Real Estate Agents warned against breaching Spam Act in Australia

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We have long advocated the use of opt in only databases used for email marketing. You simply can get far too much negative feedback, poor publicity and can even get blacklisted if your email marketing becomes SPAM.

Regardless of how you built your database, you simply must always include the ability to unsubscribe or instructions on how to unsubscribe. This is simply good business practice, and in some countries, a legal requirement. In Australia it has been law for some years now to include the ability to unsubscribe from any bulk marketing email and it is not starting to be rigorously enforced.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has issued a formal warning to an Australian Real Estate Agency for breaching the Spam Act. Danielou Pty Ltd, trading as Elders Real Estate Wollongong, breached the Spam Act by sending emails without an unsubscribe facility.

The full press release is provided below:

“Real estate agency breaches the Spam Act

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has issued a formal warning to Danielou Pty Ltd, trading as Elders Real Estate Wollongong, following an investigation that found the real estate agency breached the Spam Act 2003 by sending commercial electronic messages without an unsubscribe facility.

‘This is the first enforcement measure taken against a real estate agent since an ACMA awareness campaign about unsolicited communications targeted at the real estate sector,’ said Chris Cheah, acting Chairman of the ACMA.

The campaign was held in response to the ACMA’s concerns about widespread non-compliance with marketing obligations by members of the real estate sector. The ACMA wrote to more than forty head offices of leading real estate franchisors and companies in 2009, informing them of key obligations and providing links to online training and resources to increase awareness of legal obligations and of the consequences of non-compliance.

‘It is disappointing that some real estate agents do not appear to have taken the opportunity to understand the requirements for complying with the Spam Act,’ Mr Cheah said.

The ACMA has a tiered approach to compliance and enforcement. While education is the first step, stronger enforcement action will be used if compliance is not achieved.

‘Real estate agents should consider themselves to be on notice,’ Mr Cheah added. ‘Members of the industry need to understand that, even when they are dealing with potential buyers on a one-to-one basis, these interactions are commercial and they need to comply with spam and telemarketing laws.’

Commercial electronic messages must be sent with the recipient’s consent and include a statement that the recipient can use an electronic address, provided in the message, to send an unsubscribe request. During the course of this investigation, the ACMA identified messages sent by Elders Real Estate Wollongong that did not contain unsubscribe wording to this effect.

The ACMA has taken a wide range of enforcement action against non-compliant ‘spammers’ in the last twelve months, including recent action in the Federal Court which resulted in significant penalties being imposed on both individuals and companies.

Under the Spam Act, potential penalties of up to $1.1 million per day may be imposed by the Federal Court for repeat offenders”

The simple rule is always include the following text or something to this effect:

Important Information: If you are not the intended recipient, please ignore this email. This communication has been prepared by . To unsubscribe from this email please reply with ‘unsubscribe’ in the subject line.

To tweet or not to tweet!

The property industry has been pondering for some time the importance of being active on twitter. I personally have equally been skeptical as to its benefits. I really question agents or consultants who think that there are a large pool of people who want to be bombarded with regular tweets on new listings, price changes etc. As a consumer, and a technically orientated one at that, I just can’t see how I benefit from that. Email alerts will do just fine and I get to read them when I want (the one exception I would make here is for rentals in particularly tight markets. In some cities I know of instances where people pretty much fall over themselves to find out about new rental properties when they come available. A tweet would be great for that).

However, as a technical company, we needed to give it a go so we set up a couple of Twitter Accounts a few months ago and got started.

Not much feedback and quite a few followers and then, out of the blue, a genuine enquiry! Yes that is right, a genuine enquiry from a real estate agency that had come across one of our tweets and then contacted us.

So I guess the proof is in the pudding as they say. Not a huge number of leads but certainly it is a start. So maybe my thinking on twitter and the value it offers is starting to change…..

By the way you can find us at @brightfoxhq

If you are targeting Asia, you need Brightfox!

A recent article in Real Estate Business (see it here) interestingly talks about the amount of business Victorian agencies are doing with Chinese buyers at present.

Brightfox has been doing business in Asia for over 9 years, and we can successfully market properties and projects to Asia.

One of the suprising facts that most people wouldn’t appreciate until they start marketing to Asia is the fact that most languages require the PC to be Unicode  compliant. This requires the CRM software and the website to be similarly Unicode compliant.

