Thursday, April 28, 2011

Social Networking and "Unmarketing"

Whether you like them, participate on one or think they are just a fad, social networking sites are here to stay.  As with other aspects of the Internet, social networking is having a profound impact on not just the personal aspect of our lives, but also on business as well.  Go to many commercial or corporate websites and icons for Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites are popping up all over and for good reason as many of these sites have hundreds of millions of participants.
 Last week I participated in a webinar with a chap named Scott Stratten who has authored a book titled "Unmarketing."  Scott speaks with authority about how to market to today's consumer and has 86,000 followers on Twitter.  As with other studies I have read, marketing is no longer about screaming a message to the world about your product(s) and or service(s).  It's about engaging and developing a relationship with consumers, sharing your expertise in a subtle way, providing them with information that is beneficial to them and without obligation, thus creating an image, brand or reputation for yourself long before you ever meet your readers or followers should that day ever come.
  According to Mr. Stratten, one of the fastest growing demographics on social networking sites are those individuals that are 50 plus.  In contrast to this, a study conducted by The American Affluence Research Center found that more than half of the U.S. affluent say they do not participate in any type of social media.  You would perhaps think that the affluent would be those in the 50 plus age range but not necessarily so.  Many of today's wealthy are younger, having made their money in a technology, financial or other field(s).  The U.S. ranks third in terms of smartphone usage with 91% or in excess of 284 million Americans owning an iPhone, Blackberry or similar device thus enabling them to access the Internet and or share information and data on-the-fly.  A phone is no longer a phone in the traditional sense.
  In terms of real estate, many of us engaged in the profession are turning more and more to "unmarketing."  According to Mr. Stratten the only person that cares about our picture on a business card, For Sale sign, bus bench or elsewhere is ourselves and I couldn't agree more.  If you are in business for yourself as am I, the only thing to think about is your client(s) or potential client(s).  If it is not going to be of benefit or value to them, don't do it!  Too many marketing initiatives today are all about self gratification with REALTORS® and other commissioned salespersons perhaps being the guiltiest of all. In the new age of marketing and PR "Unmarketing" will win you more points with consumers but that in itself will be a hard sell with many that are mired in the old way of doing things 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Where Have All The Great Leaders Gone?

Last evening the Collingwood Chamber of Commerce of which I am both a member at large as well as part of the executive, held an all-candidates meeting for the upcoming federal election.  As was expected, the Legion was packed to a standing room only crowd prompting many to ask is there somewhere larger in Town to hold this.  The simple answer is no.  Short of the Eddie Bush arena Collingwood lacks a venue to hold and event of this size.  Other observations I overhead by those in attendance was the lack of younger people in the audience.  By far the majority of those present (myself included) were 50+.  I have noted this at other community events of this type leading me to believe that perhaps the younger residents in town are simply too busy with work, family or other commitments to attend politcal or other events that involve issues pertaining to the community or in the case of a federal election, the country.  Perhaps they just don't care and that may stem from a lack of confidence in both the political process and in those individuals that choose to run for political office.
  In a prior posting I posed the question where have all the great leader's gone? Last night's meeting certainly did nothing to answer that question.  After two hours of listening to the candidates answering questions from local members of the media, there were some choices removed from the group but at the same time no out-front winners.  I must admit that Helena Guergis came off "sounding" the best, no doubt due in part to her past experience, her political savvy and the fact that she is fighting for her reputation and job.  The Liberal candidate Alex Smardenka simultaneously pulled out a gun, dropped in a bullet and shot himself with his comment about PC Candidate Kellie Lietch when he essentially said "...we don't need a rich doctor with her million dollar home being parachuted in to the riding....."  That comment drew prolific boos from the audience no doubt costing Mr. Smardenka signifiant votes in the room if he had many to begin with.  It was equally disappointing when later in the evening instead of taking the high road,  Dr. Leitch took an almost equal swipe at the Liberal candidate as payback.  And what's with the Dr. title?  Does anyone really care?  Her skills as a pediatric surgeon are admirable but for the most part are irrelevent to the political job at hand.  My father was a doctor (a dentist) and while he was proud of his profession it was a title that outside of his business dealings, he never used. 
  Election day (May 2nd) is fast approaching and like many I remain unsure as to how I will vote.  I must confess I have never aligned myself with any particular party instead, choosing to vote for the individual I feel is best suited for the position.  Different times require different measures so in my opinion there is no one party that offers a fix-all solution for everything. Last evening was helpful in ruling out some choices but came no closer to answering the question where have all the great leaders gone?    

Monday, April 18, 2011

Market Conditions We Can't Control

After a somewhat soft sales month in March, real estate activity through the MLS® system of the Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board (GTREB)thus far in April appears to be running at a pace relatively consistent with April of last year.  Several things are undoubtedly holding the market back a bit right now one is the weather and to some degree, the upcoming federal election.
  Weather definitely plays a role in our market as it has a bearing on the weekend traffic we attract to the area.  Skiing is essentially over and with the current cold snowy weather, golf and other recreational activities associated with spring are not yet underway so we are definitely in the mid-season doldrums.  We see this reduced traffic through weak attendance at Open Houses and in reduced showing requests for listed properties.  
  Historically, any pending election will certainly impact the buying decisions of many consumers contemplating a major purchase.  A change in government may lead to economic, taxation or other changes creating a cautionary mood that shifts buyers into "neutral."
  Another factor impacting our market activity is the pace of sales in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) as a good portion of today's buyers are coming from the GTA and other parts south of us. In speaking with clients on the weekend that reside in Toronto, the market there has temporarily slowed as well and until that improves, the impact will continue to resonate up here.  Further, due to the recreational nature of our market, a good portion of real estate sales in this area are discretionary in nature so often tere is no sense of urgency with buyers to purchase. 
  As I have told seller clients on numerous occasions, we can't create buyers.  We endeavour to implement the most aggressive marketing plan we can in order to expose a property to potential buyers but those buyers have to be our there. In some cases at certain points in time buyers are noticeably absent and often through conditions or circumstances beyond the control of any of us. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Royal LePage Annual Charity Garage Sale

