Monthly Archives: February 2016
With Harcourts Conference season now in full swing, here are our top ten reasons why we think you will love attending this year!
1. It gets you out of your comfort zone.
Sure, it’s comfortable in your comfort zone, but comfortable doesn’t always help you to expand your experience, or expand your business. Stepping out of your comfort zone every once in a while will open yourself up to new experiences and new connections.
2. You’ll learn a heap.
It might go without saying, but a huge part of Conference is the chance to learn new things. Everyone from first time delegates to industry vets have mentioned how much they’ve taken away from past Conferences.
3. You’ll meet like-minded people.
There’s something energising about being in a room with hundreds of people who are in or have been in your shoes. Conference gives you access to the greater Harcourts team from across the country, and you can learn from others who are on the same page as you.
4. Plus, you’ll connect with industry thought leaders.
Don’t miss the opportunity to chat to our speakers and leadership team. They have a huge amount of industry knowledge and are great connections to add to your network.
5. You’ll reset.
Sometimes it just takes us a moment to get away from our daily routines to really take a step back and properly assess our business. By taking three days out of your week, once a year, you’re giving yourself the chance to hit that reset button and look at your business from another angle.
6. You’ll stay ahead of the curve.
By learning from a range of industry and thought leaders, Conference will help you stay ahead of the curve so you can be at the forefront of your business, not left struggling to keep up.
7. That all important face-to-face contact.
Sure, these days there’s lots of industry information available at the click of a button, but don’t undervalue face-to-face contact. So many of our people cite the valuable conversations and interactions they have whilst at Conference as being one of the most useful parts of attending each year.
8. It adds value to your business.
If you run or manage an office, there’s so much benefit to sending your team to Conference. It’s a great way to boost morale, team-build, inspire creativity and reward your team, whilst helping to boost productivity.
9. It helps you to grow.
Conference is designed to help you reach the next level – whether that’s in your own business, or in your own career. Industry experts, keynote speakers and the senior leadership team at Harcourts deliver a program each year that will see you well equipped to grow at least one aspect of your career. If you were only to take away and implement even a couple of key learnings, you will be well placed for the year ahead.
10. You’ll have fun!
Whilst there are so many opportunities to network and learn at Conference there’s also a bunch of opportunities to have a lot of fun. From our themed networking functions, to our huge Annual Awards galas, our high energy performances, and entertaining speakers. You have the benefit of attending a career-boosting event and have fun at the same time!
Don’t regret missing out this year! To register or to find out more, click here: harcourtsevents.com.
Harcourts International is both disappointed and excited to announce that General Manager, Gilbert Enoka, is moving on from his senior role at the real estate group to take up a full-time role with New Zealand Rugby Football Union.
Gilbert, or “Bert” as he is known, is an iconic figure within Harcourts. After 12 years of highly esteemed service, he is leaving an indelible mark on the organisation.
Much of the world-class corporate culture currently enjoyed by staff across Harcourts International can be attributed to the work of Gilbert, the philosophies and management systems he has instilled, and his personality and friendship with staff.
Along the way, he has successfully juggled his management responsibilities with the All Blacks, after joining in a management role in 2000. This year he was awarded an Officer of the New Zealand Order for his services to rugby and sport psychology.
Mike Green, Managing Director of Harcourts International, said that the influence Gilbert had on the organisation was an amazing achievement, only paralleled by his influence on the All Blacks, contributing to their two World Cup wins.
“We are obviously losing an exceptional GM which is very disappointing, however it is also a wonderful opportunity for Bert to pursue a real passion of his and complete a ‘three-peat’.
“While Bert won’t have the day-to-day involvement with the group, we are thrilled that he will still be involved, remaining as a director and board member of Harcourts International and various other advisory roles.
“Bert has been an influential member of the Harcourts family for 12 years and cares deeply about our organisation, as we do about him. The many friendships he has forged will continue always.
“We congratulate Bert on his next challenge and thank him for his ongoing contribution to our group.”
Gilbert who has worked as Assistant Manager for the All Blacks since 2012, and worked with the team for over 200 tests, will move into a new job title of All Blacks Manager – Leadership.
NZR CEO Steve Tew described Gilbert’s role: “Gilbert will work with our national teams in the mental skills arena and assist with structures that support performing under pressure.
“He will also work across the rugby landscape in the area of leadership. It’s fantastic that he’ll be able to bring his expertise into other areas of our business.”
