Hello from San Francisco: #ICSF Day One


Yes, that’s right. Coming to you this week from Real Estate Connect in San Francisco! I’m a first-timer here at the Inman News produced conference, which hosts over 2,000 industry delegates and 100+ speakers and exhibitors.

It’s also happens to be my first visit to the City, so in-between soaking up the San Fran atmosphere (and fighting off jet-lag), I’ve been able to take in some interesting panel discussions and great speakers during the first day, which, by the way, got off to a rock-n-rolling start thanks to the “house band” the Greg Smith Group (who also gave this little impromptu performance after the opening morning session):


Now, down to business…

The general sessions provided many interesting topics and new technologies to check out (which I’ll share with you in some upcoming posts), however, a day-one highlight was ‘Graduating from Social Media to running a Social Business’ from guest speaker Laura Fitton who is Inbound Marketing Evangelist for HubSpot.


laura fitton

“No matter what you’re sharing … what you’re sharing is not about you.”

That might be hard for some people to accept, but according to Laura Fitton,  if you’re an agent and your idea of a social media strategy is to try to get as many friends and followers as possible, you’re doing it wrong!

It’s all about building relationships with your clients. Agents can make an impact to their business by using social media as an opportunity to help their clients, rather than just using it as an outlet to talk about themselves.

Fitton said, “If you are a Realtor, stop talking about yourself and start talking about the families that you’re helping.”

“You need to be solving people’s problems. Your marketing materials need to be something people would thank you for”

If agents do their research, they can identify whats going on in their area and understand the challenges and fears their clients may have. Then via social media, solve those challenges and ease those fears.

You can check out Laura’s full Slideshare presentation here:



More updates to come from my time at the conference. You call also search #icsf on social media for real-time updates and news from attendees.

All in a day’s work..

profilepicIt’s not everyday that you get to dangle 35 meters in the air from a crane. But for Open2view photographer Grant Drummond, it’s just another day at the office.

Grant covers the busy Auckland central area, but took some time out to do a little bit of a Q & A for us, about some of the challenges and highlights of the job, as well as sharing some pics from his recent travels…

Q. How did you get started in real estate photography? | What was your career path?

Before this I managed an apartment building. I was looking for a business and this looked ideal. My technical knowledge of photography was limited but I was confident I had an eye for composition.

Q. Shooting properties in central Auckland must have it’s challenges, but what do you enjoy most about it?

There’s so much variety. St Heliers mansions to shoebox apartments and everything in between. Sometimes I get more satisfaction from making a mediocre place look good than making a beautiful house look great.

Q. What’s the most challenging shoot / photo of a property you’ve had to take?

I was hoisted by a crane to take some ‘view’ shots for a ‘to-be-built’ apartment building. I had to use the camera one-handed at 35m as I wasn’t letting go of the ‘basket’.



Q. (Apart from your camera) what piece of technology could you not live without when you’re working.

Q. In your opinion, what makes a good real estate picture stand out from the rest?
Excellent use of lighting (though I look at the Property Press a bit differently than the average reader).

Apart from real-estate… what other types of photography do you enjoy?
Travel photography, random scenes from the street (though I mostly use my i-phone for these).

You’ve recently been travelling. Where to? What was the highlight?
Brazil. Getting to some World Cup games. Some of the street parties were pretty good too.

(click image for fullscreen)

Finally, (very important question)….who’s your favourite to win the 2014 FIFA World Cup?

When I read the question yesterday I was going to say Argentina. After (the first semi-final) it’s hard to look past Germany.

 (click image for fullscreen)

Cheers Grant! Guess we’ll find out on Monday who’s going to take it out.

Follow this link to view Grant’s portfolio and get in touch about the Open2view services available.

What does your online presence say about you?

Social Media Apps on Apple iPhone 5

Ever scrolled through your Facebook or twitter feed and cringed and some of things people post?

I’ll be honest, back when my friends and I started using facebook, we thought it was pretty hilarious to tag each other in unflattering photos while out for a girls night out on the town. Rarely did we give much thought about who else might see them, or any possible repercussions of our actions.

Call it getting older and wiser (and undoubtedly more vain), you quickly come to the realisation that how you present yourself online, is how people perceive you in real life, and being able to put your best foot forward applies to social networking as well.

I didn’t really want to mention it, but I will, because there is a lesson to learn for all of us (err, apart from the obvious hygiene one) in the recent actions of disgraced league player Todd Carney. He may not have posted the image online himself and some may argue it was just silly drunken behaviour, but it’s a very real example of how easy it is for images and content to be captured and shared virally across social networks. In this instance, the consequences for Carney being his club contract was torn up and his league playing career effectively over.

Social networking is part of our everyday lives.

Recent statistics show, that of all internet users in the U.S, 73% use social networking sites. By the end of 2014, it is estimated that there will be around 1.82 billion social networks users worldwide.

Social networking is how we interact with our friends. It’s how we do business. It’s how we share information, and sometimes, that can easily lead to sharing a little too much information (or ‘TMI’ if we’re using internet slang.)

