Viewing by month: April 2009

A good time to invest

As the market begins to pick itself back up and dust itself off, looking back over the last year makes you realise what a difference 12 months can make. It wasn’t all that long ago that everybody was speculating that interest rates would hit double-digit levels by 2010, and now we’re wondering when they’ll stop being cut!

We’re at a point where not only have we witnessed interest rates drop to their lowest point in years, but average property prices have also come down to what many consider to be more reasonable levels. Whilst until recently many found the cost of housing prohibitive to buying, currently many are taking steps back into the property market, in particular the first home buyers and investors, and that’s because when you combine the reduced price, plus the interest rate cuts with ongoing high rental yields, you have a pretty good recipe for a lucrative investment.

In some areas, there are investment opportunities that are difficult to overlook – I have said many times before that now is a great time to be buying should you be in the position to do so. Many investment properties with low rates and high rental returns make it possible to own a property that actually pays for itself in the current market. Speak to your local CENTURY 21 real estate agent to discuss possibilities in your area. Featured recently in the publication Your Investment Property was one man’s story of turning $22,000 into a $13.5m property portfolio in just 10 years! It is possible with wise investment.  

Don’t get me wrong, this market isn’t ideal for everyone and by no means should anyone who is considering buying or selling throw caution to the wind and rush in without the usual attention research and due diligence! But it is still a buyer’s market at the moment, and although things are looking up, there is a lot to be said for striking while the iron is hot!  


0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 09/04/2009 at 9:09 AM | Categories:

How to stay motivated during down times

I try to read up on what others in the real estate industry are doing on a daily basis. I check out blogs, I look at industry publications, and I also see what’s being said in the mass media. It never ceases to amaze me how many different opinions on the same thing can be found – even when it comes to the economic impact on real estate at the moment. Some say it’s booming, others say it’s the worst they’ve seen for years. I suppose everything, even the state of the economy, is relative.

One article I did come across recently that made me ponder for longer than I usually spend on someone else’s blog, was about how to keep staff motivated during downtimes. I like to think keeping staff motivated is a priority regardless of whether times are up or down, as our staff are certainly the most important asset that CENTURY 21 has. I wonder do other real estate organisations think differently?

Regardless of whether or not I agree with the reasons for the post, some of the ideas on how to keep people motivated were quite good, but as I said, I think applicable regardless. Here are my favourites:

Encourage creativity. I think this should absolutely be a daily requirement. Encourage and reward people who think outside the square and provide creative input into how things can be done differently, better and smarter. These are the people that are succeeding despite the economy.

Have fun! CENTURY 21 Australia values fun and it’s actually part of our organisation’s culture and spoken of in our mission statement. If time allows, have some office downtime where people get the chance to connect with each other and talk about things other than work in a relaxed environment.

Remember important dates. I’m talking birthdays, anniversaries of service with the company etc. Make an occasion out of it and let your team members know you value them and what they bring to the company. This will be remembered and appreciated regardless of what the stock exchange is doing.

Motivation should always be a priority. We got into this business for a reason, so if you need to take the time out to remember why that was and get your real estate mojo back, start now – regardless of the economy.  
0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 08/04/2009 at 9:51 AM | Categories:

CENTURY 21 expands in 2009

Here at CENTURY 21 Australia we don’t shy away from the fact we are part of the world’s largest network of real estate agents. In this industry, CENTURY 21 is the biggest brand name internationally, and it’s something that everyone working here is not only very proud of, but that we acknowledge we directly benefit from.

CENTURY 21 is continuing to show its strength in 2008 through the organisation’s ongoing international expansion. Expanding the brand’s global reach is a key aspect of maintaining the company’s growth and master franchise agreements, new franchises and mergers and acquisitions across the globe are all leading to ongoing growth and development.

