Up the Garden Path - 4th October, 2007

It’s reprehensible, not only because it compromises the hard-won integrity of our modern industry but mainly because it potentially misleads people who are making extremely important decisions about property. I’m referring to the practice of “talking it up” – gushing over-the-top positivity about market movements for the sake of getting buyers and/or sellers roused into immediate action. It’s an old-school, pre-code of ethics attempt at market manipulation that, in spite of a more well-informed populace, is still practiced by a small percentage of agents who frankly should know better. Last week my office released a report to the media about an observed lull in local property activity – specifically a decline in stock levels – that we surmised may be attributable to pre-election jitters. This information was based not only on listing activity through our office but through all local offices – incontrovertible statistics available to everyone. I was therefore amused, and then just plain angry, to read commentary from another local agent saying that both buyers and sellers were currently pumping with adrenalin to secure deals before the upcoming election. The article was devoid of any statistics – necessarily so because they wouldn’t have added up – and seemingly designed to drum up local business by leading people to believe they would be remiss not to act in the current fever-pitch state of play. The simple fact is listings have been down for the past couple of months, although as I write this there is a sense that things are turning again with solid interest among first-home buyers prompting some downsizers to put their sub-$500,000 homes on the market. At the end of the day, however, most people buy and sell due to their own individual circumstances, not because a real estate agent tells them they should and now. It follows that we should be reporting how the market IS, not simply how we’d like it to be. Until next week … Gerard Baden-Clay Principal, Century 21 Westside