AS THE PRICE TAG OF AN AUSTRALIAN property asset increases, generally the available pool of qualified Australian buyers decreases, particularly in the agricultural and commercial sectors. This special dilemma requires the agent and vendor to consider alternative markets and methods to find qualified buyers. In this Part One of a two part series, Jason Hellyer uses China as an example of what you can do to have your marketing stand out on the global stage.
AS YOU READ this article, the historic and privately owned Kidman & Co. group of properties, covering more than 11 million hectares in central Australia (that’s nearly twice the land mass of Tasmania), goes to market with a sale price north of $300 million.
In a country of just over 23.6 million people, Australia’s capacity to deliver a bevy of qualified suitors for an asset of this value is limited; therefore an agency with the capability and marketing strategy that broadens the investor field to encompass international markets is required.
With this in mind, it’s of no surprise that the board of directors at Kidman & Co. have opted to entrust the marketing of their iconic Kidman landholding to the goliath – Ernst & Young.
One of the ‘Big Four’ global audit firms, Ernst & Young’s 700-strong brick and mortar office network extends to all parts of the world. One of the factors that may have influenced the board’s decision to appoint Ernst & Young could have been the perceived potential of their global office footprint to drive substantial buyer enquiry and therefore a better sales result.
In a recent interview with the ABC, Greg Campbell, Managing Director of Kidman & Co., indicated that around 20 parties had already registered interest in the sale.
“At least half of those people are Australian-based,” said Mr Campbell. “There’s around half that’s offshore, there’s a significant proportion from China, but surprisingly there’s also strong interest out of America and Switzerland.”
From this statement it would be fair to say the board’s decision to engage Ernst & Young has been vindicated.
According to the US Census Bureau’s annual projections, in 2015 the population of the United States will sit at approximately 320 million (13.55 times that of Australia) and China, the most populous country in the world, will be home to 1.354 billion (57.3 times Australia). Add to this a recent ‘rich list’ article in Forbes magazine quoting 1,764 billionaires in the United States and 213 in China (compared with 27 in Australia) and we can start to appreciate the compelling benefits of listing with an agency that has the capability and competency to play in these powerhouse markets.
So if you can’t lay claim to having a physical office presence in major markets around the globe, what resources and strategic partnerships can you leverage to help maintain our competitive advantage?
Using China as an example, in this two-part presentation I’ll provide you with several strategies, tips and scripts that will level the playing field, enabling you to compete and stand out on the global stage.
1 PROPERTY PORTALS
It’s clicks, not bricks, that drive enquiry
Advances in information technology, the internet and mobile communications, in particular, have dramatically transformed consumer research and buying habits. The benefits of digital globalisation have also empowered the international property investor with faster and more efficient means to identify, analyse and pursue assets beyond their own shores.
China’s strictly regulated internet policy prevents many western commerce and social media sites from functioning correctly (if at all) on the mainland. The challenge for western agents, therefore, is to identify portals behind ‘China’s great firewall’ that provide reasonably unfettered access to it’s 700 million online consumers.
With a host of native Chinese eCommerce, social media and industry-specific websites to choose from, you should consider the following points before you commit to a specific portal:
- What online audience is the portal pitching to?
- How many listings will the property compete with?
- Does the portal provide online and offline customer support?
- Does the portal support all screen sizes, including tablets and mobiles?
TIP – Take time to identify industry-specific property portals that will maximise your vendors’ visual presence.
2 THE PITCH
What drives enquiry here won’t necessarily drive enquiry abroad
Presenting the written text of an Australian asset in a foreign market may not be as simple as ‘cut and paste’. There are several factors to consider before you press the button on distribution of any written marketing material in a foreign country, including;
- Does the text require professional translation?
- Does the literary context make sense to the target audience?
- Am I providing information that will trigger enquiry?
Less than one per cent of Chinese consumers can read English; therefore it’s imperative to have all marketing material professionally translated before you contemplate distribution in China. One of the additional benefits of engaging professional help with translation is the translator’s ability to identify and remedy issues within the literary context to suit the nuances of the local consumer market.
An equally important consideration is the depth and quality of information you’ll need to provide to whet the appetite of investors in foreign markets. For example, in addition to general property blurb Chinese investors will seek a brief understanding of:
- Approximate ROI
- Historical capital growth figures
- Historical production numbers
- Title declaration
- Applicable taxes
- Farm management
- Partnership opportunities.
Without this additional level of information you risk your vendor’s property being overlooked in favour of those who have taken the time to include these proven enquiry drivers.
TIP – Don’t be fooled into thinking free translation apps will do an adequate job of translation.
A picture (and video) is worth a thousand words
With one of China’s property portals boasting more than two million international property listings on its website (at 20 listings per page that’s 100,000 pages), serious thought needs to be given to imagery that’ll engage the investor and motivate them to click for more.
Needless to say, out of focus, dull, DIY photography won’t cut the tofu in China! There are numerous reasons why Australia appeals to Chinese property investors, but one that can be expressed well through creative photography is ‘space’. Wherever possible, incorporate imagery featuring:
- Open space
- Entertainment areas
- Local parks
- People enjoying our Australian lifestyle
- People enjoying our Australian produce.
TIP – Where possible, include images that encapsulate Australia’s reputation for open space and healthy lifestyle.