 

Recently, Century 21 Real Estate LLC (based in the USA) which is the franchisor of the group internationally announced that its international master franchises, operating in 64 countries and territories worldwide, granted more than 400 new franchise offices around the world in 2008. Within the United States, 334 new brokerage companies joined the network and 83 offices opened new branches. Overall last year, the CENTURY 21 System grew to over 8,500 offices worldwide. Despite its beginnings in America, today CENTURY 21 has more than 50% of its offices outside the USA.

Growth of this level at a time when others in the industry are downsizing or shutting their doors is a testament to the strength of the CENTURY 21 brand, and the level of service this company can offer its customers.   


0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 07/04/2009 at 12:54 PM | Categories:

For the love of the job

Musing about what you would do with a multi million dollar lottery win is a favourite pastime for many. How many times has a friend asked the lottery related question “what would you do if…” and the resulting conversation became a half hour reciting of wish lists? A quick poll around the CENTURY 21 national office indicated that if a lotto win eventuated, most of the staff here would call me to resign from a tropical island. Hmm.

I’ve blogged before about the need to be passionate in order to succeed in real estate, and that a love of what you do is often integral to ensuring you are good at it. This rings true for those of us in the real estate industry in particular, and it got me wondering how many agents would throw that love out the window and instantly shut up shop should they suddenly encounter a windfall of money. Surprisingly, not all! Recently a love of work has actually kept an agent from leaving the industry after her husband won $5million on a scratch and win ticket.   

This agent started her business 19 years ago, and she runs an incredibly successful agency. As a result, it is her business relationships that have resulted in her keeping her doors open despite becoming a millionaire. Not only that, her concern for her staff in a volatile market also contributed to her decision to continue on with business as usual. In a market where agents are having to worker harder and smarter than many have done so for a while, the commitment of her staff to their jobs means she is in turn demonstrating her commitment to them.   

I have to admit that I love what I do, and that old adage “work like you don’t need the money” indicates the need to work from a sense of passion and love of it rather than just for financial gain is one that many believe in. However, I do wonder how many of us would continue to do so should we actually find ourselves legitimately not needing the money. That tropical island does have an appeal…     


0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 06/04/2009 at 8:47 AM | Categories:

How to advertise real estate in the current market

As I touched on yesterday, one of the more common mistakes in the current real estate market is not pricing homes for sale at the right level. It’s a tricky balance between achieving the price a vendor is after and finding the price the market is actually prepared to pay. 

 

I have encountered vendors who refuse to consider shifting their asking price from a property valuation they’d been given prior to the global economic downturn, despite the fact buyers will be well aware that value has decreased significantly. An agent that is prepared to go along with this level of vendor stubbornness is not doing anyone involved any favours. Although price is currently a key factor in attracting buyers, how a property is pitched to the market is also changing with the economic climate. If you’ve been paying attention to property advertising over recent months, the shift in terms and words used has been subtly changing in line with market conditions.

For example, even a year ago using words like “bargain” or “value” rang alarm bells with many buyers and translated to “dump” or “bring your entire renovation team” in the minds of many. Just a few months later and in today’s market, these types of descriptors are not only being used more frequently, but are being accepted on face value. Today, those people who are buying are not buying emotionally - they’re buying in a calculated manner, the likes of which we haven’t seen in years. Investors are looking for location, price and value before glory, glamour and designer kitchens.

  

In order to remain competitive in a market with a new mindset, many agents are experimenting with their advertising and words like luxury, lifestyle and designer have, for the most part, been replaced with descriptions such as value, comfort and investment – even the formerly taboo “reduced” is getting a more frequent run. I’ve also seen quite a lot of terms such as “best price in the building” in relation to apartments for sale, and across the board terms like “unbelievable value,” “won’t last,” or even “X percent below market value,” gaining momentum. Essentially, agents are trying to give buyers a reason to buy now rather than wait to see if prices continue to fall, which some are spruiking is what will happen.

In a nutshell, in the market we are in, sensitivity is definitely the watchword now in regards to selling luxury goods in general. Real estate is no exception.  
1 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 03/04/2009 at 8:44 AM | Categories:

Selling Your Home - What Not to Do

Depending on who you talk to at the moment, when it comes to real estate there is either no property stock available, or stock that’s been sitting on the market for months. As a seller, if you don’t want to wait around to list your home, there are a few key things to consider in a market that isn’t quite booming. In speaking to people across the industry about exactly this, a rough kind of list of the top 5 mistakes sellers make in a declining market started to emerge.

