7 Ways to Assess your Real Estate Agent Before you Hire

Image source: https://static.pexels.com/photos/1984/black-and-white-city-man-people-large.jpg

There are many ways you can evaluate the performance of a real estate agent to gauge the success they may have when selling your property.   

Here are 7 tips that sellers can follow for choosing a real estate agent:

1.    Speak to previous clients
Ask the prospective agent to provide a list of all the properties they have brought to the market in the last year. Randomly select as many as you want and call the sellers.  Ask about the good, the bad and the ugly.  You want as much information as possible so you are able to make the best decision.

2.   Check licensing
Each state has boards in charge of licensing and here in NSW the agent must be either licensed or certified and working under a licensee.  This can be checked online or simply ask the agent to produce current documentation.

3.   Award winners
Be wary of choosing award winning agents.  Whilst you may think this is relevant and highly important it really only means that these agents have a high turnover and not necessarily the best outcome for the sellers.  

4.  Choose an agent who is a master negotiator
After marketing, this is the most important technique your agent should have!  You can trial and test their negotiation skills  by role playing.  Put them through an example of a buyer offering on a property and see what they say, how they say it and ultimately how they perform.

5.  Find out what other skills the agent has 
Many sellers believe it is important to choose an agent based on the years that agent has been working in the industry.  I can tell you now that sometimes those agents are the ones who become complacent, lazy or set in their ways.   A well seasoned agent not changing with the times can be far less successful than an enthusiastic agent new to real estate.

What is important is that you choose your agent based on their skills, knowledge and talents.  This usually boils down to how much they know about your suburb and the current market, what they know about marketing and how they interact and negotiate with buyers.  It is not necessarily how long they have been working in the industry.

6.  Check their present listings
Check online to look at an agent’s listings. The agency’s website, realestate.com.au and domain.com.au.  Be careful not to discount or judge an agent who has only a few listings.  It could simply mean that their average days of the properties on the market may be much lower than those of an agent who is trying to manage a high number of listings with longer days on market.

Buyers begin their search online, and you want an agent who utilises the Internet effectively.  You want an agent with an attractive presentation online.  One who understands market instead of just advertising.  There’s a big difference between the two.

Don’t dismiss an agent just because they are not in the same neighbourhood? Or not in the same price range? Just because they don’t specialise in a specific area does not mean they are not the best.  One Agency Pinkerton Properties specialises in marketing and is why all of our clients are referred to us and we work in all suburbs across a wide price range. 

7.  Enquire about how the agent will attract buyers to your home
A good agent should have knowledge of how to identify a ‘targeted market’ and what marketing methods they propose for your property.  Be wary of the agent who offers a Gold, Silver or Bronze advertising package.  Your campaign should not be a ‘cookie cut’ campaign or ‘one size fits all’ approach.   You want an agent who is a marketeer.  One who knows how to attract multiple buyers to compete for your property and one who designs an individual proposal for you!

If you are thinking of selling in the next 12 months and you are planning to get more than ONE agent’s opinion, make sure ONE of them is from Annette Pinkerton at ONE AGENCY Pinkerton Properties.

She’s the agent in Newcastle known to help people to turn the key to where they want to be and often gets called in to sell a home where other agents have failed.  Save yourself time, money and stress and choose Annette the first time!

Newcastle Property Market Update November

In a recent interview on Sky News, the Director of Sales for realestate.com.au, Steve Carroll revealed that… “January is the month with the most views on realestate.com.au”
So if you’re thinking of putting your home on the market early in the New Year, then here’s 3 Quick Tips to help ensure that you stay ahead of the game…

1. Consider getting your Professional Twilight Photography taken during December, and preferably have photos taken without Christmas decorations because within a matter of days/weeks into the New Year your photos can loose their fresh look if there are still Christmas decorations showing.

2. Request that a copy of the Contract of Sale be prepared by your preferred Solicitor or Conveyancer at least 10 days before they close for their Christmas break.

3. If you have a swimming pool, then you’ll also need to order a Pool Certificate of Compliance or Pool Certificate of Non-Compliance. Contact Newcastle CIty Council or Lake Macuarie Council before the inspectors go on holidays and arrange to have your pool inspected as soon as possible (whether you think it complies or not), because Pool Certificates are now a compulsory part of the Contract of Sale.

