ELITE AGENT’S 2016 annual sentiment survey reveals mostly positive feelings about the year ahead, along with some interesting technology predictions.
ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE REAL ESTATE MARKET IN 2016?
Overall, responses to this question were positive. In fact, 75 per cent of those surveyed said that they were either ‘very optimistic’ or ‘somewhat optimistic’ about what the property market would be like in 2016.
When asked about their own personal success prospects, almost 100 per cent answered positively. Asked whether there were plans to expand, contract or maintain their existing businesses, again sentiment amongst our respondents was upbeat; 81 per cent stated they were going to expand, with 15 per cent saying they would maintain. Only 4 per cent stated that their business would probably contract.
While sentiments were positive overall, there were pockets of respondents who were more cautious in predicting the market, especially those in mining areas. “Our market relies quite heavily on the coal mines to our north. This resulted in a big fall in the market in late 2014; however, this stabilised somewhat in 2015. I would hope this would continue in 2016, but with the negative outlook for coal I don’t see a major lift.”
However, there were others who were willing to back themselves completely in 2016, responding, “Because it’s up to me and not the market. Just have to keep things simple” and “I’m always optimistic – it’s my job!”
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE ECONOMY, PROPERTY VALUES AND INTEREST RATES GOING INTO 2016?
Although the real estate market is very much driven by the economy, respondents were on the whole a lot less positive about our economic prospects, with only 13.6 per cent saying they were extremely positive about the economy and 31 per cent sitting on the fence.
The question of what would happen to interest rates also unearthed some uncertainty. Here 45 per cent of respondents felt that interest rates would go up, with 36 per cent stating that they weren’t sure. This probably also says that most agents don’t believe rates will go any lower in 2016.
As for property values, the majority of those surveyed said they would stay relatively the same (51 per cent). Breaking down those surveyed in regional areas, 54 per cent of rural and regional respondents mostly said the same thing. Even those in the hottest markets last year, Sydney and Melbourne (67 per cent of respondents from inner city areas in NSW and Victoria) also felt that values would stay relatively the same.
WHAT WILL BE YOUR BIGGEST SOURCE OF LEADS IN 2016?
Referrals was the hands-down winner of this category, with 42 per cent of respondents stating that most of their business in 2016 would occur this way, while a further 37 per cent said that direct marketing would be their biggest source of leads.
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES
There was a lot of positivity amongst our respondents to do with opportunities in 2016, particularly as they relate to mindset and staying positive. Some of the open-ended questions resulted in answers like “doing the things my competitors cannot,” “growing a strong team,” “taking market share from bigger, older competitors that are looking a bit complacent and out of new ideas”.
Many principals are focused on expansion, including increasing their rent roll size. For others the opportunity is to get back to basics, “getting back in touch with past clients and reconnecting with people” and “improving the quality of information in the database and working to automate my marketing”. And for some it will be snatching opportunities while others have taken their eyes off the ball, with one respondent stating a big opportunity would be “other agents’ negativity!”
There is a famous quote that goes something like this: “We are continually faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as unsolvable problems”. This held true of the responses to the question of the biggest challenge facing agents for 2016; while many of our respondents saw their competition as an opportunity, many others saw it as their biggest challenge.
Other challenges cited included the slowing market and meeting expectations from sellers. New agents into the market noted their biggest challenges would be getting to know their farm areas, establishing market share and becoming better known in the area.
We all know ‘busy’ can be a battleground on its own in real estate. Many respondents cited work/life balance and time management as some of their biggest challenges, for example finding “time off” or finding time to “hire and train”.
TECHNOLOGY MAKING AN IMPACT
With the talk of disruption in 2015, we asked respondents for their technology predictions for 2016. Again, most of our respondents were upbeat about technology and its ability to make them more productive. 3D and drone technology were big predictions as to what might make a real impact, plus the obvious ones of mobile and online connectivity. Many of our respondents stated they were looking to technology to automate more; giving them the edge on the competition in 2016.
2016 Reader Technology Predictions
- 3D interactive will become mainstream
- Google to challenge the current real estate portals
- New apps to make it less important for sales or PM staff to spend time in the office
- Consolidation of the smaller software service providers
- More online or virtual offices
- Greater uptake of electronic contracts
- Instagram will become the most used social platform
- Less technology; clients will crave human interaction