Data that count

General manager of realestateVIEW, Petra Sprekos, spoke to Real Estate Business about their new benchmarking tool, and the listing website’s plans for 2013.

HOW CAN THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY AND TECHNOLOGY GET ALONG EVEN BETTER THAN THEY DO NOW?
We can always be doing things better. One of the issues we [talked about] in last year’s Real Estate Business technology roundtable was creating an end-to-end solution for agents and a one-stop shop. RealestateVIEW is not just an advertising platform; we have a series of products that aim to make things more cost effective and more streamlined for our clients’ work processes. This lets them focus on what they do best – selling real estate. Another part of the realestateVIEW is our data services and CRM system. That’s come about because the customer is demanding it. They don’t want to be doing things twice or going into three or four systems.

DO YOU BELIEVE MORE PRINCIPALS SHOULD BE USING DATA TO BETTER UNDERSTAND THEIR BUSINESS, CLIENTS AND REAL ESTATE IN GENERAL?
Data was certainly part of my make-up in the early days, but wasn’t being used so much in the industry 10 years ago because the market just didn’t require it. What I have seen over the last few years though, are agents becoming more reliant on data to make business decisions. From a competition perspective, I believe agents need more and more data to not only profile themselves, but to look at what the market as a whole is doing.

WHAT NEW WAYS IS REALESTATEVIEW USING DATA TO HELP PRINCIPALS?
We are looking to roll out a benchmarking tool for agents this year. It will scale how many properties an agent should sell in a particular area.
When we produce a product, we utilise feedback from a range of committees inside the industry and out. Over the last 12 months agents have been wanting more and more information on how many properties are sold in a particular area, who is selling at auction or private sale, and they are asking, ‘If I employ someone, what is the average number of sales in this area that they should be doing?’
Shortly, you will be able to utilise this information from our portal. We work out, for example, how many properties there are in Balmain, how many agents, and the average number of properties you should expect an agent to sell. That way, a business in that area can create targets according to that number.
That information can also be used to set levels to remunerate staff.

IS THE INDUSTRY MORE DEMANDING THAN WHEN YOU FIRST BEGAN? IF SO, WHAT DO STAKEHOLDERS WANT?
Communication and the internet have created these high expectations. We all expect things faster. How many times do you receive an email, and then that person calls to see if you have got the email? Well yeah, I’ve got yours, plus 50 others! For us, technology service providers, we have to make sure we cut out all the fluff for the agent and make it easy and seamless for them to do their job, allowing them more time for listing and selling property. They are really looking for data that are going to help their real estate business – they don’t just want numbers.

WHAT AREA WILL SEE THE BIGGEST GROWTH IN TECHNOLOGY THIS YEAR?
In the last year there was an incredible shift from people using laptops and desktops to iPads and iPhones. In fact, January last year I had a Blackberry, now I have an iPhone and two iPads. Who knows what I do with two iPads, but I have them.
That has been by far the quickest development I’ve seen in my six years in the industry.
What I think will be seen this year is the transition from print to online in terms of advertising spending, and I am not saying that because I have a vested interest. We can see the market has changed and the vendor is becoming more informed every day. The agents I have spoken to this year are telling me that the number of vendors asking for online-only advertising campaigns is incredible. A majority of money spent by vendors in advertising is in print, but I don’t think that will be the case this time next year.

HOW DO YOU SEE REALESTATEVIEW GROWING IN THE NEXT YEAR?
From a growth perspective, we believe online brand advertising will increase on realestateVIEW. Agents will choose our site as an alternative to market their brand, where they would traditionally spend that in the print medium or on other, more expensive sites.

HOW DO YOU STAY COMPETITIVE WITH BIG CORPORATIONS LIKE REA GROUP AND FAIRFAX?
It’s a competitive space and it’s hard. We’ve just done some consumer research and we found that buyers and researchers don’t just look at one website, they look on multiple sites because of their fear of missing out. They know that realestate. com. au probably has the most number of listings, but they also know that now and then there is a unique listing on realestateVIEW. For us, it is about communicating this to the marketplace.
Our other difference is that we stay true to who we are and why we exist; we understand what an agent wants and needs.

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