Viewing by month: July 2009

Thinking outside the development square

For anyone who has lived in a residential apartment complex, or has lived through the experience of moving from one such complex to another, you will have quite possibly thought to yourself that the developers behind these buildings have a bit of an aversion to customisation. Most of the apartments I have seen in my time indicate that developers have had a one size fits all approach, and just like with most things in life, that concept is pretty far from reality.


I’ve said numerous times that real estate is personal – personal choice and taste dictate where and how people want to live, so it’s interesting that developers haven’t taken this consideration on board to a great extent.


I recently became aware of a developer who is embracing the idea that customized developments could be a bit of a hit in the marketplace. This developer is Nectar Efkarpidis of Canberra, and they have been talking to the media about their thoughts on moving away only catering for the "homogenous lowest common denominator” and instead building communities with "niche" appeal.


Ideas flowing from the company include student levels with broadband access, single-parent floors with crèches, and pet exercise areas. The basic idea behind this, as you can probably tell, is to attract a certain type of people to a building. Despite the positives of creating living spaces that cater for particular wants and needs, there are some people who oppose these ideas of niche developments, such as the  University of Sydney urban-planning academic who believes such developments will ultimately “socially [screen] people.”

Personally I don’t see the problem. Surely to a certain degree that already takes place by developing in a certain location, at a certain price? And when it is often incredibly difficult to remove a problem tenant, maybe the best idea would be for those opposed to the niche developments actually spend some time living in the alternatives themselves!. 

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 15/07/2009 at 8:52 AM | Categories:

Today is Bastille Day! How does that relate to property? Well...

Today is Bastille Day! Break out the baguettes and the champagne! Apart from telling every one of my day dreams about owning an apartment overlooking Montemarte, I was wondering how I could link France and real estate today for the purposes of this blog.


I had a bit of a think about the history of today, which celebrates the Storming of the Bastille. That event took place in Paris on 14 July (obviously) in 1789, and the medieval prison and fortress that was the Bastille represented royal authority in the centre of Paris. So although the prison only had a handful of prisoners in it when it was brought down, the fall of the Bastille became and icon of the French Revolution. Today is a public holiday in France, and whilst I am sure you are all grateful for the history lesson, I am sure you’re still wondering how I’m going to relate this back to real estate. Trust me, the link is tenuous, but since the weather is still a tad dodgy around the country, and since today is about the storming of the Bastille, I thought I’d talk about how to storm proof your home.


Although we may not have to worry about rampaging French villagers, according to Sutherland Shire SES, in NSW alone storms cost almost $200 million each year. Although there is little we can do about inclement weather, what we can do is avoid much expensive damage through small steps to safeguard our homes.


One of the easiest ways to avoid extensive storm damage is to maintain your roof, as well as clearing out your gutters so they’re free of debris. Also make sure your downpipes and drains are in good condition, and clear up loose items from your outdoor areas including balconies.


If a storm looks imminent, securing or removing anything in your outdoor space as well as trimming back overhanging branches can potentially make a big difference in your potential costs if you are hit with a storm.


And another French link to close – what better way is there to see out a storm out than rugged up inside with a great French wine and a lovely selection of Brie?

Happy Bastille Day! Oui! Oui!  
0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 14/07/2009 at 8:58 AM | Categories:

Bidding for property at a live auction

It’s possible that in the real estate game, there is nothing more exciting than a live auction, especially if you’re one of the people actively involved. Bidding at auction can also be incredibly nerve-wracking, particularly the first time around but most people say that once they’ve done it, they’re hooked. That explains then, why large crowds often gather at auctions regardless of many of the peoples’ interest in the property or their intention to buy. Attending auctions is a regular pastime for thousands of people around the country, and having been involved in real estate and CENTURY 21 for so long, I can easily understand why.


For those attending to actually bid, no matter how experienced they may be, it is still a big event, and there are some key things to remember when it comes to auctions.


Firstly, view the property properly! Just as you would with any prospective purchase, know what you’re buying. Auctions often don’t have the cooling off period available through private treaty, so make sure you’re committed if you’re committed to bidding!


Know your limit! It is very easy to get caught up in the excitement that an auction can generate, and I’ve seen many potential buyers enter into bidding wars with their competitors for fear of losing their dream home. Most of us know when the asking price slips out of our range, so make sure you keep that in mind. And if you’re notorious for struggling with that concept, have someone with you who can act as your common sense should yours disappear in the face of competition.


