Verily merrily!

I admit it. I’m a Christmas tragic. I LOVE this season! Indooroopilly Shopping Centre carpark notwithstanding, there is an unmistakeable sense of merriness in the air – a feeling of work winding down, schools breaking up and kids growing very excited. Even for those of us still working (and yes, our office will be open for most of the Christmas/New Year break), this is a good time to take the foot of full-speed and ease up a little in order to enjoy the many blessings we may at times overlook throughout the year: family, friends, community spirit and the many lifestyle benefits of residing in Brisbane’s leafy western suburbs. Putting me right in the festive swing last weekend was the second annual Kenmore Rotary Community Christmas Carols, an event launched last year by Cr Margaret de Wit to once again put a song in the heart of Kenmore at Christmas time. I was very privileged to compere Saturday night’s wonderful union of local talent, ably led by the Major Laurie Young Concert Band and given voice by the brilliance of opera talent Karen Gaydon and the “back-up” of several hundred merry revelers. A fantastic night! Please excuse a short blog break ... am taking some long overdue time off with Allison and the kids. Can't wait! I hope you and yours have a wonderful, safe festive season and I look forward to "seeing" you again in the new year. Cheers!

All roads lead to home

29.11.2007. Two recent sales by my agency, one via auction and one via Express Sale, give cause for fresh discussion about the relative strengths of different selling methods. The first home, a three-bedroom entry-level property in Kenmore, sold under the hammer for $455,000. It attracted more than 72 people to the auction site in Gilruth St, of which 14 were registered bidders. The excellent price result clearly reflects the growing demand for entry-level buying within 10km of the CBD. The second sale, a prestige property in Jamieson Place, Brookfield, sold for a record-breaking million-dollar-plus price within hours of the first open home inspection. Thanks to expert targeting of the growing market for spacious prestige property just out of the inner-city circle, this home also attracted a large amount of interest, with three buyers talking offers straight away. Why an auction for the Kenmore house? Why Express Sale for prestige in Brookfield? The answer in fact has nothing to do with the properties themselves and everything to do with the needs of the seller and the movement of the market. All real estate agents, whether they admit it or not, have preferences about particular selling methods (and, okay, mine is for Express Sale – an exclusive service of Century 21 that consistently achieves fantastic results), but to exercise this preference at the expense of truly meeting the current market does everyone a disservice. At the end of the day, the most appropriate method for any home is the one that matches the market, is precisely timed and meets the needs of the seller. Handled correctly, any method should deliver a fair and reasonable price result. Still in doubt? Ask an expert!

Gung-ho for SOHO

22-11-2007. Five years ago it was media rooms – now almost everyone wants a functional home office. The rise and rise of telecommuting has put home offices at the top of modern buyers’ wishlists. It’s a trend that has become so pronounced we’re now advising sellers to convert that fourth or fifth bedroom into a home office prior to sale. This year 62.16% of the properties sold through my agency have included a home office, many as a conversion of an old bedroom or rumpus. The market has caught on to the SOHO (small office, home office) phenomenon and is actively meeting demand. Astute property owners are finding ways to incorporate home offices in order to address the fact that telecommuting figures have more than doubled in the last decade. This is beyond a flash-in-the-pan trend – it’s a permanent new market direction. It’s particularly significant in Brisbane where population growth is faster than any other major city in Australia and transport and infrastructure are struggling to cope. Only this month the state’s leading public sector union, QPSU, released figures showing that between 20-30% of Brisbane’s public service workforce is now actively seeking to leave the CBD and harness modern technology to work more flexibly from home. No-one wants to sit in traffic that doesn’t move and increasingly they don’t have to. The SOHO revolution is still most applicable to white-collar professions, whose numbers dominate the demographic make-up of our leafy western suburbs. Indicatively we’re receiving two consistent enquiries from local house-hunters these days – the first is for a home office, the second is for a rainwater tank. Both are important points to note for sellers, builders and renovators.

