST LAST WEEK…’ someone picked up the local paper and brought one of my properties for a record price…

The problem with this kind of thinking is that it limits the ability of your property to expand its pool of potential buyers. Why rely on the foot traffic past the real-estate agency and the readership of the local newspaper and a limited digital footprint, when you can open your audience to much greater audiences? By limiting your pool of buyers you’re limiting the chances of finding that one buyer who will pay top dollar for your property. I’d rather fish with a commercial net than a hand reel any time.

Isn’t it enough to be on the agent’s website?

It’s a start! As previously mentioned, exposure is key to expanding your audience and there are a whole host of tools that can be utilised to build your digital presence. Utilising Facebook & Google’s integration can differentiate a targeted marketing campaign from just advertising your property. So, if someone is googling ‘houses to buy in your suburb, Facebook can use this to push the ad for your property on to their social media interface. With over 600 messages being thrown at the average consumer every day, targeted marketing ensures that your property reaches the people who want to see it.

Both Google and Facebook now have powerful integration tools to ensure more eyes are on your property when it counts. If you are talking to an agent who doesn’t get this and or doesn’t have a strategy to exploit this then you are missing out on a huge target market, passive buyers no longer flick through print publications and turn up to your auction. These same buyers are flicking through properties on a multitude of different devices on their couch, on the train at work…. 2017 agents know this and have a strategy that ensures your home stands out.

New ways, so what makes your property listing stand out?

When your agent or their marketing expert is crafting your ad, they are expected to be a jack of all trades. Not only do they need to advertise a myriad of different types of properties, they are their own graphic designer, copywriter and marketing guru. The point of difference in ‘new world’ property marketing is the diversification of talent, being able to outsource tasks to the most appropriate person for the job. Bespoke, boutique services take advantage of the talented and hard working freelance community to ensure that not only do you have ONE expert working on your marketing, you have 10.

The right team put together for every property.

When a writer pitches a film script to a director, the director will then assemble the best team for that film. Likewise, with your property, a team of photographers, copywriters and designers should be handpicked to work on your home this allows your team to be creatively agile and cater to the unique needs of your property and its potential buyers! You don’t market a family home the way you market an apartment, so it’s important the team used on each assignment are carefully selected. It’s pretty clear that in 2017, we need to be coming up with new and innovative ways to get your property to the forefront of the advertising market. The most effective and profitable campaigns moving forward in to the future will be the ones at the cutting edge of online marketing, with a sharp divergence from traditional print media.

Get this part right and your halfway there. 

When you are handling the sale of your biggest asset, you should consider the money you put into marketing as an investment. As with any investment it’s important to weight each item based on the ability to help you achieve a premium result. This doesn’t mean you should spend more on advertising, rather redistribute your funds into avenues with the greatest potential. It’s essential that you have a team on your side who understands fully the power of harnessing the existing infrastructure of Facebook and Google integration. Pair this with an effective team put together for the sole purpose of maximising the price of your home, you are well on the way.

NSW State Government Medium Density Plans

Inner West Dev

The State Government believes we have a gap in Sydney between Low Density Housing and High Density Housing. Late last year the then Planning Minister Rob Stokes put out a Medium Density Design Guide. In essence it is a document that allows medium density housing to go ahead under a “Comply and Consent” whereby a Design Verification Statement is prepared by the developer which must address all of the design principals and control measures. The assessment is then done by either council or a private certifier. Then provided the site meets all of the design and planning controls it is approved.

housing_densities_infographic_1200x208

In order for this comply and development document to take effect the individual councils will have to adopt these guides and at this stage the Inner West Council has said “There is merit in increased use of comply and development” but was sceptical of the measures proposed. Sydney is seeing its population grow by approximately 100,000 people every year last year we built 30,000 new dwellings the highest number since the 2000 Sydney Olympics. At this rate something has to give either more dwellings or less people arriving in Sydney. It is also unlikely property prices will drop until an equilibrium is found.

Watch this base as the State Government attempts to sell this medium density dream to councils who are wary about relinquishing more of their power to a State Government initiative aimed at allowing developers more flexibility and assurance when purchasing and developing under this proposed code.

Draft NSW Planning Document

Pest and Building Report – $$$$

When a Pest & Building report is commissioned its content will likely have an impact on the vendor as well as the purchaser. As an agent I have seen my share of sales been adversely impacted by these reports. Choosing the right person to do the inspection is important. Fair Trading NSW says “Always use a suitably qualified person (such as a licensed builder, a surveyor or an architect) to provide a professional building inspection report of the property you are thinking of buying. These professions should see through any cosmetic improvements covering up faults that might otherwise be missed by an untrained eye. A professional person will ensure that the format and content of the report complies with the relevant Australian Standard. Ensure that the person you choose has adequate insurance cover, particularly for professional indemnity” 1.

home-inspection-report

 

Lets start with the purchaser. A purchaser may decide after viewing a property that they would like to get a report commissioned. If this purchaser is a first home buyer or has no experience with these types of reports they are likely to get quite a shock by the content. The reports are designed to show the property in its worst light and not to gloss over any issues. The building inspector can later be held liable for negligence if he fails to identify issues with the property. So with this is mind I would always recommend contacting the inspector after you have read the report. They will be able to explain various issues that have come up and give some sought of indication as to the cost required to fix the issue. This type of conversation often helps put issues into perspective. In some cases a property may have problems that you may decide are greater than you would like to deal with, in this case it may be best just to walk away.

