Industry Insiders: A column featuring the experience and opinions of leading industry proponents brought to you by The Real Estate Voice. We are honoured to showcase the recently inducted President of the Real Estate Institute of Australia.
Company or organisation: Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA)
Job title: President
What attracted you to the real estate industry (and when)?
When I was in my mid-20s, I was running a hospitality venture in the heart of Fremantle’s ‘cappuccino strip’, working long hours, when I noted that many of my regular customers were real estate agents. They were great people who enjoyed enviable career flexibility. After some encouragement, I took the step into real estate sales with John Dethridge & Co.
What do you love most about the industry?
The opportunity to engage deeply with people who trust you with what is, for most people, their most valued asset – their family home. The relationships that develop from these engagements often develop into lifelong friendships.
What do you consider your proudest moment or greatest achievement (in the industry)?
When Purple Bricks arrived on Australian shores, I was the current REIWA President. I thought their model was deeply flawed and would have delivered poor sales outcomes for consumers. I was a vocal critic and was delighted to see them discontinue their operations in Australia.
Biggest challenges in the industry? How has the pandemic affected the way people buy, sell and rent property?
Technology in the real estate space is a constant threat to maintaining the real estate agents’ place at the centre of real estate transactions. Agents need to recognise that while technology can help efficiencies, they ought to be careful to not digitise themselves out of relevance.
Working around COVID-19 has been a huge challenge to agencies and their people. Agents have risen to each challenge they have faced remarkably well, considering the disruptive nature of the pandemic. They have innovated, embraced new ways of transacting, complied with health directives and managed rent and eviction moratoriums with skill and professionalism.
Latest real estate/economic trends affecting your state or region?
Western Australia’s property market has not performed as strongly as east coast markets since pandemic-related interest rate falls and various other economic stimuli super-charged Australia’s property market.
As a result, Perth is Australia’s most affordable capital city and once the borders open in early February (assuming they do), WA’s property market is likely to respond favourably to the pent-up demand likely to flow from those relocating from the east coast seeking high-paying WA jobs.
How would you improve the process and incentives for property ownership, from an owner-occupier and investment perspective?
All levels of government need to appreciate the mum-and-dad property investor. For every rental property provided by the government, investors provide 12. High taxes, stamp duty, inequitable grants and tenancy laws all work to disincentivise investors, putting upward pressures on rental affordability. A thorough look at how inefficient taxes, like stamp duty, would be a good start at reforming this important market sector.
The government’s First Home Loan Deposit scheme is a good example of a sound policy that doesn’t risk artificially inflating the market by simply underwriting mortgage insurance. Cash hand-outs can be effective in encouraging first-home buyers, but they ought to be considered within an urban planning context to avoid unnecessary sprawl. There are many other policy settings around the property, such as downsizer incentives that deserve more thorough policy consideration.
What’s the biggest misconception people have when buying or building a home?
Buyers will often refer to “their agent” when transacting, despite the agent clearly working for the seller. Sometimes, this perception can lead to difficulties in the event of any dispute arising from the sale.
What tips would you give for future-proofing an investment?
When buying residential property, look to its location close to transport links and other community infrastructure in locations where job opportunities are plentiful. The old saying, “land appreciates, houses depreciate”, is also useful. If buying commercial/industrial property, yield and a long-term view are critical considerations.
What should prospective buyers look for when choosing a property?
Buying property is a deeply personal thing. If buying your family home, emotion plays a more significant role and ‘paying too much’ is less of a consideration if you can afford it and love it.
Investment property is an entirely different matter where thorough investigation and research is important before making a buying decision. Generally, the closer you buy to community groups, the ocean or river and in locations where others like to gather, the better long-term prospect for property values.
In terms of technology and interaction, what do you think buying a home will be like in 2030?
I don’t think much will change if agents continue to deliver the arm’s length negotiation aspects of service delivery that forms such a critical part of the property sale transaction. Taking on the serious responsibility for the real estate sale and carrying the risk for the client will always be an important service that agents deliver for the community.