All roads lead to Kenmore

All roads lead to Kenmore It’s been fantastic to witness a flurry of new listing activity and busy open houses throughout Kenmore this month. Most exciting is the depth and variety of property on offer – there really is something for everyone, including (encouragingly!) first-home buyers. The buzz follows our prediction last month that Kenmore is at the stepping-off point of an upwards property surge, having completed a 6.5-year cycle that saw the median house price increase by 82.26%. According to our research, price growth in Kenmore has accelerated considerably during the past eight months, with the median house price in the suburb moving from $395,500 at the end of 2006 to $451,000 in June 2007 – an increase of 14.03%. Indicatively, a home on 600m2 in Currong St that sold for $310,000 last December recently changed hands for $395,000. Similarly a home in Parkway Place has just sold for $655,000 - $103,000 more than it sold for in November last year. The combination of increasing demand for western suburbs property and a steady decline in the number of homes listed for sale in recent years has contributed to rising prices in Kenmore. Since the peak of 2001, stock levels have dropped from 392 homes sold to just 200 in 2006. In the early part of 2007, more than 128 Kenmore properties have changed hands, indicating a definitive shift in market activity hampered only by a shortage of stock. This month’s momentum is not surprising in cyclical terms. One would expect that the rush of owners who bought into Kenmore back in 2001 are now, or will soon be, looking to downsize or upsize given property’s average propensity to turn over every seven years. This, combined with high demand and a climbing median price, suggests that Kenmore is on the brink of a fresh upswing. Confidence is high, demand is strong and we should see supply follow suit. In short, it’s all happening!

My Favourite Day of the Year!

It was nearly a week ago now, but the memory of my favourite day of the year is still fresh in my mind. Whilst it is absolutely true to say that I love a good family get together, or a relaxing holiday, or an action packed day at work, there’s still one day of every year that tops them all for me – the first day of the first cricket test match of the summer! Many may recoil in horror at the thought of sitting in the same spot for about 8 hours watching a sporting contest that probably distills to a mere 27 minutes of actual “action” (assuming 90, 6 ball overs with each ball lasting an average of 3 seconds), but for me, the colour, the atmosphere, the expectation and the contentment cannot be rivaled. Let me describe my perfect day to try and explain my pleasure. My friend Pete is a member of the Gabba Trust, and as such has a ticket and guest pass which enables “free” entry to the game and seating in the member’s area almost directly behind the stumps at the Vulture Street end of the ground – we sit within metres of the television cameras that aim straight down the pitch and offer viewers at home the joys of the “snick-o-meter” and “hot spots”! Now Pete is not your average friend, he’s the kind of guy you’d want around if you were stranded on a desert island – honest, genuine, intelligent, humorous …. a lot like me really! The great thing about Pete (apart from the free ticket I manage to “score” each year!), though, is that we are comfortable in each other’s company, so we don’t have to make small talk just for the sake of it. We can sit in contented, companionable silence for hours. In fact, we’ve both been known to fall asleep occasionally, wake with a sheepish grin and then continue to enjoy the “action” out in the middle with the banter of the ABC radio commentary team wired into the off ear so we can still communicate with each other should the desire arise. Last Thursday had nothing like the hype, energy and anticipation as last year’s Ash’s test, and was punctuated by periods of rain delays and the like, but that just allowed more time to indulge in those rare joys like reading the paper from start to finish, completing a sudoku or listening to Kerry O’Keefe and the ABC commentary team rambling on for hours about nothing in particular. My “Favourite Day of the Year” was capped off the following morning when one of my team presented me with an autographed copy of Kerry O’Keefe’s latest offering “Turn, turn, turn … please!” – the absolute icing on the cake for another “Favourite Day of the Year”!

