• We’ve seen a lot of change, but none more so than over the last decade.

    As a result of the evolution of proptech, artificial intelligence and the emergence of new marketing channels including social media and agent rating sites, the agent “brand” is now stronger than the business brand.

    Older network and franchise models aren’t keeping pace with the demands of real estate professionals, with legacy systems that are so unwieldy to use that principals and real estate practitioners are moving away from these older, 20th-century brands to newer more agile models.

    Here are key events that have happened in the last decade, the top 10 most significant real estate industry changes are:-

    1.  Flexible workspaces

    With the growth and acceptance of cloud computing, remote working and the “digital nomad”, systems, software and people no longer need to be based on the premises. We have little need to work together at desks out of a main shop front. Now, anyone armed with a laptop, mobile phone and Wi-Fi connection can work from virtually anywhere, be it a co-working space, the local café, library or home.

    1.1   Virtual assistants

    This virtual nature has also seen the growth in low-cost offshore staffing and virtual assistants who manage administrative tasks easily from their home or wherever they happen to be based.

    1.2   More sophisticated property campaigns

    Whereas the 20th-century property marketing campaign relied on newspaper advertising, printed flyers and signboards that were one use only, we now have (among other offerings) mobile property apps, electric digital signboards (visible even at night and reusable) and precisely targeted social media campaigns.

    These digital campaigns can be adjusted to suit the circumstances. Most importantly, they can be measured.

    1.3  The evolution of online marketplaces

    Ten years ago, online real estate marketplaces such as Real estate agents and Domain were little more than online facsimiles of newspaper advertising.

    Now they’re comprehensive guides for not only the property but also the local area (including all-important school catchment area information). Potential buyers find everything from home loan and renovation calculators to suburb profiles. They can interact with each listing and save viewing times to their own online calendars.

    1.4  New marketing avenues through social media

    Social media was barely a blip on the radar 10 years ago. Now social sites such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn have developed into sophisticated business marketing platforms.

    Third-party platforms have appeared that allow you to feed your property listings into Facebook and pull out reporting, bypassing the property portals altogether. With sophisticated analytics, we can now target and retarget our own audiences, rather than rely on new media companies.

    1.5  Big data helps us make informed decisions

    The increasing importance of analysing big data is transforming how we make decisions in the real estate industry and brought closer the reality of leveraging artificial intelligence. With so much information available, it’s much easier now to see trends, behavioral patterns and migration patterns, and create automated and personalised responses.

    1.6  Analytical software helping us find leads

    Customer relationship management systems have enhanced marketing capabilities or plug into third-party data analytics tools for behavioral profiling. They can now shift through contacts to highlight your next potential vendor.

    1.7  Referral websites and agent rating websites

    Finding their niche between agents and consumers, referral websites and agent rating sites have become a factor in funneling leads through to agents too. Although some may feel that these online businesses have taken a piece of the action, they’ve established themselves as permanent fixtures in the real estate ecosystem.

    1.8   Low-cost commission businesses

    Low-fee commission models arrived from overseas and some of the larger franchise networks followed suit with their own spin-off, low-touch businesses. But has this decision been at the expense of its longstanding franchisor relationships, as more and more principals and agents jump ship? We’ve yet to see which commission model will survive.

    2 . The franchise model is being reinvented as a license model

    In contrast to the low-commission model that only benefits vendors, there’s an offering for agents that sees you retain more of your hard-earned commission: the licensee model. With an entry price that’s more affordable than joining a franchise, services on demand and far less red tape, could this be the agency of the future?

    At our agency, we’re not one for blowing our own trumpet that often. Rather, we’d consider us to be the quiet achiever, steadily building our network.

    We believe we’ve hit on a model that meets the needs of real estate professionals and provides the flexibility required in the modern world.

  • Are you planning on investing in real estate in 2020? Or maybe you’re thinking of buying a new home? Coming from 2019, economists have already seen a significant change in the property market when compared to a few years ago.

    Today’s market and the new year prove that there are definite opportunities to be had if you know what you’re looking for. So, what’s ahead for our property market in 2020, and what should you look out for if you’re planning on investing?

    What’s ahead in the property market?

    House prices across all Indian cities are expected to grow over 2020–21. The combination of lower interest rates, easing lending serviceability buffers and increased economic growth is expected to make the 2020 property market popular among buyers and investors.

    While plenty of opportunities will arise for home buyers, it is still the hardest lending environment the market has seen in last seven years. It isn’t hard to invest in a property, but in today’s market doing so requires a different mindset. Thinking in terms of a growth mindset rather than a minimalist mindset and taking control of your finances will provide a more successful investment and financial life for you and your family.

    Key opportunities

    Despite a tough market in the past, the turn in India’s property market in the new year is a remarkable one, with prices considerably stronger than most people expected.

    Increasing calls for more stimulus from economists has seen a rise in building infrastructure in the next four years, ultimately driving the marketplace and bringing more investor demand.

    Real estate values can also rise significantly as a result of gentrification. Whether you’re a first home buyer or seasoned investor, 2020 provides a booming market nationwide, with long-term capital gains expected in each location.

    Property price forecast

    Research suggests that overall capital city property values are likely to increase by around 5–7 per cent in 2020, whereas in National Capital Region the properties could easily grow in 10 per cent value over the year.

