Viewing by month: June 2009

Tips for real estate negotiations

If you’re new to real estate, or don’t have regular exposure to the workings of it, some real estate processes can be a little confusing. Now more than even buyers are looking to get the most for their money, and sellers are looking to get the most for their home, which means that on all sides there are parties that need to be prepared to handle demands and make compromises.


Negotiating the purchase of a home or investment property is a high-stakes decision, and often an emotional process, and that’s why local experts like your CENTURY 21 office staff are an invaluable resource. From years of real estate experience, your agent should be able to tell you that there are a few key things to keep in mind when negotiating in real estate. Here are a few of them.


Possibly the most important rule is know your limits. Decided in advance on what you are and are not prepared to be flexible on. Realistically the areas you’re probably going to have to show some flexibility are price and timing of the move. But when it comes to price in particular, make sure you know your limits. It’s easy to get carried away if you find what you believe to be the house of your dreams, but it can be not so easy to deal with a rash decision later! Make sure your real estate agent is aware of your parameters and talk to your agent to realistically set your priorities.


It’s also wise to let your real estate agent do the talking. Well, most of it, anyway. Agents such as your local Century 21 expert are specifically trained in negotiating real estate transactions. Real estate agents know the legal implications and demands of the transaction, which are designed to satisfy your best interests. Agents also act as the third party in your negotiations, which means they aren’t dealing with emotions and there is no chance of making an emotionally driven decision.

Finally, in the vein of compromise and demands, you need to know when to walk away. If the other side is not prepared to meet you part of the way in your negotiations, maybe the home (or the buyer) isn’t the one for you. Don’t give up too easily, but know when enough is enough and it’s time to give it up.  

1 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 30/06/2009 at 8:23 AM | Categories:

Putting a positive spin on a bad location

Everyone knows the phrase Location! Location! Location! when it comes to real estate, so what happens when your location really isn’t that great but the house you’re trying to sell is? Working in real estate, the majority of our agents have seen this scenario – a beautiful home that overlooks train tracks, or a larger than average property that’s next to the freeway – and although the location isn’t ideal, we know that to the right person, for the right price, the property will sell.


At the moment, because there are many suburbs where falling house prices has become common, trying to sell in a less than ideal location poses additional challenges for homeowners whose property is up for grabs. There is one other real estate truism however and that’s price overcomes all objections. If a property is priced right, buyers will come.


Buying property is an incredibly personal decision, and out of all the buyers who aren’t prepared to consider living down the street from a commercial district, the less than ideal location could be the perfect fit for a buyer who can’t afford a house elsewhere.


Depending on what other factors are important to a buyer, what is considered a bad location to some could offer ideal qualities for someone else. For example, some buyers will choose a house in a less-than-ideal location because of the schools nearby, even if they could afford a quieter street in a less affluent town.

As with any real estate sales process, the price is also heavily dependent upon how badly the seller wants or needs out. If they want to sell now, the best bet is to price a property significantly lower than the same house would cost in a prime location. Nine times out of ten, the more challenging the location, the lower the price has to be, no matter how beautiful the house.

If you do have a home to sell in a less than perfect spot, your agent should also have other tools to assist, one of which is good old positive spin. Ad copy for your property should highlight the location's positives, not just the price, such as saying it's within walking distance of public transport, shopping, cafes etc. Your real estate agent should also assist you in making your home look the best it can possibly look. Basic rules of decluttering and sprucing up your property still apply, and most agents will tell you they believe there's a unique buyer for every unique home.
0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 29/06/2009 at 8:27 AM | Categories:

Your obligations as a landlord

Last week I touched on the opportunities presenting themselves in the form of student housing, and I’ve also blogged this week about why property is often considered a good investment. However, one thing many people don’t really consider until they are already committed to an investment property is what it actually means to be a landlord.


As a landlord, you have certain liabilities and responsibilities and you have to take these seriously! The majority of us have rented a property at some stage of our lives, and it’s important to remember what it felt like being a tenant when the shoe is on the other foot. Although the real estate may be your property, for the duration you have a tenant, it’s also their home.

