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REIQ Journal : August 2008
e 15 Once or maybe twice every century, a decade or so in time becomes a turning point when market forces shift and an industry is totally reengineered. EXISTING PRACTICES ARE eclipsed, market leaders struggle and sometimes disappear while new business models rise to grab market share and set course in a new direction. In real estate this could happen for a number of reasons, including a significant or prolonged housing bubble finally bursting, constant innovation and technology becoming mainstream and old-school traditions being overshadowed or any of a dozen other factors. The annual Swanepoel TRENDS Report identifies the most significant trends, concepts, new business models and groundbreaking technologies that are genuinely challenging the establishment and will no doubt reshape the home buying and selling process. Although the report is based on the real estate market in the USA, the similarities with most western countries such as Australia and New Zealand are very similar. Challenges In the report, the following five challenges that will impact agents the most during 2008 were identified: 1. Unreasonable price expectations by sellers 2. Too few buyers 3. More informed consumers 4. Subprime loan fallout 5. Too many agents Although the report discusses solutions for each, the underlying message is that real estate professionals will have to “readjust their DNA.” To be on the winning side, ready to face the challenges and constant evolution of the industry, they will have to significantly embrace technology and the Internet in all of their future strategies. Web 2.0 and online marketing The action on the local media battlefield has certainly shifted to the Web. Newspapers are scrambling to make up losses in classified advertising and TV stations are scrambling to cover declines in automotive and “for sale” ads. Radio operators are also worried about a future in which audio programming comes from computer speakers and iPods instead of the radio. Yellow page directories are also finally getting serious about trying to stop the migration of business look-ups to the Web as search engines such as Google and Yahoo add local address and phone number options to their search results. Statistics reveal that overall web traffic has already replaced walk-in-traffic for real estate companies and is now on the verge of replacing newspaper traffic as well. With that in mind, agents’ websites have become a vital link in the marketing road to success. The more effort agents put into improving the quality of their Web content and building up the ranking of their websites, the more likely they will produce more and betterquality leads and sales. It is still all about information and content, and the listing still remains the key to transaction. REIQ Journal August 2008