Viewing by month: September 2009

When to buy or sell real estate

Working in real estate, one of the most common questions a realtor is asked is when is the right time to buy or sell. And although there is historical data that shows trends in regards to real estate movement, when to buy or sell a  property isn’t always just about the market conditions. This decision is intrinsically linked to your own circumstances and stage of life.


There are of course market conditions that can influence many a person’s decision to buy or sell – the soon to be reduced first home buyer grants for example or the low interest rates. And if you’re selling, a shortage of stock could be a benefit that sways your timing decision. On the flip side, if the current first home buyer boost swayed the decision of a person to buy their first home, the shortage of stock and increased competition for what is on the market could hamper the ability to actually get what they want. So marketplace timing may not work for everyone.


For a little while now, there has also been a shortage of more expensive properties on the market, so those who have decided now is the time to move to a larger home may also find that although they are ready to buy, the market may not be right for them. It’s a balancing act this property market thing!


Real estate purchases for investment reasons is also linked to personal circumstances as well as the market. Most crucial being you need to have access to the finances that make this possible! But there are other options when you consider the market and your personal circumstances. For example, if you are wanting to downsize, maybe you can rent out your current property rather than sell it.

But whatever stage of life you are in and what you are looking for when it comes to property, don’t let the market dictate how you make your real estate decisions, or where you will live. But keep basics in mind, like if you are waiting for the average property price to increase before you sell, that means you’ll need to spend more to replace it. Really think about why you want to move and what you will gain by doing so, or lose by not. In this way, let your life be the decision maker for your property decisions, not the market. But regardless of how, when and why you move or buy property, make sure you speak to a professional real estate agent! On that note, I can highly recommend Century 21!  

3 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 30/09/2009 at 8:48 AM | Categories:

Mistakes that inexperienced landlords make

Learning to be good at anything in life takes time. Unless you have the incredible good fortune to be blessed with an insane amount of talent that results in you not needing to practice to improve from birth, chances are you’re going to have to put in some time and effort to gain the experience you need to grow and improve.


For most people, this includes their investment choices. Usually when you’re starting out and are inexperienced, you’re going to make mistakes. Learning to avoid these comes with time. And whilst investing in property may sound fairly easy, managing your own investment properties requires the same business mindset that you’d apply to any other type of investment. Most people think they can buy a house, fix it up a little and then rent it out for more than they’re paying each week on the mortgage, it often doesn’t go quite so smoothly. So to help inexperienced landlords everywhere, here are a few quick pointers on easy mistakes to avoid.


Make sure you run comprehensive checks on potential tenants. It may be tempting to rush ahead with an applicant to get the rent flowing in, but letting a less than desirable person loose in your home could end up being a costly mistake.

Also, don’t assume that you will always have someone in your house. Make sure you can pay the mortgage if your investment property is empty. Do your own financial due diligence so that should you have no tenant for a month or even a few, you’re not feeling the pressure financially.

Budget for repairs and ongoing maintenance. You might be prepared to live with a leaky tap or a garage door you have to force up with your brute strength, but your tenant probably won’t be. Make sure the rent you’re charging is adequate to cover a portion of ongoing maintenance costs and be realistic that at some point you may need to pull money out of your own pocket to cover bigger one-off expenses.

Don’t rely on the honesty of your tenants – there’s no friends in business. Make sure you have a lease agreement. Even if you’re leasing your property to friends, if anything happens to go wrong, you’re going to want to have a binding agreement in writing to rely on. Make sure you’re aware of the relevant laws in your state so you use an appropriate form. In the same vein, make sure you keep written evidence of conversations and interactions with your tenants.


Finally, don’t treat your investment property like a hobby. Although you may think it’s not as serious an investment as your share portfolio for example, if you want your property to become profitable, you need to operate it as a business like you would anything else. Make sure the basics are in order like having a separate bank account for the property, use a bookkeeping system and use tax professionals to ensure you’re doing the right thing!


Actually, one more thing – don’t neglect your tenants. If you want good people in your property, you need to be a good landlord. The home is still your responsibility and you need to take care of it so that they will.