The power of the written word

It took some convincing but I’m now a convert – a slavish devotee to the power of expert copywriting in real estate market. Truly this could be the sharpest weapon in the modern real estate agent’s arsenal, lifting response rates by – in our experience – up to 220% per home. In an era when every home can have great photography done, every home can have an expert floorplan created and every home can have a virtual online tour, the key to making a home stand out in a competitive market comes down to the accompanying words. Words capture what nothing else can – the history of the home, its ambience, its lifestyle provisions … the things you can only know by living in a home. And vendors are only too happy to provide all this information – seriously, they love being “interviewed” about their home! For years real estate agents have written property scripts themselves, often reverting to tired old clichés and ‘Renovator’s delight!’-style hyperbole, but they are not journalists and many of us are not wordsmiths. Hiring a professional copywriter, and one who loves and understands property, is an experiment that we have trialled this year with outstanding success. We’ve experienced a doubling and tripling of figures in terms of keen buyers attending open home inspections. In one standout case, a small property in Chapel Hill that had minimal street appeal and therefore not many good photos to choose from attracted an amazing 80 inspections in 10 days – we directly attributed that to the accompanying script prepared by a professional copywriter. As I said, I’m a convert. And I’ve put money behind the concept to affirm that belief. We now have a professional copywriter on board and her brilliant words form part “platinum” marketing package, which is afforded to every property listed regardless of price. Gerard Baden-Clay Principal, Century 21 Westside

Hey, the West feels the pinch too!

Western Brisbane residents aren’t immune from the pressures of the 9th interest rate rise in three years despite living in some of its most affluent suburbs. There’s a perception out there that the housing affordability issue is confined to the city’s poorer pockets, but there are ‘struggle streets’ everywhere and the affluent west is no different. For every upwardly mobile family moving into the area, there is another grappling with an increasingly dwindling margin between income and mortgage repayments and that can’t be ignored. Indeed, I’ve met with a number of local families recently who are looking to downsize even though their family has actually expanded – they want to stay in the area but can’t afford the repayments on a large home. The fact is nine interest rate rises since 2004 has taken its toll and although wages have also gone up across the board, many families have unwittingly over-capitalised. It only takes a redundancy or forced change of circumstances to suddenly throw a financially functioning family into chaos. Data from the Queensland courts has shown that home repossession rates have skyrocketed in the last three years, with almost 800 homes having been relinquished this year already. While very few of these have been in the western suburbs, five of which – Pullenvale, Fig Tree Pocket, Chapel Hill, Moggill and Brookfield – are among Brisbane’s richest suburbs according to the last census, it would be foolish to think everyone out here is on easy street. My business – this industry’s business - is helping people find and purchase their dream home (and by extension sell their old home), and to see people being forced out of the market due to rising interest rates is distressing for everybody. There is no clear-cut solution to the current economic situation, but at least both sides of politics are talking about ways to ameliorate the pain for families. Let’s hope there’s some post-election action beyond the rhetoric! Until next week … Gerard Baden-Clay Principal, Century 21 Westside

Contractually speaking - 25th October, 2007

It was interesting to read solicitor Tim O’Dwyer’s comments last week about the apparently parlous state of contract preparation within the real estate industry, not least of all because they came almost four months after the rules relating to real estate contracts changed. Tim’s assertion, that agents who amend contracts on behalf of buyers and sellers are now effectively breaking the law, implies that somehow agents would have a vested interest in doing so; as though they might have something to gain by not doing everything to the letter of the law. This is plainly ridiculous. It also creates a picture of recklessness and insufficient training among real estate agents, when of course the reality is that contract preparation is a critical component of the modern real estate training curriculum – ultimately overseen by the legal profession through the conveyancing process. (In my business’s case, voluntary membership of the REIQ additionally entails commitment to ongoing Best Practice training and participation in the association’s comprehensive Continuing Professional Development Program – added reassurance for consumers that we really know our stuff.) Importantly the current system of contract preparation is a highly efficient one for buyers and sellers, ensuring their specific needs and points of negotiation are couched within the terms of their contract. It is also extremely cost-effective for consumers, ensuring their legal fees are limited only to essential conveyancing costs. The alternative, a system whereby lawyers prepare contracts from the outset, potentially riding roughshod over the nuances of consumers’ specific conditional requirements, would not only cost buyers and sellers thousands of extra dollars per contract, but it would also mean that they would still incur legal fees for those occasions when contracts fall over – as they inevitably do at times. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for changes to the real estate industry that increase its capacity to deliver a highly professional and ultimately transparent service, but I fail to see how unnecessarily lining lawyers’ pockets with families’ hard-earned cash is good for anyone bar lawyers. Until next week … Gerard Baden-Clay Principal, Century 21 Westside

