Turning the tables on house hunting… Golden graduates… Telstra’s Second Life… China’s spend-up… Magazines log on

Reverse house hunting

We’ve all seen online real estate classifieds – sellers list their properties, buyers browse at their leisure, great.

Trendwatching.com says innovative web businesses are now popping up that work in reverse: buyers to nominate the property they want to buy, even if that property isn’t currently available for sale, allowing sellers to check out the demand for their home without having to put it on the market.

For example, Finnish website Igglo has scanned all of the buildings in Helsinki and put them online for perusal by prospective buyers. Buyers can “pre-order” houses that aren’t even close to being on the market. This allows building owners get a real sense of what there property is worth without having to get a valuation – and if they decide the price is right, Igglo can manage the sale.

Britain, Holland and the US also have similar sites. How long will it take Australia to catch on?

Graduates hit Wall Street running

Competition for top graduates among Wall Street recruiters is so fierce that starting salaries for graduates look like they will beat last year’s record average of $US186,174 ($238,000) for Harvard Business School graduates and $US183,000 for Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, reports Bloomberg.

Banks and consulting firms hold up to 15 events each on campus a year to attract graduates and some firms have set up consulting tables at the local Starbucks café to give 20-minute pitches to passing students over coffee.

Telstra’s Second Life

Telstra is the latest Australian company to invest in the virtual world of Second Life. The site is the brainchild of San Francisco-based Philip Rosedale and is backed by some deep-pocketed investors such as Paul Allen of Microsoft fame, as SmartCompany blogger Brendan McKeegan explains. Don’t like your real life? Get onto Second Life.

Telstra calls its Second Life territory The Pond. Telstra subscribers can subscribe to Second Life and enjoy activities at The Pond. Telstra has created the Outback bar in The Pond and Foster’s Group will advertise its beer in this virtual bar.

Expect more Aussie companies to pop up in Second Life. The ABC will launch its presence later this month.

Chinese consumers upbeat

In China, the numbers are so big it can make your head spin. And they are growing. Retail sales rose 14.5% in the first two months of 2007, reaching 1.45 trillion yuan ($239 billion) according to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics, reports the Australian Financial Review.

Retail growth, fuelled by increased incomes, has exceeded 14% for five consecutive months. Per capita disposable incomes in the country’s towns and cities rose 12.1% in 2006 and rural incomes gained 10.2%

But China’s consumers are still very good savers; they put aside 38% of their income in 2006.

Magazines push further online

A survey by men’s magazines publisher Emap Australia has prompted the publisher of Zoo weekly and FHM to re-launch its websites. The survey of 750 men aged 18 to 35 revealed higher use of social networking sites MySpace and video sharing site YouTube than pay TV and PlayStation2, reports The Australian newspaper. The new mag sites offer blogging, and photo and video sharing.

Meanwhile, Barbie mag publisher Mattel has dumped the print version for young girls, and has plans to boost its online presence. The decision follows a circulation fall from 112,000 to 99,000 in the year to September 2006, according to figures from Roy Morgan.


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