Make sure you bid clearly. We’ve all seen or heard stories of bidders not realizing they are still in the game, so make sure you can be seen when you want to bid, and that you are not being mistaken for still bidding when you’ve called it quits!

There are online auctions available these days too, so if you do have an interest you can log on to watch these in real time, as well as participate if you can’t physically be there yourself. So if like me, you are dreaming of an overseas holiday home, you can rest easy knowing you may still be able to bid for it without making the trip – now I just need to win Powerball for the rest to fall into place…   

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 13/07/2009 at 10:14 AM | Categories:

How the rich think

Many equate property with wealth, and during the boom time, many entered the real estate game because it was viewed as a sure fire way to make money, and many people did. But sadly the title of this post does not relate directly to how I think. No, I am not part of the rich people I speak of! In fact, I am referring to the thoughts of Warren Buffet.


Multi millionaire Buffet has a few principals on wealth, so I thought it may be fitting to share some of the insights into his mindset that recently crossed my desk. His take on the current economy is that it’s it akin to an illness, he actually refers to it as a financial illness that has infected all of us and has diluted our happiness. Very deep for this early in the morning, but I shall continue!


He goes on to say that basically everyone is desperately seeking a remedy to cure their financial illnesses and recover their financial health, and although I’d never thought of it in quite those terms, it is a pretty apt description of what is currently taking place. People are expecting those we deem to be financial experts to provide us all with the remedies, having quickly forgotten that it is those same experts who actually got us all into this financial mess in the first place.


Warren claims that every year he adopts a couple of old maxims as beacons to guide his future, in order to ensure he grows wiser and not older. This wisdom applies also to his financial state, and the financial wisdoms of our elders of which he speaks are below: 


Hard work:  All hard work brings profit; but mere talk leads only to poverty.

Laziness: A sleeping lobster is carried away by the water current.

Earnings: never depend on a single source of income.

Spending: If you buy things you don’t need, you’ll soon sell things you need.

Savings: Don’t save what is left after spending; spend what is left after saving.

Accounting: It’s no use carrying an umbrella, if your shoes are leaking.

Auditing: Beware of little expenses; a small leak can sink a large ship.

Risk-taking: Never test the depth of the river with both feet.

Investment: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.


Reading through these, they do not appear to be particularly onerous and like Mr Buffet, I am pretty sure that those who have already been practicing these principles have probably remained relatively financially healthy. In the same vein, it’s highly likely that people who resolve to start practicing the above principles will more quickly regain their financial health than those who don’t.



Really, I think most of us would probably like to be a little more like Warren, so in order to do that, it’s possibly not a bad idea to become wiser and lead a happy, healthy, and prosperous life – and you can take that in the financial sense or not.  
2 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 10/07/2009 at 8:56 AM | Categories:

Sea Changes

When the weather is a little dreary and you’re not having the best of days, it’s easy to start thinking of places you’d rather be. Some take this all the way, which is where the phenomenon of the sea change comes into play. Although the holiday home market may have suffered slightly with the downturn in the economy, the sea change trend is still alive and well.


As the term implies, sea changes more often than not see people relocate to coastal living. Already our coasts offer some of the most beautiful, expensive, and crowded real estate there is and the ongoing popularity of the sea change means that even more population movement is expected to these areas.


Most sea change moves are a result of personal circumstances and cultural factors, and the increasing costs of property in many of Australia’s capital cities is giving property owners an incentive to make a sea change. These investors are realizing high capital gains from city housing and down sizing to a lifestyle destination can be quite a good move financially, especially now that the barriers of entry aren’t as high for many locations as they have been even when compared to a year ago. Many young families are also seeing the appeal in sea change locations as they find themselves priced out of inner city real estate markets. And of course there are the obvious lifestyle benefits associated with a sea change!


Whilst increasing demand for real estate in these locations is great news for real estate agents in the area, there also needs to be the appropriate level of infrastructure in place to cope with an increasing population. Unfortunately some of the smaller coastal towns are finding they are growing faster than they can cope with.


Some reports show that in spite of new population growth, there are many non-metropolitan coastal communities which are characterised by high levels of unemployment, lower than average household incomes, and greater levels of socio-economic disadvantage. Some also have a higher number of seniors than other parts of the country. All this means that as more people move to these areas, the increased activity doesn’t necessarily translate to long term economic gains for the area.