When preparing your house for sale, many of us fantasise of an unlimited renovation budget that will make our home irresistible.
Pumped from watching the latest series of Extreme Renovate Backyard Blitz Master Rules we dream of that extension, new kitchen or the backyard resplendent with a children’s water park.
It’s true, that investing in big ticket improvements will sometimes increase the sale price of a house, particularly if you’re a do-it-yourself renovator whiz who has the time and doesn’t have to pay contactors.
But unless the property was originally purchased at a discounted price, big ticket renovations and their resultant high costs are unlikely to generate increased profit on sale.
So, what’s the alternative?
When preparing your property for sale there are simple, inexpensive things you can do to increase its attractiveness to potential buyers, and some don’t involve a trip to Bunnings!
Consider your house no longer a home, but a retail outlet where customers will come to browse. Everything – from kitchen countertops to bathroom vanities to the garage – should be clear of all unnecessary items. You want potential buyers to focus on the best features of your home not stuff, so pack up, give away or throw away everything that clutters or distracts.
This should go without saying, so we’ll just leave it at that.
When a buyer inspects a house, they are doing more than looking at the shower recess and the floor plan. They are visualising what it would be like to move in and live there, a task made more difficult if you leave personal items such as family photos, personal mementos like sporting trophies or religious décor. Pack these away, and give your potential buyers a free slate for their imagination.
We all know about the importance of first impressions. What will set the scene for your house when potential buyers either drive past, or drive in to your driveway? Front gardens, driveways, gutters, windows, mailboxes and fences all tell a story, so make it a positive one!
The door handle comes off as you try to enter the bedroom. You turn on the light that doesn’t work and listen as the fan makes an almighty screeching sound as it rotates. Whilst small, these little things can annoy a potential buyer out of signing a contract so make sure everything is in good working order.
Don’t turn your potential buyers into Jackie Chan. Buyers should not be doing their own stunts just to look through your property. Make sure there’s clear pathways both inside and outside your property to make their visit a no-fuss, pleasant experience.
Time for a light bulb moment! When potential buyers walk into your bathroom and look in the mirror, soft, warm lighting can make it a more pleasant experience than it may be otherwise. In other parts of your house such as living areas, bright, white lighting will make the rooms appear bigger and more inviting. Also, think about which rooms will be best served by leaving blinds either open or closed.
This follows hard on the heels of the “clean” point (above) – a clean house is less likely to assault the nasal passages of unsuspecting visitors. The urban myth is to full your house with odours of home cooking, but the research is in. Over-bearing smells don’t smell good, no matter how delicious. Instead, “hints” of fresh natural odours help to sell, such as orange, lemon, pine, basil, cedar, vanilla and cinnamon.
Spend your home preparation time wisely, and you could be rewarded with a quicker sale or a higher-than-expected selling price.
Budget conscious tenants will be attracted to live in a water efficient property.
The benefits of taking steps to improve a property’s water efficiency are obvious when you consider a leaky tap that drips once a second will waste 12,000 litres a year!
By improving the overall water efficiency of a property, a landlord can create an additional selling point for the property, and increase the attractiveness of their property on the rental market.
Landlords and water
Water efficiency is not as easy as changing a washer, and there are number of laws that are helpful to understand.
In some states of Australia, landlords must fit water efficient features such as certified shower heads and taps before they can pass on water charges to tenants.
In all states of Australia, tenants in an individually-metred dwelling are required to pay for all water consumption charges unless negotiated otherwise. Tenants living in premises with shared metres, for example in apartments, normally do not pay for their water, however there are exceptions.
In all cases, it is illegal for landlords to add any mark-up to water charges.
Improvements to water appliances can be tax deductable. In some states, water efficiency improvements can even attract a government subsidy or assistance. So there are definite incentives for landlords to look seriously at updating.
Saving time and effort with a property manager
Each state of Australia applies different conditions to how landlords pass on water charges, so either take the time to update your local knowledge, or consider leaving the charging of water and other aspects of your investment property in the capable hands of a property manager, who will be fully acquainted with the rules and regulations for your state, and save you the time and effort.
So what are the simplest and most cost efficient way to improve a property’s water efficiency?
- Consider water-efficient showerheads if your existing showerheads need replacing. By using around one-third of the water, these showerheads can save more than $200 a year on energy and water bills.
- Fitting aerators to your taps – inside and out – can limit water flow, and therefore reduce water use.