Steps 2 and 3 are the easiest to do as they are just a couple of phone calls to make. But, they are also possibly the most important steps, because if you hold off requesting them until the New Year, waiting for the Solicitor/Conveyancer to get back from holidays can cause unnecessary delays to the launch of your property marketing …and it could potentially mean missing out on exposing your property to the increased number of online buyers who historically tend to look at the property websites like realestate.com.au, etc during the ‘highly-active’ January holiday period.

How’s The Market? Buyer interest in the Newcastle & Lake Macquarie areas have remained strong during Spring with numerous properties being sold under 7 days.

Recently we saw a flouish of excited buyers with over 40 groups attending the first open home at 27 Seacourt St Dudley.  The medium property price for a 4 bedroom home in Dudley is $657,500.  We took our property to the market at $890,000 and sold it on the day of the open home (sold sticker up and taken off the internet) for $937,900.  Interestingly, according to realestate.com average views to a property in Dudley are 728 compared to the state average 665.  Like the majority of our marketed properties, views to this property was well in excess of both averages.

I hope you’ve found the Newcastle Property Market Update for November helpful and insightful.  If you have any specific questions about the Newcastle Property Market answered, then just call me and ask.

The New Property Hotspot in NSW (It’s Not Sydney Anymore)



Sydney has been the property hotspot for nearly five years but it’s now time for investors to cast their eyes on another area a harbour city 160 kilometres north of Sydney.

Median house values
With the city’s median house price approaching $1.07 million investors are aggressively searching for less expensive alternatives to enter the housing market. And, as NSW’s regional areas collectively records a median house price of $440,000, one particular location has attracted the attention of investors.

Newcastle, where the median house price is $530,000, is already receiving massive investor interest. Figures are predicting strong growth for Newcastle. According to the Domain Regional House Price Report house prices were up 9.3% in the year to September 2016 and 4.2% during the quarter. In contrast, the latest house prices for Sydney and Melbourne were up just 2.1% and 9.1% over the year, respectively.

The big draw cards for Sydney-based investors are the affordability factor and the prospect of adding value with granny flats and subdivisions in these locations.

The spotlight is on Newcastle
Newcastle, which is at the top end of the market, is on the move. The sale of a six-bedroom house on 6 Parkway Avenue, Bar Beach for $4.7 million in the first week of November 2016 saw property records shatter. The house was last sold for $3.4 million in 2010. Several $4 million-plus sales were recent records, and the city’s revitalisation is seen as a positive factor.

By Tim Keegan – http://www.flickr.com/photos/suburbanbloke/3239162189/sizes/l/in/photostream/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17379088
Growth in Newcastle is just beginning, as it is only two years into its best decade in terms of infrastructure. These projects including major rezoning throughout the city and a new light rail are expected to drive property value. Specifically, Adamstown is forecast to post excellent growth and to outpace many Sydney suburbs.

With Sydney property becoming more expensive, NSW investors are increasingly looking towards regional properties. A new State Custodians Galaxy Poll showed that 72% of Victorian investors continue to buy in Melbourne, but 49% of NSW investors are looking at other markets to invest their money.

A number of investors’ decision to look in the country is driven by lifestyle, as they look to buy in areas where they would eventually retire and using the property as an investment in the interim.

Growth forecast on Newcastle
The area is expected to have a better prospect than Greater Sydney in terms of capital gains and rental return. In 2015, Hotspotting listed Newcastle in the top 5 boom towns nationally because of its massive residential and non-residential development projects in the pipeline.

But according to Domain Group chief economist, Andrew Wilson, the recent growth forecast was a little bit of a shock because Newcastle, the biggest coal export port in the world, reported a drop in coal-related economic stimulus. The area has affordability advantages and is undoubtedly capturing a large amount of the Sydney heat.

The local economy is seeing a remarkable turnaround, with a construction boom in inner city apartments and no problem selling them at this time.

Decorating Tips for People Who are Starting Out or Starting Over

Decorating your first home seems daunting because of the many options available and decisions you have to make. Many people just confine themselves to the familiar or the expected, leaving them disappointed with the results.