Source: Statista 2014

Nowadays, in between reading, writing and maths, Primary School children are learning how to keep themselves safe online and become responsible ‘cyber citizens’.

So with that in mind, let us all head into the weekend and reflect on our online/social media behaviour and remind ourselves about things we probably shouldn’t be sharing on social networks, whether it’s ‘TMI’ posts, or little bits of personal information that we give away online without even thinking.

Below is some great advice from staysafeonline.org that can help keep your personal information safe and have everyone practicing good social media etiquette…


Follow these tips to safely enjoy social networking:

Privacy and security settings exist for a reason: Learn about and use the privacy and security settings on social networks. They are there to help you control who sees what you post and manage your online experience in a positive way.

Once posted, always posted: Protect your reputation on social networks. What you post online stays online. Think twice before posting pictures you wouldn’t want your parents or future employers to see. Recent research found that 70% of job recruiters rejected candidates based on information they found online.

Your online reputation can be a good thing:  Recent research also found that recruiters respond to a strong, positive personal brand online. So show your smarts, thoughtfulness, and mastery of the environment.

Keep personal info personal: Be cautious about how much personal information you provide on social networking sites. The more information you post, the easier it may be for a hacker or someone else to use that information to steal your identity, access your data, or commit other crimes such as stalking.


Know and manage your friends: Social networks can be used for a variety of purposes. Some of the fun is creating a large pool of friends from many aspects of your life. That doesn’t mean all friends are created equal. Use tools to manage the information you share with friends in different groups or even have multiple online pages. If you’re trying to create a public persona as a blogger or expert, create an open profile or a “fan” page that encourages broad participation and limits personal information. Use your personal profile to keep your real friends (the ones you know trust) more synched up with your daily life.

Be honest if you’re uncomfortable: If a friend posts something about you that makes you uncomfortable or you think is inappropriate, let them know. Likewise, stay open-minded if a friend approaches you because something you’ve posted makes him or her uncomfortable. People have different tolerances for how much the world knows about them respect those differences.

Know what action to take: If someone is harassing or threatening you, remove them from your friends list, block them, and report them to the site administrator.

Own your online presence: When applicable, set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing. It’s ok to limit how you share information.

Post only about others as you have them post about you.

- See more at staysafeonline.org

A total immersion, viewing experience….

The rise of internet technology has had a huge impact on our everyday lives. Have a think about how many tasks and activities are now done online that previously weren’t possible. We shop online for clothes, music, groceries. Transfer money and pay bills online (when was the last time you physically went to the bank?)

The development and improvement of all these technologies has without a doubt, made us more efficient at getting things done. It’s arguably made us a lot busier, as we strive to get even more things done. Along with that, comes the expectation that things need to happen instantly. We expect to be able to access information from anywhere at anytime of the day.

This is true for today’s property buyer. Many just don’t have the time to view every potential property in person. With time a precious commodity, decisions are often made before a foot has even been placed through the Open-Home door.

How do we give buyers what they want? By creating an interactive, online experience that’s the next best thing to actually being there. A 360° Virtual Tour.

As the names suggests, it’s a 360° view of an interior or exterior of a property, captured in high definition and seamlessly linked together to give a smooth viewing experience, allowing the viewer to be fully immersed in the surroundings, without actually having to physically be there.

Take a look at this stunning example on our site, featuring interior and multiple exterior views: Click to view Virtual Tour

Virtual Tour You can find out more about our Virtual Tours on our Services Page. Agents, contact an Open2view photographer if you’re ready to take your property listing to the next level!

Open2view New Zealand Contacts
Open2view Australia Contacts


May Property Report


The Winter Solstice arrives this weekend, marking the shortest day and longest night for us here in the Southern Hemisphere. Yes, scarily enough, we’re already half way through the year.

Looking back at the property market during May, recent commentary suggests that the Reserve Bank’s loan to value restrictions have had an impact on sales volumes around the country, with a noticeable cool in demand compared to the same time in 2013.

However the average asking price remains at record high levels during May. Are seller’s just being unrealistic in their price expectations, or are we finally seeing a movement towards a buyers market?

Realestate.co.nz – NZ Property Report
Auckland’s asking price was barely a drop from the new record set in April of $685,426, once again dragging the national average asking price up to $483,524 (only marginally below the record of $484,263 set in March).  Inventory levels are still steadily recovering, with more than 40,000 homes for sale across the country as at 31 May and 10,745 new listings.

Barfoot & Thompson
The Auckland housing market has decelerated coming into the winter months, with Barfoot & Thompson’s figures showing a decrease is the number of properties sales in May 2014 (1109 ) compared to the same time last year (1284 ). A total of 1,318 new listings in May (down 19% on April) and with 3,498 properties on their books, Barfoot & Thompson recorded their second lowest number in May for more than 10 years.

Real Estate Institute of NZ:
There were 6,752 unconditional residential sales in May recorded from REINZ data. Although this was a 15.9% increase on sales recorded for April, compared to the same time last year, sales were down 14.8%.

All but one region recorded an increase in sales compared to April, and all regions saw a decline in sales compared to their figures from May 2013. Overall, sales volumes continue to trend down, with prices holding steady.

