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Business is up 20% for virtual agency @realty

National real estate group @realty has seen its sales volumes increase by 20% per cent in the first half of the year, with its virtual network and online sales tools established prior to the pandemic helping agents to navigate border closures.

@realty invested more than $500,000 in bespoke software last year, including virtual sales tools that have helped to close deals on multi-million dollar properties with buyers from as far afield as the United Kingdom.

The company, which has more than 600 agents nationwide, has achieved 1,100 sales in the first six months of 2020, compared to 900 sales during the same period last year.

The stellar results have been headlined by:

- the $1.084 million sale of a property on Phillip Island to a couple in lockdown in Melbourne

- the $2.125 million sale of a Hope Island home on the Gold Coast to a buyer from London

- a home in Ocean Shores on the New South Wales North Coast being snapped up for

$655,000 by a purchaser in Sydney

- a home in Warragul, Victoria purchased for $360,000 by a couple in Tasmania

@realty agent Leo Edwards, who sold the Phillip Island property, says his sales toolkit has expanded to include bespoke websites, custom video tours, social media marketing and online bidding platforms.

"The pandemic has created a real shift in the way people buy and sell property. It's fortunate that @realty was already well equipped with the software required to do this job remotely, so it has just been a matter of refining the process to suit each buyer," he said.

"The research phase is now more important than ever - with a lot more people sitting at home and browsing before setting up inspections, so custom websites for high end properties helps to pinpoint where the audience is.

"There's a definite flight to quality trend, with people in cities searching for small acreage and coastal lifestyle properties in areas like Phillip Island. Some now have the flexibility of working from home and are reassessing their living situation.

"The Phillip Island property actually broke a record for online bidding, with 85 bids from five registered buyers, which also helped the banks verify the property valuation quickly."

@realty agent David Druce, who sold the Hope Island property, says recent sales success is proof that with the right technology, geography is no longer a roadblock.

"More buyers are becoming receptive to the idea of inspecting a property remotely, which means vendors can expect a much wider pool of purchasers - from interstate and overseas - moving forward," he said.

"The skill of the agent in conducting video tours and being able to convey the features of the property remotely through the use of technology is crucial. The Hope Island home sold to a London buyer within a week after two very thorough video inspections which gave them the comfort that the property was what they were looking for.

"In some cases, a video inspection can be more powerful for the purchaser as they have the opportunity to walk through the home with the agent there every step of the way to answer questions."

Fiona Johnson sold the Ocean Shores property to an investor, who plans to relocate from Sydney in the coming years.

The @realty agent says investors have embraced the trend towards virtual inspections and transactions as a way of expanding their options.

"People will often have a friend or relative who lives in the area who does the initial inspection for them, and then they participate in a video walk through, which was the case with the Ocean Shores sale," she said.

"I'm seeing a lot of enquiry come through from buyers in Sydney and Victoria looking to buy in current market conditions, with a view to turning their investment in to a home once restrictions are lifted.

"The properties that are selling quickly are the ones that have everything in place to help a remote buyer feel confident about the purchase, including a pest and building clearance.

"Because of the growing number of investors looking to make a permanent move to their new property in future, there is an upside for vendors who are able to undertake minor renovations and capitalise on styling to appeal to the emotional side of purchasers."

Babet Brothers Real Estate, which has partnered with @realty, sold a three bedroom Warrigal home to a couple in Tasmania through an extensive social media campaign.

Deej Babet says in the current climate, being able to think outside the norm is more important than ever.

"By using non conventional marketing strategies we have been able to continue to serve our clients and sell properties," he said.

"Social media is a particularly useful tool for us, and each campaign we do reaches up to 15,000 targeted potential purchasers, which is how we reached the Tasmanian purchaser who ultimately purchased the Warragul home.

"We've also created a series of VLOGS to showcase our properties and personalities, so clients can immediately feel like they know us and they are in trusted and capable hands.

"@realty also allows agents to easily brand themselves while providing strong back end office support through a cloud based CRM, which means all contracts can be executed virtually, with no need for physical meetings between parties."

@realty CEO James Taylor says agent recruitment has been better than ever in recent months, with more people seeking access to online tools to market and sell property.

"In recent months we've had a huge number of agents and boutique agencies join our team, because, put simply, we provide affordable access to the software and marketing tools needed to successfully sell property in the current environment," he said.

"While a lot of traditional agencies have tried to pivot to create these tools to navigate social distancing and other requirements, we already have everything in place, so we are staying well ahead of the curve and leading the real estate industry in this new era."

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