2 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 29/09/2009 at 9:46 AM | Categories:

Women and real estate

From the feedback I have received since starting this blog, it is very interesting to note how many people particularly took to the post on what women want when it comes to real estate. In fact, I think that is the post that I have received the most comments on without a doubt. It seems that women and real estate are topics, that when combined, spark a great deal of interest. So I thought I’d touch on the topic again.


It would seem that being a female and trying to buy property is actually not that easy a task. I have encountered tales of women, and not just necessarily single ladies, feeling they weren’t being taken as seriously as their male counterparts when they have tried to secure finance and want to considering purchasing real estate. As a male, this is an interesting subject because it’s not something most of us men can actually honestly relate to. That’s why when I came across information about a seminar that provided information to single women interested in real estate, I too was interested.


One of the key take-outs from a realtor speaking at the event was "Women are too nice. Be rude." I find this interesting. Be assertive perhaps, but I don’t find that being flatly rude gets you that far if the person on the receiving end hasn’t done anything wrong yet. However, this is one female real estate agent’s advice, and who knows, maybe it works.


Around 100 people were present to listen to experts speak on the topics of real estate, finance, insurance and legal issues that single women face and it was obvious from the crowd that there is huge interest from single women to buy homes, and in some countries  they are largest growth population in the market. Interesting. Also interesting is that when it comes to real estae, women tend to feel vastly undervalued and underserved. There is also an ongoing perception amongst single ladies in particular that they end up feeling very patronized when they do try to get involved with the property process.

While this could stop some single women from taking the property plunge, the best thing to do is demand to be served in the way you deserve! Do your research, get your paperwork in order and find yourself a real estate expert and a mortgage pro. I of course recommend you chat to your local expert at your nearest Century 21 office to get the ball rolling.   

9 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 28/09/2009 at 3:51 PM | Categories:

What it takes to make a business work

I have said before that before the market slumped late last year, many people got into real estate to make money, and make it fast. There is still money to be made in real estate of course, and we are seeing the market climb back so chances are those venturing into property because they see it lucrative will start to increase in correlation.  But regardless of when you decide to start your real estate business, or even if you have already started it and want it to continue to grow, one thing is imperative – business planning.


These two words should become your mantra. I read an interesting article recently that took inspiration from Michael Jackson’s untimely death which is a little odd and I guess somewhat morbid, but the focus was basically would you know what would happen to your company should you come to an untimely end? If your business is suddenly no longer under your control, you want to have put measures in place to avoid a situation where everything you worked for is up for grabs. So what should you do?


One of the best ways to secure your business is to make sure you run a competent organization with competent departments. Your business should operate around technical capability and your focus should be on setting up functioning areas. You also need to ensure you engage specialty practitioners – you should have advisors you trust on board to make sure your business is running and will continue to run successfully.

As much as you don’t want to think about leaving your business (or who knows, maybe you do!) you should have a succession plan. This maps out how you will leave the business and what the future of the business will be after that. This should allow you to exit the business gracefully and profitably!    

1 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 25/09/2009 at 9:51 AM | Categories:

Building a better business

Having spent so much time in the real estate game, there are a few things I’ve learned. A lot of them I am putting out into cyberspace via this blog in the hopes it helps other real estate agents, and those interested in property. One of the things I’ve learned about running a real estate business is that to succeed, you need to involve your employees in your business. This applies for every business of course, not just real estate, and I think that many business owners think that they involve their employees more than they actually do.


I’ve mentioned before that although Century 21 franchisees work as part of the greater Century 21 family and network, all of our offices are independently owned. This means every franchisee is running their own small business whilst simultaneously being part of something greater. Employees are there to do the work on the business and with the right direction and environment, they assist in making the business great as it expands. The best way to get the best out of your employees and your business is to involve them in important decisions. People often say they don’t like change, but it’s usually more a fear of the unknown. If employees are involved with the change, chances are they will feel more positive about it, and will work harder to make it work.