The Royal LePage Shelter Foundation is Canada’s largest public foundation dedicated exclusively to funding women’s shelters and violence prevention and education programs.  Since 1999, this foundation has raised more than $10 million  to help women and children across Canada.      
  Saturday May 14th is the date for this year's National Shelter Foundation Garage Sale.  My counterparts and I here Royal LePage in Collingwood are once again particiapting in this event.  100% of the proceeds will go to My Friend's House here in Collingwood and we graciously asked you to support us in this worthy cause.
  The event will be held at the new Cranberry Mews commercial plaza located on the west side of Highway 26 by Cranberry Resort.  Donations of unwanted furniture, clothing, toys, household items etc. may be made daily by dropping them off at Unit #405 located at the far south end of the plaza.  If you have larger items such as furniture etc. to donate with no way of getting them there, please feel free to contract me or on my cell phone at 705-443-1037 and we can arrange to have them picked up.
  We are looking forward to having a very successful sale hoping to raise even more money this year for this great cause.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Area Real Estate Sales Soften in March

  After posting strong sales in January and February, real estate activity reported through the MLS® system of the Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board (GTREB) softened in March with 155 properties changing hands during the month versus 199 in March 2010, a decrease of 22%. Sales volume in March also declined with a total of $48.5 million worth of MLS® listed properties selling as compared to $56.7 million in the same month last year.
  Year-to-date MLS® sales total 348 individual properties down 10% from the 387 sales reported in the 1st quarter of 2010. As in prior months, sales at the upper end of the market continue to play a dominant role with respect to sales revenue. Unit sales in most price ranges below $500,000 have declined in 2011 while sales activity above $500,000 remains very strong. To the end of March there have been 10 MLS® sales reported over $1 million whereas last year there were just 2 in the same time period.
  The number of new listings coming onto the market has slowed this year which is resulting in more balanced market conditions that favour neither seller nor buyer. Through the end of March a total of 1,497 new MLS® listings have come onto the market as compared to 1,527 new listings in the first 3 months of 2010, a decrease of 2%. The number of expired listings is also on the decline with 692 listings having expired this year versus 719 in 2010, a drop of 4%.
For a complete summary of market activity 1st quarter 2011 versus 2010, please see the latest edition of my Georgian Triangle Real Estate News.  To discuss your particular real estate situation or goals, please feel free to Contact Me without obligation.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Through The Eyes of Buyers Part 2

As previously stated the issue of pricing remains one of the key elements in successfully getting your house sold.  Sellers and in many cases REALTORS® are failing to acknowledge this which is why we have such a high ratio of "expired" versus sold listings.
  Unfortunately and despite the effort some of us put into it, pricing a property is not a pure science.  Comparable sales analysis is the best methodology out there for pricing a property but for some homes and or parcels of land there are no comparables.  Increasingly, I find it helpful to have a seller(s) look at their homes through the eyes of a buyer(s).  Buyer's certainly expect a property to meet certain conditions in terms of appearance.  It is up to date, nicely decorated, well maintained, free of clutter etc. etc. but it also goes much beyond that.  At specific price points, certain other expectations emerge that help to establish a home's value.  At $350,000+ a home better have a nice master bedroom with an ensuite bath.  When you start getting up in the $500,000+ range, today's buyers are expecting finishes commensurate with that price such as granite or other such material for the counters, upgraded trim, better than average bathroom fixtures and kitchen cabinets etc.  Many homes in our market are over-priced from the standpoint the features and finishes don't live up to the expectations of the buyer(s).  For example, a home listed in the $800,000, $900,000 range that has laminate floors versus real hardwood, Arborite counters not granite, hollow core "800 series" doors and other such finishes typical of a mass produced, tract subdivision home is never going to attract a buyer willing to pay that price.  Despite a detailed comparable market analysis or other mathematical gyrations, a property is ultimately worth what a willing buyer is prepared to pay and if a buyer(s) sees a lot of cost ripping out what they perceive are inferior finishes, they will never pay an inflated price.
  Looking at your home through a potential buyer's eyes is something your listing REALTOR® should help you with.  One other key point to consider is this.  When you finally get an offer on your home at a price you turn down, essentially what you are doing is buying your own home for that price.  At that very moment, looking at your home through a buyer's eyes is critical as you need to ask yourself, would I pay that for this home?  Why?  Because that is exactly what you are doing when you turn down that offer.       

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Royal LePAGE Locations North (Brokerage)

330 First Street, Collingwood, ON L9Y 1B4


Direct: 705-443-1037

Office: 705-445-5520 ext 230


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