How technology helps the whole house buying and selling process

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Technological advancement in the industry is important because buying or selling a home is a huge decision. Realty professionals, home buyers and sellers can participate in mutually beneficial partnerships, now more than ever. Buyers and sellers are an essential part of the search and agents now act as leaders, trusted consultants and experts in their market. In addition, online exposure as a buyer or a seller is necessary to achieve success. One of the most well recognized property websites, PropertyGuru Group has approximately 12 million unique visitors per month. There is no denying that technology plays a powerful role in real estate these days.

To stay up with modern developments, pretty much any industry or company needs to be involved with the internet, and the real estate industry is no different. Online property markets have gone from strength to strength, as they are convenient, fast, and cheap. Generally, the way that people who are buying and selling houses meet each other is through online classifieds. This is the digital analogue of the old ‘for sale’ sign on the street front. Gone are the days where we rely the word of mouth or going through newspapers to get the HDB or any other property we can call home.

Or else you can go to one of the online auction sites, which are another haven for internet real estate. As well as looking for properties on the internet you can also use it to find agents and brokers to help you.

A step up in technical specialization from the online classifieds is the property website service. Generally, you pay a subscription, and then the service will provide more advertising for your property by heightening your search ranking.

How Social Media Helps Boosting Real Estate Market

Social networking sites have taken the world by storm. Real estate professionals and rookies have been utilizing social media with the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin to advertise their properties or to locate potential buyers or renters.

One of the best things about these sites is that they are more intimate and friendly. Most of the time you will have a common connection and this engenders a trust and reliability other methods do not. Often, we will find tons of success stories like this one.

Some of the more progressive types have started to hyperlink their real estate’s website onto their newsfeed on Facebook. It should be noted though, that you do not want to pester all your friends, so do not become overzealous with your sales techniques. It is becoming easier and easier to buy and sell property online these days. You are able to not only reach people a lot quicker and easier, but now you are able to reach more people.

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If you have a property and want to sell, then the best place to look for is not your newspaper or anywhere else but online. Yes, the Internet has changed the way you can buy and sell property online. Since it is mostly free to lookup and post your ads on buying or selling a property and most convenient and easy to use and available 24 hours a day 365 days a year, online property portals have become the in-thing at the moment.

Hence if you want to sell a property you don’t have to walk around to put your ads just head straight to your computer and post about it. You will be amazed with the response you get. There have been instances where the response will start pouring in within minutes you put up your ad about property on the net.

If you plan to sell a property then search for your neighborhood property portal and choose the appropriate category post your property ad and give all the necessary details about your property and add your ad on selling or buying property online. And that’s all now you can wait for the responses from the prospective buyers or sellers.

Getting Started

How to find the best place to post your property ad? Just do a quick search with Google and the top results would most probably be the best among them. Just visit them and see how active they are and read reviews about that particular property portal online and then decide whether to post your ad. Read their FAQs and help section on how to sell a property.

You can always settle with the good old classified ads sites like Craiglist, etc. This way you are targeting even vast majority of people who are not only looking for the properties to buy but might prove to be a prospective buyer if they find your offer lucrative and hence finishing off the sale of your property quickly. It is advisable that to be cautious in putting up your ads and try to avoid personal info on them except your contact phone numbers for safety.

But of course, like any other businesses, there are also other risks involved in real estate and in fact, huge risks abound in this lucrative business. If you have what it takes to be successful in real estate, then you can indeed make good money in buying and selling houses.

– Learning the trade. If you want to venture into something where you invest a good amount of money, it is just important that you also make sure that you know what you are doing, you know the risks you are getting involved with. Of course, you are putting your money at stake, so it is just wise to be prepared.

– Know how to buy houses at the best deals. Of course, you may think buying a house is easy but when it comes to making business with real estate, it helps to know a few tips and strategies on where and how to buy houses that you can sell at a good price later. Of course, several factors are a consideration. Location is one big consideration for example.

– Put location as one of your main consideration in buying a house that you can sell later. Of course, the better the location, the easier and the faster you can sell the house later and there can be an increased chance of having a lot of people interested in the property. With a good number of buyers interested in the property, you can also be able to get the best price that you want from among the interested buyers.

– Develop a strategy in marketing real estate. One of the things that you can also do to put up a good business buying and selling houses is to make sure you have a clearly defined marketing strategy that allows you to sell the houses fast at the best price you want. Of course, this is one of the tips that will allow you to make good money from real estate, thus develop your own strategy in buying and selling houses.