Both foxAdvantage and foxEnterprise meet these requirements and can market your properties and projects in the native language of your target audience – a key requirement to successfully penetrate these markets.

 

Brightfox Client is CNBC Arabian Property Award Winner Again

Brightfox would like to congratulate all winners of the 2009 CNBC Arabian Property Awards Once again, the CNBC Property Awards have highlighted the depth of talent in the Arabian property sector. Each year the awards go from strength to strength and the level of competition has been raised yet again in 2009. Our congratulations go out to all the category winners from this years awards and a special congratulations to our triple award winning client, The Oryx Corporation, who have once again led the way in terms of marketing and website presence.

Brightfox, one of the worlds leading property software companies, is proud to have achieved the “Best Real Estate Agency Website Arabia” award for Oryx for the second year in succession and would revel in the opportunity to work with and secure similar brand recognition for your business.

To find out more about our award winning product portfolio of property software systems, websites and client/broker portals, or to avail of our consultancy services in real estate e-sales & e-marketing, CRM and business process automation, please contact your nearest Brightfox representative today for a free in house appointment.

Launch of R.E.Mobile making it easier for property buyers to find property online

 ACCESS TO PROPERTY INFORMATION JUST GOT MOBILE!

Brightfox is proud to announce the launch of R.E.Mobile, a world first product that takes an existing website and optimises it for viewing over any smart phone in the world.

Over 140 Million ‘smart phones’ were sold in 2008 and with 87.1% of all property buyers researching property online, the smart phone will become more and more prevalent in today’s market.

Instant access to property information is becoming extremely important, but the ability to view this information in an easy to view format has been somewhat difficult.

Enter R.E.Mobile.

R.E.Mobile, or Real Estate Mobile, is designed to enable any real estate agency or developer to instantly establish contact with consumers and provide them with essential property information via a smart phone.

An R.E.Mobile site takes a companies existing website content and transforms it into an easy to read format ready for any multimedia phone allowing buyers to research whilst on the run.

R.E.Mobile can display listings, projects, rentals, staff profiles, latest news and more, all updated instantly from the companies own website (which also eliminates the need for manual updating).

“RE Mobile allows buyer’s to research property information whilst on location via their smart phone. It can provide them with all the information they need instantly, in an easy to read format to make a calculated decision”, said Brightfox Managing Director, Cameron Black.

“With people now viewing less homes per purchase thanks to the Internet, and with RE Mobile, buying property has now become a lot easier”.

An R.E.Mobile website is a fully customizable and can be setup and running in under 3 weeks and for as little as $25 per week*.

For more information on R.E.Mobile and its innovative technology, contact Brightfox.

Australia cracks down on real estate agent activity

The ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) is launching a crackdown on real estate agents. It is proposing changes to the Trade Practices Act the will enable it to prosecute agents to break the law.

“It is proposing fines of more than $1 million for companies and up to $220,000 for individual agents that underquote, use dummy bidders at auctions and airbrush photos of properties.”

You can see the full article on Yahoo 7 here – http://au.biz.yahoo.com/090719/31/27hmd.html

Version 6.5 of market leading foxEnterprise Software to be launched at Cityscape Abu Dhabi

The latest evolution in Brightfox’s flagship product line, foxEnterprise is about to received a major upgrade and is packed with new features design to help property firms succeed in the current tough market.

foxEnterprise is the software of choice for the region’s leading Developers, Real Estate Agencies and Property Managers. Combining CRM, Sales, Leasing, Property and Contract Administration, it is the most powerful software available and is ideal for market leading companies wanting to implement world best practice systems and processes.

In version 6.5, to be released at Cityscape Abu Dhabi on Tuesday 21st April, a broad range of new features have been added designed to simultaneously reduce operating costs whilst maximising sales and marketing opportunities.

Here are just a few of the features that are getting property professionals so excited about foxEnterprise 6.5:

– significantly reduced administrative costs through automation of key tasks

– increased sales through automation of marketing activities

– expanded leasing functionality, helping our clients to grow an essential division of their business

– a broad range of new features design to make administration easier and faster, further reducing costs whilst driving excellence in customer service.

– automatic uploading to more real estate portals, offering far wider marketing opportunities

– expanded webservices api enabling even easier integration with accounting and document management software, as well as your own corporate website

If you would like to know more about Version 6.5 of foxEnterprise and how it can benefit your business, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Web 2.0 continued…communication with clients

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.