As a landlord, you need to ensure that you are aware of your legal obligations to provide safe premises for your tenants. You cannot assume that the lease your tenants have signed gives you protection from liability. There have been changes made to the Residential Tenancies Act which make it clear that as a landlord, you have increased responsibility to ensure your property is safe, not just for the tenant but also for third parties.


Of course you still need to protect yourself and your property and it’s not all about your tenant. Buying real estate, regardless of whether you intend to occupy the property yourself or lease it, is a big decision and the value of your property will be impacted by the care given to it.

In order to protect yourself as a landlord, make sure you’re aware of what is going on at your property. Keep your public risk insurance up to date, and check for exclusions. Make sure your property is inspected regularly, and check beyond the basics to include areas such as the property’s structure, wiring, water pipes etc. And if you’re in the market for an investment property, be sure to organize a written inspection prior to purchase. The old adage ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ can easily be translated to property maintenance, without the sewing part of course.

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 26/06/2009 at 8:45 AM | Categories:

Real estate is looking up

There has been an increasing amount of good news about of late when it comes to the real estate industry and the economy in general. And a recent survey by the Westpac/Melbourne Institute which I’ve referenced in this blog before has shown that the Australian economy is strengthening.

Released last week, the survey predicted that the annual pace of contraction forecast in April to be less severe than in previous months, and it also indicated that economic activity rose by 0.7 per cent in April.   


Although all these numbers and surveys can be confusing for many, this one basically shows that there has been significant improvement in the economy since February, which is when the index hit its low point in the current cycle – the lowest since 1982 in fact. What that does indicate, in layman’s terms, is that if the current rate of improvement continues, we can all look forward to positive growth in the first half of 2010.


From a real estate point of view, that is of course good news. As the economy regains ground, more people are likely to begin considering buying and selling more readily. There are also whispers that more rate cuts are on the horizon which will benefit people already invested in property, and is likely to continue to act as a motivator for those considering entering the property game.   
0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 25/06/2009 at 9:36 AM | Categories:

Innovation in selling real estate

It never ceases to amaze me how creative people can be when it comes to selling property, and as I say regularly, I’ve been in the real estate industry for a long time! The most recent example I’ve seen when it comes to innovative selling methods gaining popularity is the house swap.


Although this idea is, for the most part, attributed to holiday makers, there is an increasing number of people who are having difficulties selling their homes who are looking at house swapping as a method of sale. The idea behind house swapping was originally developed as an affordable holiday option, and homeowners from different places would swap their homes for a short period of time. This obviously requires you to find a house matching your holiday plans and vice versa, and the need for matching home requirements is even greater. This newly emerging trend of permanent house swapping is based on the same idea (homeowners switch places), but the end result is that each owner buys the other person's home. This method of sale is mostly occurring in the hardest hit markets around the world, and in particular the concept has taken hold in the UK.

A good method of sale brings together motivated buyers and sellers, and this is exactly what the permanent house swap is doing – just in a very different way to the conventional methods we are more used to seeing. Although it’s unlikely to become as popular in Australia due to our more resilient property market, for areas where there is an influx of inventory and selling is proving difficult, permanent house swapping is a great option. And as someone in the real estate industry, I always find it fascinating and exciting to see the new ways people are coming up with to successfully transact property.   

1 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 24/06/2009 at 8:11 AM | Categories:

Giving away Century 21 franchises

Being part of an international real estate network, I like keeping track of what CENTURY 21 offices around the world are doing, how they’re advertising etc. In particular, one of the most recent undertakings by the CENTURY 21 South Africa group was of special interest as it was such a novel idea.


Recently, CENTURY 21 South Africa ran something they called the Golden Opportunity competition, where basically they gave away two real estate franchises. They have just announced the winners, both of whom will each receive a 10-year CENTURY 21 franchise worth R200 000. That’s a pretty significant prize!


