Hello and welcome to PropertyChat! Today marks 1 month since PropertyChat was officially launched, so we wanted to take this opportunity to welcome our new members and explain a bit about the site, its purpose and the people behind it. PropertyChat came into being as a direct result of the decision by the owners of the very successful Somersoft Forums to archive their site rather than commercialise it to help meet the rapidly rising costs of administration and management of their growing website and community. Simon Hampel took over the administration and management of the Somersoft Forums in 2002 and operated it on behalf of Jan & Ian Somers up until the site was archived at the end of June 2015. He still maintains that site as a read-only archive of property investment knowledge, generated by over 16 years of community contribution from nearly 13,000 members since its inception in 1999. Read the official announcement about the archiving of the Somersoft Forums - End of an Era - for more about the reasons behind the decision. To ensure the close-knit community from Somersoft were not left without a home, Simon was given approval to launch a new and separate site - which is how PropertyChat came into being. The business was founded and the first version of the website built in only 16 days and officially launched on June 18th, 2015 to coincide with the announcement from Somersoft. PropertyChat was started with the goal of becoming the largest and most respected property investment community in Australia. It is independently run - the founders and owners of the site are not in the real estate industry and have no vested interests or agendas beyond providing the best online community for passionate investors like themselves. The site brings together service providers who have expertise and knowledge to share, along with experienced property investors who have first hand knowledge of the property markets and the processes and strategies that have created real wealth for them. Investors of all levels of experience can share information and learn from each other - the community thrives on its enthusiasm for all aspects of real estate. PropertyChat is operated under a well defined and strict set of rules explaining what behaviour is expected from community members - aimed at keeping the conversations office-friendly and non-threatening. There are also clearly defined rules for Business Members specifying how and where they are allowed to promote themselves to the community. The Business Members Guide details how they can get the most out of their membership while still complying with the rules, to keep the discussions free of spruiking and self-promotion. The community is guided by a very dedicated team of volunteer moderators who seek to help new members, ensure that discussions are kept on topic, clean up any issues or problems that may occur and help deal with the inevitable conflict that arises from time to time. From a commercial point of view, the site offers membership upgrades above and beyond the basic free membership. Premium Community membership offers regular members an enhanced experience on the forums and helps contribute to the operating costs of the site. Business Membership provides structured promotional opportunities for service providers who offer their time and knowledge freely to the investment community. In addition, targeted advertising is also available and aimed at the estimated 80% of traffic to the website who visit from search engines. The goal of the PropertyChat business is to become commercially sustainable to enable the continued investment in ongoing development of the community and functionality of the site for the benefit of our members and visitors. The PropertyChat website and business is operated by the team at Hampel Group who specialise in developing custom software solutions for businesses. Founder and Managing Director @Simon Hampel , comes from a technical background with over 20 years of experience in the IT industry. His interest and passion for real estate investment developed in 1999 after reading Jan Somer's book "Building Wealth through Investment Property". Originally from South Australia, Simon and his wife now live in Sydney with their two young children. The first 30 days of PropertyChat have seen quite astonishing growth and enthusiasm from our new community with over 22,000 posts made by more than 2,100 members. The quality of the discussion is already at a very high level with many interesting topics across all aspects of real estate investment being discussed. We are delighted by the incredibly positive feedback we have received from our members since launching the site and are excited by the potential we see to grow the community into something truly special and rewarding for everyone who contributes. Thank you all, welcome - and we hope you find a wealth of knowledge on our site. The PropertyChat Team.