Big brand real estate comes to Australia – Simon Cashman

There is a new real estate kid on the block. It’s called Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, not to be confused with the Better Homes and Gardens television show.
Simon Cashman heads it here and he hopes to grow the brand in Australia and New Zealand on the back of its strength overseas.
Kevin:  There’s a brand new real estate kid on the block. It’s called Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, not to be confused with the Better Homes and Gardens television show. The man behind the new brand is Charles Tarbey, who was also the chairman and owner of Century 21 Australasia. Simon Cashman, however, will be responsible for the operation of the brand in Australia, and he joins us.
Good morning, Simon.
Simon:  Good morning. How are you?
Kevin:  Well, thank you. Simon, is there any association between the real estate brand and the television show?
Simon:  No, there’s not. We’re quite unique, as any real estate brand is. We have a great relationship developing with Pacific Magazines, so we’re working quite closely with them at the moment, and we’ll be advertising properties in their magazine moving forward. But there’s potential for that, but certainly, there isn’t any at the moment.
Kevin:  I would have thought it’s a great multimedia hook, being associated with the magazine, but also the television show. A great opportunity, I would have thought.
Simon:  Yes, that is correct. The success of it is coming out of the States. The Meredith Corporation over there, one of the largest publicists, has had a very successful job working with BHG Real Estate and Sherry Chris. So, we are following a bit in those footsteps.
Kevin:  I mentioned on the outset there about Century 21. Are there any plans for Better Homes and Gardens, the real estate network, to work closer with Century 21 in Australia?
Simon:  The opportunity is there for C21 offices. They get the first right of refusal. If they’re looking at opening up another shop, by all means, we are welcoming that conversation with them. And that arm has been extended to them quite openly at the moment, and we do have some interest already. It gives them the opportunity to reach across a broader demographic and a broader area, and I think that’s the best opportunity we can extend to them before we go to market.
Kevin:  Yes. It’s a bit like the Colgate Palmolive story, isn’t it? Colgate Palmolive with so many soap brands, it really helps with market share.
How big is Better Homes and Gardens in Australia, just to give us some perspective, and also, like Century 21, will you be hoping to leverage off that?
Simon:  You mean in the States?
Kevin:  Yes.
Simon:  There are about 350 offices and about 11,000 brokers over there, as they call them, as opposed to agents as we call them. So, under the realty umbrella, where C21 sits as well, BHG is actually quite a formidable brand. It’s a common name. It’s as omnipresent as much as it is here.
Kevin:  What are your ambitions for Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate and its growth in the Australian market?
Simon:  We’re looking at launching in the latter half of this year. We have a number of offices, as I mentioned, people who are keen. The interest has been massive since the [2:35 inaudible] article and the other articles we’ve had. So, we are looking at growing at a steady pace, and we believe that we should have a number of offices within the first 24 months and should be able to double that within five years.
Kevin:  Do you have the rights for New Zealand as well?
Simon:  We do, yes. That’s our next cab off the rank. We’re going to establish ourselves comfortably in Australia first, and then certainly, we will be going across the ditch into New Zealand.
It’s important to note that we already have a number of offices chomping at the bit that are keen to go with us, but we want to make sure we have the right strategy – which we do – in place to work the Eastern Seaboard, swing around to South Australia and WA, and then certainly branch out into New Zealand.
Kevin:  Some would say that we’ve already over-crowded the Australian market with real estate brands. How will this one stand out?
Simon:  I believe we have a point of difference in the simple fact that if you mention the name Better Homes and Gardens anywhere in Australia, people already know it. It’s a very well-known brand. The association with how the rest of the media is portrayed for BHG at the moment is that we’re a very warm and welcoming brand.
We believe that our agents – who we’re going to call service personnel – will be able to take you through the whole journey of the home. A lot of agents proclaim that now, but I think we have an advantage with a magazine that will be placing advertising and articles in association with its partner at Channel 7 that we will be able to utilize.
Picture this: I’m moving into the new home, and for the next seven years, I’ll be able to help you maintain that investment and look after that property. And we’ll be able to promote articles that we’ve seen in the magazine or on the show that associate with better landscaping or a renovation or fixing your driveway or things like that that as an agent or a service person, he or she will be able to offer those services on an ongoing basis throughout the whole journey of the home. So, in seven to ten years’ time, who else would you call?
Kevin:  You called them service personnel. Is that an American influence?
Simon:  No, not at all. It’s ours. We certainly want that to be portrayed. The real estate agent as we know it is stereotypical in a lot of ways, and we are certainly looking for people who are real estate agents but believe in that full-service approach to looking after their clients, not just as a traditional agent would today.
Kevin:  You’re experienced in both the Australian and the American market. Is there much we can learn from America, or is it going to push back the other way?
Simon:  That’s very interesting, Kevin. I would suggest there’s a lot to be learned from Sherry Chris and what she has done as the president and CEO. An extremely successful brand, and we have a lot to learn from them and how they’ve done things over there. In turn, I think Australia leads the way on the globe of how we tackle real estate, and certainly its marketing and property advertising.
I think it’s a two-way thing. I think we’re going to be able to help each other out, and we are very close to sharing her team already. It’s a great relationship.
Kevin:  Of course, we do know that the Australian market is the most expensive market in the world to advertise a property on the Internet. No doubt that makes the Australian market quite attractive to a brand like Better Homes and Gardens, I would have thought.
Simon:  Yes, it does. Absolutely. I think BHG, Better Homes and Gardens, has been watching Australia for some time. The opportunity came, we seized the day. But yes, they are already very watchful and very mindful and offering as much support as they can right now. Sherry herself is very frequently in Australia. She’s coming out again in a few more months from now to be involved with some of our PR.
It’s a pleasure to be working with them, and you’re right, they are very keen to see what we can do with the brand down under.
Kevin:  Yes, wonderful stuff. Great talking to you, Simon. Simon Cashman is behind Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate and what it’ll be doing in the Australian market.
Simon, thank you so much for your time.
Simon:  Absolute pleasure. Thanks so much for the call.

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