If you live outside of Japan and don’t know about QR code you are not alone. They are effectively a new form of the standard bar codes that we all see at supermarkets everyday. The essential difference is that a QR code can contain a lot more information than a standard barcode and it has evolved into main stream use.
In Japan you will see QR code on posters, magazines, bus timetables, busines cards and so on. So what do they look like and how are they used?
Here is our Brightfox QR code
If you had a QR code reader, this image would tell you one thing – namely our website address – www.brightfox.com.au
So if you have a QR code reader on your mobile phone you can simply take a picture of the above QR code and your phone will then popup our website address and a prompt as to whether you would like to visit the wesbite. Pretty cool I think you would agree.
So what possible uses does this technology have in the real estate sector?
Here are a few ideas that we are working on here at Brightfox:
– insert the QR code on signage so that a prospect can be taken direct to the property or project website. This is particularly useful if you have a mobile phone ready website. Prospects can be standing outside a home and be browsing images and descriptions immediately.
– place a QR code on your business card. This is particularly beneficial if you are doing business in Asia as it provides an easy means to grab your essential details.
– use a QR code in advertising, whether in newspapers or magazines. For example, why not insert a QR code into advertisements for First Home Buyers that takes them to a unique website that enables them to register for a special offer. You capture the prospects details and hit the target audience with a technical wow that really makes you stand out.
If you would like to learn more about QR code and how you can use them in promoting property, give us a call.
Century 21’s CEO, Tom Kunz, announced in an online video interview (Watch the Video – link below) that in 2009 they have decided to pull their advertising budget from TV to focus more on Online marketing.
As Tom Kunz explains they have found that their Return on Investment was much better from their Online endeavours rather than TV or any other traditional media.
In 2008, Century 21 spent only 10% of their massive advertising budget online. However, recent research and testing has shown that their online expenditure was far more productive and efficient than the TV advertising.
Whilst Australian agents are good adopters of technology in general, suprising I have found them quite resistent to the use of web 2.0 technologies. For example, there really are very few australian agents who run a blog. When compared to the USA for example, the adoption of these technologies in Australia is very slow, and yet subscription to portals and the general realisation of the value of technology to an agency is in general very high.
As we do business around the world I am constantly impressed with the relative sophistication of agencies in Australia. I think it would be fair to say that Australian agentcies are perhaps 2nd to the USA is adoption and use of technology, but also in the professionalism of the way that real estate agencies are run. I am not sure of the reason why they are so slow to adopt web 2.0 technologies, but one thing is for sure. If Australian agents do not start to seriously look at these technologies, over the next few years they will no longer be world leaders.
You may have noticed websites popping up with ‘RSS feeds’ on their site. RSS basically allows someone to link not just to a page, but to subscribe to it with a notification every time that page changes. For example, news websites have taken this on board with top news from various organizations feeding into one website.
RSS can push all kinds of information from news articles to blog entries, stock quotes, weather data, photo availability and more.
One such website has been developed by Brightfox, which is called PropertyMash. It embraces the new ‘mash up’ technology and is applied with a real estate focus. What this means for those in the property industry is the ability to access all real estate news and information in one spot. Visit it here…www.propertymash.com
We’ve also created an iframe application, so organizations can have live real estate news from property mash on their website for free. This has already proved successful for some of our clients as they obtain more visitors to their site and demonstrate the importance of market intelligence to their clients. Visit the PropertyMash site for more information.
Another common web 2.0 ‘feature’ is the blog. While this concept has been around for many years, it only seems to be a recent feature for businesses. A blog is an online journal of commentary and chat, and usually people have written blogs regarding social ideas and life in general – for example travel blogs. However the corporate world has now taken up blogs as an innovative way to promote their company, products and services.
The best thing about a blog is that it enables organizations to build an informal dialogue with their clients and prospects. For example, General Motors runs a blog that discusses topics ranging from auto racing to car design. In the property industry, individual real estate agents are using blots to promote their experience in the market, property developers are keeping buyers in touch with new developments and so on.
Brightfox has built several websites recently that have incorporated the blogging feature, which enable the agencies with limited technical knowledge to blog for themselves as a way to keep in touch with their clients and maintain a leading edge.