The competition targeted strong independent principals, exceptional agents and smaller brands and of course had some very strict guidelines. The winners were selected following a stringent judging process including that included initial assessment, confirmation that the applicant held fidelity certificates and were registered with the Estate Agency Affairs Board, and checks that they have strong market share in their respective areas of operation, strong listings books and sound market reputations.


A competition of this nature is such an interesting way to attract new franchisees to the brand, and the contest resulted in a very strong response across the country. In fact, there was so much interest that the first entry to the competition was received only an hour after it launched. This type of interest in joining an international brand indicates that the view that now is the time to prepare for an inevitable market upturn is a valid one.

CENTURY 21 South Africa also stated that they even had positive responses to the promotion from their competitors who saw the competition as ‘giving something back' to the industry at a time when conditions have never been more demanding. Essentially the competition recognized that within South Africa, there are many business people who have the know-how, the business savvy and the acumen to grow their businesses and who are keen to become part of a global brand, but for various reasons, are unable to take up a CENTURY21 franchise in the conventional way. This competition aimed to open the door for these people to a bigger, better world of property marketing, and for the two lucky (and obviously deserving winners) that’s exactly what it’s done.  

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 23/06/2009 at 8:36 AM | Categories:

The return of property investors

The last couple of weeks I have been talking frequently about the renewed confidence in the real estate market, and that at Century 21 we are seeing the return of many investors to the market. The Real Estate Institute of Australia is also witnessing the same, and has recently issued a statement regarding the increasing evidence that the property market is again proving attractive for investors.


What’s proving most attractive to these investors is the high yields and low interest rates currently available, which provides the ability for many to earn a positive return. Ongoing low rental vacancies means it’s a great time to be an investor if you can afford to be. Since late last year the first home buyers have been dominating the property market since late last year, many to cease being renters themselves, which isn’t surprising when you considering that average loan repayments are actually cheaper than median rents in Canberra, Hobart and Darwin. Despite this domination, there are signs that the first home buyers are now not the only active group in the market.

The seasonally adjusted value of finance commitments for investment housing in April saw an increase for the second consecutive month, the first time this has happened since 2007. The good news for investors, on top of the low interest rates and high yields, is that based on median house prices and rents, investors in the majority of our capital cities can expect a positive return. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, and I’ll no doubt say it in future, but if you can afford to be investing in real estate, now is certainly a good time to be doing so. As always, if you have any questions about property, talk to your local Century 21 agent – the expert in your area.

1 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 22/06/2009 at 9:02 AM | Categories:

Real estate tweets

There’s no denying that Twitter has taken hold, and as an online user if you still don’t know what it is, you must be spending considerable time under a cyber rock. From a real estate perspective, Twitter has several uses. As with any Twitter account, the more followers you have, the greater your potential sphere of influence, and the more chance you have of someone actually contacting you in regards to whatever you may be offering – in the case of CENTURY 21 agents, real estate assistance of course.


Twitter has recognised the value in this, and has introduced an application allowing real estate agents to schedule real estate tweets for their property listings. These tweets are then published to their Twitter account.


The real estate tweet includes the sale type, suburb, bedrooms, bathrooms, price, and two property features of the listing. There is also a shortened url to view the listing on TweetLister. Once on TweetLister, the user can see the additional property details, including a photo and link to view the listing at the agent’s website. The user can even submit an enquiry through TweetLister which is emailed to the agent.


To use TweetLister an agent just needs enter their existing Twitter username and password (I suggest you sign up if you haven’t already!), then add the details for listings and schedule when a tweet will be created. Tweets can be created once, daily, weekly or monthly for a particular listing. Everything is able to be controlled through the Control Panel and agents have the ability to cancel listings, view page views and also view the number of enquiries submitted for each listing.