– Know how to sell houses. Engaging into real estate is not just about buying a property today and selling it later for the best price. It is important that you also have to learn some tips and strategies on how you can do some improvements or do home staging so you can get the best price for the property. Indeed, such things can truly help you succeed in real estate business as well.

Of course, you also have to learn how to advertise the house to attract a good number of buyers and make sure as well that you know how to price your properties. Indeed, small things such as these can truly help you make good money in real estate. Also consider the risks of this kind of business as well so you will know what you are into.

This is engagement done right! #‎ChewbaccaMaskLady‬

So I saw this shared on my feed and like the 8 million other Facebook users out there, I laughed.

It was just simple joy. But what happened next totally rocked and this is what I wish brands and companies can look at doing more. This is social media engagement done right lah!

From a Facebook Live video published to share about her awesome buy, she received an even bigger joy from a departmental store.

Can we see more of such coolness happening here in Singapore please?

Featured photo from Kohl’s Facebook Page

IRAS Taxing Bloggers – Come Let’s Break It Down

So it is the talking point these couple of days among blog publishers (bloggers) and agencies who engages bloggers or influencers. The whole IRAS issuing letter to bloggers asking them to file their income tax is causing much destress amongst the blogging community in Singapore. With Income Tax e-filing due in a month’s time, all who have been blogging, attending media invites, accepting media gifts, going for previews etc are confused as to whether or not they need to file for tax. The general sentiment I’m getting from those bloggers who are discussing this, they are not trying to escape from filing their income tax, the big question is where, what and how should they start?

When IRAS sent out the letter and published it on their site, I hope they have done enough research and focus group with bloggers, media owners and even agencies to find out the ins and outs of the whole ecosystem before taking any action. From the looks of the slightly-longer-than-one-page very abstract and none specific letter they published, this does not seem like a very well thought out plan.

Let’s all break the whole ecosystem down and look at the many parts, facts and factors that should be taken into consideration before this IRAS tax guideline is published.

Breaking It Down

Basic of Blogging

Blogging picked up many years ago by many, and most started off as individual journals and diary sharing their daily lives and experiences. Blogs were read by family, friends and people who are curious about your life. Soon some blogs get more attention than the rest and this is when some PR agencies realised these blogs have got potential to reach their client’s target audience online. And this lead to bloggers starting to receive invites to press events, product launches, media tasting and all the “oh-so-glam-feel-but-seriously-a-lot-of-work-after-attending-events” stuff. But still back then it was fun and kinda awesome being recognised as reputable bloggers and this made more bloggers want to create better content that people will actually read.

Blogging Turned Income Generating Opportunity

Fast forward to today, many of these reputable bloggers have evolved to become well known online publishers that gets hundred thousands or even million of hits on their sites monthly. They have evolved to become media owners and operates their site as a business. Some running it with registered business entity and some still doing it as a hobby and may not have come to their mind that all this extra “bonus” they are getting or earning from their blogs are considered taxable income.

Blogging – Fifty Shades of Grey

Sometimes I’m not sure if I want to be labelled as a blogger, especially in today’s context, a blogger or an influencer brings along a whole lot of different expectation and perception by different individuals. Some see bloggers/influencers as wannabe who just want attention, some see the group as nuisance causing unnecessary disruption to businesses with their frank reviews that the place sucks, some see the group as superstars lusting over their always-look-great shots on Instagram and a whole lot of different views.

For the record, I see myself more as a content creator for multiple sites, online platforms and blogs. I create content online and secretly hope people will read, like and share the content I publish.

But what does it really mean to be putting one self out there to be seen as a public figure/ blogger/ influencer? Being a well-followed, well-read blogger/influencer isn’t simple nor can it be done easily overnight with just a click of a magic button. Many worked their ass off in the starting phase to be who they are today. And now all these hardworking individuals whom may not be getting paid thousands or even hundreds of dollars in cold hard cash have to be subject to tax for none monetary benefits. Many are just lost and unsure of what they should do so that they do not get into trouble with IRAS.

Brand and Bloggers – The Mutual Exchange

For years brands have been engaging bloggers and treating them as media journalists and online influencers. Brands invite them to check out their newly opened restaurants and sample some food, they send product samples to try, brands provide products on loan to bloggers for review purposes, and some lucky ones get gifted/ seeded with products and services to use and keep. All these (most) bloggers get nothing in terms of cash remuneration, and instead they spend time and money traveling to attend these invites, trying the products and then lots more time producing their content for publish online.

So now IRAS wants to tax on these experiences and non-monetary benefits, how should then bloggers record them in their book of accounts? Let me illustrate an example:

Income
Invite to opening ceremony of ABC cafe and ate a meal – $100
Received carton of drinks from XYZ – $18
Invite to stay at hotel – $300
Foundation received for trial – $40
Transport allowance from agency – $50

Expenses
Purchased of camera to create photo content for publication – $1,000
Taxi ride to opening ceremony of ABC cafe – $40
Taxi ride to hotel stay – $30
Lost of income from no-pay leave taken to attend event – $150
Purchase of other cosmetics to complete the foundation trial review post – $300

Profit/Loss: -$942 (See! Blogger made a lost!)

Above example might not be realistic but if IRAS really want bloggers to record all of the benefits they get and expenses derived from the need to render the services (i.e. a piece of published content), then the above is what bloggers have to keep track and declare in their Income Tax filing exercise. Not sure this is even possible considering the many things that could have taken place the entire year and since no one has been keeping track of all these, how would it be possible to do a proper declaration by 18 April?

Putting a Price Tag To Every Media Experience Is Not Possible

Say a PR agency invites the blogger to attend a meet-and-greet session with a Minister to discuss issues on some new policies. During the session, drinks and food was served. After the session, blogger publish an article about the session and shares photos of it on their Instagram account; hence will be seen as a service was rendered which was derived from the invitation where goods (food and drinks) were provided. How do we declare this?

Only Apply to Self-Employed

Quoting from the article published on The Straits Times:

Some bloggers also said that if non-monetary benefits are taxable, the same norms should apply to journalists, freelance writers, travel hosts and other people who receive free gifts for work.

Iras said the same standards apply to any self-employed people. But non-monetary benefits are not taxable for staff working in a media company, for instance, if they represent the company.

The keyword here is SELF-EMPLOYED or if you are ascertained (found out for certain) you are carrying out trade or business through your blogs/site/social media channels. SOOOO if you are not running your site like a trade or business, i.e. you don’t ask for payment in exchange for a mention or post, nor do you earn any form of income from your site or social network, then you do not fall under the category of self-employed. And hence not liable to file tax for your blogging activities.

Some other scenarios to think about:

  1. Hobbyist writers contributing content to sites/blogs – they do not get paid and are not carrying out any trade or business. They enjoy writing hence they publish online. These writers attend a media event sent to the publication because he is interested in the topic/product, writer gets gifted the product to use. Writer published an article about the launch and a review of the product. Does this writer need to declare tax for the item he received?
  2. An online publication with a registered business (media company) with ACRA, pays a freelance writer to attend and cover a launch event oversea. Trip and everything provided for by the brand, writer attends and write a piece on the publication. Writer declares income received as freelancer (self-employed) when filing for his personal income tax. Since publication is paying the writer, he is hence considered staff working in the company right? So does the registered business need to declare the cost of this trip as part of the business income?
  3. A blogger runs Google Adsense banner on his site. He gets $300 in a year from Adsense. Besides this $300, he also received list of products, free trips and other non-monetary benefits during the year. Does he then be considered a trade or business? And will he then declare all the non-monetary benefits as income in his personal tax?

There are 101 other scenarios that can take place and the blogging scene here in Singapore are still considered new and not matured yet as compared to those in the UK or US, where bloggers run their site like a media company. So dear IRAS, please enlighten the bloggers in more in dept information and give a more structured guidelines as to who needs to declare as self-employed, what should be declared, who’s exempted, and how they can go about doing all that’s necessary before the 18 April deadline.

If this letter was issued a year ago, to preempt the bloggers that they need to start filing for tax the following year, then they would have been better prepared and know how to react now.

To all my blogging friends and communities, please chill and don’t worry too much. Many of you are not running a trade nor business, so don’t worry about it ok. For those who are, and is looking at formalising the whole “blogging business” thing, I’ll suggest you read up on the how-to guides as a sole-proprietor or a limited liability partnership on ACRA website here. It is pretty straightforward really and start keeping proper records of all the ins and outs. See my posts on recording transactions for business for some tips.

Lastly…

Stay Calm and Blog On!