What a year we’ve had, from politics to prose there have been some big things happen in the world of technology and real estate. Here we will take a look at some of the news and events that have affected us both directly and indirectly.
A bunch of new portals, same old same old in most cases, but we are beginning to see the emergence of some really nice niche portals with land, waterfront properties and lofts style sites emerging in 2010. These types of sites (if properly managed) will build over time and offer unique options for agents to market their properties.
Everyone is building apps, from CRM applications to application versions of websites. I personally think for really large portals apps are the way to go, however smaller niche portal and individual agents websites are better off making sure their sites just render for mobile browsers.
Experts and Facts
“Picture all experts as if they were mammals”, so said Christopher Hitchens in his charging 2001 polemic, ‘Letters to a Young Contrarian”. To be a true free thinker, you have to seek out facts for yourself even for the things we take for granted like the Hiroshima bombing saved millions of lives, or Shane Warne will have an affair with the woman is is having an affair with.
If you apply this very thinking to your everyday life, you will find successes will come to you very quickly. You will also probably find that you will immediately cease advertising in yellow pages and an roll your eyes at an endless array of regular speakers at real estate events!
Real estate agents generally profit from middle Australia, however middle Australia is shrinking and the result is most of Australia can no longer afford to buy in the major capital cities. The problem for me comes back to two things – completely free education (for your first degree) and government involvement in real estate.
Education – because we have taught our kids at a very young age that carrying large non performing debts are fine and now we have a generation of kids leaving university with exorbitant debts before they earn their first penny. Against some pretty stiff opposition, putting education on credit cards is perhaps the dumbest move our governments have made in the past 50 years.
Government in Real Estate
You only have to look at the United States to see what a mess occurs when governments are involved at every level in real estate transactions. Properties in many US states are dirt cheap, but almost every state in the U.S. taxes home buyers principle place of residence thousands of dollars a year (and rising).
Today the average revenue from property taxes makes up on average 40% of US state revenues. This also means that to own a property in the USA is an oxymoron. You never get out of paying rent, either to the bank or the government. A half million dollar property will cost you up to ten thousand dollars a year in taxes. This is the major reason why the US housing market is still a basket case.
How do governments do this? They start it off with such a minimal amount, like 0.2% and say well its only a few hundred dollars. Within a few years it’s up to 1,2 and even 3%, then it is costing home owners 10’s of thousands of dollars a year.
Agents take control
Make no mistake, Australian and New Zealand Agents have the best websites in the world, the USA market is an embarrassment with nearly every site I come across – an eyesore! However they do blog better (more often) than most Australian agents and are socially a lot more aware.
2010 saw agents finally understand the power their own websites can give them and whilst it is still only a small percentage of agents blogging, we are finding more and more asking us the question “how do I as a real estate agent start blogging?”. Robert Simeon’s RWM this year became the first real estate agent in the Australian History to take in one billion dollars in sales from his web subscriber list. Isn’t that just incredible? How does Robert do this?
It is simple, every week he sets aside time to sit down and write an article, he writes local and original, he provides local graphs, local media, local business informations, local photography. Robert is the perfect example of where you want to be with your blog by 2015 and it doesn’t take a lot of money, it just takes time and for you to be organized.
2010 also saw the demise of the dumbest agents on the planet. An agent in the 21st century who does not know anything about the technology that propels his or her business is finished, over, caput.
It was once a little but of a giggle when an agent said to a prospective vendor “I dont know the first thing about technology”, today, it is a sure sign of losing that vendor- not understanding is fine, not wanting to understand is fine too, as long as you are not a real estate agent.
Are they losing their grip? Realestate.com.au have shown that the bottom line rules just about every decision they ever make, which is about as clever as letting James Packer control your investment portfolio. When money rules your decisions – you will fail eventually!
We have also seen a lot of downtime this year. From Amazon, to Facebook, Twitter, REA, Domain, Skype and more recently with Wikileaks. If you understand one thing is that we are all vulnerable with technology, you can spend millions on security and stability systems, however when web servers are open to the world for people to view data and interact with that data you are going to have issues. The trick is to be able to dust yourself off quickly and get back online and we all must have systems for this – small companies are excusable, large ones not.
If you look at www.thedailybeast.com and www.huffingtonpost.com you will see that its not that hard to make lots of money as an online newspaper – it just depends on how much money you are accustomed to making.
If want to charge for access to newspapers online, that’s fine – goodbye. This business model in anything like the current form doesn’t fly, not now, and not into the future. For niche markets their may be a little ray of sunshine and we will see some of these come through over the next decade.
Rupert Murdoch may be very clever socially and politically, but he needs to surround himself with people that understand human behavior and technology. More importantly he needs to allow them to be honest with him, because at the moment, it seems to me they are all telling him all things he wants to hear.
What have we learnt from Wikileaks? With less than 1% of the documents currently available we now know that just about anything gets classified these days and that spys concentrate on the most petty of details. We also see that politicians are generally obsessed with the media. Julian Assange is a journalist, has been for over 25 years and what we have seen from our government and others that should know better is that they are a disgrace when it comes to freedom of press, innocence until proven guilty and free speech. In a time when governments want to know everything about their citizens, isn’t a little refreshing for us to know a little about how they operate with out money?
Freedom of Speech
“I believe in freedom of speech, but just not on Christmas Day”
Freedom of speech has no clauses, no disclaimers, no asterix next to her name. You either believe in freedom of speech or you don’t, so join a line and don’t pretend that any exception allows you to be a believer.
Think about all of the worst people in history, people who have done and said some horrible things, listen to them, read from them, you may learn something, there is always the seed of truth needed for them to gain the popularity needed to succeed to the positions of power to then rain down their terror on others.
There are many things I don’t like people saying, some may hurt me or my ideologies, but I care more about the fact that I can fire back freely with the same, at any time and any place, than I do about a few dents in my armor.
Always suspect your own motives and excuses when forming an opinion – it is a great leveler in life!
I will leave you for 2010 with one of my favorite quotes from Hungarian Novelist György Konrád. He wrote this in 1987
Have a lived life instead of a career, put yourself in the safe keeping of good taste, lived freedom will compensate you for a few losses, if you don’t like the style of others – cultivate your own, get to know the tricks of reproduction, be a self publisher even in conversation and then the joy of working can fill your days, may it be so with you and may you keep your powder dry for the battles ahead and know when and how to recognize them
Thank you to all of the contributors to business2.com,au, and also to all of the amazing visitors who care to comment and share this pokey little website with others in the industry. Have a great holiday and see you all again in 2011.