US property market recovery - 07 | 23 | 2012

The US property market is the strongest it has been since the start of the GFC and will continue to improve throughout the rest of the year according to a new report from independent market analysts Clear Capital.

The Home Index Data Market Report, released on July 10, shows that home prices rebounded with quarterly and yearly gains of 1.7 percent across the nation, with the country’s west leading the way in price recovery and forecasted growth.

In a statement released with the report, Clear Capital’s director of research and analytics Dr Alex Villacorta said the market is showing promising signs of continued growth. “June home price trends provided further evidence that housing has turned the corner, with the momentum of the recovery picking up speed,” he said. “Prices continue to climb at the national level, with each of the four regions showing improvements over last month.”

The report predicts continued market improvements over the second half of 2012, with additional growth of 2.5 percent forecasted through to the end of the year.

“Looking forward over the rest of 2012, we expect to see national, regional, and most metro markets improve by varying degrees,” Villacorta said. “And while it’s encouraging to see broad-based advancements coupled with positive forecasts, we remain cautiously optimistic. The current strength in housing fundamentals remains vulnerable to domestic and global economic challenges. But right now the market is the strongest it’s been since the start of the downturn, and barring a major economic meltdown, we expect to see this organic growth sustain and strengthen through the end of the year.”

Words I Brooke Lewis I IMAGEination.tv

category: Interest Rates, Real Estate, Trends, US property market

- 02 | 27 | 2012

why-floorplans-should-be-an-essential-part-of-the-marketing-mix-2

In such a competitive market it can be difficult to find that marketing edge but can something as simple as a floorplan make all the difference?

In a recent survey of their buyers online habits a leading real estate agency found that one of the simplest and cheapest products on the market, a floorplan, could hold the key to success.

They found that house hunters browsing online, drawn in by the photos on a particular listing, would review the floorplan (if one was available) before even reading the property description.

Buyers reasoned that while the photos whet their appetite for a particular property it was the floorplan that gave them the hard info they desired.

It gave them instant access to the important requirements they sought in a property, for example how big are the rooms, how do the living spaces interconnect, how are the bedrooms laid out, and how big is the yard.

Anecdotally though few agents use floorplans on all their property listings, most use them selectively but a large percentage of agents don’t use floorplans at all. Are they missing out? Buyers trends are suggesting yes.

Are floorplans only useful on websites though? Again, research says no. Where a floorplan is available at open homes, either as a print out or on the back of a double sided brochure, prospective buyers are gathering these up to review at the end of the day.

So imagine a potential buying couple, spending Saturday after Saturday hunting for that perfect property. On a good weekend they may attend upwards of 6-8 properties and by the end of the day they are probably struggling to remember one from the other.

Feedback has indicated that buyers in this position will refer to the floorplans they collected at the open homes, not only to recall details but to start mapping out the potential of the home for example marking out walls on the floorplan for potential removal and renovation.

Floorplans therefore, as simple as they may appear, are proving to be a powerful tool for agents and vendors to hook buyers by giving them the information they require in a easy format.

But if you haven’t used floorplans before there are some tips to learn along the way.

The first would be if you’re going to use a floorplan showing everything. It seems odd to give buyers a beautiful layout of a 5-bedroom family home, but not include a siteplan of the outdoor space and land.

And following close behind, providing a scan of a builders or architects plan might make initial sense, but if an average buyer can’t read what is usually a highly detailed mass of measurements and lines then they’ll give up in frustration and move onto the next listing.

So what should you be aiming for with a floorplan then? Clean, easy to read and understand layouts of the interior spaces matched with a basic overview of the land the property sits on, with a clear measurement scale, north point and room labeling. Simple!

category: floorplans

Expert tips for preparing your property for photography - 02 | 12 | 2012

Ryan Lahiff, photography manager at IMAGEination.tv Australia, estimates that he has snapped more than 10,000 properties over the past 12 years. Here, he shares his expert tips on how to get the best pictures for your property.

What are some of the key elements of a good real estate photograph?

“Traditionally good real estate photos are about space. Unlike, say, a magazine feature, real estate photos need to convey space, because that’s what people are buying, whereas, say, a nice magazine feature is more about the things that are in people’s houses, the nice furniture or the way they’ve styled something nicely. Space is what real estate is all about so we try to make rooms look as big and open and bright and airy as possible.”

Does that mean it’s best to keep furniture and decorations to a minimum?

“To a degree; you want to walk that fine line between de-cluttering to make a room look neat and tidy but not going so far that you’re depersonalising – there’s almost that risk of taking too much away so that it looks like a display home; you take away that personality and that soul. Despite what I said earlier about selling the space rather than people’s things that are in it, the things that are in it can go a long way to setting a tone and a mood that encourages people to want to come and look at a house and potentially buy a house. Kitchen areas, kitchen benches, tend to be natural hording spots in most people’s houses so generally we would encourage the owners to take away all of the appliances – kettles, toasters, things like that – and just keep things that are on the benches to an absolute minimum.”

