Thursday, November 27, 2014

Three topical subjects today.

What is the market doing?

So how is the market tracking right now? It's been amazing. Vendors and buyers are still in full swing and the race is on and being run right to the end of the year! Sales and rental activity have been simply incredible. We think it will continue right up until Christmas Day.  So we want more listings right now, today... of properties you are looking to rent or sell. 

2014 is finishing in spectacular fashion. It isn't a boom in the traditional sense. Prices and rents are not leap-frogging and buyers and tenants are generally remaining rational. However, it has been fast and furious particularly in the prestige and trendy more-affordable space.

For example, if you have a character property in the Parkside or Prospect areas around the $600,000 to $800,000 price range, or a rental for $500-700pw, you are likely to see true boom-like behaviour.

Conclusion: Toop&Toop want houses to sell and to rent for December and January. Ring any of the team right away. Let's get moving on it.

Toop&Toop's new press ad layout... what do buyers say?  

Now onto Toop&Toop's new press ad layout. Genevieve initiated and drove this with Matt Kenny, who heads our advertising studio. They consulted with external experts, The Advertiser and focus groups and the layout was built on the 'new age' way readers engage with the paper. I love it! Bold? Yes. Strategic? Yes. Like any industry, when you do something different that is challenging the norm, your competitors vocalise about it. It seems our industry is no different, and they have been very negatively preaching about it. But for us, who know the research and logic behind it, we have been pumped over the sales results we are getting from its power! It took us to the number one position in The Advertiser real estate lift out, and has been a hit!

Buyers are hungry for big, beautiful images, and for fast easily-digested information. Buyer behaviour has changed enormously... we all know that. For us, the purpose of having press advertising has changed, it is there to capture the casual looker. It is no longer focussed on attracting the hard core house hunter. This is why newspapers all over the world are dramatically changing their formats and changing their mix between press and on-line. Those in the know understand the changing behaviours and research supports fast consumption of information followed up with effortless access to detail rich online. Toop&Toop understand that your very best buyers are the 'unintentional' buyer. This is the spontaneous emotional buyer, not the house hunters who hunt relentlessly for property and love researching online. The classic example has been properties we have sold from SA Life. Most haven't even been looking for a property, or have been referred from friends who spotted it. With the new large format Advertiser Real Estate Lift out, the power is in finding unintentional buyers, house hunters no longer need it. All credit to The Advertiser, it is working. Our results are undeniable.

Conclusion: Competitors, instead of gossiping ignorantly about our marketing, why not concentrate on your own? The way buyers behave has and is changing fast and we need to move with this, not ignore it. Buyers and sellers, enjoy the uncluttered elegance and our beautiful pictures. 

Be sure to use your smart phone to go directly to any Toop&Toop property that catches your eye. All our client's properties' have exclusive web addresses, where you get to see up to twice as many images including video's not available on any other portal... Members of our get to see properties that have not yet been released. It's so easy, type in the street number and name followed by (eg. and you are there... you can even type in a specific feature like try it! 

My Maintenance – ground breaking innovation for Landlords and Tenants. 

Finally, to INNOVATION. Tenants and landlords will be rapt to finally see their service levels take a big step up, and running costs down. We end 2014 with the launch of My Maintenance (MM). It will initially help our 2,000 Tenants (we call TenantClients) to report any maintenance issues that they are experiencing and it's available 24/7 in a clever, simple and painless way. It has the smarts to solve many common issues instantly.

Suzannah and her team have developed a solution for the frustration and complexity of providing cost-effective maintenance for investors. Initial feedback is that tenants and trade suppliers LOVE it. This is a breakthrough. As a technology solution for organisational reform with suppliers, it's a project management system which will cut costs, while dramatically increasing service levels, and a communication hub for TenantClients and LandlordOwners. It's very, very cool.

We are certain this is the first of its kind in Australia, possibly anywhere. It is an entire maintenance system. 

Our TenantClients were all invited to drinks and a movie Tuesday night to celebrate a new era and to hear and see My Maintenance technology first hand.

All Toop&Toop TenantClients can now access this service as we are running a Beta version for December and then the full launch is set for late January. It's live now, and Suzannah will be talking much more about this as it ramps up.

Congratulations Suzannah, our Property Management Team and our IT gurus. This is your baby guys and I only wish I had been clever enough to think of this. My only excuse is that the technology wasn't available.

"The biggest breakthrough in efficiency in managing investment property since the computer." These are my words not Suzannah's... I am a very proud Dad!

So to wrap up: Sales and Leasing has been at near-record levels. We have reinvented and modernised old fashioned paper advertising; we are rolling out the 2015 version of the VirtualAgent selling system in the coming weeks; and this week we upped the ante in managing properties with the launch of My Maintenance.

Exhausting but exhilarating...

Anthony Toop

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Property investor secrets... create the right 'feel'.

Australia is making its mark globally for the level of accommodation offered to tenants. Chippendale (a suburb in Sydney's inner west) headlined in the media this week as the 'World's Best Tall Building'. The address is One Central Park... if you haven't checked it out you definitely need to Google it... what an amazing building! 

