Market Comment – Monday May 26th 2008

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I don’t think anyone would disagree when I say; we are moving into a totally new era in Real Estate. Already we can see the two distinctly emerging trends in areas of Melbourne and Sydney. We can see that a proportion of the suburbs will show growth patterns ranging from 10%-15% per annum over a 10 – 20 year period, whilst others will show 6%-10% for a similar time frame. Property prices are advertised at numbers that have little or no relevance to the final price or worse still, to the market value. The clearance rate has levelled out in the low 60% range and all the commentators are agreed we have moved into a buyers market. Buyers now need to get better representation and assistance.

And the need for better representation starts here:

If you have to go to court, you take a solicitor. If your car breaks down you go to a mechanic. Before most people put in their tax returns they speak to an accountant or a financial planner. But when people buy a house they only speak to a selling agent. Or someone who says they buy and sell property.

I cannot think of any other industry where the government does not legislate to attempt to protect both parties as well as they can. Financially, we do our taxes which the ATO scrutinise. The tax man is the first to suggest getting good advice from an accountant. When we elect a government, we are told the best way to get good government is to have a “very good” opposition. If you get arrested, by law, you are “read your rights”. Why is it that when you are making the largest single purchase in your life, you are not told what your rights are and what is even worse, the only information you can usually get comes from the other teams representative.

If you went to court and represented yourself against a Queens Counsel the convening magistrate would counsel you regarding your lack of experience and judgement and suggest you get representation. Why does the governing body in Victorian Real Estate fail to do the same?

Consumer Affairs Victoria continues to publish names of agents that have done the wrong thing; they attempt to make changes to law and legislation to stop good selling agents doing their jobs. SELLING PROPERTY! They are doing everything they perceive they can and for this I applaud them, but, when will they understand they simply need to balance the ledger? We need a strong robust Buyer Advocacy fraternity.

Selling agents can then be free to do as they wish, within the law, in order to get the best price for their client; the vendor. Buying agents should be just that Buying Agents. Selling agents should be just that Selling Agents. If you were selling your property with an agent who was assisting and taking a fee for assisting people to buy, and they could not show them your property (It is illegal to act for more than one principal) wouldn’t you use an agent that exclusively sells and therefore doesn’t have the conflict.

Conversely, Buyer Advocates who do any type of Vendor Advocacy open themselves to this exact dilemma. If anyone of their buying clients is in any way interested in a property they are receiving a fee (or a commission from the selling agent), they are trapped in a moral and ethical dilemma. They cannot assist their buying client whilst taking money from the seller (that is illegal), they cannot simply say to the vendor, I won’t take a fee from you, and then they are working solely for the buyer, whilst having intimate knowledge of exactly what the vendors want. Whichever way the go they are trapped into an impossible dilemma unless you don’t allow the situation to occur. BUYERS BUY and SELLERS SELL.

Next time you are thinking of buying a home, ask your advisor does he only help buyers or does he sell property as well.

Ian James

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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.