Thursday, December 17, 2015

A year of incredible achievement and client support

As we approach the last weekend of real estate for 2015 we are so grateful for the incredible support we have received from our clients, and we are filled with immense pride of how much our team has achieved.

In 2015 we focused on our property marketing. With the number of ways to market a home increasing quickly and dramatically, our focus was on making clients' homes stand out and for buyers to connect with properties even more.


We looked at innovative ways to take our clients' homes to the market quickly to hot buyers and how to create even more urgency from them through our ToopVault (a service whereby the public are not even aware these properties are on the market). As a result, we have seen our ToopVault grow from 1,300 members to over 4,100 members who we communicate with daily, and this membership is growing... FAST!

We went 'Mobile'

In 2015 we took our ToopVault mobile and created the first real estate agency app for iPhones and the Apple iWatch in Australia. This has allowed buyers to have exclusive access to services, such as alerts when they drive past ToopVault properties.

Improving our landlords' bottom line 

This year in property management, we focused on ways to improve the bottom line for our landlords. Through our My Maintenance patented software we have been able to provide tenants, landlords, suppliers and our team 24/7 access to lodging, tracking or reviewing their property maintenance requests.

Using the My Maintenance self-help function, our tenants have solved 283 maintenance items themselves which as a result, has saved our landlords $28,300 by avoiding unnecessary call-out charges! 

Our Property Management team has also been working closely with mortgage broking business, Funding Options. Through this collaboration, we have worked with a number of our landlords, saving them over $45,000 in interest. 

One of our proudest moments this year was at the 2015 Real Estate Institute of South Australia Awards which were held in October. 

To be recognised for excellence and win six of these award categories is unprecedented throughout Australia. While the trophies are fantastic, the true reward is in knowing that the innovations and services we are working so hard on, are making a difference - a difference to our clients by helping them achieve a fantastic sales result or increasing our landlords' profits. These innovations are also helping buyers find their dream home quicker, and making it easier for our tenants to fix their leaking taps.

To us, valuable outcomes for our clients is how success is measured. Thank you to all of our clients who have trusted our team and our brand to deliver results for them, and to our team who are so passionate about what they do, who work hard and are committed to achieving excellence.

It has been an amazing year, and we are so excited for what is in store for 2016!!

From everyone at Team Toop, have a fantastic Christmas and safe and happy New Year.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Can big data really tell us when to buy or sell?

It seems that nearly every day there's a new release of real estate facts and figures regarding the residential property market.

Hitting news headlines nationally this week was the release of university research, providing an answer to the age old question, "When is the best time to buy or sell?" 

Swinburne, Griffith and Monash Universities analysed 20 years worth of data in each capital city and their research tells us categorically that to get the best result here in Adelaide, we should buy a house in July and sell a house in April. The study tells us we will save an average of $7,019 if we buy in July and make on average an additional $9,948 if we sell in April.

Being as passionate as I am about property but also having lived and breathed statistics and numbers during my Finance degree, I know that numbers don't lie. So when an in-depth study covering 20 years of data from leading professors in our country releases such data, then clearly there must be some truth to this notion of 'the best time to sell is in April'.

On the other hand, the research may be misleading. Not in terms of the historic trends or information discovered, but in terms of whether or not this is useful to someone looking to buy or sell in the future.

Whilst $9,948 is certainly significant, it pales in comparison to the difference an effective agent can make to your sale price.

These numbers don't relay the importance of choosing an area expert and an agency who is geared up to create tailor made marketing strategies for your home. If your agent is doing everything possible to reach the buyers most suitable for your home, an increase well above the quoted $9,948 on the sale price of your home could be achieved in any given month of the year. ​

We are living in a world where we have increasing access to statistics and expert analysis to help guide our decisions. But it is important to remember that there are a huge range of factors at play when buying a home, not just which calendar month it happens to fall in. 

Drawing on knowledge of those who are in the field, day in and day out, are the ones that can give context to the data and allow you to achieve the best outcome. This is the agent's role now, to be absolute experts and help you achieve the best possible price. Remember, it's what happens on the ground that counts.

Suzannah Toop

Thursday, December 03, 2015

There’s no place like home…

Team Toop recently took a day out to review the year, set new goals and plan how we can help our clients even more in 2016! 

Two weeks ago after returning from the world business forum in New York, this was a great opportunity to reflect on our time there and for us, it became even more obvious that there really is no place like home, Adelaide! 

While we were in New York everything seemed to be happening. There was a crime scene from a multiple shooting right outside our hotel (in a very good area of the city), there was a huge tenth storey fire half a block from us and then, the horrible events that happened in Paris.

The Paris attacks shook the city and being there you could feel how much the events from September 11 were still raw and still forefront in the hearts and minds of those living in the city. Everyone was on edge and we found it interesting to see first hand how this event had 
an impact in our real estate world. 