Hot property speaks volumes - 18th October, 2007

Sometimes a single house sale can say everything about what’s happening in a local market. This month’s sale of a rare sub-$500,000 property in Chapel Hill bared the teeth of a bullish first-home buyer/investor market, with multiple offers above the list price being received within hours of the first open-home inspection. The three-bedroom property in Cassandra Street, the sale of which went unconditional last week at $19,000 above the list price, attracted a record 52 groups of people through its doors within 45 minutes. Following that, another 28 groups inspected the property over the next week – 80 inspections in eight days … that’s heady stuff and it shows incredible interest in this price range. And that’s the key issue here – the price range. With the housing affordability issue dominating every barbecue conversation these days and both sides of politics hurling promised “solutions” at the populace, it’s very clear that first-home buyers simply want to get into the market on the ground floor and work their way up from there. They may have to pay a little more than they thought to get a foothold, but it’s a very solid foothold. Their additional investment will inevitably be recouped within a market displaying such high demand and residual value. It also demonstrates to people wondering whether or not to renovate their old home before selling that many buyers are happy to purchase unfinished real estate with future potential. In this case, the owners of Cassandra Street had done minimal work to the bones of a solid home, but the work that they had done was well-considered and smart. I’m thrilled that the owners have achieved such an excellent result. It’s given them the financial scope to achieve their next housing goal ahead of schedule while also giving another buyer entrée into a value-rich area. Until next week … Gerard Baden-Clay

Time to go Online - 11th October, 2007

Some things are inevitable, some are inspired, and some are both. Online auctions, the latest groundbreaking initiative of Century 21 nationally, falls into the third category. They’re hot, they’re happening and they’re coming to a suburb near you. Yes, online auctions could be held in Brisbane’s western suburbs as early as next month following recent successful trials in southern states. This month’s trials have not only proven the technological integrity of online auctions but also have demonstrated their widespread consumer support. I was recently asked to speak about this hot topic on Seven News, which prompted a number of next-day enquiries about when and how online auctions would be introduced locally. Clearly there is a view that this is very much the way of the future – a natural extension of other types of online bidding – and there is certainly some excitement that this medium of selling puts power back into the hands of home-buyers. Indeed the old days of pressure-cooker auction environments in auction rooms and on street sides are perhaps approaching an end. Online auctions enable interested parties to participate via live video streaming without the intervention of third parties and without the normal poker-face emotional game-playing that has historically gone part and parcel with the auction experience. For those people who have avoided auctions in the past due to the stress of the high-emotion, in-your-face setting, online auctions are very good news. For sellers, they also open up the possibility of international bidders being able to directly vie for a home, multiplying one’s buyer base exponentially. Century 21 has joined with PTY Auctions to develop the Microsoft-based software applications that power the online auctions – a cost to vendors of just $320 to place their auction online. Bidders are able to register online, bid and exchange contracts, place proxy bids and monitor more than one auction from different agents. I don’t think I’m understating things: it’s a brave new world and it’s very exciting. Until next week … Gerard Baden-Clay Principal, Century 21 Westside

Up the Garden Path - 4th October, 2007

It’s reprehensible, not only because it compromises the hard-won integrity of our modern industry but mainly because it potentially misleads people who are making extremely important decisions about property. I’m referring to the practice of “talking it up” – gushing over-the-top positivity about market movements for the sake of getting buyers and/or sellers roused into immediate action. It’s an old-school, pre-code of ethics attempt at market manipulation that, in spite of a more well-informed populace, is still practiced by a small percentage of agents who frankly should know better. Last week my office released a report to the media about an observed lull in local property activity – specifically a decline in stock levels – that we surmised may be attributable to pre-election jitters. This information was based not only on listing activity through our office but through all local offices – incontrovertible statistics available to everyone. I was therefore amused, and then just plain angry, to read commentary from another local agent saying that both buyers and sellers were currently pumping with adrenalin to secure deals before the upcoming election. The article was devoid of any statistics – necessarily so because they wouldn’t have added up – and seemingly designed to drum up local business by leading people to believe they would be remiss not to act in the current fever-pitch state of play. The simple fact is listings have been down for the past couple of months, although as I write this there is a sense that things are turning again with solid interest among first-home buyers prompting some downsizers to put their sub-$500,000 homes on the market. At the end of the day, however, most people buy and sell due to their own individual circumstances, not because a real estate agent tells them they should and now. It follows that we should be reporting how the market IS, not simply how we’d like it to be. Until next week … Gerard Baden-Clay Principal, Century 21 Westside