Businesses from a myriad of industries are setting up their own Facebook profiles. Facebook is a social networking site with over 64 million users worldwide and specifically designed as a way for people to keep in contact with their friends. However businesses are seeing the potential and are hoping to delve into this market. While the business benefits of networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace are yet to be seen, property developers and real estate firms can still embrace the idea of social networking and apply it in a more business sense.
An innovative method is the communication with clients and/or business partners via secure portals. Portals are one of our specializations that are becoming more frequently requested by our clients. They allow real estate agents, property developers and project marketers to connect online more intimately with their clients and each other.
For example, a property developer that has a large number of external agents working to sell their stock ultimately spends a lot of time emailing and faxing out updated stock lists, pricelists, construction updates, marketing material and so on. But via an agent portal – an external agent can logon to a secure website and access all this information in a live format, as well as viewing their buyers contracts and any commission owing to them, all uploaded by the developer at the click of a button.
Other innovative portals include vendor portals, where vendors can view all activities and inspections conducted on their property by the real estate agent. Another solution is for project marketers to enable developers to view the progress on the sale of their developments, activities and advertising…the possibilities are endless.
This subject is one of much debate among IT experts, but the general consensus is that web 2.0 is more of a concept than an actual tangible change. You have probably heard new jargon popping up at the meetings over the water cooler such as Facebook, MySpace, tagging, blogging and social networks – these are probably the most widely recognized aspects that are changing the internet – and being defined as ‘web 2.0’.
The ‘idea’ of web 2.0 involves the ability for internet users to generate and distribute content, often with the freedom to share and reuse. It does include a largely social element – but before you disregard this as your colleagues posting drunken nights out of themselves online, consider the economic potential for businesses – after all, word of mouth (albeit ‘virtual’) is an incredibly powerful sales and marketing tool.
One such example is YouTube. An online video sharing website, not only does it include the quirky videos sent around the office for fun, but also includes a more professional side. For example, politicians such as Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama are campaigning via YouTube. So how can this affect the property industry? Already property developers and real estate agents are posting videos of themselves and their accomplishments onto YouTube. At Brightfox, a common feature we are now including for our clients’ websites are a video and news page where property firms can upload their YouTube videos onto their own corporate website.
There have been a number of innovations to the traditional real estate sales model around the world in the last few years. There has been a signfiicant increase in the number of agencies that will sell a home at a fixed price, usually mush lower than prevailing commission % scales.
A very interesting model that is starting to gain significant momentum in the USA is a company called Redfin. They have been operating since 2006 and I think many realtors in the US thought that they would be a flash in the pan. They are however still going strong and by all accounts are growing.
The model is quite simple. They reimburse to a Buyer 2/3rd’s of the commission that a buyer would otherwise pay. So in circumstances where a buyer would pay 3% commission, 2% is reimbursed.
Buyers commission you might say! What is with that!
Well in the US it is very common for a real estate transaction to have up to 6% commission paid – 3% to a selling agent and 3% to a buyers agent. It is probably the highest in the world (certainly the highest in all of teh markets that Brightfox is involved in) for a standard real estate sale. You will have instances of higher commission paid on off-plan sales in places such as Spain, France and sometimes even in Australia, however this is always paid by the Seller.
So when looking at Redfin and contemplating the affect of a model like this in Australia you first need to realise that the US is starting from a very different place. I think we would all agree that there is a lot of space in 6% commission for some efficiency improvements / cost cutting.
I find the whole issue a very interesting dilema all round. There is no doubt that all property transactions should have a buyer and seller agent involved to best protect both parties. The concept that one agent can act for both parties is in itself impossible (the term ‘agent’ itself means to act on behalf of another party – with the law providing a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of that party. So how can a single agent act for two parties!) as well as being commerically unworkable. Both parties actually seek different outcomes (one a higher purchase price, the other a lower purchase price). However a 6% transaction fee on commission alone, not to mention stamp duty, legal fees etc, is simply not workable.
Without question the Internet is making it easier for buyers to determine a accurate purchase price for a property. Only a few years ago access to property sale data was the exclusive domain of property professionals. Now websites like www.onthehouse.com.au give it away for free. So I think that the advent of increasingly sophisticated anlaysis websites for buyers to use is perhaps the future for australian real estate rather than the Redfin model. We just don’t have that much ‘fat to cut’ to make the Redfin models commerically viable on a significant scale.