2012 is moving into the rear view mirror

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With only 5 auction weekends to go this year the necessity for good negotiation becomes paramount. With another 69% clearance rate from 733 auctions that were listed by the REIV and over 3000 auctions listed for the next 3 weekends, vendors and purchasers will be frantic to do deals.

If clearance rates continue around 60% then in the next three weeks 40% of 3000 properties will still be sitting on the market in the run up to Christmas. 1200 vendors will want to have their property sold before relaxing through the Christmas hiatus. And it is up to the selling agents to assist the vendors to make this happen.

But too many agents are still massively over quoting vendors then low quoting prospective purchasers. It is not too difficult for professional buying agents to work out property values and have a very good idea where the auction will finish up. It really doesn’t matter to us where the agent quotes because we can use comparable sales data to get a very good idea of where the bidding will end up. We have heard from some selling agents that reserves should be published prior to auction. This is all well and good if they are accurate to what the final outcome of the auction will be. We have heard from plenty of selling agents who say that low quoting is necessary to bring plenty of people to the auction. But this usually annoys the inexperienced or those who are not getting professional counsel from a buying agent.

Neither of these situations are of any real issue if the vendor is selling at a realistic price. The single biggest problem in the Melbourne Real Estate market is when agents let vendors dictate reserve. I know the vendor has the right to sell at whatever price they want and I know they can withdraw the property from market if they wish, but when prospective purchasers expend money on legal, building and pest inspections when the vendor wants 10% over market value and the selling agent does not advertise this, it is grossly unfair.

When excellent comparable sales data indicates the price point of a property as around $700k give or take $25k, even if the agent quotes in the $600k range it doesn’t usually matter too much. Come auction if it is a good property it will have multiple interest and the bidding should get into the high $600’s or low $700’s and well within the target range of value for the vendor.

This means the vendor either has extremely bad counsel from their selling agent, their selling agent has over quoted the property’s value in order to get the listing or the vendor was not really serious about selling their property. Unfortunately, it is usually one of the first two reasons.

Consumer Affairs should step in to protect both the vendor and buyer. If the agents’ appraisal is more than 10% from the vendors reserve either publish the reserve at the beginning of the campaign or if the property does not sell at auction reimburse prospective purchasers for their time and expenditure on purchasing the property. Most professional real estate agents who are competent will now what a property is genuinely worth. There will always be a little low quoting, but value is value and if the vendor wants well above the market value the agent should have a responsibility to let every prospective purchaser know before they expend time and money on due diligence.

Over the next five weeks we will see more and more of this issue and it will be exaggerated as we get closer to the Christmas slow down. Agents who are desperate for listings may have been “buying the listing” (telling vendors they will get more for their home than it is truly worth), and when the agent comes up short at the auction, they should be held accountable. After the auction, there is no reason why the compulsory appraisal that the agent did for the vendor should not be published for all passed in properties. If the reserve set by the vendor is more than 10% above this number then this should be seen as unreasonable for prospective purchasers. The prospective purchasers should be able to make a claim against the agent or vendor marketing the property.

Ian James
JPP Buyer Advocates

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About the author

Ian has been operating his own businesses for more than 25 years. During this time the self taught lessons of building the business, dealing with staff, suppliers, clients and economic woes have been invaluable. Ian is a fully licensed Real estate Agent, a member of the REIV and registered with the Business Licensing Authority.

Buying property is not just sticking up your hand and outbidding your rival. It is an emotional, fiscal and psychological decision that needs to be planned and well executed. Ian is usually involved in over three hundred property negotiations per year; ranging from the $250,000 first unit purchase for a young couple to multiple million dollar residential developments. Ian's business background and endless numbers of negotiations make him one of the industry's leading negotiators.

Ian is married with two adult children, living in Patterson Lakes. He is a keen fisherman when weather and business allows the time.