Technology is undoubtedly the future of real estate. Domain Rising Star Award recipients for Victoria and New South Wales – Stasi Adgemis of hockingstuart Doncaster and Shane Sullivan of LJ Hooker Drummoyne – are relative youngsters in the real estate game, yet they’ve set themselves apart with their unique use of technology and a wise beyond years attitude towards ROI and customer service. Iolanthe Gabrie spoke with both talented award winners to find out what they’re doing right.
What technology do you consider a non-negotiable when it comes to your marketing?
Stasi: “I think video intros for properties are important. Gone are the days when people want to go through 40 properties before they know what they want. Today they’ll do all their homework on the internet. They’ll go through all the video tours and make a shortlist of the properties they want to see, maybe eight or 10 homes.
“Once upon a time, real estate worked by putting buyers in your car; they’d see 30 or 40 properties and then they’d be at the point of knowing what they like. Video property tours have really fast-tracked that process, giving people the opportunity to see more than one or two photos. The perception with property photos is that they’re never accurate. Buyers go ‘I went through this house, but it looked nothing like the photos.’ With video you can’t really hide anything. I think that’s pretty important for buyers.
“I also do auction profiles – having my auctions uploaded to YouTube is great for potential vendors. People are time-poor and unable to take a full Saturday off to follow me around and see if I’m a good auctioneer. They might come to one auction, but they’ve got other things to do. My auction profiles are all professionally done – I’m happy to invest in media.
“Market reports can be done by video too; we used to send market report newsletters out, but now a lot of our team create videos which we then email out to our databases. Technology makes us much more accessible for clients. They can watch the video in two minutes before they go to bed, or on the couch, rather than reading a newsletter which might take more time and concentration.”
Shane: “Professional photos are non-negotiable. Social media is a non-negotiable in my opinion as well. In terms of media, videos are also pretty important. Social media is not just about sharing what you’ve sold. It’s about being interesting, in-depth and maybe also a little personal. Being different. Everyone posts what they sell and list, so outstanding social media should be about local news, what’s happening in your suburb, your service and what’s happening in the media.
“In terms of video, I do that quite differently. I have another agent interview me, asking me questions about the features and benefits of a property I’m selling. Instead of the old-school property videos where an agent pretends he’s walking through a home for the first time – which is kind of weird and awkward – this is more about having a frank and honest conversation. It’s unscripted and off the cuff; it’s my opinion about the home. I don’t think the video should be any longer than two minutes – any longer than that and people lose concentration.”
How can new agents stake their claim on a market when competing against operators with decades of transactions under their belt?
Stasi: “I think it’s about innovation. The old way of doing real estate still works, but there’s other avenues of getting buyers and vendors. Technology is constantly changing. Buyer behaviour has changed, too; potential purchasers are sitting on their tablets and iPhones looking at property day-to-day. Even if they’re not actively looking for property, they’ve still got the Domain app on their tablet. People are curious about real estate.
“If I’m up against an agent with 10 or 15 years’ experience, my edge is always innovation. I’m prepared to use new media that works extremely well – I don’t just stick to the old ways of doing things.”
Shane: “That’s a great question. To challenge the best, you need to know the market best. So yes – I am young, but I know the market as well as anyone else. I need to know the market better than anyone else in terms of days on market, median price, what’s sold for what. I need to be able to roll those details off the top of my head.
“Once clients see competence, they know that despite your age you know what you’re doing. And your energy matters too. There’s not a lot you can offer as a new agent except an honest approach and being hungry, being willing to work harder than anyone else. I don’t think anyone works harder than me – that’s a belief I have, and that is conveyed to my clients.”
Does ROI (return on investment) matter when it comes to your investment in marketing?
Stasi: “A lot of the stuff I do doesn’t offer ROI. I’ve always followed the philosophy that you have to treat people the way you want to be treated. Although estate agents don’t have a great reputation, you can really change that perception by showing the community you’re human. Sales and money and all that stuff will follow if you treat people right. Some agents just rely on their sales to win them listings – that’s fine, but the market wants more. “
Shane: “I believe that if you put good stuff out, it’ll eventually come back. I’m not looking for instant return. I’m looking for a return in five or 10 years’ time. I’m not concerned about what comes back to me now – I don’t care. I know that if I keep doing the right things – the right media and advertising – it will add to my momentum. It will put me in better stead for years to come. You just have to be a real human being. That will separate you from the rest.”