All these factors work together to illustrate that no matter how romantic a sea change may seem, like any real estate transaction, there are many factors that need to be considered, and like any real estate decision, it is a big one! Take it seriously, do your homework and talk to your local real estate expert! 

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 09/07/2009 at 8:30 AM | Categories:

What women want when it comes to property

I’ve touched on the topic of what women want when it comes to property previously, and when I came across a survey dedicated to exactly that I thought maybe I would look at the subject again. The survey I refer to was conducted by a company called Splash Consulting Group, who through an online poll got the opinions and thoughts of 1200 women across the country on the property industry, including their perceptions of the industry, trends and opportunities.


According to Splash’s findings, it seems that one of the major reasons that women are becoming an increasingly active part of the real estate market is because they view property as one of their preferred investment options. Investing in property is where Aussie women apparently feel the most confident and comfortable – so much so that 47 per cent of the ladies surveyed believed that property will deliver them the highest returns, and 38 per cent of the women polled felt property was their safest option.


What was also interesting in the results of this survey is what women look for in a property. I have personally experienced the failings of a property to meet general female expectations, when many years ago I was involved with the selling of luxury apartments. Men loved them, and their wives announced they were completely unsuitable due to the lack of a linen cupboard. That experience has stuck with me for years and it highlights an important point - one thing is for sure when it comes to women and real estate – they know what they want.

Although linen cupboards failed to rate a mention in the Splash survey results, the top 5 considerations for purchase that they uncovered are also interesting to a real estate agent. They were, in order of importance:

• number of bedrooms

• facilities in the area (shops, schools, restaurants etc)• overall size of the property

• high potential for increasing property prices / return on investment

• familiarity with a suburb or area

Whilst I don’t think any of the above are actually unexpected, what I did find surprising in the results was that few women felt the property industry caters to their needs – real estate agents everywhere take note!

 This is a property savvy group, and almost half of this survey (49 per cent) had in bought their first property at the age of 25 or younger. I always knew the female population was a force to be reckoned with, and this proves I was right!   
5 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 08/07/2009 at 9:19 AM | Categories:

The power of a real estate agent

As a man who has dedicated his career to real estate and CENTURY 21, I may appear a tad biased when I say don’t underestimate the power of a real estate agent, but it is in fact very true. For anyone invested in property, it is actually sound advice to never take for granted the influence a real estate agent has in a property transaction. Unless you are committed to selling or buying solo, in the majority of cases, the real estate agent is likely to be the most powerful person in the property transaction. For this reason, it is the agent who can make or break a deal.

If a real estate agent has been engaged, they are generally the only person who deals with both the buyer and seller during the negotiations to purchase a property, and this is why when you’re purchasing a property it’s imperative that you deal with the listing agent. This is the agent who has signed up the seller, and they have the closest relationship to them. They should also have their trust which is incredibly important if you are on the other side of the negotiations and you want their home.

Like any business, there can be office politics within real estate agencies, so it’s important that you establish good relationships with the key people involved in your negotiations and transactions. Most times the listing agent will be the only one dealing with the vendor so other potential buyers still need to go through this agent. If you have an interest in a particular property, it’s worthwhile finding out who the listing agent is and dealing directly with them.  

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 07/07/2009 at 9:09 AM | Categories:

Are bad photos of a property better than no photos?

If you’re looking at buying or selling a property, it’s difficult to over-estimate the importance of presentation. I’ve blogged about this subject before, and most property tips you’ll find around the traps include the mandatory spiel on how to present your home for sale. I’ve also mentioned before the importance of an online presence when it comes to real estate, and the importance of property photos. You may be wondering where all this is going, and I promise I am getting there – the three concepts all tie together. Namely, to form the question – how important are photos when you’re trying to sell or buy a property and are using the online space to do so?


It may seem like a simple question, and the simple answer would surely be ‘very’. But it’s not actually that easy. I have friends who refuse to view properties that do not have photos posted online. Their line of reasoning is that if the property isn’t represented visually it has to be pretty bad. So then, would it be better to have bad photos than no photos at all? If my opening paragraph is anything to go by, and presentation is king, then the answer would be no. But if my friends are on the money, the answer is yes.


