Crunching the figures

No doubt you’ve heard about the latest RP Data figures showing a whopping 62% increase in Brisbane listings compared to this time last year. Just to put those figures in perspective, Sydney recorded a 0.8% increase and Perth 2.4%. Obviously Brisbane is booming, but what I would also attribute this difference to, as I explained to both the Courier-Mail and Seven Nightly News last weekend, is the fact that new developments are now being advertised in a very different manner to the way they were 12 months ago. Let me explain. Brisbane is flush with new developments in order to keep pace with rapid population growth. Many of these are now being listed as individual lots rather than single developments (partly because this better marries with modern search engine technology and partly because developers know that they stand a good chance of selling each listing even before it has a house on it). For example, 12 months ago developers might have advertised their new 200-block project as ‘Project A’. Now they're listing each block of dirt under a separate title – that’s 200 new listings, not just one. It would explain why there are currently 126 properties presently available in Moggill (according to, not a dozen as there was this time last year. This shift in the way properties are categorised has quite possibly inflated Brisbane’s listing rate in recent times, and I think it’s an important factor to take into account because to put all the current market activity down to an interest rate reaction is to miss the fact that the southern states are not displaying anywhere near the same level of activity. That said, the SEQ market is still clearly booming – certainly we’ve got considerably more on our books than at this time last year – but supply and demand are still reliable tools and should ensure that people pay what homes are really worth.

Making history

Below is a transcript of a speech I delivered last week to Kenmore State High School's student leaders for 2008 History is made equally in large and small ways. This morning our Prime Minister delivered an earnest speech to a group of people who desperately needed to hear those words. Now, I don’t expect that all of you desperately need to hear my words but I will say that my speech here is earnest and, what’s more, that in our own small way we are making history today … we are contributing to the history of this esteemed school and, perhaps more importantly, to our own personal history. I mean that quite genuinely. While I have been invited here today to acknowledge the select group of young men and women who will lead this great school throughout 2008, I also came here because I wanted to speak to ALL of you. Each and every one of you. You are playing a role in the history and the future – the history of the school and in your own personal future. Can I just have a bit of audience participation? Please put your hand up if you have finished school already? Please leave your hand up if you were NOT a prefect at school. Look around you students. Amongst these proud people are captains of industry, exceptional teachers, devoted mothers and fathers, sporting champions, business leaders and dedicated employees. So you see, whilst today we are recognising the student leaders for 2008, this morning, I wanted to speak to ALL of you about three key things that should be important to each of us, and that we should embrace in order to achieve the most from this year. Those three things are teamwork, leadership and success. I’m so glad that you have allocated me an hour and a half on each of these subjects! I want to tell you about a very special person: my brother, Adam Baden-Clay. Recently, as you and our parents may have read in this week’s Westside News, Adam and his wife Nicole left Australia to join Free The Children, an international foundation that supports and educates needy children and their families throughout the world. Why would I tell you about this? Well, not just because Adam is my brother and I’m very proud of him but mostly because the Free The Children foundation could have been started by any one of you. That’s right – Free The Children was started by a fellow called Craig Keilburger when he was just 12 years old. Twelve years old! Craig was alarmed when he found out that children in the world were being made to work like slaves and so he gathered six friends together … literally, six mates in the school ground … and he formed a small charity to fight child labour. Guess what? Craig is now 24 years old and his organisation, Free The Children, is the world’s largest network of children helping children throughout the world. Free The Children runs operations in more than 45 countries and has built more than 500 schools around the world. It was my brother who showed me just how amazing this organisation is and who reminded me about just how powerful we are as 12 year olds … with the world at our feet and our whole lives ahead of us. In fact, we are powerful at any age if we choose to be. The school leaders we acknowledge today embody three key attributes: team work, leadership and success. Interestingly, these are the same three attributes I aim to inspire within my own business, Century 21 Westside, and in fact within my own family. What is teamwork? Teamwork is all about knowing what everyone is trying to achieve and, by extension, doing your bit to help. You know what the objectives and philosophies of this school are. You know what you can do to help, and you also know that if everyone lent a hand, then the acronym of TEAM – Together Everyone Achieves More - would become a reality. Leadership. To me, the most fundamental element of good leadership is to lead by example. That entails responsibility … responsibility for one’s own actions. Let me tell you that nothing impresses others more, nothing attracts people more, nothing compels people more, and nothing earns respect more than a leader who leads by example. If you want to see a clean school ground – you should pick up rubbish … and then ask for help. If you want dress standards to be better – you should dress well first. If you want people to be on time for class and events – you should always be punctual yourself. If you lead by example, others will follow. And finally, success. This year, The Scout Association celebrates 100 years of making a difference in young people’s lives. Scouting was started by my great-grandfather, Lord Baden-Powell, who led an extraordinary life and was by any standard a very successful man. And so today, I would like to leave you with his words and I will personally encourage you to not only make history but to make the future. Lord Baden Powell said this: “What is success? Top of the tree? Riches? Position? Power? Not a bit of it! We were put into this world of wonders and beauty with a special ability to appreciate them, and also in being able to help other people instead of overreaching them and, through it all, to enjoy life – that is, to be happy. That is what I count as success, to be happy. But Happiness is not merely passive – that is, you don’t get it by sitting down to receive it – that would be a smaller thing called pleasure. But we are given arms and legs and brains and ambitions with which to be active, and it is the active that counts more than the passive in gaining true Happiness” Congratulations to those of you leading the school in 2008, and best wishes to all of you on today … tomorrow and every day from now on. Thank you.

It's just not cricket

There’s no denying the local market is hot and that the pressure between agencies to secure a limited supply of listings for release to a super-keen band of buyers is intense. The 4069 postcode has no shortage of real estate agents, only a shortage of supply due to the established and contented nature of the community, so in short we’re dealing with a small pie being cut into very small pieces. And that’s okay. It’s exciting to operate within such a competitive market! In a perfect world it means that everyone has to lift their standards and services in order to excel, effectively raising the bar overall. In reality, however, such pressure has the opposite effect on some agents, reducing them to tactics and behaviour that compromise not only their own integrity but the integrity of the industry as a whole. If their behaviour didn’t affect me and the community in which I live and work, then I would have nothing to say about this. But it does directly affect me and it directly affects you. No names or pack drills here – I seek not to expose the offender but the practice, the practice being to erect For Sale signs on properties prior to any contract being signed. It is first and foremost illegal. It is secondly unethical. And it is finally reprehensible. I have witnessed two recent incidents in which a sign was placed outside a property without contractual authority. In one case, the home’s seller was advised by the agent that this was normal practice, even though the seller was still in discussions with other agents wishing to sell the property. (Presumably the offending agent thought their sign would send out a “Too late, back off” signal to the competition. It did not.) In the other case, the agent placed the sign on a vacant block of land without the seller (who lived elsewhere) even knowing. The seller must have got quite a shock when he called into town to check on his asset only to discover it was allegedly for sale. My information tells me that the agent’s explanation was that he was trying to do the property owner a “favour” by attracting interest in his absence. Whatever you might construe from that explanation, and the underlying motivation, the act itself is illegal. For Sale signs are one of the most important marketing tools an agent has going for them – the more there are up and about around the community, the more enquiries they attract. Success breeds success. It’s something I hope to breed a lot of myself this year, but I can assure you that when you see a Century 21 Westside sign in front of a property, it’s supposed to be there.