City girl goes to Fieldays….


Attracting over 100,000 visitors, from an average of 38 different countries, the National Fieldays is in it’s its 46th year and is the largest agricultural event in the Southern Hemisphere.

As a born & bred city girl, who’s never set foot on a farm, I was of course, the obvious choice to send along to Fieldays!

Having never been before, I must admit I did have a few misconceptions about the event, which by the end of the day, I’m glad to say were completely wrong. From wondering how I would survive perusing farm equipment for hours, to wishing I could come back the next day…

Here’s a few reasons why you should go to Fieldays  (even if you know nothing about agriculture or farming like me)

It’s not all about cows:

Misconception #1 out the window. From the moment I arrived, I was blown away with the scale of the event. I could see from the map in my programme that there were lots of exhibitors (more than 900 in fact!), but actually seeing it in real life was impressive…. and a bit overwhelming.

Yes, there were plenty of farming products & machinery, but also everything else from cars, trucks, tractors, boats, spa pools, fireplaces, furniture & homeware, toys, clothing and not to mention some great food and beverage.  I thought I had planned my day well, but I probably only got to see half of what I wanted to.

A big hit was the Kiwi’s Best Kitchen marquee which had people streaming through all day and played host to demonstrations from Master Chef Josh Emett and packed out with food exhibitors where you could sample everything from homemade preserves and condiments, gourmet cheese and meats, and some (very delicious) port & (also very good) lemoncello.

cooking demo

The display areas:
Having been to many a trade show, I was expecting 3 x 3 meter partitioned stands, and while Fieldays did have it’s fair share, the creativity and effort put into many of the exhibition areas was impressive and a real highlight. One of my favourites: The Ford off-road test drive track:

4WD 4WD2

The shows and demos:

While I missed the Suzuki Extreme Air motorbike jumping (track was too wet), there were plenty of demonstrations and exhibitions to pique anyone’s interest.  The Westpac Rescue helicopter flew in for a demo rescue, winching a patient to safety. The Ag Art Wear Awards offered an exciting fashion showcase. There were cooking demonstrations, lamb boning demonstrations, fencing, wood chopping, trained dogs doing impressive tricks and something I found surprisingly entertaining…. tractor pulling.  It might be day-to-day work for many farmers, but for a city girl like me, seeing these huge machines being maneuvered around with ease (in the rain!), was a sight to behold.

agart helicopter

The farming machinery: Yes, the farming machinery! What at first I was dreading, was actually very intriguing and the technology behind them impressive. Even if most of the time i had no idea what they did, they either looked really cool, or really funny. This was both…


The deals: While I was not the target market for the very latest in milking machines, there were plenty of deals to be had. I was determined to buy some gumboots (even tiny backyards in the city get muddy!) but i should’ve taken the advice of my workmates and purchased some before Fieldays, because the walk across paddocks from my car, to the entry gates left me ankle deep in mud at times. Now I know for next year…..


There’s still a day left to experience all that is Fieldays 2014. Check out the website for online tickets, purchase at the gate or start planning your 2015 visit. I know I am.

What: Fieldays 2014
When: 11 – 14 June, 2014
Where:  Mystery Creek Events Centre,  125 Mystery Creek Road, Hamilton, New Zealand.
Visit: www.fieldays.co.nz

Introducing the Open2view® App

Open2view App

House hunters are in for a new interactive experience, with the release of the Open2view® App.

The app’s AR Scanner, powered by realviewR, utilises the very latest in Augmented Reality technology, whereby computer generated content is superimposed onto a real-world view, providing the user with a digitally enhanced composite view.

Visit www.realviewr.com to find out more about this technology.

When potential buyers are out and about and come across a real-estate flyer, window card or signboard that includes a realviewR (rvR) enabled image, they are able to scan that image using the Open2view app, and watch it come to life to reveal further content and connect to the property’s online information, right there and then.

Designed for both iPhone and iPad, the app also allows users to easily search homes for sale or rent in their current or preferred location, flick through high quality images and where available, watch high definition video, inspect floor plans and take a virtual tour through the property, all from the convenience of their mobile device.

Open2view founder Chris Bates says that the application of realviewR technology in the NZ real estate market offers a new and exciting way to connect with buyers.

 “In such a competitive market, being able to capture the attention of a potential buyer is crucial. The rvR technology in the app offers the user a highly interactive experience, while at the same time, providing all the relevant information they need about that property, right in the palm of their hands.”

Open2view® app key features include:

-  realviewR technology: Unlock Augmented Reality content and further information on a property listing by scanning an rvR enabled image.

-  Maps: Easily search for properties by current location, map region or area name.

-  Refine search criteria: Filter by region, price range, price type, property type, number of bedrooms, bathrooms and more.

-  High Quality photography: View high quality, professional images and where available, HD video, virtual tours & floor plans.

-  Bookmark properties under Favourites.

-  Save your favourite searches for quick access later.

-  Make your own notes.

- View open home details for properties in your Favourites list.

The Open2view® app is available now from the iTunes App store.

Download from the NZ iTunes App store

Download from the Australia iTunes App store