What are some of the most important things an agent or seller can do before the photographer arrives?

“I think the biggest one is just being prepared and … thinking about what the photographer will need. Obvious examples [include] making sure lights work, that broken bulbs are changed, particularly if you’re doing dusk shots.  It’s also being aware of not [just] what’s in the room but what you can see outside the room as well. Some people put a huge amount of effort into preparing a room but don’t think about all the junk that they’ve hidden and it’s clearly visible through the windows. [It’s also good to discuss with your agent and know which rooms will be shot before the photographer arrives]; quite often we’ll turn up and people will have spent hours and hours preparing rooms that we don’t even need to worry about.”

Which areas should people usually prepare?

“The main areas we focus on are the front and back of the house – yards, swimming pools, things like that – and inside, generally, we’ll stick to the main living areas – so the kitchens, lounge rooms, dining rooms, living spaces. If we’re going to shoot a bedroom it would generally only ever be the master bedroom, we don’t, or very rarely would we ever, shoot kids bedrooms, guest bedrooms, things like that unless they have an amazing view or some special feature. Bathrooms we sometimes shoot but not always.”

What are some of the most common mistakes that people make in preparing their homes for a professional photo shoot?

“I would never say there’s a mistake because at the end of the day the photographer will just adapt to whatever is presented to them and as photographers we need to be very versatile to work with any number of situations. However, things to avoid would be very clichéd things when you set up a room. To give a classic example, things like the champagne bottle with a couple of glasses; it’s very ‘80s set styling and we tend to try to avoid that now.”

What sort of props can help to enhance a real estate photograph?

“Fruit and flowers are the obvious ones. With flowers you want to always have appropriate sized flowers – you don’t want a vase with 10-foot tall branches in it on a table because it just dominates. Fruit is definitely a huge bonus, particularly when it’s done with a sense of purpose [for example] colour co-ordinating the fruits so it’s all red apples or all green apples is a lot better than just a general collection of fruit in a bowl. But certainly things like fruit and flowers are a huge help to just convey a sense of colour and that certainly can make even the most boring room look a little more interesting and inviting. In terms of other props, every house is different so it’s hard to bring things in on a small scale and have them suit what’s there. Generally the photographer will work with what the seller has on offer to coordinate cushions or bits and pieces to set a tone or a mood.”

Is professional styling necessary for all properties?

“It always helps from a photography point of view. It’s very easy to shoot an empty house however rooms don’t tend to have a sense of purpose or a sense of scale. [Potential buyers] will generally struggle to visualise furniture in a room without there being furniture [and] I think average people just don’t get a scale of how big rooms are when there’s not furniture in there. I think it’s a worthwhile investment and it’s something worth spending good money on; as with most things in life, you can cheap out and take the very cheap option but I think in photos and when people turn up, if they see cheap styling they tend to associate cheapness to the house and I think that sends the wrong message.”

By Brooke Lewis I IMAGEination.tv

category: Real Estate, Real Estate Photography, marketing, photography

Property insight: How to prepare to shoot a great property video - 01 | 23 | 2012

The advance in technology and online media has created many new opportunities for real estate professionals to gain an advantage in a highly competitive industry. Ever more present, video presentation is seen as a pivotal tool in showcasing a property’s most salient features and best qualities.

According to Digital Media Manager – Nick Keenan of IMAGEination.tv, there are some simple rules that should be followed prior and during the shoot:

  1. Ensure the property is de-cluttered as much as possible and remove personalised objects. Hide wires, straighten bookshelves and coordinate furniture to heighten the sense of space. For kitchens, remove obvious appliances and clear benchtops of objects. Soft furnishings should be fluffed and bed sheets straightened.  In preparing the outdoors, the same rules apply such as hiding bins, removing cars from driveways and clearing away leaves.
  2. Agents involved in the shoot must have a thorough knowledge of the property prior to the shoot and understand what angles and rooms will best highlight the home. If necessary have a script prepared, as a natural, flowing presentation will be more likely to influence the audience.
  3. Pick the right time of day to do the shoot. Be aware of the direction of sunlight, particularly for outdoor scenic shots and be conscious of any noise interruptions that might occur during the video.
  4. Property styling can reinvigorate interiors. Adding contemporary furniture, artwork and flowers can provide a splash of colour and create a chic modern aesthetic.

Above all, it is important that all parties understand the purpose and objectives of the video and ensure it complements the overall marketing strategy.

Words I Phil Brook I IMAGEination.tv

category: Real Estate, marketing, video

Get noticed with a personal branding strategy - 12 | 04 | 2011

Give your business a boost by incorporating a few public relations strategies to increase your public awareness allowing you to connect to would be customers in a positive way. Branding is just one part of an overall strategy that you can use to expand your business and get up front and personal with the general public.

Although you may not be able to give large donations to charity, you can do other charitable works. While an interview on a national television network maybe out of the picture you still have the ability to get free editorial with your local newspaper. Remember, if you work for yourself, you are the public face of your business and all you need to do is let the public see that you have heart and want to connect to them in a personal way.

