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Real Estate Review: Four Questions to Ask Before Purchasing a Home

by Greg on November 7, 2016
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Purchasing a property, like getting married, is one of the biggest commitments you will ever make. The average home buyer in Australia will sign on the dotted line and commit the following 20 to 30 years of their lives into their purchase. With property prices on average doubling every 10 years, making an astute property […]

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Selling? ‘Get More for Your Home’

by Chris Lang on November 4, 2014
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Did you know there’s a revolution happening in the Australian real estate industry? A relatively new way to sell a home called “Agent-Assisted Sale” is becoming more and more popular. Why? If I could name just one reason, well, it would be “because it allows home sellers to get much more for their property”. Anyone […]

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Top 10 Australian Suburbs

by Chris Lang on July 7, 2014
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Being the most popular real estate website in Australia, realestate.com.au has access to the biggest pool of property listings with all the data and statistics associated with it. The information they released today is quite interesting, because it shows which ten Australian suburbs are looked at by most people. And here they are (based on […]

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Why 2013 Could Be a Good Time to Buy Sydney Property

by Greg on April 3, 2013
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The past years have not been kind to the Sydney housing market. You do not need to be an expert to realise that the real estate sector has suffered – and it’s not just Sydney, but the rest of the country as well. Truth be told, Sydney in particular is one of the most – […]

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New home building fell back into recession

by Chris Lang on September 13, 2012
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According to the latest press release by the HIA, Australia’s new home building sector fell back into recession in 2011/12. ABS Dwelling Commencements update for June 2012 has shown that the current number of new home commencements in 2011/12 fell 11.7 per cent to 138,852. Dr. Harley Dale, HIA Chief Economist, says that there have […]

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‘Get Results You Deserve’ when selling or leasing your property [Book Review]

by Chris Lang on March 9, 2012
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Let’s say you’ve decided to sell your house, what’s the first thing you do? That’s right, you get some appraisals from real estate agents. Then you decide which agent you are going to work with, sit down and exchange some details about the property and your expectations, and voila, you’ve set the ball rolling and […]

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How to read real estate market trends using auction clearance rates

by Chris Lang on February 23, 2012
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Auction clearance rates are a big deal in Australia. Around one-third of all residential properties are sold via auction, which justifies the importance of this indicator. Clearance rate is reported as a percentage – for example, 70% means that 7 properties out of 10 auctioned were sold on that particular Saturday. But in addition to […]

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Busting the myth of the housing shortage

by Chris Lang on July 25, 2011
Busting the myth of the housing shortage

Here’s a shocking revelation: housing shortage may only exist in our imagination. In reality there are over 46,000 empty homes, purchased by property speculators, excluded from the rental vacancy rate calculations. If we were to include these homes, the real vacancy rates would be much higher. According to the latest report released by Earthsharing Australia, […]

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Andrew Blachut: The Big Change In realestate.com.au Nobody Is Talking About

by Chris Lang on July 11, 2011
Andrew Blachut: The Big Change In realestate.com.au Nobody Is Talking About

Last time Andrew Blachut, the owner of DIY property sales website Propertynow.com.au, was interviewed on homeiown.com, he was NOT happy – and for a very good reason. His business, PropertyNow.com.au, relies on the ability to gain the maximum of exposure for his clients – vendors looking to sell their homes. These people choose the DIY […]

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Private sales on Realestate.com.au – the truth. Interview with Andrew Blachut

by Chris Lang on June 6, 2009
Private sales on Realestate.com.au - the truth. Interview with Andrew Blachut

Propertynow.com.au logoWe all know how important it is for the vendor to expose their house to the maximum of potential buyers, and realestate.com.au is one of the two websites that get the most visitors. I was under impression they didn’t allow private sellers to advertise, but lately several websites started offering packages that include listing on Realestate.com.au.

Andrew Blachut has kindly agreed to clarify the situation. First, a little background: Andrew owns a successful business Propertynow.com.au and specializes in DIY realestate private sale system. In other words he helps people avoid paying humongous estate agents’ fees when selling their house.