One of the biggest ways to involve real estate employees in changes to a business to ask them about improvements in customer service. The majority of real estate employees work at the coal face and interact with customers and potential customers daily. These are the people dealing directly with customers and it’s highly likely they’ll provide you with the best feedback in this regard.


Some business owners are afraid of asking their employees’ opinions but doing so is actually a benefit to your business. The majority of people work better with their own ideas than the ideas of someone else that have been thrust upon them.

Involving employees in your real estate business is not only likely to produce great ideas, but it will also help move your business forward and help you run it better.   

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 24/09/2009 at 10:46 AM | Categories:

Making your work cycle work

Most of us work in cycles. There are some jobs which have events that happen cyclically, and then there are our own personal cycles. Usually some days of the week will be more productive for you than others, as will some times of day. When it comes to real estate, there are definite cycles in regards to property inspections, peak enquiry times etc but usually each person will have their own cycle happening at the same time.


Work cycles have highs, lows and plateaus, and having a good idea of when you can expect to be at your best or worst can help you achieve the most out of your working week. It helps you be your best, and can also make working a lot more enjoyable.


Identifying your work cycle isn’t actually all the difficult. To figure out how and when you work best, consider the last few weeks and pinpoint when you regularly felt stressed, bored, totally motivated, very productive, etc.  


Consider your natural motivation – does Friday afternoon actually make you crank up productivity because you want to get out the door and start the weekend on time for example? Are you revved up on Mondays after the weekend? There are likely to be times that are just more productive for you than others.


Also look at your regular commitments. Having activities locked in break up the week and depending on what the appointment is, it can affect our level of motivation. If you have an earlier than usual gym session on Thursdays, you might power through your morning to ensure you can leave on time to make it for example. If something is a fixture on your calendar, you are better able to plan your work around it.


There are also ad hoc commitments and because for many of us no two weeks are the same, these tend to require us to adjust our schedules and alter plans. For this reason, ad hoc commitments can also impact on how productive our week is overall.

If you examine your week in this way, you’ll probably start to find that some times are better than other for certain tasks, and once you have a good idea of your work cycle, you can learn how to make the most of it. In turn, you are likely to make the most of your business.   


Happy cycling!   

2 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 23/09/2009 at 1:17 PM | Categories:

Success takes work

President Obama said something recently in an address to the USA’s school children, and that was "No one's born being good at things. You become good at things through hard work." This is so true when it comes to work in particular. It can be difficult to believe and some people do of course have natural gifts in particular areas, but you do need to work at something to become good at it. Working in real estate is no exception.


Similarly, if something goes wrong or you mess something up, it doesn’t mean that you’re bad at what you do, it means you need to try harder or spend more time perfecting what it is you’re trying to do. Having this type of attitude is referred to as growth mentality, and the theory behind growth mentality is that people do better when they believe that success if a function of hard work rather than just innate talent. To me, that makes it the perfect mentality for a real estate agent.


For those agents that have staff and need to manage a team, it’s important to keep this type of mentality going. Real estate is about hard work, and it’s important that everyone involved in a real estate office knows how critical it is to success. Even if you are a natural salesperson and can get along with almost everyone, it’s hard work that takes you the extra mile. It’s not a natural gift to have an up to date understanding of the market trends, or what your competition is doing. And these are things that your customers will want you to know. Having this type of knowledge at your fingertips requires work – and on an ongoing basis!

Another benefit of a growth mentality is that it links hard work and success to a greater good – it’s not all about self interest and the desire to better our own circumstances possibly to the detriment of others. Looking at the greater whole is a key aspect of the attitude, and in real estate that’s also incredibly important. Yes, you might want to win an award or have a great sales month, but it should be in conjunction with bettering the situations of those you work with and for. If you and your team are taking on a growth mentality, you’ll see a direct connection to your work and the future of your business, and the happiness of your customers.    

1 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 22/09/2009 at 4:46 PM | Categories:

How to kick real estate butt

When I look around the real estate industry in this county, I see a few people who I know that used to be a lot more successful than they currently are. Some of this can be attributed to the economy, but as I said the other day, the only person who can take control of your own business is you. Which means part of the reason these people’s real estate success has diminished is in fact them. These are the real estate agents that you see spending most of their time in the office, reading industry magazines or checking their email. Not that these aren’t important business activities, but there’s a limit to it, or at least there should be.


