Thursday, 28 May 2009 - moving house

I have always loved the idea of the type site, but never had an opportunity to use it so when a friend asked whether I could help in this department I jumped at the chance.

The site proclaims to allow one to '...inform over 1500 organisations that you are moving home online for free with [their] change of address service...' It lends one to believe that you simply enter your details click on the provider and they do it all for you.

What a great idea! I drew up a list with my friend and then began to enter the details into iammoving. As she is moving to a new property we first had to overcome the hurdle of the address not being updated within the website. One email later we were reassured by the team at iammoving that we should just put the postcode in and it would be fine!

Ok, moving on through the process the first two on our list went without a hitch, we just clicked on Boots and a message said just click send, we did, another message saying all done, absolutely brilliant!

Then reality dawned. The first official site, Council Tax, the message said 'download, print and send'. Oh great, now I have to print off a form and post it!! This happened for 50% of organisations.

Whilst disappointed, we were happy that at least we had achieved around a 50% success rate. That said, the following day she received a number of emails confirming details sent and also a few asking for more details, confirmation by way of a form etc etc.

What should have been a simple task has now been complicated by a middle man she is stuck with. Sadly, the telephone would have been far quicker!!

All I can say is what a shame and also bad marks for misleading people.

Moving is stressful enough!

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Tepilo - Sarah Beeny new project

'Tepilo is a brand new service, created by Sarah Beeny, that will change the way you think about buying and selling your home' or so they say!

It is all cloak and dagger and strictly need to know at the moment and the Owl doesn't need to know apparently. Anyway, I love the fact Sarah is onto another project and you will know I am a strong advocate of online entrepreneurialship. Let's just hope it is easier on the mind than the last project, Completing Chains. I wish them luck when they finally reveal the secret.

Taken from a JRA post, Hablib is also another site with a holding page that claims to change the world, well at least change the property market. Heard it all before, but this project is headed by Anton Kreil from the TV series Million Dollar Traders. Anton's blog goes on to say that this will be a site for private sellers with an element of social networking, which sounds like a great idea in principle. Indeed, they are looking for volunteers to test and are paying individuals £25 so have a look at his blog.

The holding page states'Hablib is a free residential property platform empowering users to take control of their own destiny when profiling, selling or buying their home.' Now there lies an immediate problem, the word 'free'. How are they going to make money?! Advertising alone for a newbie in the over populated world of online property sites will not even pay for their hosting. Whilst the social networking element is a nice twist, the private seller market is too small to target to a niche within that market.

Why do we all think we can 'change the face of the industry, change the world, revolutionise' etc? Do users/the industry really want/need this? No. Users need simplicity - one site that does everything very simply. I fear we are muddying the waters in the UK online property game and hopefully someone will come along and just 'revolutionise the world...' oh God here we go again!

Help Sarah - where are you???

PS. I have just read Housingdabble new posts (as the above was sparked from their post on JRA and they share my views in my penultimate paragraph above, which I wrote before reading his blog. Just wanted to point out that great minds think alike and I was not copying his thoughts!!)

Friday, 15 May 2009

Hitwise -v- Comscore (property portals)

Property portal watch posts on the difference between the two companies who provide traffic data and rankings for the industry. Hitwise and Comscore.

This has been written about before and much has been said about some of their individual nuances (especially Comscore).

I have worked with Hitwise which I have to say is an essential tool in any online marketeers toolbox, but you need a large budget to be able to pay for it. To this end, I would also have to say that I would rely more on a Hitwise ranking than Comscore. So when portal x is shouting that they are number 1 in the Comscore rankings, it is at the very least worth seeing if you can obtain the Hitwise rankings.

You can see the huge differences here (USA, both released within a week of each other).




10. NCI Interactive

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Legal action in the property industry

The first page of a recent Negotiator magazine is devoted to legal challenges, legal gripes and as soon as I see the words '... a solicitor from pucker advice and co stated that ...' I switch off.

In times of woe, let's go to Court. Indeed, everyone is suing Foxtons (no real change there), there is a call for trademark and copyright advice to attack Property Index, HIPPS are seeking legal protection from Zoopla and where are the lawyers? Sat in the middle milking a very malnourished cow.

With all the legal action, I am feeling left out and whilst we all have the threat of post from Northampton County Court every morning, I feel like making a claim against someone. But who?

Bringing a claim against the government is just so last year so how about a claim against bankers? Maybe, but there is a queue and most of the primary witnesses will have disappeared. No, I am going after the real culprit George Bush!

So we have agents moaning at portals for trying to help them sell their properties, we have HIPPS moaning at portals for trying to stimulate markets and thus sell more properties, we have the DTI moaning at Foxtons for ripping off Landlords (and everyone else) and now we have me preparing to sue Bush.

This industry needs to desperately move away from these issues (save for suing Foxtons, which is just fun). Get over it! So what that you are listed next to a private seller, it is 1% of the total market, so what that Property Index put your property on another portal, it is called marketing and who knows it may just sell the property (bloody nerve!).

Superstar Jacqui Daley sums it up far better than I am able when she is quoted in the Negotiator as saying "... if PropertyIndex can generate new leads for us from eBay, that's great news. All this commotion about whether property focused advertising sites should be allowed to list alongside private sellers is overrated. If you are a professional agency providing a quality service, then you will remain in business, earn more money for your clients and will graciously accept leads from these companies."

Say no more!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Lets with Pets

I have been inundated with pictures of budgies, cats, dogs and goldfish. The Dogs Trust have launched their campaign, Lets with Pets.

Anyway, a glossy brochure arrived through the letterbox and I have had a few emails from various sources encouraging me to be aware of renting to pet owners. The glossy guide for landlords and letting agents goes on to suggest that Landlords are missing a trick by excluding pet owners.

Elsewhere, emails have stated to me that 75% of landlords don’t allow pets and this pet discrimination is really unnecessary as pet owners do not equal bad tenants. Fair point, I know of plenty of bad tenants who didn’t lick their bottoms clean, smell of old carpet and provide safe havens for the travelling flea circus. Indeed, I suspect some of them did.

It is just this sort of prejudice that the Lets with Pets manifesto sets out to negate and good luck to them. As a landlord, I have enough trouble deciding whether the latest chavs will destroy my flat and would I really leave it to the agent to judge the ability of a pet, I don’t think so. There is even a suggestion that one should ask for a pet reference with such questions as ‘...did their pets cause any damage to [a previous] property...’. I wonder how many people will admit that their little pooch destroyed the floors, paintwork, furniture and carpets (wear and tear I guess).

I am sure I will have the Pet Police down on me and some pet loving readers may take offence, but I have never really understood why we have pets in the first place. To me it has always seemed a little sad to drag around an animal on a lead or cage it or put it on a mantle piece to watch it swim in a circle, purely for ‘our’ enjoyment!

Now whilst I am playing a little, there is a serious point. Within the UK there are apparently 8 million dogs and 8 million cats and with the rental market become ever more popular, Landlords may just need an edge so perhaps allowing Shep to reside within your property could be just such an edge.

I like the advice of Nick from Steadfast Property Management Ltd when he says ‘...It is important to meet the pet in question prior to granting a tenancy...’ Wise words indeed and if the maxim that pet owners resemble their pets has any merit then think carefully about tenants with snakes!

Anyway, I am off to see if I can rent a two bed flat for me and my pet chickens.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Blogging - a profession?!

Word of Mouth Marketing reports on the Bureau of Labor Statistics announcement from the USA (hence the spelling) that the USA has almost as many paid bloggers as lawyers.

If these stats are even close to being correct it must surely beg the question, why are you not blogging yet? Not necessarily to make money, but to speak with your potential audience.

Womma suggests that by 2012, more than 145 million people—or 67% of the US Internet population—will be reading blogs at least once per month. Apply a similar principle to the UK and whilst we are a little behind, there is nevertheless a huge percentage of the Internet community reading blogs.

Don't forget, blogging is free, can bring more traffic, which means more people looking at you and your site, which equals a higher probability of a lead and thus money!

Finally, by way of inspiration, don't forget the blog that was sold for $15million after two years of trading not that long ago.