Chris: Hi Andrew and thanks for being here. I must admit, for quite some time I’ve been confused about whether or not Realestate.com.au allowed listings from private sellers on their website.

How come you don’t offer advertising packages on the leading real estate website, Realestate.com.au?

Andrew:

Very good question and one that has almost everyone similarly confused. Let’s clarify by saying at the outset and categorically – Private sales are not permitted on realestate.com.au at the time of this interview.

Are there private sale on that site right now? Absolutely!

And how and why is this amazing contradiction occurring? Simply because the REA ( that’s the company which owns realestate.com.au ) has given up to 30 days for all private sale companies to comply with the REA’s new Terms of Service.

You see Christine the companies that are listing private sellers on realestate.com.au, are fully aware that they are in breach of the TOS and I’ve been told in writing today by the REA solicitor ( Nicole Birman ) that they have 30 days to comply with the new REA Terms of Service. They have already had the benefit of many weeks of getting away with this practice and now they have another 30 days at least.

PropertyNow is not offering the service for one reason only and that is because the REA won’t permit private sales.

We have been offered an account with the REA 3 times in the past 3 weeks and so far have declined because they are still saying no to Private sales. We seek to have their policy changed. We believe it’s manifestly unjust but we can only do something long term and meaningful about it through legal avenues or the ACCC.

Meanwhile we won’t accept our clients money on false pretenses while knowing the service is doomed within weeks.

Chris: What do you know about the companies that do offer private listings on Realestate.com.au?

Andrew:

I know of at least 6 companies breaking the REA rules. Whether or not the REA’s rules are just and enforceable, is almost irrelevant. You just can’t mislead people and take their money while blaming the REA. That won’t fool anyone. The REA must change and we won’t rest until they do, but fooling people and using false advertising is not the way.

In fact there are very severe penalties for any real estate agent engaged in false and misleading advertising , which surely this must be.
Note: theoretically only a real estate agent can have an account with the REA, so all the private sale businesses offering the REA service must be Licensed real estate agents.

I had one Private sale business tell me over the phone yesterday that he intends to continue offering the service. He’s been in the business of offering private sales on REA for just 3 months and apparently thinks he can dictate the terms to the REA ( perhaps he can, at least that’s what he told me ).

I’m glad I’m not the one who’ll be speaking with his very disgruntled clients shortly, although I bet he has a sneaky TOS of his own embedded somewhere. I also would anticipate that he will not refund anybody but we’ll see soon enough. The good fellow had the temerity to tell me that the PropertyNow service is inferior to his and if by inferior he meant “legal” then again he must be correct.

PropertyNow was offering private sales on the REA 3 years earlier than this new kid on the block, but we were forced to stop. The difference is that immediately upon the REA making it clear to me what their policy was I closed my account in protest. The account was suddenly worthless for private sellers. Neither did we accept new clients nor take money, long before the decision of the REA was official.

Christine, I’m sorry if I come across as angry but I’m sure you appreciate the gravity of this matter. You see, PropertyNow’s clients are getting a terribly rough deal in this and I perceive that it’s the fault of the REA and also the devil may care Private sale companies, who are flouting REA rules openly and without any apparent fear of the consequences for they and their clients.

I guess if you are one of the lucky ones who sells before the hammer drops you’ll think you’ve done well. For the others ( the majority ) it might be cause for legal action against either the REA or the company breaking their rules ( or both ).

Chris: Some things change over time – has the policy of REA changed? I know that you exchanged quite a few letters with them, what do they say?

Andrew:

Ah, another very relevant question Christine. The REA rewrote and published their new TOS just last Thursday ( 28/5/09 ) I am certain they did so because we have been forcing the issue with increasing strength for the past 6 weeks. The new TOS are extraordinarily tight, so much so that I personally doubt that most real estate agents with normal agencies could pass the test, let alone the FSBO companies. I say they are tight in what they require of real estate agents , who like me, would seek to assist private sellers.

But tight, is not the same as legal. Yes, you’re right we have exchanged a good many letters and they have approved our account and offered it to us on 3 separate occasions.

Chris: Andrew, in your opinion, should people trust the websites that are offering advertising on REA and why?

Andrew:

Categorically not.

These companies are putting financial gain ahead of Duty of Care to their clients by way of through truth in advertising. If the companies are even mentioning to potential clients that the REA may dispute their listings, that in itself is no defense.

They are profiteering while they can and the noose is about to tighten on them. There is a way to approach this problem and ripping people off is not part of the solution.

Chris: Do you think REA is going to allow private vendors on their website soon?

Andrew:

Hmm?? That’s truly the sixty four thousand dollar question Christine.

I think they will be dragged kicking and screaming through the courts and/or via the ACCC. They will resist and they have very deep pockets. They receive literally millions of dollars every month from agents. If we sue we could be kept in court for years.

Agents line the REA pockets and they won’t abandon them easily.

Let me put it to you this way Christine. About 3 years ago a State Manager of the REA said to me, in Port Macquarie “while ever I’m in charge there will be no private sellers on realestate.com.au”. That manager is still on the REA and in a very senior role.

I can only hope that the public good will eventually be served through our legal system because that is the only avenue that can succeed. Remember that Telstra was forced to share it’s lines with Optus and others ….and Telstra is bigger than the REA. Of course a 900 million dollar company such as the REA can make it very difficult for PropertyNow and others who seek justice, equity and change… but public pressure in tandem with the legal system, can work wonders. It’s certainly a fight worth fighting.

Ask any independent person whether they feel that they should have a right to access the largest real estate website in Australia ( without the restrictions on use it currently imposes ) and the answer is obvious. Ask a private seller if it’s fair and it’s even clearer.

So yes, Christine, it’s a matter of time, but if I am framing the odds, I think it may take many months and quite possibly years to achieve this long overdue change. One thing’s for sure PropertyNow will be leading the charge.

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Selling a house without an agent: your options (part 1)

by Chris Lang on May 25, 2009
Selling a house without an agent: your options (part 1)

For sale by owner sign on a fenceA couple of posts ago we’ve discussed the value of real estate agents in the process of selling your home and the reasons to use them. However, in certain circumstances, estate agents are a luxury some of us simply can’t afford. If the sale wasn’t planned, if it’s due to a separation, divorce, financial difficulties, paying an agent can be out of question.

Consider selling a house for a modest price of 300K. I am taking the lower end of the market on purpose, just to show how ridiculously high the agents’ fees are. The basic commission is 2-2.5% of the house price, which means that a “insignificant” amount of $6000 to $7500 is going out of your pocket and into the agents’. Do you think that 5 pictures of your place, a sign board and a month or two of advertising should cost that much?

I must say that in Australia selling one’s house without an agent is almost unheard of, and the courageous people who dare sell on their own get looked at in a weird way. Not to mention the estate agents, who come to their doors and literally laugh in their faces: “What do you think you’re doing, you never going to sell, not without me!”

The big advantage of selling with an agent is they have everything pre-arranged. They have a photographer on call, they have a sign guy who installs the “For sale” board in your front yard on an hour’s notice, they know the right day for booking an ad in the newspaper and they have all the forms for submitting the written offer ready.

To an average person it will take a week to arrange all that and put the house on the market. This shouldn’t discourage you though – I am writing this with just one purpose, to give you a realistic expectation of the timeframe so that you won’t get frustrated with how slowly things are moving.

So here is what you need to do:

1. Get your own “For sale” board
2. Don’t take house shots yourself – but get a professional to do it.
3. Do your own advertising
4. Do your own negotiating

And here is how to do it:

Getting your own “For sale” board and some pretty photos is not a big deal, but finding the right kind of advertising that will reach the highest number of buyers for the lowest price is not trivial. I have written about the power of online advertising and the bottom line is that you need to put your house on two major websites, domain.com and realestate.com.au (read this post for explanation why).

There are several ways to advertise your home and reach the most buyers. In my next post I will be discussing and comparing them (including the costs). Subscribe to Homeiown via email and be the first to get it.

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