To create a positive public image you need to care about the things in your local community and show passion about things other than your business. The result is that the community will see you as a ‘real’ human being, not just someone out to make as much money as they can!

Personal branding is more about an emotional connection between your service and your customer. It’s the personal touch that matters most to the public and if used correctly you will help your business grow and expand.

By Bernadette Marr, IMAGEination.tv

category: Branding, Personal Marketing, Public Relations, Real Estate

Integrated Marketing – QR Codes - 10 | 15 | 2011

For years, the separation between print and online in real estate advertising was enormous.  Print has dominated for decades, online was irrelevant before catching up (and many would say it surged ahead) but still the two have been largely isolated in their own rights – there was little connecting them (properly).

There have been mainly unsuccessful attempts to link the two mediums with significant amounts of cash spent on advertising and cross promotion, including video URL’s embedded into print copy.  It has really only been Domain (in Oz) who have managed to bring the 2 closer together through their relationship with video suppliers Visual Domain, providing free video content for print spend.

What we are seeing now however is a medium that bridges that gap between print and online once and for all – QR Codes.  QR stands for Quick Response, and these are 2-dimensional bar codes that you scan with a bar code and redirects you to any content you like.  Think of a mobile optomised site containing  listing content (photos, videos, copy, social media, share functions), think of a dynamic mobile agent site with bio, listings, social media, videos, think of the code serving up video content only (property or profile or market insight or neighborhood video or recruitment video)…

Used extensively throughout Asia, here in the US, they are being readily applied to the retail space in Oz as well, which you can use as a barometer for their commercial relevance.  In real estate the application is enormous.

And with mobile predicted to surpass desktop as the primary internet search toll by 2014*, embracing mobile and QR as part of an integrated marketing mix, with multiple, branded touch points and significant targeted reach is pivotal. Using codes on your business cards, mail cards, newspaper, or signboard provides massive value-add to your seller’s listing and significant brand penetration for the broker.

Please consider that while you can download QR codes for free from the internet and apply a simple redirect to your website,  the application needs to be much broader with customized, stylized codes, a self-managed platform, measurable ROI through detailed analytics and market education on implementation.

*(Morgan Stanley Research)

category: QR Codes, Real Estate, digital media, marketing, social media, video

Perception is Reality - 06 | 28 | 2010

For any real estate business, your public image is created through the quality and effectiveness of your marketing.  In Australia, Vendor Paid Advertising (VPA) provides agents with a marketing fund to be used to advertise a particular property (in the first instance) but just as importantly it markets your brand.  Even if you operate in a market where VPA isn’t strong, use any marketing dollar wisely and invest in good quality property marketing.  Why?  Because perception is reality.  How your brand is perceived on the face value of your marketing provides buyers and sellers with a direct indication of how your business is run, what it stands for and what kind of service can be expected from it.

category: digital media, marketing, photography, video

The Concept of Brand - 06 | 28 | 2010

Building a recognisable (recognizable) and trusted brand is the goal of every business (and one that Apple owns!).

A strong brand is built through the quality of product, quality of service and ability to build trust with the end user.  It takes time however and the absolute focus should be ensuring that every touch point a client has with your brand is a positive one.  In a small business environment this is more easily controlled, however as a business grows ensuring that the same virtues, principles and processes around quality can sometimes be lost in the quest for growth.

Keeping that focus on quality and service is vital and the time taken to instill this into your staff will pay dividends in the long run….hopefully.  It’s not easy and not every brand makes it.

From our perspective it all starts with a quality product, wrapped up with fantastic service, delivered quickly and easily, has a perceived value by the client, is marketed well and is backed up by strong post-sales support.   Fingers crossed….

category: copy writing, digital media, marketing, photography, video

Innovation? All in Good Time - 06 | 28 | 2010

The process of innovation for a real estate service provider is often a difficult one.

On one hand there is a need (and expectation) to stay at the edge of technology and continually innovate and develop the product(s) you offer in order to provide your clients the very latest technology available.  It provides them (and the consumer) a point of difference and ties the service provider in to the client.

On the other hand however it is important to be in complete control of the products(s) you currently provide at the base level.  Be a master in what you do; an expert in your field.  By staying focused on the basics you build a loyal client following. It comes back to the timeless KISS theory – keep it simple stupid!

Finding the right balance to keep the product offering relevant, while providing a level of innovation and new product development is therefore crucial.  Don’t innovate for innovation sake but keep one eye firmly fixed on the horizon while focusing on the here and now!

category: marketing

Rebrand – IMAGEination.tv - 05 | 13 | 2010

We are terribly excited here at IMAGE to reveal our new company logo and tag line – IMAGEination.tv – premium marketing solutions for today’s leading real estate professional. Gone are the little icons and in comes the .tv domain, providing a simpler, more refined brand statement.

category: marketing