A political pause? - 27th September, 2007

Pre-election uncertainty is likely behind a reduction in the number of homes for sale in Brisbane’s west right now, creating a unique opportunity for astute sellers to capitalise on an under-serviced market. While demand is stronger than ever, an unseasonal shortage of stock is pushing up prices, Kenmore being a classic example. In the first three months of this year, 71 homes sold in the suburb; in the second quarter 57 homes sold; and currently there are only 46 homes available to buy. The median house price for the suburb has gone up 14.03% to $451,000 in just six months. Everything that is listed is selling but there are not enough homes to satisfy demand. This is in spite of robust confidence in the local property market and an influx of people moving into the area – indeed we’ve had almost 2000 new enquiries about local property since January. So one has to assume that the election and its related issues are weighing on people’s minds. I find this a curious reaction because economically things stand to change very little with a change in government, at least in the short term. The most significant policy changes stand to affect first-home owners, who account for a very small portion of our local market. By sitting on their hands, would-be sellers (especially those looking to downsize) are bypassing the opportunity for very satisfying price results – the inevitable product of low supply and high demand. That said, housing affordability remains the hot topic for both political parties leading in to the election. The ancient Chinese curse holds true: we live in interesting times. Until next week … Gerard Baden-Clay, Principal Century 21 Westside www.expertrealestate.blogspot.com

Priceless predictions - 20th September, 2007

It’s one thing to analyse market movements and trends after the fact; it’s quite another to predict what will happen next. This takes a very practised understanding of the local interplay of a number of critical factors, the most obvious of which is recent house prices and how they plot on traditional real estate cycles. Far less clear-cut factors include projected infrastructure developments, population movements, aesthetic trends and national economic indicators. In short, it’s far from an exact science but it is one that serious real estate agencies strive to master because, at the end of the day, it’s the information people really need to make sound real estate decisions. Century 21 Westside has been closely following movements and trends within our local postcodes, enabling us to send out quarterly suburb reports to local residents and to more accurately predict what will happen next. (If you haven’t received one, please give our office a call and we’ll happily mail a copy of the latest report for your suburb.) Demonstratively our recent analysis and media commentary about Brookfield’s emergence as the prestige suburb of the west led to our prediction of a record price being achieved for a stunning non-acreage home in Jamieson Place. Selling for just under $1.2 million, the home stood to attract such a price not only because it is a very impressive home on an elevated block but also because all indications are that Brookfield prices will continue to rise as gentrification continues and prestige buyers look outside of their normal comfort zones for lifestyle value and geographic exclusivity. Congrats to both the buyer and seller of Jamieson Place – you’ve both made excellent decisions! Until next week … Gerard Baden-Clay, Principal Century 21 Westside www.expertrealestate.blogspot.com

Avoiding the money pit - 13th September, 2007

We’ve all heard the stories about the couple that buys a run-down home, renovates it within an inch of its life and ultimately recoups hundreds of thousands dollars’ profit on their initial outlay. (You usually hear these loudly embellished at barbecues and later go home to kick the cat.) We’ve also heard the stories about the couple that does the same thing and loses the lot: their savings, their dreams and unnecessary years off their lives. Somewhere in between the two brands of anecdote, a more common story lies: a fair return for a fair investment. There are simply no hard-and-fast rules to the art and science of renovation. This is because there are just too many variables involved that have little to do with the renovation process itself – the home’s position and the current state of the market being the two most obvious. There is also the very fluid nature of tradesmen’s prices and availability (when one isn’t going DIY) and the fickleness of renovation trends themselves (polished floorboards today, sandstone tiling tomorrow). And of course it’s impossible to predict to what extent a potential buyer will want to have scope to do further renovation themselves. While some people covet a home that is completely finished, others fear the limitation of having no way to add further value. Given all this, it seems incredible that people still embark on pre-sale renovation projects without any qualified advice. A quick call-out by a real estate expert will soon tell you how best to strike the right balance between over-capitalising and under-capitalising … in other words, how to avoid the money pit. Until next week … Gerard Baden-Clay, Principal Century 21 Westside

Ethics. What dilemma? - 6th September, 2007

Once upon a time a real estate agent might dare not have uttered the term “ethics” else it invited untold scrutiny. This industry grew from unstructured beginnings, at the whim of supply and demand and at the behest of wealthy land owners. Inevitably, given the more unsavoury aspects of human nature, the abuse of selling privileges was rife. The reputation of a few (perhaps more than a few) tarnished the career choice of many. We’ve come a long away as an industry, but the legacy of years gone by lingers. It’s still fashionable to lump in real estate agents with journalists, lawyers and used car salesmen on the List of People One Shouldn’t Trust. Joke-worthy, yes, but hardly fair for any of the aforementioned occupations. All have adopted industry codes and now answer to industry watchdogs as a condition of their operation. That said, everything comes down to the behaviour of individuals, doesn’t it? Everything can come unstuck by a precious few. A school can have a fine reputation but an abominable bully. The real estate industry is no exception. Recently we’ve seen several tales in the media of agents buying under-priced properties under alias identities. It is appalling behaviour and, tellingly, such agents almost always come unstuck … and quickly. But it does us all a huge disservice. I was going to use this blog to take the moral high ground on behalf of our local industry, but only last week had cause to call into questions the ethics of a competitor. I did so not for the sake of market position but because we all suffer when someone lowers the bar. I’m sure the person in question knows exactly what I’m talking about. Ethics aren’t just fashionable in real estate – they’re mandatory. And governed by law. Until next week … Gerard Baden-Clay, Principal Century 21 Westside www.expertrealestate.blogspot.com