In the days that followed, while everyone was trying to make sense of what happened, we were entrenched in the NYC real estate world. We found it interesting to see first hand how this event impacted our real estate world and in very different ways for different markets. It seemed to have an instant sting to their market. 

Suzannah and I spent time with Emily Beare, New York's Number One Real Estate Agent from CORE, an agency that specialises in the top end Manhattan real estate. The feedback and concerns she was getting from sellers on how the events in Paris would affect home sales was instant. 

Within three days of the news, she had four clients asking how this would impact them and others questioning if it was a good time to be listing given the events and with buyers putting the brakes on decisions, at least in that very short term.

For the Adelaide real estate market, these types of events appear to have a different effect. Personally, an event of this nature makes me reflect on what I value and how I want to live my life. Our November website statistics reveal that many expats do too, with almost 3,500 visits from interstate and more than 100 visits from people overseas searching for a dream home here.

Adelaide property is becoming more and more sought after on many different fronts. We have a stable market, value for money property, and a lifestyle many Australians are envious of. There's our world-class hospital and education systems. Then there's our vineyards, restaurants and the rise of funky bars, cafes and little city hot spots and great hospitality putting our city on the world map... I really do believe there is no place better to call home! 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A fundamental shift for investors... what will 2016 bring?

Since coming back from the World Business Forum in New York City, I have seen first hand 
a noticeable shift in property management. 

We are approaching our typical 'busy season' and activity in the market has ramped up another notch (our vacancy rate has halved in just two weeks sitting now at 0.59%!). Whilst we absolutely love this time of year, it was a different shift that has really intrigued me.

An Information Paper from the Consumer and Business Services has proposed changes in the tenancy sector on the issue of domestic violence. 

What really resonated with me was the fundamental shift of what it means to be an investor in 2016. Tenants' safety is at the forefront of these changes. In 30 years of our business, we have never seen such emphasis placed on this. 

Frankly, I feel it is for the better. But the added responsibility on the owner increases the need for agents to be more than just rent collectors. Real estate agents need to have more involvement in safety, legal obligations and the law, building maintenance as well as response times and audit trails. If not, then everyone is at risk. 

As a property investor myself, achieving optimal returns on your investment(s) is absolutely essential, but cutting corners and taking cheap options do not optimise your investment. You get into the investing space to make money, and increasingly that involves spending more on maintaining a safe well-maintained living environment. The fact is that tenants also have key objectives, and top of the list is for them to feel safe in their home.

If you understand this you will attract quality tenants who want to stay in your property... for longer. Quality tenants who are loyal and long-term will have a significant and positive impact on your bottom line, far outweighing the replacement cost of a faulty light switch or smoke alarm. Our seasoned investors are also giving us this direct feedback.

As managing agents, our role is to help landlords ensure their property is a safe place for their tenants. This goes to the very core items such as the faulty gas stove being repaired urgently or offering Compliance & Preventative packages at the best prices. And if things are not acted upon swiftly, there is absolute accountability.

Further changes are in the pipeline, and it's only a matter of time before they enter the residential investment space (asbestos is one area that immediately comes to mind). 

Consumers do expect more. But it's the way you go about addressing these changes that makes a positive difference to your bottom line.

The good news is that there are agents operating ahead of this change. Well-managed investment properties are performing financially and this is set to continue for medium and long term investors. 

Suzannah Toop

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Some of the world’s best minds all have a very similar story….

Suzannah and I recently attended the 'We are Story Makers World Business Forum' in New York, the result of winning Nova Entertainment's National Leadership competition.

We were fortunate to hear from a wide variety of inspiring guest speakers including: Sir Richard Branson, a hostage negotiator, the Vice President of Global Marketing Solutions at Facebook, and Academy Award winning actor Kevin Spacey.

One massive area that all leaders talked about was innovation. 

At Toop&Toop innovation has always been at the core of our business, so for me this was so exciting to hear this discussed in detail. It wasn't until I started talking with some of the other business leaders that I really understood how daunting it is for companies who haven't 'grown up' with this innovation mindset.

In the past, innovative ideas have been very costly, slow and expensive to develop and as a result, came attached with large business risks. Now technology is cheaper and hundreds of ideas are flowing out of Silicon Valley and around the world every day. The choice and ways of implementing technology into your business is cheaper than it has ever been before... however, this doesn't mean that the risks are eliminated.

With so much choice and availability, all the top business leaders we heard from agreed that the definition of innovation is shifting. It is no longer enough for something new in a market to be 'innovative'. The key to innovation is asking the question, "Is this new product or service valuable to your customer?"

Technology is now outpacing our needs, and for the first time, technology is the one waiting for us as consumers to catch up.

