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2005 Predictions

10 minute read

2005 Predictions – Happy New Year to all readers!
Whilst it is always a little hit and miss with predictions on technology I have listed some things to look out for in 2005. Some of these are related to the real estate industry and some are not.

Like it or not some facts
The real estate agents in Australia and New Zealand injects over AU$1 billion into the major media companies (print, Internet), that is why they are all so interested in your business and why we are seeing new entrants into the market. Newspapers have always been a safe haven for News Ltd and Fairfax and because of the prohibitive costs of entrance into the market as the two pretty much dominate Australia and New Zealand. The Internet is however a different story, there is absolutely no reason why traditional media players should dominate the industry.

Within the media industry they all know one thing, get your competitor to do something (offer them a free upgrade to premium/platinum listings) and then sell, sell, sell it to the local competitors and watch the money roll in.

This is why for years I have been advocating real estate agents to take control of their Internet sites sooner rather than later. Market the hell out of your own website so that you do not need to rely on the big media players so much and therefore it will save you tens of thousands of dollars in the years to come.

Here are some of my predictions for 2005.

Major Portals will flex their muscle
With the 2 major real estate portals (majority owned by the News Ltd and Fairfax) pretty much taking control of not only the newspaper residential guides but also major Internet residential guides you will see competition between agents increase.

These portals know that agents compete locally and you will see a variety of new types of memberships (premium, platinum – super platinum anyone?) which will increase their revenues as they move into the ‘agents competing against each other phase’. This will give them large revenue growth as they know agents cannot help but be seen to be doing (to the vendors) at least as much as their competitor across the street.

Is price per listing around the corner? If every agent has a premium listing then what is the difference between a basic listing other than costs?

New Portals will enter the national market
JustListed.com.au (Sensis – Telstra) and to a lesser extent Homehound.com.au (majority owned by all major real estate franchise groups) will go nationwide and offer free listing services to compliment their newspaper guides. You will see a drop in per line newspaper advertising where there is competition and you will also see traditional guides which already have market share try to lock agents in for the long term. These FREE sites will compliment the real estate guides and although the Sensis owned Just Listed guide has got off to a slow start it is starting to win favour with the public. Do Sensis have the conviction to see it through? I hope so for agents sake, as competition brings pricing down, however Sensis has already blown hundreds of millions of dollars on failed enterprises but with Telstra’s bucket of cash they can burn through a few more dollars!

Regional Guides
Regional Internet portals will become a new flavour for agents wanting to market listings online throughout their area. These guides are the future, especially for private agencies and will create real competition to major portals as the majority of home buyers purchase from the same area. Local newspapers will release their own portals and create competition locally.

Wireless
This is the one I have been waiting for. Wouldn’t it be great for all salespeople to be able to receive property enquiries on the move and respond quickly to those enquiries? Well this is just around the corner and WIMAX (up to 45 kilometres range from your office) will bring this to us all. With Intel and Nokia planning to integrate the wireless chip into processors and phones get set for a world where you can always get the information you want when you need it from your phone, pda or laptop. The costs of setting up your own secure WIMAX service will be lower as parts for the setup can be purchased off the shelf at your local Dick Smith (or other) store.

VOIP
Voice over Internet Protocol will more than halve the costs of telephone calls and in an industry where the phone is everything early movers will save thousands of dollars a year. In the US, local calls are free, national calls are free, they only pay for International calls.

I recently moved into a new apartment and my monthly line rental is $53.90 per month! (ridiculous)? In the US this fee would give me free calls locally and nationally (they charge a service fee with unlimited calls). It again comes back to competition, think about how many great deals are out their for mobile phones, this is because in that spectrum there is competition. However with the old traditional phone, costs just keep rising and that is because Telstra owns the network and our giverment is only interested in getting bucket loads of dividends from the sale, not acting in our interests by controlling the network. This is because without the network Telstra would be worth about 1/10th of its current price.