    According to the latest statistics, National Capital Region will be the top-performing property markets in 2020. The current property market sees home buyers and first home buyers getting a foot on the property ladder by opting for solutions like kit home investments, with established home owners upgrading in this rising market.

    NCR property market forecast

    NCR property market is now showing the largest gains around the nation. It’s a great time to take advantage of this new property cycle and look at buying an investment property in NCR. The region is currently offering investors the opportunity to buy established apartments for a significant discount than what would have been paid years ago.

    NCR house prices turned midway through 2019 and are forecast to continue rising into 2020. But the NCR property market is very fragmented. Stronger capital gains have been recorded in the most expensive areas, with properties recording a gain of 11 per cent within the upper quartile of the market.

    Despite higher supply levels, the apartment sector remains resilient due to more first home buyers supporting housing demand across the lowest points of the market. Thanks to the First Home Owner initiatives, first home buyers or investors can try their hand at investing in 2020. Eligible first home buyers will be able to lend up to 15 per cent of the purchase price of a property.

    Most property analysts are very positive about NCR property market in 2020. Researchers predict NCR will see the greatest national gains in house prices, with the median house price predicted to increase by 20 per cent by the year 2022.

    Regardless of the current housing market, property investment is always a good investment. While any investment poses a degree of risk, property investment is generally low-risk as real estate properties are tangible assets.

    Even if the housing market went into recession, it is always bound to bounce back. Real estate demand will always be there as long as people need houses to live. So, for that reason, 2020 provides an open door of opportunity for anyone wanting to break into the housing market and invest in real estate or property.

  • Lately, there have been some new “start-ups” in the property management space that are trying to swing investors away from traditional property management. As a result, the average fees for the industry are under pressure as some investors get seduced by the promise of lower fees.

    Property management is an enormous beast. There are way too many moving parts to analyse in one article. It is also so complex that unless you have been at the coal face running a rent roll for five-plus years, you can in no way grasp the complexity or quantity of tasks that are required to ensure a property is managed in a way that maximises the return on investment for the client, keeps an agency profitable and keeps staff happy, let alone redesign and innovate on the current processes.

    What investors fail to realise is the real cost of saving a few hundred a year on fees; they are drawn in by fancy calculators that let them see the supposed savings that also neglect to remind them that agency fees are tax-deductible so the true cost of that experienced property manager is significantly less than what is being shown on your agency agreement.

    The cheaper alternatives

    The first of the culprits are the DIY platforms that encourage investors to ditch their agent in favour of handling the day-to-day property management themselves. The control and visibility is definitely a great attraction of these platforms; however, are you prepared for the workload, responsibility and legal risk? Not to mention you forego the luxury of having a communication buffer between tenants and tradespeople — something that you will desperately miss if things turn sour.

    Even if you are prepared to handle the workload, you need to consider the value of your time and the risk of something going wrong. It’s scary how often we see DIY landlords happily managing their property until a tribunal notice turns up on their doorstep and ends up costing them thousands in compensation, vacancy and property repairs.

    The next step up from the DIY platforms are fixed fee or “cut-price” property managers who are encouraging investors to dump their real estate agent in favour of flat monthly fees. While service is included, consider the capacity of a property manager to drive performance if they’re spread across a thousand properties vs maybe a fifth of that, at premium service agency. The reduced fee also means there’s less to go around, so goodbye bonuses and higher salaries that are required to keep that manager incentivised.

    The other main problem I have with both these new-age property management options is they are usually run by “founders” who have never run a property management business before, and when you read the About section on their websites, the motivation for starting the business is something along the lines of “My brother once rented a property and had a bad experience. There must be a better way!”

    The cheap man pays twice

    As an investor, I want strong returns from my property. I’m not in the game for the excitement of fixing a leaking toilet. Further to this, the bulk of investors I know are time-poor and property management is not their primary skill set. Handing over what is potentially the most expensive asset someone will ever own to anyone but a professional is utter madness to me.

    An experienced and motivated property manager will reduce stress, ensure efficiency and constantly chase a return for you. Whether that be through utilising competition to drive down repair costs, minimising vacancy by managing tenant relationships, providing sound advice around depreciation or via the myriad of other factors that must be considered on a daily basis — some factors most landlords are undoubtedly not even aware of.

    A mistake in one of these areas can cost you a great deal more than the fee saving that fancy calculator promised, and that’s before tax advantages weigh in the equation.

    Ask any experienced investor and they will tell you that a good property manager is worth their weight in gold.

    So what do agents do?

    There is no doubt that agencies and property managers need to pick their game up and acknowledge the demand for an increased level of service. Property managers are no longer expected to fulfil the role of a caretaker but reinvent themselves as asset managers.

    In my experience, real estate agents are predominantly losing business due to their lack of adoption when it comes to technology. Running an efficient business with a focus on service has never been more important, and by reviewing your agency’s approach to property management and implementing the best tech, this will ensure investors get the best of both worlds.

    There is a lot that property managers do behind the scenes that landlords are never exposed to, so communication is key. As a property manager, justifying fees has never been so important and showing clients exactly what you do for them on a daily basis plus quantifying your value-add is crucial.

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