Kevin Spacey talked to us about 'immersive reality', technology that potentially can give children access to the best teachers in the world and make them feel they are in a live classroom, or seeing an ocean seabed when learning about geography or enjoying a history lesson in the thick of the action at The 1066 Battle of Hastings... it will be incredible.

At Toop&Toop we have been looking at this type of technology for over a year. However, until we as consumers catch up and want to embrace this type of technology, it has very little value to us in real estate or even to Hollywood movie studios.

Innovation in the old sense of the word is everywhere you look - but it needs to be relevant to customers and what they want right now.

My key learnings from this week are that the best innovations make life easier, frictionless and free up our team so they are able to spend more time on what matters - people - and making sure as a team we are providing our customers with the best experience and results possible.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

New York... A simple case of supply and demand.

The Inside Story this week is coming to you from Manhattan, New York City! Genevieve and I are in NYC to attend the World Business Forum Conference at the Lincoln Center with headline speakers, Sir Richard Branson and Kevin Spacey (a huge thank you to NOVA Entertainment for this amazing opportunity!).

Exploring the streets of SOHO, East Village and strolling the beautiful tree lined streets of the Upper East Side, residential property in Manhattan is so intriguing.

Bordered by three rivers - the East, Hudson and Harlem, Manhattan is the text book case study of economics, restricted supply and significant demand.

Of the 8.4 million people that call New York City home, 1.63 million New Yorkers choose to live in Manhattan, a total land size of only 59 square kilometres. This area creates an amazing and unique mix of culture, business, tourism and history, unlike any other city in the world.

But it also has an affect on property demand. A staggering 99% of the apartments and homes available for rent across Manhattan are occupied (according to The Guardian).

This is having a significant impact on pricing across the city. According to the Manhattan Rental Market Report for September 2015, a two bedroom apartment in Tribecca, the most sought after rental suburb right now, achieves average rents of USD$1,895 per week and a two-bedroom rental in SOHO and Greenwich Village sits around USD$1,203 per week!

These are huge dollars... any way you dice it. To put it into perspective, locally in South Australia, a two-bedroom property in Norwood (the most searched suburb in SA according to achieves an average of $385 per week.

So if I had $500 per week to spend in a trendy part of Manhattan, I would find myself in a 
37 square metre studio apartment with basement, or non-existent, laundry facilities.

In an equivalent, popular suburb in Adelaide, I would be in a two storey, 223 square metre townhouse with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and two car parks... not to mention the sensational penthouse apartment we currently have for lease for $1,600 per week in the Air Apartments. It's 434 square metres of absolute luxury with views of the city... for the same price as a unit in SOHO?

This is incredible. 

It's no wonder apartment prices become the topic of conversation when New Yorkers and Australians get together. They simply cannot fathom the level of accommodation we have available to us.

Manhattan is an extreme example, but investing well and picking the next hot spots, always comes back to the laws of supply and demand.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

They're off and racing...

While Melbourne Cup stopped the nation this week, in real estate we are currently running a race of our own. Many buyers are feeling the race is on for them to find and secure a property before Christmas. We find at this point in the year many buyers are getting tired of missing out and desperate to find a property so they can be organised and start the new year in a new home.

While for those thinking of selling, some people feel like it may be cutting it fine to put their home on the market right now, with Christmas party distractions, and the festive season creeping in earlier and earlier each year, I can see how it may feel like that... However, our statistics actually prove the opposite.

We are finding each week the number of buyers subscribing to hear about our properties are increasing - last weekend our buyer bank grew again by 60 people and the trend is following through to inspections.

The buyer numbers through our weekend inspections are increasing substantially. Two weeks ago buyer numbers were up 191 groups from 645 the week before, and then last weekend we were up 51 groups again with a total of 861 groups through our properties.*

With buyer demand still very strong, and with the urgency to purchase increasing daily, an Auction campaign is a great way to leverage this momentum and achieve a premium price. Over the last two weeks we have sold 22 properties at or before auction which have achieved very strong results.

Auctions can be unpredictable and emotionally charged, but we have found these often produce our best results and often exceed client expectations. We are blessed to have some of the best property auctioneers in the state, including the South Australian Auctioneer Championship Winner, Bronte Manuel.

If you are wanting to sell before Christmas and leverage these market conditions, there is still time! Having our own full in-house marketing and advertising department allows us the flexibility and speed to achieve this. 

If you call one of our sales team over the next week, we will be able to deliver and run a solid Auction campaign this side of Christmas and capture the attention of the current strong market.  

*Toop Virtual Agent, proprietary software - Oct 17 and 31, 2015

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Investing in Adelaide; look below the surface to find the hidden gems.