House

When an owner decides to sell their home I always recommend they get a pest and building report completed. This may not be so relevant for a new build where insurance and documentation is already in place but for everything in between it is recommended to get a report commissioned. It then allows the seller to fix up things that need attended to also it allows the agent to have better conversations with purchasers at appropriate times. This report can then be on sold to purchasers of the property at a reduced price. The benefits to the vendor means less inspectors coming through their home and also if a buyer happens to stumble across the property the day before the auction or at the pointy end of the negotiation an independent report can still reach their in-box within minutes of a request. If you are a vendor you do not want to loose a buyer just because a report had not been commissioned.

old-house.jpg

Pest and building reports provide great information to help make an informed decision on whether to buy or not to buy a property based on its condition. The key for purchasers is to learn how to interpret them and better understand the scope of the problems that in most cases will be uncovered as well as their limitations. Vendors have an opportunity to anticipate that purchasers will be asking for access to or be wanting to purchase a report and if they can choose a reputable company that will prepare a fair and concise report for purchasers to buy they will be a better position. In NSW a report doesn’t have to be commissioned by the vendor in most cases it just makes sense to get one produced. One last point if the agent or someone gives you a report free of charge and you are not the person who has had the report prepared for or you have not purchased the report you will not be covered for any issues that come up later and were not covered of in the report. In short if you are planning on purchasing the property make sure you pay for the report.

Finally if you are a purchaser or a vendor, don’t be afraid of these reports understand what they mean, what they cover off and don’t. Then use them to your advantage when purchasing or if you are a vendor get one commissioned to avoid the pitfalls I have talked about in this article. Please feel free to comment, share or contact me with any questions.

  1. www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au

WHAT ARE THE CLUES WE ARE MISSING?

When I sold my first property nearly 10 years ago Facebook had only been around for a short period of time it was still competing with similar platforms such as Myspace and was certainly not something that mainstream businesses could see any value in. Google was still competing with Yahoo and other search engines and the phrase “Just Google it…” would be lost on most people.

Fast forward today and social media is everywhere and no longer the domain of nerds and under 25 year olds. So what does this mean to vendors and purchasers of realestate? As a realestate agent I have watched with intrigue the rise of digital & social media at the same time as the fall of main stream print media. Print media LOVES realestate agents unfortunately this love is not universal however in print we are still rather popular with those selling the space. Enough about print and realestate this article is not about that.

When I sit down in a potential vendors lounge the topic comes around to marketing. Some just want to know what will it cost me and will it do the job. Others like to go through the itemised marketing budget and discuss my recommendations. In the Inner West market of Sydney budgets generally range from $5,000 to $10,000 This is where it gets interesting the best agents will be able to articulate a campaign that will achieve the best result for the vendor so far as price and a timely sale. The other agent will unfortunately come up with a campaign based on what the vendor thinks he wants. Which may be cheap and depending on their demographics biased towards what their buying habits are.

Ok, so where does this fit in with social media? Well from a realestate point of view it is new technology and with any new stuff we tend to as a group resist it. Lets start from general terms as to where buyers of realestate have their eyes. Firstly the two major internet portals REA & Domain had just over 6000 views between them on a recent property I sold. Both of these ads the vendor paid a premium to ensure their ad was seen by more viewers than other ads. Here is where it gets interesting and we are seeing a major shift in how buyers are viewing property. The digital evolution started with buyers viewing properties on desktop computers via the portal website. In fact 10 years ago most of the web traffic was via the web site. According to Domain that number is now only 22% and has increased to 60% via smart phones and the rest via tablets and mobile sites.

google-vs-facebook

The next part of the digital evolution has come via social media and with like a number of industries companies are looking at ways to engage buyers in such a way they will leave main stream media and move to a more interactive and engaging platforms where they can get the information they want straight to their smart phones or chosen device when and where they want it. This is not only impacting on traditional print media but it is also concerning companies that are investing a lot of money on static websites that don’t provide the same level of interaction or customisation requirements that modern buyers, vendors and agents want.

If I was looking to interview prospective agents today I would want to know what digital and social media strategy they had to capture buyers. The best agents in 2017 will be able to answer this question without complicating the process but by giving you assurance they understand the importance of the question and also have the strategy that will ensure your property is visible and accessible to buyers who may have different searching strategies to us.