Telstra knows the public will wise up sooner or later and there will be no need to have a phone line as the only real reason to have the phone line now is for the Internet and fax. Telstra will move closer to charging a monthly fee of around $75.00 and including local calls for FREE and then upscale this to over $125 and including national calls as well. Of course their will be a different scale of fees for business (although exactly the same service)

The only thing holding them back is the consumers knowledge and the fact they will have to strip billions of revenue from their bottom line. Look for some big announcements from Telstra in the coming year.

High Mega pixel Camera Phones
Your mobile phone (PDA) is the device of the future for agents, the holy grail is voice recognition typing but this is still a few years away. In Japan recently a 5 mega pixel camera phone was released and we will see the technology leap ahead this year. Once we have email as a standard on phones, then SMS will die a slow death (although the immediacy of SMS will keep it around for a few years yet). The next thing we need is a good mega pixel camera that has a good optical zoom (not digital, which is useless) and the ability to create VR Tours. You will see these phones emerge throughout 2005.

Private Agents Industry
The major franchises have come together to create portals, why not the private real estate industry? After all private agents do add a difference to the market that at times seem bland? It is time for private agents to unite. Will it happen in 2005 probably not, will it happen at all, I hope so!

Will you change newspaper advertising?
Newspaper advertising is now about branding, the effectiveness has deteriorated so much. Some agents I speak to still say that it is their major source of leads, but that is because they have no real internet strategy. They get cousin Johnny to program the site for a couple of hundred dollars because in their mind he is a ‘wizard’ on computers. Wise up people, Johnny sucks and knows bugger all about the Internet. This is why these agents are being left behind.

Use newspaper advertising for branding, but more importantly for directing traffic to your website. Train your leads market to visit your website and you will reap rewards very quickly.

Will search engine marketing make its mark?
It should, it is more than ten times more effective than any other type of marketing (newspaper, TV, radio) and as I have done all three for a portal I operate know. TV comes second and newspapers third. I understand it is all about what you are trying to market, but if your are marketing your website then the Internet (Google, Overture, Sensis) is the only choice. Get it? I hope so!

DVD Wars
Just purchased the latest DVD player? Well you will be so happy to know they will be obsolete within 2 years. There is a war brewing between Toshiba and Sony as to whose technology will be in the next generation of DVD players. Similar to the old VHS and Betamax wars of the ’80’s (which Sony lost despite superior technology). This new war is all about Blu Ray (Sony)versus HD DVD (Toshiba) and there will only be one winner. Blu Ray will probably win because it can hold dual layers of data at 8.7GB on each layer (over 16 GIG per disc compared to current 4.7) but Toshiba has wooed some major movie studios because of its better protection against piracy. This war is all about High Definition Video and although your old player will still work with the new discs you will need to upgrade to the new players to get High Definition Video.

Already JVC is releasing a Blu Ray player early in 2005 and get set for an onslaught of new players later in the year. These players will also see a high take-up of HDTV’s which has been pathetically weak since it launched 3 years ago.

Desktop Search
Speaking of wars. The desktop search war is in hyper mode at the moment. Google released its desktop search tool a few months ago and I use it every single day. It is simply a fantastic time saving tool. The idea is that Google Desktop allows you to search your computer for files and emails right from the browser. Si8nce the launch of the Google Desktop search just about every major company including Microsoft has launched their own tool. Microsoft’s tool is excellent also and their are a number of new ones coming soon. Desktop Search has been around for quite some time but it took Google to seamlessly integrate Internet search and desktop search into one great browser. Agents know better than anyone that competition is great for driving prices down and FREE is about as cheap as you can get!

http://www.desktop.google.com (FREE)
http://beta.toolbar.msn.com (FREE)
http://www.x1.com ($)
http://www.espsw.com ($)
http://www.copernic.com/en/products/desktop-search ($)
http://sp.ask.com/docs/desktop/ (FREE)

So that is it for my predictions for 2005. I will look back at the end of the year and grade myself, I am hoping for at least 5 out of 12. Time will tell.

Remember this, the Internet is your future and results do not happen overnight, you need a game plan and you need to be patient. But it will work!

Are you an Agent of change? I hope you become a change agent as it will be the difference in 2005.

Have a great year and rememeber happiness is the greatest reward!

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