Boasting the largest vertical garden with 35,000 irrigated plants which cascade down 1,100 square metres of the buildings' exterior, Executive Director of Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat and a competition judge, Antony Wood said, "Seeing this project for the first time stopped me dead. Nothing on the scale of this building has been attempted or achieved."

An interesting discussion flowing from the articles is, "What impact does a building like this have on those who live in it to make it so attractive to tenants?"

One of the residents in an article titled 'Why I love living at Central Park' commented on the 'feel' of the building, how the greenery and 'earthly' vibe of the property is what makes it so unique. Other features the resident raved about are the amazing 'outlook' and the 'vibrancy' and 'energy' of the building – no mention of bedrooms, bathrooms or built-in robes! 

I was a tenant myself for seven years, and the comments from the resident of One Central Park are spot on. A building, or property, can have a great vibe and so often it is the 'feel' that a tenant is looking for – whether they realise this or not. The vibrancy or great vibe can be all it takes to have tenants who rave about your home. Some properties we just 'have to have' and they trigger an emotional response immediately upon walking in the front door.

Our team are finding increasingly that tenants are looking for neat and tidy properties with simple features and lots of natural light. Items such as new carpet, bright white walls, new tapware, high ceilings and new blinds or curtains can go a long way to securing your rental returns. These are very small investments to create big returns. 

As an emerging active investor, the question I'm now asking is, "How can I create that 'feel' in a property?" If I am able to unlock that secret, it will enhance my investment returns. 

Naturally, the usual number-crunching is critical. With my own investments I have ticked the typical boxes – I chose property close to public transport, amenities, schools etc. But what about that next step... creating a property that tenants are emotionally attached to and simply don't want to leave? Maybe that new coat of paint, upgrading bathroom finishes and replacing the shrubs in the courtyard (that I have been putting off) could be all it takes to create this 'feel'.

What is the unexpected flow-on effect of all of this? Tenants who love your property are less likely to move, effectively removing any down time created between tenancies, while treating your property like it is their own home. Remember, your tenant is your biggest asset and your most important client. 

As one of South Australia's largest residential property managers, we can learn a lot from the architectural professional on the changing needs of tenants and embrace those things that can trigger positive emotional responses to your property. Create that special 'feel' and you will have a property that creates raving fans and importantly long-term premium rental returns. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Will Auction outbid Private Treaty?

When I was growing up, real estate terminology such as 'going to auction' and 'setting the reserve' were everyday phrases in our household. 

The first experience I remember with the auction process was when we were selling our family home of 13 years. Auction day arrived and I was so excited as crowds gathered on our front lawn, staring at the front door, waiting for the auctioneer to appear. Suzannah and I had prime position near our rose bushes, ready to watch the auction unfold. It was fast and furious and ended with everyone clapping and congratulating us on a fantastic result!!... Well that's how I remember it!

Over the last 5 years, I have studied the auction technique; I have been to countless auctions and have seen hundreds of clients go through the auction process.

As agents, it is our job to explain the sale process and educate clients on the pros and cons of each method of sale. We make sure before we market our clients home that they feel extremely comfortable and confident with whichever method of sale they decide on.

For me, the auction process is something that I whole heartedly believe in, and everything my marketing degree taught me backs this up. Having a concentrated marketing campaign with a set point in time to encourage action and leverage competition is exactly how you get the best results! Especially in a market like we are operating in at the moment because we are finding buyers can be so flippant. 

The auction process protects vendors from this as much as possible as you are only dealing with the serious buyers, the ones who are in a position to purchase the property free of conditions and with no cooling off period.

RP data stats also back this up as they state that not only does an auction help achieve premium results, properties sell on average 19 days faster under the auction process than properties listed for private sale in South Australia.

Serious buyers also benefit from this process as they can utilise their financial position on auction day to have an advantage over conditional buyers in the market.

South Australians seem to be slowly realising the benefits, and as a result are becoming more confident with the auction process. We are seeing this trend happening right now on the ground and the stats seem to be backing this up too.

There are approximately 741 properties going to auction in South Australia right now (this is up on the same time last year) and 97 of these properties are being auctioned this weekend!

So with all signs pointing to auction, why is it that only  8-12% of South Australia's property sales are by auction? Well the last few weeks have given me a pretty good insight to this...  

Last week I  sold my house through the auction process and despite believing in this method 110%, it didn't protect me from the emotional roller coaster vendors go on when they auction their home. The anticipation of how many people came through each open; the competing property auctions throughout the campaign; the negative feedback; the worry that no buyers are interested... all building up to auction day, is stressful. To top it off, the goal posts for the sale can seem to change daily.

What became clear to me throughout the process was just how important it was to have an agent who communicates with you and who can help take the emotion out of your decision making.

In my case, I received an extremely strong offer before auction (something we are seeing a lot of right now in the market). However if my Sales Partner didn't help me work through this and help me look at the situation objectively it may have been a very costly decision. 

So while I didn't get to experience my auction day, I now fully understand the power of emotions in the process...thinking back to that auction day by the rose bushes with Suzannah, I am positive that looking at the day through mum and dad's eyes the story would be very different! Selling property is personal, you can't help but ride the emotional roller coaster that comes with it, but as agents we see it as our job to help smooth out the ride and make it an enjoyable one!