A political pause? - 27th September, 2007

Pre-election uncertainty is likely behind a reduction in the number of homes for sale in Brisbane’s west right now, creating a unique opportunity for astute sellers to capitalise on an under-serviced market. While demand is stronger than ever, an unseasonal shortage of stock is pushing up prices, Kenmore being a classic example. In the first three months of this year, 71 homes sold in the suburb; in the second quarter 57 homes sold; and currently there are only 46 homes available to buy. The median house price for the suburb has gone up 14.03% to $451,000 in just six months. Everything that is listed is selling but there are not enough homes to satisfy demand. This is in spite of robust confidence in the local property market and an influx of people moving into the area – indeed we’ve had almost 2000 new enquiries about local property since January. So one has to assume that the election and its related issues are weighing on people’s minds. I find this a curious reaction because economically things stand to change very little with a change in government, at least in the short term. The most significant policy changes stand to affect first-home owners, who account for a very small portion of our local market. By sitting on their hands, would-be sellers (especially those looking to downsize) are bypassing the opportunity for very satisfying price results – the inevitable product of low supply and high demand. That said, housing affordability remains the hot topic for both political parties leading in to the election. The ancient Chinese curse holds true: we live in interesting times. Until next week … Gerard Baden-Clay, Principal Century 21 Westside

Priceless predictions - 20th September, 2007

It’s one thing to analyse market movements and trends after the fact; it’s quite another to predict what will happen next. This takes a very practised understanding of the local interplay of a number of critical factors, the most obvious of which is recent house prices and how they plot on traditional real estate cycles. Far less clear-cut factors include projected infrastructure developments, population movements, aesthetic trends and national economic indicators. In short, it’s far from an exact science but it is one that serious real estate agencies strive to master because, at the end of the day, it’s the information people really need to make sound real estate decisions. Century 21 Westside has been closely following movements and trends within our local postcodes, enabling us to send out quarterly suburb reports to local residents and to more accurately predict what will happen next. (If you haven’t received one, please give our office a call and we’ll happily mail a copy of the latest report for your suburb.) Demonstratively our recent analysis and media commentary about Brookfield’s emergence as the prestige suburb of the west led to our prediction of a record price being achieved for a stunning non-acreage home in Jamieson Place. Selling for just under $1.2 million, the home stood to attract such a price not only because it is a very impressive home on an elevated block but also because all indications are that Brookfield prices will continue to rise as gentrification continues and prestige buyers look outside of their normal comfort zones for lifestyle value and geographic exclusivity. Congrats to both the buyer and seller of Jamieson Place – you’ve both made excellent decisions! Until next week … Gerard Baden-Clay, Principal Century 21 Westside

Avoiding the money pit - 13th September, 2007

We’ve all heard the stories about the couple that buys a run-down home, renovates it within an inch of its life and ultimately recoups hundreds of thousands dollars’ profit on their initial outlay. (You usually hear these loudly embellished at barbecues and later go home to kick the cat.) We’ve also heard the stories about the couple that does the same thing and loses the lot: their savings, their dreams and unnecessary years off their lives. Somewhere in between the two brands of anecdote, a more common story lies: a fair return for a fair investment. There are simply no hard-and-fast rules to the art and science of renovation. This is because there are just too many variables involved that have little to do with the renovation process itself – the home’s position and the current state of the market being the two most obvious. There is also the very fluid nature of tradesmen’s prices and availability (when one isn’t going DIY) and the fickleness of renovation trends themselves (polished floorboards today, sandstone tiling tomorrow). And of course it’s impossible to predict to what extent a potential buyer will want to have scope to do further renovation themselves. While some people covet a home that is completely finished, others fear the limitation of having no way to add further value. Given all this, it seems incredible that people still embark on pre-sale renovation projects without any qualified advice. A quick call-out by a real estate expert will soon tell you how best to strike the right balance between over-capitalising and under-capitalising … in other words, how to avoid the money pit. Until next week … Gerard Baden-Clay, Principal Century 21 Westside