  

Most of these are not rocket science, and most I have also made mention of before. A lot of what you should and should not be doing to give your home the best chance of selling remains the same despite the market conditions, an idea I also touched on yesterday.

 


So, here's what some real estate agents believe to be the five biggest mistakes a seller can make in a declining market.



1. Not hiring a professional real estate agent. The percentage of buyers working with a professional agent to purchase a home is as high as 95! So essentially if you decide to sell your home yourself, you are effectively eliminating that 95% of your market. Real estate is often considered a numbers game, so make sure you’re on the right side.



2. Not maximising the marketing of your home. In today’s market this means particularly make sure you’re marketing on the Internet. 80-90% of buyers start their search online, and today most offline advertising in turn drives customers online, so your presence is essential. Your presence also has to be a good one, most important are plenty of quality photos, and increasingly video. Many customers won’t actually return to a property listing if it has no photos when they first encounter it.



3. Not making your home accessible. If a seller makes it difficult for their home to be viewed, the buyers will end up viewing someone else’s. Even in a slower market, there is always inventory and similarly to the photo issue mentioned above – if the buyer can’t see it first time around, it’s often likely that they won’t make a second attempt.



4. Not making the most of your home. I’ve stressed the importance of presentation before, and it really can’t be stressed enough.  Declutter, depersonalise and fix any problems. Buyers usually know what they want, and they form opinions quickly – often they’ll make up their mind within the first 30 seconds, which doesn’t really give you much of a chance if you don’t have your presentation down pat. You may think they’ll fall in love with your house once they see your kitchen or bathroom renovation, but if they fall out of love the minute they step into your entry, chances are you won’t win them back over.



5. Not pricing your property right. In any market, if your property is overpriced you'll drive buyers away. Some may not even bother to look at your property if it’s priced out of a reasonable range. , realtors said. In today’s economic climate, pricing your home properly is more important than ever. It is easy to get caught in the trap of believing reduced prices only apply to other people’s property and that you’ll still get the price your home was valued at last year, but it’s just not true at the moment. In an aggressive market, you need to make sure your price is equally aggressive – enough so to make the sale.


0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 02/04/2009 at 8:42 AM | Categories:

Positive Attitude, Positive Market

With the stock exchange beginning to rally (well, at least it has been more regularly lately than in previous months!), and a growing perception that the real estate market is beginning to recover (albeit slowly, I’m not going to deny we still have a long way to go), it continues to remain imperative that everyone involved with the industry keeps a positive frame of mind.

At the end of the day, real estate is a day to day business, and some days you’re on fire and some days you’re a little off your game – and that’s without even considering the state of the economy! Although many are spinning words of doom and gloom, the economy we are living in is still thriving in many ways. The fact there is still movement – and a lot of it – in many suburbs and price brackets of real estate shows that if agents are doing the right thing in marketing their business, staying in touch with their customers, and ensuring service is paramount, there is still money to go around. Customers who may be holding off on buying or selling currently will make their way back to those agents who have put in the hard yards during the slower periods.

At CENTURY 21, we pride ourselves on providing clear, accessible and expert advice, and that type of attitude and level of service is certainly not dependent upon the economy. The network is also committed to building a culture of fun, and this positive mindset flows down to everyone in the company, in every franchise, and that in turn is the impression we hope our customers are left with.

At the end of the day, when a positive atmosphere and attitude is encouraged, which it is at CENTURY 21, enthusiasm becomes contagious, and enthusiasm breeds positive feelings. It is indisputable that positive emotions are transferred to customers, and happy customers mean more sales. The economy may have an impact on business, but the attitude and level of commitment of an agent and his/her team certainly impacts more!  
0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 01/04/2009 at 9:20 AM | Categories: