Thursday, February 23, 2017

Is privacy dead? New laws suggest not.

Privacy is back in the spotlight. Rigorous new reforms were announced last week that will substantially raise the bar for organisations to protect client data and personal information.

On 13 February 2017, the Privacy Amendment (Notifiable Data Breaches) Bill 2016 was passed, and is set to come into effect within 12 months. Organisations now have a duty by law, to notify the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) and the individual, should 
a data breach occur.

With hefty fines of up to $360,000 for individuals and $1.8 million for organisations, it is clear these new laws are being introduced to erode poor data handling practices. Privacy is still alive and well.

The latest national tenancy survey highlighted that privacy is also a hot topic in real estate. The results received from tenants across the country showed that 60% of renters consider the amount of information they are forced to divulge about themselves is 'excessive'. 45% believe their confidential information is not being handled correctly by their Agent*.

These numbers are staggering.
In an era where we see 500,000 new users to Facebook daily, 40 billion photos shared on Instagram, and 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every hour, we are in a strange environment where we value our privacy, but websites and social media platforms are encouraging us to share... everything.

In the professional scene however, there are a very different set of rules. These new reforms show that protecting client information is essential.

Property Managers receive a range of personal details on tenant applications, such as contact details, income statements and 100 points of ID - these are all core steps in the application process. To do our job properly, we need to ensure tenants answer the correct questions and this can be verified, to help minimise risk to our landlords. But that's just one side of the coin.

The second side is taking steps to protect this important information. In our business, we are using technology to assist in this process. In the digital era we live in, we know that handling client information correctly is fundamental for businesses now more than ever.

Real Estate Agents are responsible for a range of confidential information (for both rental and sales) and we believe this should be handled with the utmost care. 

While social media is becoming a part of our daily lives more and more, the need to protect client data is certainly not dead. 

*Survey completed by the National Association of Tenants' Organisations, National Shelter and Choice (2016)

Suzannah Toop

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The time is now… our market is energetic and exciting!

This time of year is one of our favourites... the city of Adelaide is buzzing with energy and excitement. The Fringe kicks off this weekend, and the Adelaide Festival, Clipsal500 and WOMADelaide are all on their way to our city's streets. What excites us the most is that this energy and excitement is flowing through to our local real estate market! 

Talking to our Sales Partners during the week, I noticed a trend coming through on their perceptions of the current market. Tim Thredgold from our Norwood team said, "I can't remember a time where the real estate market has been so exciting. The collision of different needs and wants of both buyers and sellers is creating a very interesting dynamic." 

Lew Toop from our Hyde Park team stated, 
"Right now we are noticing that buyers continue to be frustrated with the low stock levels and are quick to react to quality homes that are presented well and correctly priced, which is great news for sellers."

Across the state, Team Toop is experiencing this energy spike firsthand. Last weekend we saw buyer numbers rivalling the peak of spring, with 888 groups through our open inspections and this year we've had over 400 new buyers sign up to our ToopVault! That's an average of 57 hot buyers signing up each week to view properties before they even hit the market. 

We are also seeing Adelaide's most sought after suburbs receiving incredible attention. Recently, at a property in Norwood we saw 115 groups through on its opening weekend and at an investment-style property in Maylands we had 43 groups through its first open. In St Morris we achieved an exceptional auction result, selling in 4.35 minutes with a fierce bidding war between 16 registered bidders. 

So what does all this activity in the market mean for you?

For sellers... You are in a wonderful position to capitalise on great market conditions. The low stock levels prevalent for a number of months are creating intense competition. We are seeing examples of properties that had been taking three or four weeks to sell, now selling in a week or two and in many cases before they hit the public market. Grant Wills from our Hyde Park team states, "With interest rates at an all-time low, the number one comment from buyer enquiries over the past six months and still today, is of lack of available stock. It's creating stronger enquiries, competition for properties and generating great interest early in a campaign." 

For buyers... What it means for buyers at the moment is that those who are well prepared, have their finance in place and are certain about what they can do, will quickly leave others behind in the race to make a purchase. Buyers must be well organised and not leave anything to chance - be ready to act swiftly and decisively!

With the market off and running, and competition at an all time high, we encourage you to make the most of this opportunity to buy or sell. If you'd like to discuss how you could best capitalise on the current market conditions, please feel free to give us a call.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

‘DIY’ Landlord… Risk vs. Return.

Airbnb, Gumtree, Flatmate Finder... there are many online ways to find tenants, for both short-term accommodation and more permanent stays.

These days it is quick and easy. With the click of a button the advertisement goes up and is broadcast to a wide network of potential tenants. The ease of using such online sites is reflected in the latest stats which show that over three million Australians use Airbnb and it's been reported that one in every two families use Gumtree*.

What some landlords may not realise is finding someone to rent your property is one thing, but conducting the right checks to find the best tenant is much more involved - and is crucial. Research shows 82% of landlords said getting
the best tenant is more important than filling a property as quickly as possible^.

And it's easy to see why. Last month a Queensland couple made the news across the country with headlines titled, 'Landlords nightmare... maggots, faeces and garbage'. This couple had accepted tenants from Gumtree,
and were absolutely horrified at the state their property was in after the tenants had moved out. The article states that the Landlord was left with an estimated cost between $5,000 and $10,000 in damages and cleaning a family home
that was virtually non-recognisable... and 60 cubic metres of rubbish.

This is an extreme case - but it does happen - casting a warning to those investors who are using online websites to find potential tenants.

We are seeing first-hand that when things don't go to plan, Landlords are finding they need an expert to step in and take the problem away. Peace of mind is a big draw card, and our team is seeing an increasing number of 'DIY' Landlords seeking out a managing agent to get things back on track.

So can 'DIY investing' be done successfully? Absolutely. The exception is these Landlords have time. Time to complete the required due diligence on the tenant applications, conduct regular inspections and maintenance, keep on top of the rental market trends, and don't mind being firm when it comes to rent collection. This will help narrow your exposure to the risks that are involved.

If you find yourself in a fortunate position where your tenant pays their rent on time, are happy to do some up-keep around the house and treat the property like it is their own, this is the dream run... so hold onto them! There are definitely model tenants out there. It's a matter of taking the right number of steps to find them.

If you are looking at buying investment properties in 2017 or are a 'DIY' Landlord who wants to understand more about what's involved, there is some handy information available on the Consumer Business Services website. Understanding the tenancy landscape will help you balance the risk and ensure you achieve the greatest return.

* Today Tonight - 1/2/17.
^ Aug 2016

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Technology. Forever changing the dynamic of real estate.

This week, our team has been discussing a recent sale that captured the media's attention around Australia. A property on Sydney's North Shore sold for $3.65 million to an overseas buyer 6,000 kilometres away who inspected it 
for the first time via a FaceTime video call. 

The reason this sparked our attention, was because we have been using the power of video in property marketing for over 10 years, and from first-hand experience we know how important this element is in the sale process.

In this NSW example, the selling agent walked the buyer through the property over FaceTime, which lead to an offer being submitted the next day.

What we found interesting about this sale campaign was that without a property video for this luxury Sydney residence, buyers were missing the essential element designed to capture attention and spark emotional connections - particularly with the international market that may be looking for Australian property. In this case, without a video for buyers to watch, there was the need for the FaceTime inspection, possibly at the buyer's request...

Here in Adelaide, our team is finding it increasingly common for people who have never enquired or visited a property to turn up on auction day, register and bid. The first time I saw this was four years ago. A gentleman who lived on Kangaroo Island arrived at one of our high-end listings for the first time on auction day. He inspected, bid and purchased the property all within the space of an hour. Talking with him after, we discovered he had watched the property's video a number of times, loved it and was so confident it was the home for him, that he was ready to travel to Adelaide on auction day to have a quick look prior to the auction with the intention of buying the property. 

We know it's a competitive market for buyers right now and property videos are adding huge value to the buying experience as people can inspect the home virtually as soon as they see 
it online. From that moment, we start seeing the emotional attachment and excitement form. It's common for people to share the property video with friends and family, all before the first open inspection. 

There's no denying that video is now an essential component of a property marketing campaign. Properties with videos receive four times the engagement than photos alone. Team Toop's property videos are the most viewed videos in South Australia, and constantly in the top two for video views in Australia. In January alone, our Toop&Toop property videos were viewed over 24,357 times by potential buyers.

These numbers clearly show how popular video is, however the video's style and content is just as crucial. With years of exploring and working in this space, Toop&Toop understand the key triggers to capture and maintain buyers attention and we are witnessing these strategies flow through to the number of buyers we attract to our clients' opens and the number of offers we receive... all helping achieve fantastic results. 

If you would like to know more about how Toop&Toop can help create maximum exposure and engagement for your property with buyers locally, nationally and internationally, chat to one of our team this weekend, we would love to help.