There have been some big announcements across the residential property market this week. The banks are lifting variable rates on November 20 to strengthen their capital position and meet the regulator's new rules. And one of China's biggest financial institutions announced they are offering the option of non-deposit home loans to purchase apartments in new developments being carried out in Melbourne and on the Gold Coast. 

This month, RPData, a leading property analyst firm, reported that rental growth in Australia is at its slowest on record. In fact, capital city rents have increased by just 0.5% and the trend is moving downwards.

Locally, the current news headlines and surrounding concerns about our unemployment rate and recent job cut announcements are top of mind for most investors. This is undoubtedly contributing to the market as a whole.

RPData also released their Top Five suburbs report, based on 12 month rental growth for each capital city for September and we were pleased to discover that there are still investment 'gems' out there defying the trend... you just might have to dig a little deeper to find them. So, where are they?

According to the report, the top three suburbs for rental growth in houses are Hyde Park (increase of 23.2%) followed by Adelaide CBD (16.5%) and Semaphore at 12.5%. And the top three suburbs for units were Mile End (10.9%), Mitchell Park (10.5%) and Findon coming in at 10.3%. To put this in perspective, Melbourne's top performing suburb came in at 20% and Perth, Hobart, Darwin and Canberra all recorded below 9%.

The key conclusion is that investors who own properties in sought-after locations with less supply (more competition) will stand the best chance of increasing returns and accelerated capital growth opportunities.

So what are we finding on the ground?

Properties close to the city or the beach and the CBD are attracting a lot of interest from tenants. The real hot spot at the moment is the East End/Hutt Street pocket. Cottage properties are hotly contested as are those close to shops and restaurants.

North Adelaide is also extremely popular. A recent property for sale in the area attracted so much interest that it sold two weeks before auction. Our rental team then had it leased two weeks before settlement for the new purchaser. That's a dream run in our world, and an incredible result for the seller, purchaser and tenant!

We are seeing a number of interstate investment companies flying into Adelaide to purchase property. One company we are dealing with want 150 investment properties, in key locations. This is happening more and more. 

While the reports tell us that collectively capital cities may be under performing, we have individual suburbs that are achieving exceptional results. We love investing and helping our clients find their first or next investment property. To find out more, give one of our team a call, we'd love to chat! There is still great buying out there, but the secret is to know where to look to find the investment 'gems'.

Suzannah Toop

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Real Estate’s Night of Nights... Wow, a very humbling moment!

Last Saturday was a very special night for Toop&Toop at the 2015 Annual Real Estate Institute of South Australia (REISA) Awards. More than just awards... real meaning.

Background. On the 1st January 2015 I changed my role from Managing Director to Chairman of Toop&Toop, a big move for our family. My daughters, Genevieve (Gen) and Suzannah (Suz) took over operations two years ago and are currently taking over planning and strategy. My wife, Sylvia and I along with some of our senior TeamToop members have been mentoring them, as have experts from outside the business.

As our next generation mature into the roles, Toop&Toop has returned to its roots. A family business, with passion and high expectations of ourselves.  

Back to last Saturday night. The REISA Awards recognise the best of the best in South Australia. It was so special for Sylvia and I because the results were clearly nothing to do with us, but rather the efforts of the entire TeamToop - new leaders, new thinking, new technology and new management style.

Tim Thredgold, with our 28 years working together, was recognised as the state's top sales person for 2015...Such an incredible guy and ambassador of the industry. The irony is that last week Tim and the Thredgold team took residence in the recently vacated office of Peter Veitch, who last month officially retired. Peter has been the only South Australian to ever win the nation's number one sales person award, and was Hall of Famed out of the competition in 2008. Both Tim and Peter are amazingly wonderful human beings and role models of what the elite real estate profession should look like - humble, proud, and highly professional with a competitive spirit.

I've spoken to Tim and naturally set an expectation for him to become the second South Australian to achieve number one in the country.

We had 13 finalists with Joel Rauer, Troy Tyndall, Sally Cameron, Mandy Doolan, Len Allington and Kevin South all receiving individual awards of excellence, showing outstanding depth and breadth to our new TeamToop.

The State's Best Auctioneer, Bronte Manuel was also recognised for his achievements winning 2015 Auctioneer of the Year in REISA's inaugural auction competition.

In 2016 we will carry the flag for an unprecedented five major categories into the national award arena.

Toop&Toop is a proud South Australian family business with a remarkable team that I believe have only just begun to realise their potential. It is unquestionably an entirely new and exciting era of real estate excellence. 

Although things are very different around Toop&Toop now, in so many ways they are exactly the same as they were in 1985 when we started the business. With our Wellness Centre, the new Toop Crche, and our full time IT developers... we are moving to a whole new level of excellence. To dare to dream that there could be an even better way!

Thank you to all those in the community who believe in us and support us through thick and thin and changing times. We are extremely appreciative of that support.

Anthony Toop