Sometimes I feel a bit sorry for these real estate agents, but most of the time I can’t bring myself to. That’s because how we choose to act in business is exactly that – a choice. Century 21 prides itself on being technological leaders, and the advancement of technology has changed the face of the entire industry, but it’s a change that many have not fully (or at all) embraced. I’ve spoken about this before, and the most important of the bunch is how people look for real estate information and how they communicate. It’s online. Or it’s through mobile communications.


A real estate agent who refuses to learn how to text, blog, tweet or even email is branding themselves as out of touch and possibly out of business. There is an increasing customer base of tech-savvy people shopping for property and they want to communicate with a real estate agent in tech-savvy ways. If you aren’t prepared to do that, there are others that are, and will. These are the ones kicking real estate butt.


In this business, when we all know how rapidly and dramatically the real estate landscape can change, you can never afford to stop learning. New technologies may seem daunting, but that’s no excuse. If you’re prepared to learn how to dominate online and through new communication methods, chances are you’re going to dominate in your marketplace too.


Those real estate professionals who are already embracing changing technology should actually be thanking those real estate agents who aren’t prepared to get up to speed. Because while you’re still insisting that blogging won’t make a difference to your business, your tweeting competitor is probably kicking your butt. Figuratively, and electronically speaking, of course.     
4 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 18/09/2009 at 9:47 AM | Categories:

First $21k in 21 days winner announced!

The first winner in Century 21's $21k in 21 days competition has been announced! Lisa Cheeseman of NSW wins a prize of $7,000 for her fantastic entry featured below - what a gold effort!

Lisa showed creativity and bravery with her entry by managing to turn a policeman gold - with his permission of course. We've had some truly excellent entries so far, and Lisa's was one of these. The standard is very high and deciding on the first winner was an arduous task with much deliberation.

All entries are still in the running for the second and third week's prizes. Get creative and you could be taking home $7,000! The $21k in 21 days give-away requires entrants to turn something gold in honour of CENTURY 21’s major corporate colour, take a photo as proof, and upload it to the competition websit

Visit for competition details and to enter.

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 17/09/2009 at 9:13 AM | Categories:

It's not what you say...

I think all of us have either read or heard something that on face value appeared non-offensive, but there was something about it that was a little off. More often than not, it’s the tone behind it. What someone is saying to you is greatly affected by the delivery. Whether you are writing or speaking, a message is more than just the words used to convey it. Even messages that contain manners can end up sounding incredibly rude!


In real estate, communication is vital. I’ve said this before. And in real estate, you’re going to encounter a lot of people with a lot of different opinions. Because you’re dealing with buying and selling property – property that belongs to someone – the process can become quite emotional. This can affect communications and interactions, and not always for the best.

Of course, there are times when it’s totally okay and warranted that you voice your opinion. Depending on whom you ask, it’s also okay to go off at someone who deserves it, but it still needs to be done with a certain level of eloquence and decorum. Chances are if you boil over and start shouting your opinion immediately when another wasn’t immediately swayed by your opinion, or dared to disagree with you entirely, you’re probably not going to get very far. As much as you may sometimes want to have an all-out tanty to try and get your way, you’ll probably find you’ll do much better with an improved presentation.   

When it comes to real estate, situations where the involved parties don’t see eye to eye often arise. There are details to be discussed that may not be particularly pleasant or fun, and some of the decisions made may not be all that popular, but to achieve the best outcome possible, sometimes these things have to happen. And they need to happen in a certain way, and things need to be said in a certain way to keep communication lines open and achieve the desired outcomes.

The next time you’re on the verge of exploding and are almost ready to give up on diplomacy, ask yourself if the message you need to give can be given another way. Is there a way to make your point without offending anyone or possibly losing future business due to your manner? At the end of the day, what you say may be important, but how you say it is more likely to be what’s remembered.

1 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 16/09/2009 at 8:03 AM | Categories: