Get on the bus + A woman’s touch to reno + Sydney not as ‘safe as houses’

Highlights from this week:

  • One on one approach to renovation
  • A journey of discovery and learning
  • Women and children in need
  • The industry gives back
  • Learn from Sydney’s checkered past


A journey of discovery and learning – Jo Vadillo

Kevin:  We talk a lot about regional markets in the show. One regional market that’s fascinated me for some time, and is actually getting some fairly good traction right now, is Newcastle. Let’s have a look at that market. I received an email the other day from Jo Vadillo, representing Property Women. They’re looking, well, quite dramatically, at that market. She joins me to have a talk about that. Good day, Jo. How you doing?
Jo:  Hi, Kevin. I’m good, thanks.
Kevin:  Nice to be connected. Thank you very much for your time. What is it you like about the Newcastle market?
Jo:  Oh, look. I think it represents really good opportunities for investors. We work a lot with people who are Sydney based, and with budgets that can afford you really good opportunity in Newcastle, doesn’t afford you the same opportunity in Sydney. And, certainly, it’s a stronger market in terms of outlook in the near future, the next five-year plan. That’s where I see Newcastle representing better value than Sydney market.
Kevin:  Can you just give us a bit of an insight as to why you think the Newcastle market is actually on the rise?
Jo:  Well, what I’m understanding of the Newcastle market is it’s holding firm. What I like about it … Because when I talk to investors, we like to provide them with opportunities that have a twist. This is where, I guess, you manufacture equity, as well. The Newcastle council are very, very malleable in order to do granny flats, subdivisions, other opportunities. There’s amazing growth in the area in terms of infrastructure around the city itself. A lot of people, also, are migrating to Newcastle, I think, as Sydney became unaffordable and, I suppose, difficult in the last half-decade. People have been moving further and further afield.
Jo:  So the city itself is growing in terms of population, and it’s got amazing medical, hospitals and a lot of medical research in that particular area. In terms of employment, people are working in the Hunter Region, Central Coast, and people also commuting to Sydney, as well. I just see it as a thriving opportunity for investors.
Kevin:  Yeah. You mentioned there are about granny flats. I take it that the council in Newcastle are very proactive when it comes to these sorts of approvals. Are they a friendly council?
Jo:  They are. Yeah. Compared to if you’re in Sydney and they’re 30 centimetres too big or too small, they’ll say, “No.” They have, in my experience, been quite easy to work with. Of course, you need the right team behind you, and before you purchase, to make sure you’ve got a good town planner that understands the planning scheme, as well. What you can do … And also ensure that before you go ahead and do anything like that, does that suit the geography and who it is that’s going to be moving into that particular suburb. They’re small parcels of land, but you can do a lot with it. They’ve also got a very big student community in and around Newcastle City, as well, because of the university there.
Kevin:  Tell me about Property Women, how you’re supporting women in developing their own portfolio. You’re seeing that as something that a lot more women are becoming involved in?
Jo:  Yeah. Look, I absolutely am. I see … And I think there’s also been some research saying that single women make up some large percentage, now, of people who are seeking out loans for investment purposes. So definitely, the girls are really strong go get ’em kind of force out there, as well. I also see women, now, as opposed to being a little bit more … They’re being a bit more strategic, I guess, and looking to how to make that money work for them and planning for their future, as well, by using property as their main asset class.
Kevin:  Yeah. Well, I’m interested to see here, too, that you’ve organised a bus tour with Judith Taylor. Tell me about Judith. I understand that she’s a property educator, but also an author and buyer’s agent, and she works in that Newcastle market.
Jo:  Yes. Judith Taylor was actually one of the first directors of Property Women back in 2006. She was, I guess, one of the ladies that started the business up. Then she’s a novacastrian born and bred, and she’s got a number of investments in Newcastle. Very well-seasoned and experienced renovator, knows the market inside and out and as a buyer’s agent, she does a lot of things for her clients, as well.
Jo:  She and Property Women put on these bus tours twice a year, and it’s really just … And excuse the name Property Women, because we always welcome men, and partners, and other joint venture …
Kevin:  Couples, yeah.
Jo:  Men.
Kevin:  Yeah, men.
Jo:  I think it’s the word I’m looking … Men. They’re always welcome on the bus. But the point being, we look at a whole bunch of different opportunities. It could be that you’ve renovated the front house and sold off the back. You might put two town houses on the back of a block. We’ll look at live case studies of renovations that are underway. Look at some granny flats, look at how people have used granny flats really well, and how that’s affected the yield of the property. So what the buying price is, what the build price is, then what the outcome is.
Jo:  Judith, because she’s been doing this for so many years, she can drive around almost every street and pinpoint this one, that one, this house, this house. And we just look at a whole bunch of different strategies that will meet a multitude of different budgets and plans. While some people come on the bus tour just to have a broad understanding of the opportunities. Some do come because they are, like myself, very interested in the Newcastle market as their next investment choice.
Kevin:  Yeah. Well, you’ll get the opportunity to actually walk through some real property deals, have a look at some granny flat deals, as well. But the thing I like about this, Jo, is it gives you the opportunity to network with some like-minded people. The bus tour is coming up in a week’s time, March 30. It’s on all day. All the details are going to be available on the link that we provide for you that’ll take you through to Property Women.
Kevin:  Jo, thank you very much for your time. All the best for the bus tour. As I said, it’s on in Newcastle with Property Women. You can go with Jo and with Judith and the rest of the team from Property Women. It’s on on the 30th of March. Jo, thanks for your time.
Jo:  Absolute pleasure. Thanks, Kevin.

Women and children in need – Kate Rimer

Kevin:  For an increasing number of Australian women and children the desperate hunt for decent, safe accommodation has become a constant grinding part of their lives unfortunately. To mark International Women’s Day just a few weeks ago Habitat for Humanity Australia has mobilised more than 400 volunteers from 15 companies around Australia for it’s Homes of Hope campaign to renovate six women’s refuges and transitional accommodation. Corelogic, one of our sponsors, sent 65 of it’s staff to help with the project. Kate Rimer, Executive Human Resources at Corelogic explains.
Kate:  Homes of Hope is a programme that we’re delighted to be involved with, which is helping renovate housing for women who are facing homelessness in refuges around Australia. And we’re mobilising our teams to work for a day, giving a day of volunteering time to mark International Women’s Day and support these women.
Kevin:  Kate, how critical is the need for support for those people escaping domestic and family violence?
Kate:  Well we know through the data provided by Habitat for Humanity, and in fact our own work in the housing sector, that the increased cost of rental properties means that existing services are just not coming close to meeting the demand for crisis accommodation. It’s really important that more housing is made available and that needs to be in a safe clean state for women and their children. So this is a really important initiative at a time of huge need in our community.
Kevin:  It is a great need and full marks to you for supporting them. Kate, how long on average will someone stay at a house and be supported in this way?
Kate:  That’s a good question. It depends on the needs of the individual. Sometimes it’s a woman on her own who has escaped a situation of domestic violence, but more often than not she may have children with her or be a disadvantaged mom with children who is just struggling to make ends meet. Some of the housing is transitional, it’s short term emergency care and some of it’s longer term care while the women are looking for more permanent accommodation. It depends on their needs.
Kevin:  Helping people access homes is what Corelogic of course is all about, so getting involved is natural but getting so much staff support must make it very special for you.
Kate:  We were overwhelmed with the interest. We had wait lists on each one of the builds in each of the capital cities, so I think we are passionate about the housing and property industry and our staff had told us through various surveys they wanted to do more. Partnering with Habitat provided just a fabulous opportunity to do that in a very practical way.
Kevin:  I understand Homes of Hope is a transitional step for women and children, is that correct?
Kate:  That’s correct, yes. We’ve been working on women’s refuges but we also had a team in Adelaide working on a home for a single mom with kids. We were doing a lot of painting and tidying up for her. It covers a variety of accommodation needs.
Kevin:  As we said at the start there were 65 Corelogic staff who helped out in this initiative. What activities do they get involved in?
Kate:  There was painting, there was concreting, there was gardening.
Kevin:  Goodness.
Kate:  Yeah, they all said they had a few sore muscles the next day but they threw themselves into it and delivered a great result at each of the properties.
Kevin:  Yeah, it’s quite amazing. It’s a wonderful initiative and we’re very proud and pleased to be able to support, as I know you are too. Homes of Hope, it receives a lot of corporate support, what is it do you think that attracts that support?
Kate:  I think most of the corporates who are involved like us have some close relationship or involvement in the property industry or the construction industry. But I think there’s so much more emphasis among companies now around how do we make a contribution to the community and for us the alignment here was fantastic between homes and housing and what our business is about. I think corporates are looking for that sense of alignment and employees are looking for something that’s practical where they can feel like they’re making a positive difference.
Kevin:  Yeah, and I think it’s a great initiative because quite often we see corporates get involved supporting some really great causes but to actually have staff involved I think, as I said earlier, that takes it to a whole different level.
Kate:  It does and I think International Women’s Day is marked by a lot of wonderful events, many of them breakfasts and lunches and lots of talking. And that conversation, that dialogue around women’s issues is really important and it needs to continue but we wanted to take it a step further and also put into action things that make a difference to Australia and New Zealand women through our business.
Kevin:  Yeah, well congratulations to Corelogic and to you Kate and the team. Kate Rimer, Executive Human Resources at Corelogic. Kate, thank you so much for your time.
Kate:  Thanks Kevin.

One on one approach to renovation – Bernadette Janson

Kevin:  You’ve heard us mention in the show before that a man is not a retirement plan, and here we’re talking about the growing number of women who realise that they really have the ability to make their own way, and they can do it so successfully with renovation.
Kevin:  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I think some women are probably better at it than men. I’m talking now to BernadetteJanson, who has a company called
Kevin:  Bernadette, thank you, and welcome to the show.
Bernadette:  Thank you, Kevin. I’m happy to be here.
Kevin:  Yeah, that opening, I seriously meant that. I think that women are very much in touch with the decoration part and really good at rolling up their sleeves and getting stuck in some of the renovation, but from some of the videos I’ve watched, you say that that’s not 100% necessary.
Bernadette:  Well, to be honest with you, in some ways it can be a bit of a negative.
Kevin:  Yes.
Bernadette:  Because I’m speaking from experience here because in my early renovating years, my husband, Steven, and I did a lot of DIY, and the problem with doing it yourself is that you never actually count the cost of what you’re doing. So you’re not overly commercial about the type of property that you work on, and you can often end up, well you do end up working for nothing, basically. And so it wasn’t until we gave up the DIY and got a lot more strategic about it that we actually started to make real profit.
Kevin:  Is this, obviously, this plays a large part in what you do in The School of Renovating?
Bernadette:  It does, yes. So I really work with people to get them thinking more strategically because the thing about renovators and this doesn’t just apply to women. It’s men as well, is we’re very creative, and we love getting our hands dirty and doing things with our hands and can lose sight of what the big picture, what we’re supposed to be achieving. So what I do is actually work with them in those early stages to get them thinking very strategically about the type of property they buy and the strategy they apply to that property to achieve the outcome they want.
Bernadette:  And I find that’s a much more successful way to actually improve your financial position through renovating.
Kevin:  When you’re teaching people this, it’s a great skill, too, Bernadette. Do you see them all of a sudden realise, Wow, I’ve done renovations in the past, but I’ve never looked at it in that light?
Bernadette:  I have. I’ve actually had people in tears realising how much of their life and their family time that they have sort of frittered away because they’ve been charging down that DIY track, and it’s not got them what they wanted.
Kevin:  It’s easy to think that the DIY path is the best way because you’re saving money so therefore there’s going to be better profit at the end, but in a lot of instances, doing it yourself doesn’t always look as good as having a professional do it, either.
Bernadette:  I’d absolutely agree with you. I always think that you can never match the outcome of a tradesman that’s doing the same thing day in, day out every day. They become very skilled and fast and efficient. And so to be, to have that level of skill, it takes a very long time. And it’s fine if you do one project and you want to do as much as you can yourself, but the thing is that if you’re going to get ahead, you can’t just be a one-hit wonder. You’ve got to have, you have to move forward. And if you’re going to be doing that on every project, you’ll burn out very quickly.
Kevin:  The other point, too, I think is if you’re using qualified tradespeople, they’re in touch with the latest things in the market, the latest bits that they can bring into the property. They might be able to make some good suggestions, too. But the other thing, too, is that you’re able to work through the job a lot quicker because you might have different trades working at the same time as opposed to one person trying to do everything.
Bernadette:  Exactly. And to be honest with you, we sort of take it a level up. Like, I actually really tend to avoid using trades that are a one-man show, particularly trades like painting. You can have someone there for two weeks to do a job, but if you bring in a team, they can be in and out in about three days. So, yeah. It’s definitely an efficiency thing as well.
Kevin:  Tell me about your business, How do you operate? Is it online, or do you have face-to-face classes?
Bernadette:  So we do, we have the programme online, but I like to see, I like to know everyone that I’m working with personally. So we also have a live boot camp so everyone that we work with comes through that boot camp at some stage. Some times at the beginning, and some times at the end of 12 months, but, and the other reason we do that is so we can have a look the their plan and provide some sort of input into it because some of it, part of the reason people come to us is because they want help. And so it’s much easier to do that face to face. So, yes, we do.
Bernadette:  We also run programmes on Airbnb or short-term rental. Mainly because that’s, for renovators, it’s been a game-changer.
Kevin:  It has been a game-changer. It occurs to me, looking at your website and just picking up on that point you just made about one-on-one, that your model is not so much the seminar one size fits all, but you can actually develop a plan for the individual dependent on their time of life, I guess, their need and how much they can devote to it.
Bernadette:  Yeah. We actually, we like to work with someone and sort of actually see their results unfold. So they’ll come in completely green. They’ll get through their first project. So we’ve got people now that are on their third, fourth, fifth project and are really starting to gather up speed in terms of what they’ve been trying to achieve.
Kevin:  Well, you mentioned there about Airbnb, does the renovation to fit the Airbnb model differ a lot from, say, a normal renovation?
Bernadette:  It does a bit. You tend to not need to have so much in terms of a kitchen. It depends where the Airbnb is, but for us also, it’s a great Plan B. With every reno, if you’re planning to sell it, you need to have a Plan B, particularly in Sydney, the long-term market is not an option, mainly because it just won’t cover costs. So, yes, we can, we do renovate properties to hold on the short-term rental market for a long time, and we do tailor that renovation according to Airbnb, but we also use it for properties that we’re renovating for other purposes.
Kevin:  Great talking to you, Bernadette. Thank you very much for your time. Bernadette Janson, and the website is Thanks for your time, Bernadette.
Bernadette:  Thanks so much, Kevin.

Learn from Sydney’s checkered past – Simon Pressley

Kevin:   Well, no one would certainly argue with the fact that the Sydney market has really taken us on a bit of a rollercoaster ride. It’s interesting to look back. Over the last 30 years, what are some of the lessons we’ve learned from the Sydney market, in particular, that we can probably take out and learn about what might happen in other markets around the world, around Australia? Joining me to talk about that, Simon Pressley from Propertyology.
Kevin:   Hello again, Simon.
Simon:   Hello, Kevin.
Kevin:   I know you’ve been looking at this. Quite fascinating. You’ve come up with eight key learnings out of looking at what’s happened in Sydney over the last 30 years. Walk us through those, Simon.
Simon:   Yeah. Our first thing we know is that the median house price in Sydney 30 years ago was $155,000.
Kevin:   Oh, goodness.
Simon:   Today it’s about $900,000. That’s enormous growth, isn’t it? With Sydney having such a significant downturn, it’s probably worth reminding ourselves, perhaps, where that phrase safe as houses comes from. 155,000 to 900,000 is spectacular growth We could talk about any location in Australia as a case study and there would be a similar amount of growth. So that’s one key thing.
Kevin:   Yeah. Just on that point. It just shows this baby boomer generation that’s coming through, they’re the ones who’ve actually had that wealth. Because if you look at someone 30 years ago who purchased a property in Sydney for the median then of 150-odd or whatever you said, they’ve now got huge equity. Even if they didn’t ever pay down that loan. They’ve still got a huge amount of equity.
Simon:   Yeah. The same benefits will be applicable, to you know, to Gen Xers, and Gen Ys, and Gen whatever else. The key learning from that is get in the game quickly and benefit, over time, from compounding. I’ve got no doubt that 30 years from now we’ll be talking … Every location in Australia will be worth five, maybe 10, times more than what it was when you bought that property.
Kevin:   Yeah. Don’t wait for the market to crash, just get in.
Simon:   No you won’t.. Yeah, absolutely.
Kevin:   Okay. Number two?
Simon:   Number two is downturns and booms. Over the 30 years, Sydney had two genuine booms. 1999 to 2004. Now that period there, just as Australia brought in GST and a few other big economic reforms, that’s the most prosperous period in Australian history. Sydney certainly didn’t miss out on that, either. Really, really big boom. Biggest boom ever, ’99 to 2004.
Simon:   The only other boom it had was the one just finished that started at the end of 2012 and finished mid-2017. There was a one year boom in there, 2010, for those that can recall. That was the stimulus package in the response to the GFC. So, 30 years. Two and a bit booms over 30 years. Four downturns either side of the booms, including the downturn that it’s in now.
Simon:   Now, whether we talk about Sydney or any location in Australia, it’s important that people are mindful that property booms do not come around very often. Downturns … the downturn that Sydney is in now, median house price is back to sort of early 2016 values today, so we’ve gone back three years on the median house price in this current downturn. Number of people are forecasting that Sydney might experience up to 10% price declines in 2019 calendar year, as it did last year. If it did that, Sydney values would be back to early 2015 values by the end of 2019.
Kevin:   Highlights the fact that it’s a long-term play, isn’t it?
Simon:   It does. What we’ve heard a lot, and it’s a valid point, is, “Oh, yeah. Sydney’s lost about 15% value so far in the downturn, but it grew by 70 beforehand.” True. That’s relevant to those who already owned a property in Sydney before the growth started. If you bought one of those properties in, say, 2015, ’16, or ’17, it’s going to be a different equation, isn’t it? There’s actually been 250,000 properties transacted in Sydney over the last three years, 250,000. That’s equivalent to all of Canberra and all of Hobart combined, so a lot of dwellings. All of those 250,000 dwellings over that three-year period of time are, in some cases, worth the same, in most cases are worth quite a bit less than what they paid for.
Kevin:   Well, thank you for that reality check. What’s the next one?
Simon:   The next one is population growth. The last two years of population data from ABS, are officially the two strongest years for population growth in Sydney’s history. But it’s also on the back of a massive downturn. We’ve spoken before about population growth does have some influence on property prices, but it is by no means the biggest influence on property prices.
Simon:   Now, we said that during the Sydney boom, and no one wanted to listen, because prices were going up. Like, “Oh, no, no. It’s all this population stuff that’s causing it.” Well, the population growth is still just as strong now as what it was during the boom, but property prices are going backwards.
Simon:   Supply is part of that, and probably a really valuable lesson for people to understand the importance of monitoring building approvals. They’re leading indicators for what amount of supply will hit a market in in coming years.
Simon:   Another key learning is infrastructure. Like population growth, it does have an influence on property prices, but it is no gold brick to property markets. It’s not as easy as saying they’re building a hospital, you know, that location’s going to boom. The infrastructure investment in Sydney today has never been stronger. Never been stronger, but yet the market’s in a downturn. So infrastructure’s important, but it needs to be looked at in the context of all other fundamentals of a property market.
Kevin:   I might have lost track. Where are we up to now?
Simon:   Growth cycles.
Kevin:   Yep.
Simon:   Growth cycles is another key thing. There’s only been two booms in 30 years, and that’s pretty much the same in every location in Australia. So what’s important there for anyone looking invest in property, don’t buy when a market’s been booming for a couple years. We talk about that a lot, but in practise, do people actually do that? I’d argue not. But they wait till there’s been a couple of years of strong growth, and then jump in. Just have some empathy for those who did that in Sydney in, say, 2016, and how they might be feeling now.
Simon:   It’s better to be into a market a couple of years too early, than to get into it when the growth cycle has already been going strong for a period of time.
Kevin:   Just on that point, do you think it’s that too many people think too short-term? Like we said already in this interview, all these points are pointing to the fact that this is a long-term situation if you’re into property investment.
Simon:   I think they get caught up too much in the moment, whether it’s a boom or a downturn. Right now, because Sydney and Melbourne are in a downturn, there’ll be a lot of people just can’t get past thinking about the doom and gloom. Downturns are usually very, very short-lived. But, booms, we know … Again, looking from the evidence, booms usually last between two and four years, and they don’t come around often. So when they do come around, to benefit from that boom, you need to be in the market before it starts.
Simon:   The key to doing that is to start looking at locations that haven’t had a boom for a long, long period of time. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily going to have one next year, but you’d be better doing that … buying in a market that hasn’t had a boom for a long time … than jumping into one that’s booming now. If you get into a market that hasn’t boomed for a long period of time, well, when that boom does occur, you will get 100% of whatever that cycle produces.
Kevin:   And next?
Simon:   Next thing is big is not better. Just because Sydney’s the biggest city, Melbourne’s the second biggest city … We can go back as far as, property data will take us. It doesn’t make it the best performed property market. We know that Sydney’s had many really strong years, and many really poor years, and lots of very average years. We can say the same about every single market in Australia. It’s where you buy and when you buy in those markets that’s important. Don’t allow the population mass to dictate your decision as to where you should or shouldn’t invest in.
Kevin:   Yeah. Don’t follow the herd. That’s a message. I mean, it’s so easy to just go to where everyone’s talking about the success, which was Sydney. But once again, we’ve got to highlight the fact of what you pointed out several years ago, and that is the growth in Hobart.
Simon:   Hobart and many parts of regional Australia. In this report we’re producing, Kevin, one of the charts that’s in there shows the performance of the eight capital cities over this massive few decades. It also shows how that compares to a dozen or so non-capital city locations. There’s some of those non-capital city locations has performed better than all the capital cities. But the key is, is they’ve all done different things at different times. They’ve all grown significantly over the 30-year period. That’s the key thing. Capital city is just a term. It doesn’t imply any better capital growth. It’s where you buy and when you buy that’s important.
Kevin:   Well, according to my counting, we’ve probably got a couple more to go. Gee, this is really very telling stuff, Simon. Thanks for sharing. This is Simon Pressley from Propertyology. What’s next, Simon?
Simon:   The second last thing is cash is king. There are a lot of people, so given we’re using Sydney’s case study, there’s a lot of people at the moment that are feeling somewhat uncomfortable, partly because of the asset value itself losing value. But also because of what’s happening with the cash flow. There are large parts of Sydney where the basic annual cost for an investor to hold a property is somewhere between 20 and $40,000. We’re not talking luxury homes. We’re just talking basic dwellings in our most expensive city.
Simon:   Markets can swing quickly, and we’ve seen that here. Personal budgets can swing quickly, as well. If something happens to your personal income and you’re having to fork out a lot of money on that one asset, sometimes you’ve only got one thing to do, and that is to sell. No one likes selling in a downturn, so always respect the cash flow.
Simon:   Our last thing is not having all your eggs in one basket. Again, we sort of cautioned people during the Sydney boom, “Why would you put so much money into one expensive asset when you can break that up into smaller components? Multiple assets across multiple states.” You’ll not only get better cash flow, better for your household budget, but you got exposure in multiple markets, which means taking advantage of more opportunities. If there is a downturn, the odds of it happening in three completely different cities at the same time is very, very low.
Kevin:   Gee, some great points in there. Simon Pressley with the learnings that he’s picked up from analysing what’s happened in the Sydney market over the last 30 years. Some great input there. Simon Pressley from Propertyology. That’s for your time, mate.
Simon:   My pleasure.

The industry gives back – Leanne Pilkington

Kevin:   We hear a lot about industries giving back to the community, and I guess I’m probably a bit biassed here coming from the real estate industry, but I think the real estate industry has been very aware of that, even at a local level with lots of agents giving back to their local communities. But it’s great to see the industry bodies, as in the institutes, doing a lot to give back to the community, and even some of the franchise groups.
Kevin:   I’m joined now by Leanne Pilkington from the Real Estate Institute in New South Wales. Leanne, thank you very much for your time.
Leanne:  Thanks so much for having me, Kevin.
Kevin:   I want to talk specifically here about fundraising, what the industry’s doing, but you’ve got a unique approach in New South Wales to how you get your trainee auctioneers coming through to actually raise some money. Tell me how you’re doing that.
Leanne:  Yeah, absolutely. So every year the president of the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales chooses a charity that they’re going to support throughout the year. This year it is Domestic Violence New South Wales. And we made that decision because there’s been a lot of changes as you would be aware around the domestic violence provisions in the real estate, in the Tenancies Act, Residential Tenancies Act. So we thought it was a good idea to shine the light on that charity and everything that they can do for domestic violence victims.
Leanne:  And we have an auction competition, a novice auction competition that we run in seven different locations throughout New South Wales, and what the auctioneers do is actually get an item that is usually donated. They auction it off, and the proceeds go to Domestic Violence New South Wales.
Kevin:   Brilliant. It’s going to roll between the middle of March through until May, so it’s in different locations.
Leanne:  That’s right. Yes.
Kevin:   Are these competitions open to the public to go and have a look at? Can they watch them?
Leanne:  Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. The Real Estate Institute of New South Wales website has got all of the dates and the various locations, and we do do them in the regional areas as well because as you would be aware, there’s some incredible auctioneers that come out of the country, so we like to encourage everyone across New South Wales to participate if they’ve got any interest in being an auctioneer. So you don’t have to be a real estate agent to compete.
Leanne:  But obviously a lot of our, a lot of our contestants are out of the real estate industry.
Kevin:   Okay. If you want to check it out, Yep. Leanne, can I take you in another direction, still talking about auctions for a moment?
Leanne:  Sure. Yes.
Kevin:   Having just come back from New York and going to the Inman Conference, I’m very aware now of how much esteem the Australian auctioneers are held worldwide because of their skills. And this is highlighting, you’re bringing auctioneers through.
Kevin:   The Institute in particular in New South Wales must have great confidence in the auction concept going forward to be training all these young auctioneers to come through.
Leanne:  Absolutely, no doubt. We still are very firm believers that auction is in most situations the best way to actually sell property. It’s the way that you get competition. It’s the way that you get a deadline for the auction, for the actual sale to happen. But obviously, agents need to be very well versed in both sides, both auctions and private treaty. And then be able to deliver both options to their potential vendors, to decide what’s right for them. But, yeah, absolutely, we believe in auctions moving forward.
Kevin:   Brokers in groups in the states are actually looking to Australian auctioneers to train them, to tell them how they do it. We’ve experienced this in our own company, being approached by Americans. Are there any Australians that you’re aware of who are actually running auction businesses in the states?
Leanne:  Yeah. I actually caught up with Charles Bailey from the Real Success Group just last week, and he was telling me that his business, he’s got an auction business in California, and he was commenting on how busy it’s getting over there. So obviously there’s a lot more interest than there has been in the past because previously in the U.S., it was sort of a bit of a fire sale mentality for auctions, yeah.
Kevin:   And the same in the U.K. And I believe they’re swinging their understanding a little bit more as well.
Leanne:  Is that right?
Kevin:   It’s very interesting. Of course, as well as Leanne Pilkington being the New South Wales Real Estate Institute president, you are also the head of Laing & Simmons, and you’re doing a similar exercise to raise funds for, tell me about that.
Leanne:  We are, actually. Yeah, we’ve got a campaign that’s running right now called Real Heroes, and what we’re doing is we’re asking for nominations from the public on people that they know of that are doing extraordinary things in the community. So it might be a carer, it might be a volunteer. We’ve had young people nominated that are the first in their family to actually be going to university, and the support that they’re giving to their indigenous community.
Leanne:  There’s other people who’s next-door neighbours have been looking after their children before and after school for the last two years since a family tragedy. Some amazing stories are coming in, and what we’re doing is we’ve got five 10,000, sorry, ten 5,000 prizes. So $50,000 all up to give to ten of those real heroes.
Leanne:  We’ve got a website if you’re interested.
Kevin:   Please tell us.
Leanne: And you can nominate anybody that you would like.
Kevin:   Okay. So put it up about Laing & Simmons. And I’ve been talking to Leanne Pilkington, who heads that organisation up, as well as being the president of Real Estate Institute of New South Wales. All the best with that auction competition, too. Leanne, thank you for sharing your time with us.
Leanne:  Absolute pleasure. Thanks for having me, Kevin.

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