  If you take a quick look around Twitter, you’ll see that there are only a handful of real estate agents in Australia tweeting about new properties they have listed. In fact, there are only a handful of agents tweeting about anything! Now is the time to make your mark, and let your customers know how dedicated you are to providing them regular, updated information.   Twitter is a great way to make regular contact with people who have actively shown an interest in you and what you do, so there is little harm in creating a tweet for every new property you list. As with all e-communications however you need to be mindful of what your followers have actually opted in for, and what’s going to annoy them in a hurry. Don’t be tempted to retweet properties if you don’t get the initial response you were hoping for, but it may be appropriate to resend as a reminder in the lead up to an auction. Common sense should prevail, a concept not unique to the online space!   
0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 19/06/2009 at 9:38 AM | Categories:

Do your homework before you buy

You can’t do too much homework when it comes to buying a property you intend to live in. Home truths can take a while to discover, so those of us in the real estate world know to study up! Your agent should be helping you with this, and advising you of how, and if they’re not, I suggest you visit your nearest local expert at CENTURY 21 quick smart! Deciding where to live is a big decision, and not one to be taken lightly.


I know people who have fallen in love with properties in fabulous towns far from the city, and immediately they’ve begun planning their sea-change with little thought to research. After some sage advice from yours truly of course, they agreed to head back to the property at different times of day, and on different days. A few things came to light. Firstly, many other people had the same love of the town, and they headed there in droves on the weekend. So much for the peace and quiet they had anticipated. Similarly, the quaint pub across the street by day became the local favourite by night (plus it housed all those weekenders) and parking became a nightmare and there was a band playing loud enough to still enjoy them 10kms away. I resisted the urge to say “I told you so” when my friends thanked me for the advice and began reconsidering an apartment closer to the city.


Although discovering less than ideal aspects of what you thought was your dream home can be incredibly disappointing, it’s actually a good thing in the long run. You need to spend time in an area to determine if you really do want to live there. One magical wander through a home open isn’t going to provide you with that. Not every real estate nightmare comes from issues with the actual house. Your local CENTURY 21 agent is a trained expert in their area, so rely on them to answer the questions you have about an area, but also make sure you do your own groundwork too.

 If you’re serious about finding your dream home – your real dream home, not the one that ends up being below the loudest end of a flight path – put in the time to do the research! It’s often smarter to choose an area before you choose a property, and if you put in the hard yards, chances are you’ll end up buying better and staying longer. 
0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 18/06/2009 at 9:07 AM | Categories:

Australia's property market is proving resilient

Following on from my blog earlier this week where I talked about Australians’ confidence increasing when it comes to property, more information has come to light which shows Australia’s market is resilient to tough times. Not surprising really I like to think, when you consider how hardy we Aussies are generally!


Last week, information put out by RP Data showed that we’ve had a relatively soft landing as far as property markets in the current economic conditions go. This can largely be attributed to a significant undersupply of housing across the nation’s capital cities, coupled with record population growth which is forecast to remain strong long term.


Unlike the other countries to which our property market is often compared, our residential property market has also been protected by Australia’s very strong banking system. Although the financial sector is easy to criticise when you’re living here, our ‘big four’ banks all have the AAA rating - no mean feat when only 13 banks around the world are currently rated AAA. 


It is also being predicted that the investment property market will continue to pick up this year, something CENTURY 21 has already begun to see happening in markets around the country. Many investors holding off on property purchases are beginning to take advantage of the strong yields currently available, and the proven lack of volatility evident in the residential property sector.  Currently investors are starting to compete with first home buyers in the lower priced segments of the market where the yields tend to be higher and the risks lower. The continuation of this trend is likely to see investors entering the market more rapidly towards the end of this year.  

And if you’re not one of the people who have taken a hit at the hands of the economy, there is some great news when it comes to holiday properties. With tourism numbers projected to continue falling this year, coastal markets are suffering – which means many holiday rental homes are too. Many of the owners of these holiday home owners have been forced to place their weekenders on the market, and there is a great deal of stock available for sale in these idyllic locations. Like I have been saying, if you’re in a position to buy, now is a great time to be doing so!
2 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 17/06/2009 at 8:32 AM | Categories: