EAC Board meets with Member Principals from Northern Rivers

The EAC Board held its November Board Meeting in Ballina on Wednesday, 27 November followed by a meeting of Member Principals from the Northern Rivers. At the meeting the Chairman Dale Whittaker and CEO David Crombie updated the members on some of the initiatives the Co-operative is currently working on and other changes that are currently affecting the industry. Each of the Directors provided the members with an overview of the property market in their respective areas and in return the meeting provided the directors with an opportunity to obtain feedback directly from the members.

EAC Chairman Dale Whittaker and EAC CEO David Crombie presenting at Northern Rivers Members Meeting

EAC Chairman Dale Whittaker presenting at Northern Rivers Members Meeting

A lighthearted moment shared by EAC Board and EAC members

A lighthearted moment shared by EAC Board and EAC members

The EAC Board would like to thank all the members that attended.

QR Codes, what are they and are you using them?

Quick Response or QR codes are a perfect example of using an offline system to quickly and easily access information from your mobile and tablet devices.

New technology is being introduced every day to allow you to be able to do more and more from your mobile and tablet devices. Today the off-line world is more about taking the consumer to on-line world where you can connect and engage with them. QR codes are a perfect example of using an off-line system to achieve this.

If you use QR codes on your marketing material you need to make sure that the page you send the consumer to is the source of the information that they are looking for and that it is mobile friendly . For example if you include a QR code on your print advertising for a listing take the consumer to the details for that actual property. In some cases I have seen agents using a QR code to take the consumer to the home page of their web site and this provides a very poor consumer experience.

Just some of the uses of QR codes include:

  • Signboards
  • Newspaper Advertising
  • Your Blog
  • Videos including testimonials and virtual tours
  • Print Advertising
  • Business Cards
  • Promotional Material

A QR code can be used to direct the consumer to your web site, social media pages, videos, virtual tours, special offers, event page, email address, or a page on your web site with more details and content.

So how do you create these QR codes? There are several sites, two that I have used in the past include qrstuff.com and qrcode.kaywa.com. QR Codes have developed over time and today you can even customise a QR Code and include your logo or other branding.

So how do you read these QR codes? If you want to read a QR code you will need to get a QR code scanner for your mobile device. For the iPhone you can try QR Reader for iPhone, i-nigma QR Code Reader or QR Code Scanner. For Android you can try ScanLife Barcode & QR Reader, Scan or Barcode Scanner.

Want to test out how QR code work then here is one that will take you to this Blog Post.

Scan this QR Code to be taken to this Blog Post.

In the Pipeline – What’s Happening at EAC

Welcome to 2013 and to the first edition of From the Boardroom for the year.

With the move to our new offices behind us, we are back into getting on with business and many of the changes that we implemented as part of the move are already delivering results in the way of reduced operating costs. We are constantly looking at ways we can do things better to improve our services without having to increase our subscription fees and prices. One of the biggest changes the Industry may face this year is in regard to National Licencing, as yet there have been no further developments in this regard since we made our submission. EAC continues to consult with government and other industry bodies to try to ensure that interests of Members and the Industry are protected. To view the submissions made by the various industry bodies, franchise groups and real estate practioners visit NOLA .

On the 14th December 2012, the Property, Stock and Business Agents Amendment (Professional Indemnity Insurance) Regulation 2012 was published. This long anticipated legislation requires that all licensees must be insured under a policy of Professional Indemnity Insurance in respect to the licensee or the licensee’s employer. This new regulation commenced on 1 January 2013 but will not take effect until 1 July 2013 in order to provide sufficient time for licensees to obtain suitable coverage. To obtain a quote or to check your current level of coverage contact EAC’s preferred insurance advisor’s, OAMPS Insurance Brokers on (02) 42268700 and don’t forget to mention that you are an EAC Member.

There have been several developments in regard to realestateworld.com.au. All of the listings on realestateworld. com.au are now being uploaded to odusee.com.au and we will soon be doing the same with realestate1.com.au in a content sharing arrangement which will see listings from this site uploaded to realestateworld.com.au as well.

We have also now released a mobile friendly version of the site that consumers will be directed to. Work continues on the development of a new realestateworld.com.au site and we are working towards a release date in the next couple of months. In December we had two bumper editions of the realestateworld.com.au publication with the Illawarra achieving 100 pages and the Far North Coast and Mid North Coast being not too far behind with 92 pages. While the focus these days is on the online world, Members continue to obtain very cost-effective print advertising though the support of what is their publication.

We have also now released our Agent Mobile web sites for Members. With the amount of real estate searches now taking place on mobile devices, a mobile friendly version of your website needs to form part of your online marketing strategy.

On the Red Square front, there have been several enhancements including updates to Red Square Mobile. One of the latest editions to Red Square is NSW Telephone Data, the phone data is checked against the ADMA Do Not Call Register and is updated every 30 days. For those Members on a package the telephone data is available at no additional cost.

One of the biggest developments we have been working on in regard to Red Square is the new Listing Management feature. This feature is now undergoing final testing and will be released to a select number of Agents in February for feedback.

In October I attended and presented at the International Year of Co-operative’s Conference. It was an interesting conference on several fronts. It is surprising just how many large Australian businesses, and I am talking some with billion dollar turnover, operate under a Co-operative structure. Co-operatives are distinguished from other forms of organisation by their democratic structure and the fact that capital is used to service the common needs of the members, rather than to provide individual benefit. As a result of some of the ideas I picked up at the conference this year I will be working with the Board to develop new ways to make Membership more beneficial to Members as the marketplace and industry continue to change.

Over the coming months we will be conducting some surveys and focus groups to get a better understanding of Members’ needs but if you have any feedback in the meantime feel free to call me.

All the best in the coming year.

Red Square Upgrade Released Today!

This morning we released an upgrade to Red Square . This upgrade included several new features and data sets. The upgrade included:

  • Several enhancements and fixes in Red Square
  • An update to the Quick Search for the Telephone Data that we introduced late last year to provide more flexible searching of this information
  • An update to the integration with Google Street View to provide more reliable display of these images.
  • Updated 2011 Census Data on the Standard Reports
  • Updated 2011 Census Data on Neighbourhood Reports
  • Updated 2011 Census Data on CMA Reports
  • Several enhancements and updated Mapping Data in Street Maps.

We would like to take the opportunity to thank our users who provided us with feedback.  It is with your assistance that we can continue to enhance Red Square so that it meets the needs of our industry. Please keep sending your feedback through to redsquare@eac.com.au or call us on 1300 137 161.

In the Pipeline – What’s Happening at EAC

Welcome to another edition of From the Boardroom, our first edition coming to you fully online and from our new Head Office at Rosehill.

Things are pretty busy here at EAC, let me say that I am happy to get back to my normal role after the move and for anyone that has ever moved an organisation of 40 plus people after twenty five years you will know what I am talking about.

The move to new premises has been on the agenda for some time now and the main reason for the move was that the offices at Villawood just simply did not meet our needs
anymore. We had over 2,500 sqm at Villawood and as a result of us outsourcing the printing of our publications and selling off all our presses more than half the space we had was unutilised. The premises also did not present the organisation in its true light and we no longer wanted to be located in an industrial area.

The move provided us with the opportunity to change many things and things are very different at the “New EAC” as I describe it. As part of the move we have reviewed the way we were doing things and have implemented many new policies and procedures to streamline our operations, minimise costs and to provide a better level of service.

There is also change in the pipeline for the industry and I suggest some of the biggest changes we have seen for some time. One of these changes is the proposed introduction of National Licencing and EAC has been involved in the consultative process since the beginning. The Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) for Property Occupations has been released for discussion and some of the suggested changes will have serious consequences for all real estate practitioners. We have held meetings with several other industry groups, NSW Fair Trading and NOLA representatives to express our concerns and will be holding seminars on National Licencing in the coming weeks to obtain further feedback from the industry prior to making our submission on the proposed changes.

The Minister for Fair Trading, Anthony Roberts, has announced consultation on proposed compulsory professional indemnity insurance for licensed property occupations. It is proposed from 1 January 2013, all licensees under the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002 be required to hold a minimum of $1 million professional indemnity insurance with a number of set policy inclusions.

EAC has provided feedback on this proposal in our meetings with NSW Fair Trading in the past twelve months and will be making a formal submission providing our feedback in early October.

If you have any feedback on either the National Licensing or introduction of compulsory professional indemnity insurance please call us or submit it to practicesupport@eac.com.au.

For those involved in Strata, NSW Fair Trading is also reviewing the Strata and Community Title laws and is seeking industry comment. While we have some members that operate in this area we won’t be putting a submission in this regard at this stage.

NSW Fair Trading has also announced a new partnership with EAC to supply the fact sheets pertaining to Agency Agreements, Bidders Guides as well as New Tenant Checklists.
This partnership sees NSW Fair Trading ceasing to supply their real estate fact sheets in print form, and bulk copies can now be purchased through EAC.

There have also been some big changes to Red Square in the past few months, with more on the way. On June 30 we turned off the Red Square application, who would have thought that it was in the marketplace for some 13 years. In the end the underlying technology just became outdated and with the introduction of Red Square Web we now have a solid platform that we can build on for years to come. In September we released a major upgrade to Red Square Web and Mapping and we are about to release an upgrade to Red Square Mobile. The next month will see the addition of mobile websites for your office as a new product from our Web Services team.

For those that have been waiting for our new Listing Management feature, development of this module is now complete and is undergoing internal testing. The new Listing Management feature has been redeveloped from the ground up and when introduced will require us to make changes to the underlying systems and websites. The team is working through these changes as we speak and we are looking at a 4th quarter release date.

On the realestateworld.com.au front we have recently updated the logo to a cleaner and more modern look and feel and have updated the website and masthead on our publications. We have also recently produced some new TV and radio advertisements featuring Wendell Sailor which will be used in some regional areas. Traffic and the number of listings on the website continue to grow and October will see the release of a new realestateworld.com.au mobile website. Work is also now well underway on the development of a new realestateworld.com.au website which will be released at this stage around the same time as the new Listing Management feature.

As you can hopefully gather from the above we are investing a lot of time and effort into our products and services and ensuring the interests of the industry, practitioners and
members are protected. We can only do this with your support and feedback and as always, we welcome any feedback you might have to help us make our products and services and the industry we are part of better.

Fair Trading releases new videos for real estate agents

NSW Fair Trading has released 3 new short videos on the Fair Trading YouTube channel.

The videos provide important tips on what to consider when buying or selling a home and the requirements of pricing real estate. The new videos are:

The DOS and DON’TS of pricing real estate  – In this video Fair Trading gives tips to real estate agents about pricing residential property.

Do your homework when buying or building a home – Research is the key to buying the right home. In this video Fair Trading provides important tips about things to consider when buying a home. Make sure that your research includes a Red Square Neighbourhood Report from an EAC Member.

Do your homework when selling a home – Making the process easier, This video outlines important information to help make selling your home as stress free as possible. Make sure that your research includes a Red Square Comparative Market Analysis Report from an EAC Member.

NSW Fair Trading welcomes your feedback and would like to hear your ideas on topics for future real estate videos. Email your feedback and ideas to: property@services.nsw.gov.au.

To view the whole range of Fair Trading videos on offer visit the Fair Trading YouTube channel.

My EAC From the Boardroom Article – January 2012

Welcome to the first edition of From the Boardroom for 2012 and if your last year was like mine it was like we blinked and 2011 was gone.

On a pleasing note we are able to announce that the Cooperative reported a profit of $658,695 in the last financial year.This figure is the consolidated result for EAC and realestateworld.com.au and included things such as the sale of the Wollongong building and the bringing of realestateworld.com.au Pty Ltd into EAC which will be completed this year. If you would like to know more download our Annual Report at eac.com.au.

The past few months have been very busy on several fronts and I see this continuing as we roll out some of the planned infrastructure and product changes in the first and second quarter of this year.

With the sale of our property in Wollongong we had to find a suitable replacement office and this has now been completed with the move taking place in late November. Settlement has now also occurred on the Villawood property and we have leased back the premises on a twelve month lease while we look for new premises to purchase. We are looking in the Parramatta and Silverwater areas and have looked at a few buildings but have not yet found anything suitable.

In early December we had a meeting with the Minister for Fair Trading Anthony Roberts and some of his staff. At the meeting we raised several items and issues that we believe are important from the industry’s perspective including Professional Indemnity Insurance, National Licensing, CPD, Forms and the proposed changes to Short Term and Holiday Letting. It is our intention to provide an update, on some of these items and the feedback that we received, in the forthcoming road shows that we are holding in February.

In the first quarter of 2012 we will be rolling out several updates to our services. These will begin with an update to Red Square Web and Mapping which will include several enhancements and the inclusion of some twelve new reports including brochures, flyers and booklet style reports.The redevelopment of our Addlist is coming along nicely and it has been developed from scratch and of note are the changes to the Business and Commercial Industrial For Sale and Lease sections.

February will also see the launch of Red Square Communicate which is a very powerful newsletter solution. For more information see eac.com.au. By the time you read this, Red Square Mobile would have been released for beta testing to a select number of users. Red Square Mobile will provide Listings, Property Information and Current Market Information searches on your phone and it is just not limited to the iPhone. With Red Square Mobile finished we will then turn our attention to a mobile version of realestateworld.com.au and agent web sites for consumers.

The realestateworld.com.au web site continues to grow and we have experienced significant growth in the past six months. During this time we have seen a 70% increase in offices coming on board, a 60% increase in listings and, with the new content, an increase in the visitors to the site. We continue to add new feeds into and out of our system and of note is the recent addition of an upload by the LJ Hooker network to the site.

I would like to thank and congratulate the members and agents in the Mid North Coast, Clarence Valley, Far North Coast and Illawarra areas for their continued support of their realestateworld.com.au publications. The Christmas editions saw two new records being achieved with 124 pages in the Mid North Coast and Far North Coast and 156 pages in the Illawarra – and those pages are all real estate, not editorial and fill as you find in many of our other competitors publications. These figures just go to show what can be achieved when the agents in an area work together.

All the best for the new year and lets hope that some of the predictions for the property market this year don’t eventuate as I understand many of you are already doing it tough out there. If EAC can assist in any regard we will be here continuing to do our best for you and the industry. As always, we welcome any feedback you might have to help us make our products and services more beneficial to your office as, ultimately, we are about service and not profit at the expense of the industry.

LPI leading legislative reform of the NSW addressing system

LPI has established a program called the Comprehensive Property Addressing System (CPAS) to implement best practice property addressing processes and a centralised address database for NSW. Underpinning the CPAS program is a legislative reform project.

The aim of the CPAS program is to create a centralised, comprehensive and official geo-coded address database for all of NSW.

In 2009, the NSW Spatial Council established the NSW Address Working Group (NAWG) to research current addressing practices and systems.

The NAWG found that existing legislation in its current form does not define the process for creation, maintenance and distribution of address information, nor does it define the rights and responsibilities of address custodians and users.

The lack of a strong legislative framework is one factor contributing to confusion in the process of naming roads and allocating addresses, making the process unnecessarily time consuming and costly for local government.

In response to these findings, the NSW Spatial Council endorsed LPI as the lead agency for the CPAS program based on the central role we play in the NSW land information system. For example, LPI manages many of the core databases that support address recording and distribution and has long-established relationships with local government, the Geographical Names Board and other key stakeholders.

The CPAS objective is to reduce red tape for address custodians and mitigate costs and risks by providing open and timely access to accurate, consistent and logical property address information for emergency services, business, government and the community.

Benefits of this program will extend beyond NSW. For example, when emergency services in neighbouring states are required to respond to an emergency in NSW, they will have access to one centralised (and accurate) system.

NAWG and LPI – in consultation with stakeholders – identified the following desirable features for CPAS:

  • All sites should be allocated a physical address.
  • Addresses should comply with the Australian and New Zealand Rural and Urban Addressing Standard – AS4819.
  • Addresses should be created earlier in the development process.
  • All roads linked to an address site should be named.
  • Private Roads should undergo a formal naming process, the same as public roads.
  • Correct and appropriate address number and road/street signage should be erected.
  • Address custodians should supply all address information (including road names and their extent) to LPI for processing through CPAS.

These recommended features will be considered within a broad review of current legislation aimed at removing impediments to a collaborative approach to addressing.

The outcome of the CPAS program will be a single, centralised source for all addressing information in NSW that will benefit state and local government, emergency services, the general community, Australia Post, utilities and industry.

Source: NSW News & Views Issue 13

Real Estate XML Feeds and Uploads Update

Our XML Feeds and Uploads are designed to save you time and money by eliminating the need to re-key your listings into multiple systems and web sites.

Feeds In
Our recent updates include the ability to accept listings from L J Hooker and we are just finalising a feed from Rockend.

Feeds Out
With the demise of Google Real Estate, this feed is not longer available and we now have feeds out to modernsearch and iRealty.

EAC Real Estate XML Feeds and Uploads to and from Web Sites

How good is the Search Engine Optimisation for your Site.

Every now and then I come across a tool that I think is worth sharing and one of these that I discovered today is Website Grader from HubSpot. As more and more of your time and dollars goes into Online Marketing you need to ensure you are getting the highest ROI you can.
Your Office web site is the view of your Office from online world and you want as many people to drop by as possible and search engine optimisation increases your chances of being found.
Website Grader is a free seo tool that measures the marketing effectiveness of a website. It provides a score that incorporates things like website traffic, SEO, social popularity and other technical factors. It also provides some basic advice on how the website can be improved from a marketing perspective.
For more information visit hubspot.com