It is not only young people who themselves in this situation. These days it’s not uncommon to see people in their middle age starting over again because of a broken relationship or transfer to a new job.

Here are some tips for first-time home decorators, whether they are starting out or starting over:

  • Choose the decorating style you like

A lot of people have difficulty articulating their decorating preferences. If you are one of them, the easiest way to figure out what decorating style you like is by looking at photos of other homes. There are many decorating magazines and websites you can check out. Pinterest is ONE of my favourites and you can see many of my styling boards and ideas at https://au.pinterest.com/APPinkerton/.   Another idea is to collect at least a dozen photos and compare them. Find the common denominators with regards to colour, furniture style, pattern and density of objects in the room.

Take into account the architecture of the area of your home and the limitations that you might face. For example, if you are living in a cracker-box condo, a high Victorian will generally not be appropriate.

  • Create a budget

Determine how much you can afford to spend. If you don’t have the budget to decorate all the spaces simultaneously, choose the spaces you will be using often and decorate them first. That way, if you find your home in chaos, you have at least one room where you can escape.

  • Draw a floor plan

With Internet technology, it is now easy and fun to sketch a floor plan. The web offers many free floor plan programs, such as Jordan’s Furniture in Boston.  This easy-to-use program offers a wide range of furniture templates and does not bound you to exclusive furniture brands.

If you want to see how your floor plan looks in real life, make use of moving boxes to create furniture, or make footprints of every item using towels, blankets or newspaper.

  • Choose a colour palette

Some people suggest pulling your colour palette from the flooring. Others advise beginning from an artwork. But the method that makes the most sense is starting from the item that you love the most, be it a rug, a piece of art, or your favourite outfit. Let of these items dictate your décor.

When you have decided on a palette, allow the rest of the décor to flow from that. Utilise neutral tones for investment pieces such as the dining table and the sofa, and place the colour in paint or accent pieces such as art, lamps or pillows. This will allow you to switch colour palette if you get bored with the existing one without costing too much.

  • Paint

Paint is the most inexpensive way to make your space your own and it also delivers the most bang for your money. Even if you’re leaning towards white, find a beautiful white that creates the right vibe.

If you don’t want to paint the entire space, limit it to an accent wall. If you’re unsure of bold colours, pick a colour in the middle ground. It will surely look more exciting that Linen White.

  • Invest in the right furniture items

You hope your sofa would serve you for a long time, so make sure you purchase a good one. Even if you are intending to use it temporarily, it will find a home from your living area to the family room to the basement and eventually to the college dorm. So splurge! Do the same for your dining table.

It is also good to invest in a good reading chair. Buy neutral upholstery such as gray, white or taupe, for your investment pieces.

  • Measure all things

Before going shopping, measure your space as well as the doorways, stairs, elevator openings leading to your home, and don’t forget to bring the measurements when you shop.

Furniture will appear tinier showcased in a room with high ceilings than it will in your living space. And avoid purchasing matching sets of furniture, unless you’d like your home to look like a sales floor featuring a sea of sofas.

  • Where to splurge

If you have to skimp, do it with accessories. Buy your mirrors, pillows and lamps at discount furniture retail stores. The key to decorating is really to combine a few inexpensive pieces among the costlier pieces. Don’t worry – people won’t notice.

  • Mix something old with something new

Do not purchase all items new. Visit an antiques store, or if that’s outside your budget, go to garage sales, auctions or flea markets, and buy a few accessories that look like they were purchased off the shelf at the import sale.

Items with history bring charm and depth to a space, and they are what make a home unique from a furniture showroom.

  • Think about using “temporary” furniture

While some experts don’t recommend using “temporary” furniture, there is merit in doing the opposite.

It will not be quick to find just the right items for your home. And it is annoying to wait for months for that right piece to arrive.

A great place to find filler pieces is garage sales. Yes, they are not the best that you could afford, and yes, there will probably not last very long. However, they will serve their purpose until you can find the exact item that you’ve dreaming about. Later, you can donate those filler items to charity.

  • Hire a professional

If you are not confident in undertaking this process, then hire the services of a professional decorator or interior designer. If a complete decorating job is outside your budget, then sign up for a hourly consultation. You can work with the designer to decide on your decorating style, point you to the right furnishings and help in drawing up a long-term strategy.

  • Take it easy

You won’t probably live in your home forever. So don’t be pressured with the thought of living with the furniture items for the rest of your life. Of course, it’s smart to purchase foundation pieces that you will take along to your second, third or even fourth home. But that throw pillow, bed sheets or towels will last only for a few years. So have fun decorating!

For more inspiration visit my Pinterest site.

Factors to Consider when Buying and Selling a Home Simultaneously

Under the main residence exemption, you are not required to pay capital gains tax (CGT) if you sell your primary residence. You also don’t have to pay goods and services tax (GST when you sell your home and you’re not entitled to GST credits on related buying and selling costs, (unless you’re involved in the business of constructing or renovating properties).

Purchasing a home can be difficult. Aside from the legwork, there’s also paperwork, confusion, deadlines and running around to deal with.

Whether you’re moving into a larger house, or exchanging your house for an apartment or living in a new suburb, buying and selling a home simultaneously is no easy matter, but many Australians successfully do this each year.

However, given the unpredictability of the current property market, it is not often that you can buy and sell at the same time, as the constant fluctuations in the market will favour either the buyers or the sellers at any given point. To make sure the transaction goes smoothly, make the timing of buying and selling occur as close together as possible.

Sell first or buy first?
The decision will depend on the market and your financial situation and targets. Here are some tips to help you decide:

Advantages of buying first
There are many potential benefits from buying first, provided you have sufficient cash to pay for the mortgage on the two properties until you are able to sell your old home.

  • You have enough time to set up the house and move. You also have more time to prepare your old home for sale (consider smart renovations to boost the value of the house).
  • If you’re savvy, you can rent out your old home until you find a buyer. This offers two benefits: you can pay for the mortgage using the rental payments, and you’re not compelled to sell until a buyer comes along willing to pay the right price for it.

If you decide to rent out your home, seek your accountant’s help on the tax deductions you are entitled to for your rental property.

Advantages of selling first
Selling first will give you time to make sound financial decisions, as you’re aware of the amount you can allocate on the property.

  • You can get in trouble if you overestimate the price of your existing property, so selling first will help you not to overspend in your new purchase.

However, a major drawback of selling without buying could mean you have to rent a home, bringing with it financial burden in the form of rentals and the stress of packing and unpacking twice. Not knowing if you’d find the right home can take an emotional toll on you too. In this case, it would benefit you to ask for a long settlement period. It is also a good idea to include a special provision in your sale agreement letting you bring forward the settlement date in case of a contingency.

Furthermore, property values are constantly moving up, so selling first means you are losing money while you are still looking for your new home. Invest your money until you find your next purchase will earn you higher returns than putting your money in the bank.

More tips

  • Research: Learn about the neighbourhoods where you are considering buying or selling. When it’s a buyer’s market, it is best to sell first and vice versa.
  • Spend money on a fresh coat of paint or new rug to jazz up the home and make it more attractive to buyers. Add value to the house by doing some DIY upgrades; avoid full-scale renovations.
  • It is important to have the selling and buying dates as close as possible, but a bridge loan can help you financially if you decide to buy first.
  • Keep your finances in line and watch the market for home loan deals. Maintain a high credit score and compare home loan deals to obtain the most competitive rates in the market.

Choosing between a variable rate and a fixed rate mortgage can be confusing.  Talk with a specialist like Margaret Godfrey, a personal mortgage advisor at Smartline, to help make things clearer.

Why Choose Auction to Sell Your Property?

one of One Agency auctions

If you are selling your home, it is very important to choose the right method to sell it.

Choosing auction has several benefits, including have a set date, unconditional contracts and creating competition in the market.

  1. Generating competition
    Competition can become fierce and a strong emotional attachment is established between purchaser and property in a short period of time during an auction. And with a shortage of properties for sale in Newcastle and the Lake Macquarie areas at present there’s a good chance the competition will be even more intense.
    ​It could boost a home’s value and even exceed your expectations!
  2. Having a definite end date
    There is urgency for a potential buyer to be organised for auction day because there is a set end date. If a purchaser views the home seven days before auction day, they have seven day to prepare and make a bid.
    Having a set date also establishes an organised selling scheme, designed to achieve a sale either before, during or after the auction.

    The vendor and agency get clarity on what they must do during the selling process, and allows them to get ready for all open for inspections and the auction.

  3. Enticing more prospective buyers
    Selling a home via auction can help lure in more purchasers via the open for inspections and more bidders signing up for the auction.
    Fierce competition may compel interested buyers to participate actively in the bidding to get their dream house.
  4. Get maximum results from your marketing-
    There will always be an investment in marketing when you are selling your home. You can attract the maximum number of buyers in the shortest amount of time possible with a high impact marketing campaign, which is typically packed in between 21-28 days.
    Purchasers also get a chance to notice the ad, appreciate it, and build an instant emotional bond between the property and themselves as a purchaser.

    This is your first and only chance to make a good first impression.​  

  5. Trim down days on the market
    By selling at auction, your home doesn’t sit on the market for a long time.
    Bidders compete for your home, and as a seller this is definitely the best method to sell your property. 
  6. Unconditional contract
    You get an instant unconditional contract with a public auction.
    A buyer is bound to the contract once the hammer falls, and an exchange occurs soon after.
    The sellers get clarity with regards to the sale. Auction is the most transparent method to sell a property because purchasers can see competing bidders and sellers can see for themselves what the market is willing to pay for their property.

Do you want to auction your property?  Ask Annette how her unique marketing strategies will help you achieve your dreams.

Open House Etiquette for Buyers

Open houses are becoming increasingly common with more people rushing to buy property. You probably prefer to do something else on a Saturday, but open houses are necessary in this market and it is an excellent way to edge out your competition and explore outside listing data you see online or in ads.

Before you enter a prospective property, remember the following etiquette:

  1. Just like when you attend house parties, you mustn’t park in the driveway.
  2. You don’t need to knock or ring the bill if you saw the property listed online or in the paper, or you see a sign posted out front. However, wipe your shoes on the doormat, particularly if it’s raining.
  3. Don’t feel bad attending even if you’re just there to look around. The purpose of open houses is not just for prospective buyers, it is also a way to spread the word that the house is for sale.
  4. If you’ve hired an agent, don’t be afraid to inform the hosting agent so he or she doesn’t attempt to solicit you. These open houses are used by agents as a chance to network.
  5. Give other prospective buyers the chance to talk to the agent. If they are occupied with other buyers, get one of the brochures of the property and go on a house tour on your own.
  6. If you have uncharitable feelings towards the agent, set them aside and build a rapport with the agent. You may gain an advantage over other buyers.  It is also good for you to arrive at the open house on time.
  7. Don’t take photos or videos without permission. It is a sign of respect for the privacy of another person’s home.
  8. You also need to ask permission before using the bathroom.
  9.  It can get crowded in open houses. If you see a group inspecting a room you want to look at, wait for them to exit before you go in.
  10. Don’t snoop. It is common for sellers to leave their house to make prospective buyers comfortable in asking pointed questions. So, this means it is wrong for you to snoop in the fridge, drawers and other personal items of the seller. If you see a closed door that you want to see, ask permission from the agent first.
  11. It is okay for you to ask the agent blunt, direct questions, but don’t do it in the presence of the seller. Sellers don’t want to hear negative things about their home, but the agent may thank you for the feedback.
  12. Inspect the property for anything that is broken or squeaks. You can also bring a tape measure, if you need to.
  13. Don’t make yourself comfortable on the bed, couch or bean bag. You can take a seat elsewhere.
  14. The saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all” is true for open houses. Nobody wants to hear that you consider the asking price too high and other complaints. You may be overheard by the seller, a neighbour or a friend. If you are disappointed with the property, save the discussion after you have left the property or during a phone call with the agent.
  15. Leave your name and contact information with the agent. It’s courtesy to let the stranger who has permitted you to inspect their home know who you are. Leave a note if you do not want to receive a follow up call from the agent. Don’t forget to say “thank you” to the agent before you leave.

Enjoy your house hunting!