- By watering your garden wisely, you can reduce water use. This can be achieved by:
- mulching, which assists gardens to retain water
- regular weeding, to stop weeds draining moisture
- watering early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid evaporation
- encourage plants to put down deep roots by giving them occasional deep soaking rather than frequently light watering.
- water the roots of your plants rather than the leaves
- water gradually so the water has time to soak in. Flooding one spot can cause run-off and make soil water resistant.
- When it comes time to replace a toilet, opt for a certified water efficient dual flush model which can save 51 litres per person daily.
Increasing the water efficiency of a property helps tenants save money every day, and can give your property a point of difference.
Hyacinth Bucket is a fictional character in an old British comedy “Keeping up Appearances”, famous for her obsession for wishing to appear more affluent and influential than reality.
Hyacinth would often hold “high teas”, going to extreme measures to hold amazingly prestigious events in her home. After inviting a cavalcade of the most important people in town, no one would turn up, except her neighbour, who only came under duress.
Hyacinth can teach us some lessons about pricing a property for sale.
If your property is in tip top condition, being presented to the market with immaculate photography, beautifully written descriptions of all the features, and great marketing and advertising, and you’re still not attracting enquiry, it may be time to consider reducing your house price.
Hyacinth’s long-suffering husband, Richard, would sometimes suggest to his wife that she should adjust her outlook on “high teas” to something a little more “accessible”. These conversations never ended well!
Conversations between a seller and a real estate agent who suggests lowering the sales price can be equally fraught with emotion.
After all, as an owner, if you have spent years paying for a house, expending blood, sweat, tears and money into renovations, the house is no longer a house but a home. Throw in all those memories of family, friends, pets and good times, suggesting to an owner that a house may be overpriced is an emotional minefield!
So to put it bluntly Hyacinth, this is what you need to consider when discussing or considering this difficult decision:
1. Attempt to understand the viewpoint of the buyer
Buyers are savvy, with unprecedented purchasing tools at their fingertips. Via the internet, buyers can quickly evaluate a market, compare properties and gather other critical information that several years ago was only available to real estate professionals.
To make the best decisions to sell a property, sellers need to overcome their emotional attachment and attempt to understand buyers – at least as well as buyers understand sellers.
2. Don’t get into the blame game
The first response of many property owners presented with the option of lowering their price to sell, is to blame the real estate agent, but remember that a real estate agent also has an interest in selling your house.
The best result will come if you determine to work with your agent, and move forward based on the best information on hand.
3. Understand the market
Understanding the market now is the key to pricing strategy, and that’s where working in with your real estate agent can enhance your chance of striking the right balance. Your agent can give you invaluable information on which to base a rational decision. This will include current information on the selling price of comparative houses in your area (as opposed to the listed price), and the average number of days houses in your area are taking to sell. Is the market sluggish or getting stronger?
If your price is above 60% of the comparative houses in the area, and/or taken longer than the average time for properties in your area to sell, then reducing your price should be seriously considered.
4. Take a look at adding value rather than reducing your house price
One more option to consider before reducing your price is to the possibility of increasing the value of the property. There may be renovations or improvements that can be done which will increase buyer interest. If these renovations can be achieved quickly, and at a price less than the proposed price reduction, then they should be considered.
5. Whatever you do, do it quickly and do it once
The statistics are compelling. Fresh listings receive high levels of attention, but after about two/three weeks, buyers start to see a property as stale and lose interest. Over-priced properties take longer to sell and do not attract optimum number of potential buyers. The longer properties sit on the market the lower price they achieve.
So to increase your chances of a quick sale, at a higher price than might otherwise be achieved, setting a price to meet the market should be done yesterday!
6. Don’t worry about setting the price too low
Think eBay. If you post a product that may be worth $1000, say a new iPad, and set the price at 10 cents, you will generate enormous interest and lots of bids. The sales price will “meet the market”. The same applies to pricing a home. A lower price will attract more buyers, and create competition which will drive up the price. It is always better to be attracting too many buyers than not enough.
So don’t be caught holding a “high tea”, sitting at an empty table eating cake!
If you are considering selling a property soon, take the time to do your own research, or talk with a trusted real estate agent, before going to market so that you start with a price that will take advantage of those first two-three weeks of intense interest.
If you have a house currently on the market, and enquiries have reduced to a trickle, determine to seek advice and make a decision quickly.