Ethics. What dilemma? - 6th September, 2007

Once upon a time a real estate agent might dare not have uttered the term “ethics” else it invited untold scrutiny. This industry grew from unstructured beginnings, at the whim of supply and demand and at the behest of wealthy land owners. Inevitably, given the more unsavoury aspects of human nature, the abuse of selling privileges was rife. The reputation of a few (perhaps more than a few) tarnished the career choice of many. We’ve come a long away as an industry, but the legacy of years gone by lingers. It’s still fashionable to lump in real estate agents with journalists, lawyers and used car salesmen on the List of People One Shouldn’t Trust. Joke-worthy, yes, but hardly fair for any of the aforementioned occupations. All have adopted industry codes and now answer to industry watchdogs as a condition of their operation. That said, everything comes down to the behaviour of individuals, doesn’t it? Everything can come unstuck by a precious few. A school can have a fine reputation but an abominable bully. The real estate industry is no exception. Recently we’ve seen several tales in the media of agents buying under-priced properties under alias identities. It is appalling behaviour and, tellingly, such agents almost always come unstuck … and quickly. But it does us all a huge disservice. I was going to use this blog to take the moral high ground on behalf of our local industry, but only last week had cause to call into questions the ethics of a competitor. I did so not for the sake of market position but because we all suffer when someone lowers the bar. I’m sure the person in question knows exactly what I’m talking about. Ethics aren’t just fashionable in real estate – they’re mandatory. And governed by law. Until next week … Gerard Baden-Clay, Principal Century 21 Westside

The father lode - 30th August, 2007

Not so long ago a father was a success if he could put a roof over his family’s head. Now it takes a roof, deck, home theatre, teen retreat and pool. And that’s just the holiday house. These aren’t easy times to be a father, let alone a “good father”. Just as the world seems to be spinning faster than ever before, requiring us to work harder and for longer, not always fully comprehending why or what for, fathers are also trying to make better use of family time. To engage with their children. To empathise with their wife or partner. To not only lead but to inspire, comfort and understand. As far as job descriptions go, it’s fairly heady stuff. Working in the real estate business used to be about finding new owners for houses. Now, thankfully, we speak of families and “homes”. We don’t simply negotiate prices, draw up contracts and hand over keys. We help people move. I’m increasingly aware of the cost and time pressures placed upon modern families, not least of all because I feel them too. As fathers – I have three little girls, all being expertly groomed to look after me in my dotage! - we are all trying to do our best … and sometimes that’s even enough. I am fortunate to have a wonderful father whose ideals and practices I could do no better than to emulate. He strikes a nice balance between work and family, always with the understanding that when the see-saw comes to rest, it comes down on the family side. To my own father and to all fathers, best wishes for a great day on Sunday. You deserve it! Until next week … Gerard Baden-Clay, Principal Century 21 Westside

Looking for answers? - 23rd August, 2007

The information age is as much a blessing as a curse. While it’s simple to find the answers to virtually any question these days (including entire medical diagnoses online!), the downside is that there are no safeguards about which answers are correct and where those answers have come from. The only sure path through the mire is to target key experts within a field. In the field of real estate, Century 21 is a proven expert, being the world’s largest agency and one of its most consistently successful. Locally, Century 21 Westside has earned expert status through its position as the no. 1 Century 21 office within Brisbane and, most recently, via recognition as winner of the 2007 Quest Business Achiever Award (Real Estate). While our team is always on hand to answer questions from local buyers and sellers, we also understand that few people have the time or inclination to pick up the phone and pose a question to their local real estate agency. So we are excited about participating in a new national campaign called ‘Ask The Experts’, which will basically allow you to type in a question from the comfort of your home computer (go to and wait for a prompt reply from our own or the national office of Century 21. No question will go unanswered! Perhaps you’re wondering about the wisdom or otherwise of selling your home in the current market? Maybe you’re considering renovating first but don’t wish to over-capitalise? Perhaps you simply want to know what your home is worth right now? That’s Go on, ask away! Until next week … Gerard Baden-Clay, Principal Century 21 Westside

Call to arms for Brookfield - 16th August 2007

Officially Brisbane’s richest non-city, non-riverfront suburb, Brookfield’s appeal is undeniable. The initial drawcards are obvious: lovely homes, large blocks, semi-rural environs, 13km proximity to the CBD. But the less obvious, more intangible drawcard of ‘community’ could well be the keystone holding aloft the other criteria. Though geographically exclusive in terms of its two-roads-only access, Brookfield is not cut-off from the issues and challenges facing its surrounding suburbs. Many of the big issues currently swirling about – the Western Bypass hot potato and the proposed need for a second public high school west of Kenmore - warrant a united voice from the Brookfield community. Is it time for Brookfield to form a community development group or progress association? The answer could lie in the recent experience of another (once) lovely suburb defined by semi-rural quaintness: Jindalee. Community opposition about the enormous DFO development and its potential for traffic and parking chaos, especially on weekends, mounted quickly after the bulldozers moved in. But of course, it was all too late. Somehow the project’s application had slipped beneath the radar of relevant community interests and before anyone knew what was happening, DFO construction was underway. It is scheduled to open in November. If Brookfield wants to stay on top of such development applications and in doing so preserve the quality of life it has paid handsomely to live within, then perhaps a formal development or progress group should be on the cards? I’d love to know what you think. Until next week … Gerard Baden-Clay, Principal Century 21 Westside

We won! - 9th August 2007

If you’ll indulge me a quick departure from my normal policy of not using this space for self-promotion, it gives me great pleasure to announce that Century 21 Westside is the official winner of the 2007 Quest Business Achiever Awards in the category of Real Estate. And furthermore, that our dynamo office manager James Billing is the 2007 Quest Business Employee of the Year! This is an outstanding result for our team, but especially for James whose award cuts across all industries. And it’s entirely deserved because James has played an integral role in the momentum that has driven us from being a start-up enterprise three years ago to being two-time winners of the prestigious Quest Business Achiever Awards (we also won the Real Estate category in 2005 and were finalists in 2006). What does it take to be the leading real estate agency within a highly competitive local market? The key point of difference is business expertise. This is an industry that has necessarily evolved greatly since the days when just about anyone thought they could “have a go” at selling real estate; when deals were done over back fences and codes of conduct weren’t worth the beer coaster they were written on. Century 21 Westside operates as a business first and foremost – a business whose service is facilitating real estate transactions. That we also go the extra mile of personally assisting every client in making the business of moving as happy and stress-free as possible is what, I believe, sets us apart from the pack. Enough laurel-resting … there’s work to be done. Until next week … Gerard Baden-Clay, Principal Century 21 Westside

Tanks for the Memories - 2nd August, 2007

One of our expert team members here at Century 21 Westside, John Webb, has recently been going through the process of researching water tank options for his acreage property. He stumbled across some interesting research that highlights just how far we have come in terms of water usage consciousness over the last few years. According to Archicentre, the building advisory service of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, almost 75% of potential home-buyers now place a rainwater tank above a spa and a plasma TV on the list of inclusions they most want in a property. This is an incredible shift in a very short space of time. Who would have thought even five years ago that having a rainwater tank would boost the saleability of your average home? Spending money on water-wise initiatives should now be considered a near-essential capital investment for the astute investor or vendor. If you’ve been simply tinkering with the idea, tinker no longer. Being water-wise is not only good sense; it’s good business. Being able to promote a home as “water-wise” presents significant benefits. Not only do buyers purchase a home that is able to sustain a half-decent garden at least, but they also acquire a property that is pool-ready, landscaping-friendly and prepared for whatever further restrictions await us in the future. There are still significant rebates on offer for homeowners and investors who elect to be water-wise. Do your research and take the plunge. Until next week … Gerard Baden-Clay, Principal Century 21 Westside

The Write Stuff - 26th July, 2007

With more than 70 million web logs (or ‘blogs’) now floating about in cyberspace, the question can fairly be asked: why do we need one more? Moreover, why would you want to read a blog published by your local real estate expert? I’ll give you three quick answers and then you can go online and decide for yourself. (Please click on the ‘Expert Opinion’ blog link at ‘The Real Estate Expert’ blog provides you with a timely update on property news, views and issues as seen through the eyes of someone who is living and breathing it every day. This is the information you won’t get from any newspaper and which you should have with you to make sound decisions about buying and selling. ‘The Real Estate Expert’ blog is fearless. I will not shy away from the thorny issues nor simply push my own barrow. In the USA, where real estate bloggers are prolific, reputable blog sites have become an accepted source of information among buyers, sellers and the media. My aim is to use the technology to a similar end, ultimately generating lots of healthy industry discussion and debate. ‘The Real Estate Expert’ blog is interactive. I respond personally to all posts and very much welcome all questions and feedback. Through my blog, you can ask the questions you’ve always wanted to throw at a real estate agent. Finally, like all bloggers, I simply want to be heard! Bookmark the ‘The Real Estate Expert’ blog today and tell me what YOU think. Until next week … Gerard Baden-Clay, Principal
Century 21 Westside

Learning Curve - 19th July, 2007

Our office was abuzz with a fresh injection of youthful enthusiasm last week in the form of work experience student Selena Colavitti. In addition to helping us with lots of research and data management, Selena lent her hand to writing this week’s guest Open Doors column … “To be honest, what I imagined about working in a real estate office was completely different to what it’s like! As I stepped into the gleaming office of red and gold, I was extremely nervous and wanted to turn around and run home. However, my nerves were soon calmed as I greeted with big smiles. “After working for a week at Century 21 Westside, my understanding of real estate is that it is not just about selling houses and moving onto the next one; you have to be committed to what you are selling and present a good self-image. You need an excellent knowledge of various areas and you need to know your competition! “Century 21 Westside is a completely different environment to what I have experienced at other workplaces. Five minutes after I walked through the door, I felt like I was at home and part of the team. “After I graduate from Brigidine College, I’d like to work in aerospace engineering or anything to do with business. I find analytical areas very interesting and I like business because you are always thinking and on the go. If I decide to do real estate, I would certainly want to work with Century 21.” Thanks Selena! We loved having you. Until next week … Gerard Baden-Clay, Principal Century 21 Westside

Rocky Road - 12th July, 2007

If life is about the journey and not the destination, then life is running a little rough for western suburb residents at the moment. The $34 million upgrade of Moggill Road, while evidence that at least its limitations are finally being acknowledged, is creating plenty of short-term traffic headaches for residents and commuters. On paper it would seem that the widening of Moggill Road to four lanes up to Kilkivan Avenue is a bandaid measure at best. It won’t do anything to ameliorate the problems beyond Kilkivan Avenue nor the daily traffic debacle at the roundabout near Kenmore Village shopping centre (although it should be said there are some minor modifications currently being done to that roundabout). Still, it should sufficiently highlight the true nature of Moggill Road’s problems so that longer-term solutions, including a possible bypass, will become clearer. Given that projections show Brisbane can expect up to 50% more cars on the road by 2026, projects like this have become belatedly essential – in sporting terms, it’s catch-up footy played for the greater good of the game. So, what to expect for the next 12 months? There’ll be overall traffic delays caused by a reduction of the usual 70kph speed throughout the construction site. There’ll be changes to existing bus stop locations, timetables and routes, and I would urge any resident with queries about these to contact the office of Dr Bruce Flegg MP. Until next week … Gerard Baden-Clay Principal Century 21 Westside 1300 200 100