Some agents believe that if a home shows poorly, then no photos are the best option and you can get people there through your descriptions. Others disagree. I tend to think that even if the photo of the living room shows a dirty wall, a floor strewn with clothes, toys and general clutter, it would at least give an impression of size, natural light and room for improvement.



Also, and importantly, the condition of a property is not a priority for every single buyer. For this reason, it can be argued that bad photos are actually better than no photos. If you were considering advertising a property with no photos at all, you could lose these potential buyers who can look beyond the condition of a place. I recently read about an agent who has incredibly high standards when it comes to the photos of properties she has listed, and if they don’t meet her standard, they don’t go online. However, she recently found herself with a property on her hands where every photo she had wasn’t up to scratch, and she posted them anyway. What do you know, she’s had multiple property views, multiple showings and has two buyer prospects on the cards. Maybe that’s a sign that ugly photos are better than no photos after all.                                                                                      

3 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 06/07/2009 at 9:13 AM | Categories:

The power of positive thinking

The economy is certainly still a hot topic, evidenced by most of my recent posts, and for those invested in real estate, and for those who are considering investing in real estate, the impact on the market is also a hot topic. Understandably so. Real estate is one of, if not THE, largest investment most people will make in their lifetime. Despite that, I am pretty sure that almost everyone is a little sick of hearing about how tough times are.


When you’re in this industry and for as long as I have been, and as long as CENTURY 21 has been around, you realize that a good real estate agent is one with a lot of positive energy; someone who has experienced the ups and downs of the real estate cycle over the years. It is this experience that allows these real estate professionals to successfully navigate their clients through challenging times.


Finding the right real estate agent is an important part of the real estate process, and you’ll notice that just like in other aspects of life, if you’re around a negative person or situation long enough you start becoming negative yourself. For this reason, it’s crucial that you choose to work with an agent who has a positive approach to real estate and life in general. When you surround yourself with positive energy, it’s a fair assumption that positive things will start to happen – certainly more so than if you’re spending your days with people channeling Eeyore’s outlook on life.

Reports are showing that consumer confidence levels are on the way up, and that’s important because it’s a major factor in turning things around. As much as many of us scoff those who spruik the power of positive thinking, there’s actually something in it. When it comes to the property market, an experienced agent is likely to have succeeded over the years because they're very good at helping people envision how happy they will be at selling or buying a property. Good agents have the ability to think ahead and think positively to see an outcome or opportunity. What often sets one agent apart from another is a certain mindset.

You’ll often find that the best real estate agents are those who are able to overcome adversity by telling themselves a more positive story than others. I’m not talking about fabrication or fallacy, but what I mean is that instead of being the victim, these people see themselves as fighters. As real estate professionals, we may not be able to control market conditions, but we can certainly influence the outcome of our clients’ story.
0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 03/07/2009 at 9:18 AM | Categories:

Abolishment of stamp duty good news for the real estate market

The recent news that stamp duty on housing loans could be abolished as a result of the Henry Tax review has been hailed as more good news for real estate agents and the property market. Nationally it would seem that real estate agents have welcomed the proposed abolishment of the stamp duty saying it will provide another incentive for buyers to enter the property market.


The move that has been highly anticipated, and one that has been highly lobbied. The Henry review has been inundated with submissions calling for the end of stamp duty, and for a few reasons. Although the tax on moving house may be easy to collect, it leads to poor use of housing stock and poor labour mobility. The prospect of paying stamp duty discourages many people from moving house and this is particularly evident when it comes to elderly people holding off on moving to more appropriate accommodation.


Although there are already signs that the property market is beginning to recover, additional incentives to encourage activity are applauded by real estate agents across the nation, and the lure of not having to pay stamp duty is certainly one. In addition to the extension of the first home buyer boosts and continuing low interest rates, the market is expecting to see an increase in activity with the abolishment of the stamp duty.

Many of us at CENTURY 21 are certainly seeing things begin the climb back in the property game, as I have mentioned on several occasions through this blog. The likes of the recent Westpac-Melbourne Institute index of consumer confidence increasing by a near-record 12.7% in June to 100.1 points illustrates that positive movement in the market is on rise, but of course everyone in the industry, or the property market for that matter, welcomes any move that encourages more people to get back into real estate. 


3 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 02/07/2009 at 8:39 AM | Categories: