Why more women will help + Investors need to take responsibility + Warning to SMSF investors

Why more women will help + Investors need to take responsibility + Warning to SMSF investors

Highlights from this week:

  • SMSF buyers beware
  • The state of the ‘off the plan’ play
  • Take responsibility not advice
  • More women needed in property
  • Aussie company wins international awards


SMSF buyers beware – Rafe Berding

Kevin: In this show, we’ve quite often discussed the pros and cons of having property, both commercial and residential, in your self-managed superannuation funds. I was interested recently to read the release from technology experts, GlobalX, who we’ve had on the show before about some warnings for people about what you need to know before you start dipping into your superannuation. While that can be good, there are some things that you need to be aware of.

Kevin: Joining me, GlobalX Chief Marketing Officer, Rafe Berding. Good day, Rafe. How are you doing?

Rafe Berding: Good. Thanks Kevin. How are you?

Kevin: Yeah, good mate. A timely warning, I think, and a couple of things that you mentioned in your release that I certainly was not aware about, particularly in relation to having, I think, you referred to it as a liquidity buffer in your superannuation. Could you explain what you mean by that?

Rafe Berding: Yeah. That’s correct, Kevin. We are seeing an increase in the amount of people looking to their self-managed super funds to invest in property. This is due to several reasons around the current play with the finance institutions and the recent share price performance. Certain considerations must be made though and one of them, which you did state, is the liquidity buffer. What this means is you must have 10% of the proposed investments value as a liquidity buffer.

Kevin: That’s at the time of purchase?

Rafe Berding: That’s correct.

Kevin: Yup. Okay. If it would increase in value, you don’t have to continue to top it up to meet that value or it’s just at the point of purchase?

Rafe Berding: Just that point in purchase.

Kevin: Okay.

Rafe Berding: That’s correct.

Kevin: Yup. Okay. I understand to that there’s a lot of regulations around loan documentation and making sure that you get all that correct as well.

Rafe Berding: Yes. There’s a lot of different rules that must be met around complying with investing in property through your self-managed super fund. You must meet the sole purpose test and that means providing retirement benefits only to fund members. Other things that include only … The property cannot be acquired by a related party and it cannot be lived on or rented by a related party as well. There’s a lot of different formalities around the setting up of the self-managed super fund and more importantly, about getting that loan and that’s where you really need to seek that independent legal and financial advice.

Kevin: Yeah. You really do need someone who is familiar with it because you raise something there that I’ve seen many people come unstuck with and that is that they can put a property in the super and then live in it themselves, but you can’t do that. You can’t even have a relation in there. Anyone who’s a direct relation with you.

Rafe Berding: That’s correct. You cannot have any relations. You cannot live in it yourself and importantly, can’t even onsell it after the fact.

Kevin: There are some variations there when you get into commercial property because I notice a lot of businesses are actually having their commercial premises in their superannuation fund and then occupying it, which is quite legal. It’s a little bit different.

Rafe Berding: That’s correct. It is different to the residential property. Commercial property is different. If you are looking to add that to your portfolio, best to speak to your financial and legal adviser as well, because there’s other certain risks around investing … with your self- managed super funds that includes higher costs around loans and includes cash flows and it includes the possibility of it hard to be able to cancel that contract.

Rafe Berding: For instance, if your self-managed super fund loan documentation and contract is not setup correctly, unwinding that arrangement may be a lot different than your traditional loan with your bank.

Kevin: Yeah, and you could end up being at a sever financial disadvantage. The advice here is to make sure that you are working with a solicitor and an accountant and your whole team, who is familiar with all the rules and regulations around investing in self-managed superannuation funds. Rafe?

Rafe Berding: That’s correct, Kevin. It’s not around your risk portfolio and your investment, but it’s also around ensuring  that you have considered everything from all the costs to your exit strategies as well and that’s best sought not for your financial adviser but also from your legal and conveyancing professionals and second to that, it’s really about understanding that it is a more highly regulated process and it is riskier in certain elements, so it’s imperative that you really do understand your responsibilities in managing it as well.

Kevin: Rafe Berding there, who is the GlobalX Chief Marketing Officer. Rafe, thanks very much for your time.

Rafe Berding: Thanks Kevin.

The state of ‘off the plan’ play – Jon Ellis

Kevin Turner: So how many off the plan properties are being purchased in Australia, and where are they being purchased and by whom?

Kevin Turner: Well, we’ve got an interesting insight into that market, because Investorist have just conducted a survey, looked deep into this issue with 201 of Australia’s leading developers and agents, and let’s get an insight into those results.

Kevin Turner: Joining me now, the CEO for Investorist, and also its founder, Jon Ellis. Hi, Jon. Thanks for your time.

Jon Ellis: Hey, Kevin. Thanks very much for your time.

Kevin Turner: Jon, where did your studies show that the majority of these properties are being developed?

Jon Ellis: I think everyone in the off plan industry knows Melbourne’s been a bit of a hot spot lately for off plan property development. There’s been a lot of towers going up in Melbourne, followed secondly by Sydney, and third is Brisbane.

Kevin Turner: The government has certainly done a lot to try and dampen enthusiasm from overseas investors. Are we still seeing a lot of Chinese investors?

Jon Ellis: Yeah, we are. It’s interesting. The respondents came back and they’ve seen a huge dip off with Chinese investors. Over 20 percent reduction in buyers coming from that market. Of all foreign investors, respondents still believes 60 percent of them will come from China this year. So a huge number of buyers coming out of that market.

Kevin Turner: It certainly is. What did they show you was the sweet spot in both apartments and houses, or was there a preference for one over the other?

Jon Ellis: It’s really interesting. The sweet spot was under a million dollars. So between about $500 and a million. Obviously different by regions that you’re in, but a very, very similar profile in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and a very similar profile from apartments to houses.

Jon Ellis: And what it showed is the sweet spot is not actually driven as much by location and demand when it comes to off plan purchases, but the sweet spot is driven by the budget and the purchasing power of the buyer.

Kevin Turner: What have you seen in terms of owner occupiers compared to investors? I mean, we’ve seen a shift in focus towards owner occupiers, or we’re supposed to have been with many regulations coming from the bank and other authorities.

Jon Ellis: Yeah, absolutely. Look, we’ve seen a substantial reduction in investors and we’ve seen owner occupiers taking up a larger portion of those buyers, I think based on the reduction in investors.

Jon Ellis: Investors, mind you, still make up about 60 percent of the purchases for off plan property. So still a very significant percentage, but certainly 40 percent owner occupiers is not something we’ve seen historically on off plan property, but we’re now saying mass.

Kevin Turner: How would the market feel about any changes to negative gearing?

Jon Ellis: I think when 60 percent of your purchases …

Kevin Turner: Yeah, exactly.

Jon Ellis: I think that’s a rhetorical question, Kevin.

Kevin Turner: Absolutely, and I ask it in that manner. It just flies in the face of common sense that they would even want to play with that. Can I ask you about loan availability? The banks are getting a little bit tougher. Has that impacted the industry much?

Jon Ellis: Hugely. It is the single biggest issue in the off plan property industry. I’d actually say it’s the single biggest issue in the property market as a whole. So the tightening for investors, if you look at the secondary market, the secondary market is still an owner occupiers dominated market.

Jon Ellis: But investors are very important in that market. If you look at the economy as a whole, investors is what drives building and construction, which is one of our largest industries. Banking is the biggest issue.

Jon Ellis: We’ve had loans tightening up for foreign investors. We’ve to some extent turned off the tap for probably six months, but now we’re seeing them re-emerge in the market. We’re seeing new lending products come in to satisfy them, and we’re seeing probably a resurgence in shore investors now in Australia.

Jon Ellis: While we’re seeing the local owner occupiers being really hit. How much bank loan restrictions in Australia have affected your local investor client. Seventy seven percent of respondents said that they are worse than 10 percent down because of that. More than 50 percent of them are down by more than 30 percent. So it’s really big swings against investors because of loans.

Kevin Turner: Yeah, if that loan availability is such an issue, and I share your view on that, I have no doubt that it is. The Banking Royal Commission is certainly going to have an impact on the industry as well, I would’ve thought going forward.

Jon Ellis: The stage is set for another very bumpy 12 months, and it will be very interesting to say what happens and what falls out of that Banking Royal Commission. We’ve certainly seen the reduction and the clamp down on loans because of APRA.

Jon Ellis: But it’d be interesting to see if we start having further claims of irresponsible lending or investors that have been extended past their real borrowing capacity and that’s clamped down, it could become very difficult for the market.

Kevin Turner: What are you hearing in terms of oversupply? I mean, I think I’ve lost count of the number of reports I’ve read over the years about how this potential oversupply of units in Australia. What are you hearing from sellers?

Jon Ellis: If you’re a seller and you’re developing in Fortitude Valley in Brisbane, South Bank in Melbourne, you’d probably say to me that there’s an oversupply. But if you’re a developer developing in close to the city in Sydney, or you’re developing a town outlet in the eastern suburbs, or boutique developments in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, you’re not reporting any supply.

Jon Ellis: And interestingly enough, more than 80 percent of sellers said they had bigger issues than oversupply in their market. All of them are seeing it and seeing it in pockets, but thankfully for 80 percent of developers, it’s not a big issue for them.

Kevin Turner: How does the industry feel about the next 12 months? Is it optimistic?

Jon Ellis: Yeah, very much so. So the majority of developers and agents are expecting to sell more property in the next 12 months, than they were in the last 12 months. More than 75 percent of them actually overwhelmingly said that they’re going to sell more in the next 12 months.

Jon Ellis: And what we saw in the report is that optimism is driven by the smaller end of town. Real estate agents where their agency, is doing less than 100 sales a year. Developers where they’re developing developments between sort of 50 units and 250 units. Those guys are much, much more optimistic.

Jon Ellis: Where the larger agencies that are doing 500, a thousand sales a year, or the larger developers that are doing very big towers, are less optimistic, but they’re not that pessimistic, that’s for sure.

Kevin Turner: Great insight there. Jon Ellis, founder and CEO for Investorist. Thank you for sharing that view with us, Jon. Appreciate your time.

Jon Ellis: Thanks very much for having me, Kevin.

Take responsibility not advice – Miriam Sandkuhler

Kevin: A few weeks ago I was talking to my next guest in the show, and found out that she had written a book. She was kind enough to offer to send me one, which she has done. Always a woman of her word. Not only that, but it was also autographed. Miriam Sandkuhler sent me her book, Property Prosperity: Seven Steps to Investing Like an Expert, and she joins me. Good day, Miriam.

Miriam S.: Good morning, Kevin.

Kevin: Miriam is the CEO and Buyer’s Advocate for Property Mavens. Also a very gifted and best-selling author. How about that?

Miriam S.: Good to hear.

Kevin: I really enjoyed the book. Thank you, and I don’t know why I didn’t pick it up years ago.

Miriam S.: Maybe it got lost in the post.

Kevin: It did. In fact, Miriam, there are so many things inside this book, particularly the seven steps. You talk about, right at the start there, you said the seven steps to investing like an expert. You’ve actually defined them quite clearly in the book. What would be a great idea is for you and I to do some extended videos on this to help, one, promote the book, but also I think it’ll give a wonderful insight to anyone who wants to get in as a property investor. Would you be willing to do that?

Miriam S.: Absolutely, that’s a great idea, Kevin.

Kevin: Okay, I just want to talk to you now about the book generally.

Miriam S.: Sure.

Kevin: And then we’ll let you know, our contributors, subscribers to Real Estate Talk, we’ll let you know when those videos are coming out. Miriam, if I can just … the forward I thought was fascinating in itself, where you talk about your free advice … or the introduction … free advice is never free. I guess that’s a very hard lesson for a lot of us to learn. There are so many people who come on to programmes like this one and talk about that free advice, but I’ve always seen our role in Real Estate Talk as putting out a whole lot of information, but then people have got to go away and make their own decisions. They’ve got to be responsible for their own actions and their own decisions, don’t they?

Miriam S.: That’s right, absolutely. It’s called “buyer beware”.

Kevin: Is it that simple? Just buyer beware? There are a lot of traps also for sellers too.

Miriam S.: That’s right, and unfortunately in the industry, the nature of the fact that it’s so easy to get into it, into the real estate sector. We don’t have high levels of entry required in terms of qualifications, and so it can attract a lot of people who maybe don’t have high qualifications and therefore may not give high-quality advice.

Kevin: Do you see that changing?

Miriam S.: I hope so. There are associations out there like PIPA and PIA who are pushing for people to be qualified property investment advisers if they’re going to give property investment advice, but currently the industry is unregulated in that respect. Which makes it highly highly dangerous for investors, if they’re taking advice from people that a) aren’t qualified and b) have got a biassed agenda-

Kevin: Yeah.

Miriam S.: … towards their own interests.

Kevin: I want to pick up on that second one you mentioned, and that’s bias. That’s probably the biggest trap, I think, for people, is trying to determine whether the person giving me this message is biassed towards the message they’re giving me and the product they’re recommending. Is it about the product recommendation? Because I’ve seen some bad spruikers but I’ve also seen some people who spruik really good advice as well.

Miriam S.: That’s exactly right. That’s why it can be a bit confusing. I think the one thing to be aware of, the distinction between the advice and whether or not it’s biassed is really determined by whether or not you’re paying an adviser and if they’re giving you independent and unbiased advice. So a buyer’s agent, and accredited property investment adviser, these are professionals who you would pay a fee to, to help you potentially develop a strategy, and then to go into the marketplace and seek property that meets that strategy, and in that process they will provide you with independent and unbiased advice. Including advice around what not to buy, and how much not to pay, and that may mean you need to go look for a little while.

Miriam S.: Whereas usually someone who’s biassed, they tend to have a property model, it’s not an advice model like an independent buyer’s agent. It’s a property model where again they give you a strategy and it all sounds fabulous, but it’s all about leading you down the path of buying the property that they have in stock, that they want to sell you. So in some instances these people charge you a marketing fee or a strategy fee, so you might get confused in thinking they’re providing unbiased advice, but the reality is when it comes to selling you a property, they’re generally getting a commission or kickback from the vendor, which means they actually work for the vendor in that instance and not you.

Kevin: Yeah. I’ve seen strategists … and that’s what I call them … but I’ve seen strategists who’ve given advice, have been paid for it, haven’t recommended a property but given advice on a location, as an example. Further down the track, that location is proven to be a real bummer. Where they lose lots and lots of money. These are things you can’t foresee though, aren’t they?

Miriam S.: That’s right, and again it comes down to the qualification and the expertise of the strategist, but there’s also a lot of marketing terminology and puffery.

Kevin: Things you could … yeah … warning signals, really, aren’t they?

Miriam S.: Yeah, confusing and conflicting information. When you get people talking about buy wholesale, not resale-

Kevin: Retail, yeah.

Miriam S.: Retail, rather. Secret strategies to go about investing, fastest-growing region, land banking, investment membership-

Kevin: Hot spots.

Miriam S.: Hot spots. Hot spots, they do exist, and there are definitely researchers in the marketplace that provide really good information about hot spots.

Kevin: But by the time we find them, they’re no longer hot spots. Or by the time we hear about them in a lot of cases.

Miriam S.: Yeah, potentially, and again that’s where maybe seeking independent and unbiased advice comes in. Ballarat, for example, I’ve been buying there for over five years and in recent years it’s become a hot spot.

Kevin: Another good example would be Hobart, I guess.

Miriam S.: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, definitely. Hobart’s a good example for that as well.

Kevin: Yeah, secret strategies, things that are shrouded in mystery are always a bit of a telling sign for me.

Miriam S.: Alarm bells need to go off when you hear that.

Kevin: Yeah, because it’s no longer a secret by the time they talk about it. All these things, and you’re right, it is puffery, it’s terminology, they’re the warning signs.

Miriam S.: And also the one-size-fits-all. Alarm bells need to go off when someone’s promoting a particular strategy to you on the basis that it suits everyone’s circumstance, and that’s what people need to be really cautious of.

Kevin: One of the things you and I will talk about, in talking about that, is towards the end of your book you give a number of tables where you talk about investor type, what’s your risk attitude, how you can measure yourself. We’ll provide a lot of this information. You can’t beat picking the book up as an example, but we’ll cover a lot of that in our videos, because I think that’s a critical thing, is how you assess what sort of investor you are. Miriam, unfortunately we’re out of time, but tell me, where do we get the book from?

Miriam S.: You can buy it on Amazon.com, the print version, or you can download the Kindle version for $3.99 on Amazon.com.au, or go to propertymavens.com.au resources and you can buy a printed version, autographed version, off the website directly.

Kevin: Excellent stuff. Miriam Sandkuhler, my guest, CEO and Buyer’s Agent from Property Mavens. Miriam, thank you so much for your time.

Miriam S.: Thanks for having me, Kevin.

More women needed – Sherry Chris

Kevin Turner: Sherry Chris is the global president and CEO of US based Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, which is opening in Australia. Chris was named 2010, 2015 Inman Innovator of the Year in the real estate industry, and Inman’s 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders for six consecutive years. So very, very well briefed on the industry. And it’s a pleasure to have her in Australia. Sherry, thank you for your time. Welcome to the show.

Sherry Chris: Oh, it’s my pleasure, Kevin. Thank you for having me.

Kevin Turner: Now, I mentioned Inman. I guess many people wouldn’t be familiar with what Inman is about, but it’s the biggest real estate conference in the world actually. And they do a couple of conferences every year. The conference this year, you were of the keynote speakers again. So congratulations. Your takeaway from that? How is the industry faring?

Sherry Chris: Well, at that conference there was a lot of change introduced. New entrants into the industry, both in the US and globally. A look at different consumer trends. But some disruption, I guess I’ll say, is the right way to put it. So new brands and companies coming in that everybody’s taking a close look at. And my opinion is we need change and we need some disruption.

Kevin Turner: Well, some of that change is coming about. And one of the reasons why you’re in Australia, apart from launching the brand here, is that you’ll be speaking at some conferences particularly relating to women in real estate. And I’d like to talk to you about that if I may, but before I do I was interested to read that your interest in real estate came about during the buying process. And then you took classes and evenings on weekends while working in the banking industry. Women, no doubt, are playing, well, they certainly are playing a much more important role, not only in the purchase of the family home but in the industry itself, Sherry.

Sherry Chris: Yes, that’s true. And actually, you’ve done some research on me. And that was back in the 1980s I started my career in banking and bought my first home, and then became intrigued with real estate. And I thought to myself, “Gosh I could do this. And I could probably do it better than the agent who sold me the property.” But if we fast forward to today and looking at the US stats, well over 60% of agents are female in the industry. And if we look at home buyers and the makeup of families, our consumer research tells us that females are involved in over 90% of major decision making. And, of course, buying a new home is definitely a major decision. So that, it plays well into our industry.

Kevin Turner: It does.

Sherry Chris: And I’m happy to be a part of it.

Kevin Turner: What does your experience tell you about women in the buying and selling role of real estate, not necessarily being agents? Do they make the decision about the house to purchase or the agent who they’re going to work with?

Sherry Chris: Both, actually. And, of course, that has changed over the years. Now social media plays a big part in how couples or individuals who are buying a home choose an agent. But when you think about females in general, it’s been said, and I don’t know whether you’ll agree with this or not, is that typically women have a higher level of emotional intelligence. And when you think about the home buying process, it’s a very emotional decision. It’s not a business decision, it’s a personal decision. And so what I’ve found with female agents, certainly that I know in the industry and trust, is that they’re well in tune with that whole emotional piece of it.

Kevin Turner: There are, though, two buyer groups, putting aside sex for a moment, and one is buying the family home. And I agree totally with you that it’s all about emotion, raising the family. But then as an investor you really need to take off that emotional hat and look at it like a business. Therefore, do men make better business decisions about real estate than women?

Sherry Chris: Well, that’s a good question. And we’re talking about gender today, which is always very interesting. But I think from an investment perspective and, you know, we look at the many large investment groups and investors who really for the most part, and this is an interesting piece of information, brought us out of the big recession that we had in the US where investment groups, led by men primarily, were buying thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of what we call distressed properties or distressed assets at that time. And what those investment groups were looking at was the short-term and long-term rate of return.

Sherry Chris: Now, for me, I fall more into the latter category because I do look at things from a business perspective. But getting back to residential real estate, it really is an emotional decision. Which is one of the reasons why we decided 10 years ago to launch the Better Homes and Gardens brand, because it’s a brand that resonates with homeowners and potential homeowners as they’re dreaming about the next phase of their lives. Which is an important part of the emotional piece of it.

Kevin Turner: Yeah, it’s a great point that you raise. Just getting back to an earlier statement you made, Sherry, if I may, I think you mentioned a figure of about 60% of women are now involved in the industry. Is that correct or did I mishear that?

Sherry Chris: Yes, that is correct. Over 60%.

Kevin Turner: Okay, over 60%. I’m just curious to know then if you think more women in the industry is necessarily going to change the public perception of a real estate agent?

Sherry Chris: That’s a very, very good question. And I’ll tell you my answer to that is no. What will change the perception of the real estate agent is us, as realtors around the world actually, working more collaboratively together. That’s what is going to change. And providing a higher level of service to the end consumer. That’s not gender related. That’s related back to our industry. And where today, if we look at our industry as a whole, we’re really very transaction oriented where we need to be more consumer focused. And surprising and delighting the end consumer with the way that we do business with them. That’s what’s going to change our industry.

Kevin Turner: Well, I’ll take you a little further into that conversation, if I may, by asking you the question about future technology. And you’ve just come away from the Inman conference where no doubt that played a major part. Future technology developments, how do you think they’re going to influence how real estate is transacted in the future? And what impact will that have on our relationship with the real estate agent?

Sherry Chris: Well, technology is becoming increasingly sophisticated, as you know. And what we look at today is very different than what it was, certainly 10 years ago, five years ago. So today it’s a combination of data, and a lot of data, coupled with artificial intelligence or AI as some people call it. And we’re able to do predictive modelling and predictive analytics today to help us determine who are the most likely consumers to buy or sell, and when are they most likely to?

Sherry Chris: Now, that’s great information for us to have as an industry, but it also helps the end consumer as well. Because we’re able to identify the needs of the consumer and really service those needs, rather than let’s say you were potentially looking at buying a home two years from now. You would not want an agent calling you every week. But if you were wanting to buy a home two weeks from now, you would want that. And so this whole artificial intelligence and data management pieces is important for the future of our industry. Now, go ahead and ask the question. I’ve much more that I could talk about around this because it’s a fascinating piece of our future.

Kevin Turner: It is a fascinating piece. And what you’re touching on there is the difference between push and pull, where we used to push so much information out pre-internet. But now with so much information available to consumers, it’s the skill of the agent is in actually pulling the consumer to them as opposed to pushing the information out Sherry. That’s been a big change, hasn’t it?

Sherry Chris: It’s a huge change. It really is. And it really leads to the big question in our industry around the world, and that is but what is the role of the agent in the future? You know, with technology becoming more and more sophisticated, what is our role? And our role is being the human being in the transaction, the trusted advisor, the person who can cut through all of the data and really help guide the consumer through the transaction. And I believe that that role is not going to change, that it will only become more and more important as technology becomes increasingly sophisticated.

Kevin Turner: Of course, you’re in Australia to launch the brand, the Better Homes and Gardens, here. What are we likely to see? Where will the offices be? And are we, as consumers, going to notice any difference when we deal with the Better Homes and Gardens brand?

Sherry Chris: Well, we hope the consumer will notice a difference. And actually we’re in the early stages of building out our value proposition with our CEO here, Simon Cashman, and his team. And what we’re looking at building out really ties back into the overall value proposition. That’s the Better Homes and Gardens brand and the real estate brand in general. And that’s to provide exceptional customer service to the end consumer.

Sherry Chris: So we’re really a brand that is very consumer focused and wanting to exceed the consumer’s expectations. So I think that that will be a difference here. We certainly found it to be in the US when we launched 10 years ago, that we were and remain a brand that’s very unique and different among all of those brands that are currently in business today. So it’s a brand that tries to exceed customer expectations by being values driven, by helping consumers through the dreaming stage. And with the popularity of the magazine and the TV show, there’s close to 100% brand awareness here. And that will lead to hopefully one of the things that the consumer is looking for today, and that’s a deeper relationship. Not with real estate agents just, but with service people everywhere that consumers deal with. They want to have a more authentic and deeper relationship. We aim to provide that from a real estate perspective.

Kevin Turner: And are we likely to see a Better Homes and Gardens office or branch in Brisbane or in South East Queensland soon?

Sherry Chris: Absolutely.

Kevin Turner: Yeah?

Sherry Chris: Yeah, absolutely. So right now we’re starting to talk to brokers and agents who have contacted us and are expressing an interest in joining the brand. And we’ll be continuing those conversations throughout this year with the idea of launching prior to the year end in a more formal way. So there’s been a tremendous amount of interest, which I’m very happy about. So the answer is yes. So the next time I come here I’d like to see a lot of green and white signs everywhere. Everywhere.

Kevin Turner: Very good. Well, we’ll look forward to seeing you when you are back, Sherry. Sherry Chris is the global president and CEO of US based Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, soon to be opened right here in Australia. Sherry, thank you so much for your time.

Sherry Chris: It’s my pleasure, and thank you for taking the time to talk today. I appreciate it.

Aussie company wins international awards – Danelle Hunter

Kevin Turner: In October this year, gee that’s going to come up pretty quickly too, Biggin and Scott Knox are going to head across to London to receive their Stevie awards at a gala event that’s going to happen on, about the 20th October, I understand.

Kevin Turner: Now the Stevie awards, and I’ve got to admit that I hadn’t heard of them before, but I’ve done a little bit of research. They are international business awards. They’re amongst the world’s premier business awards programme, and Biggin and Scott Knox have taken out three of the international awards.

Kevin Turner: Joining me as a recipient of one of those awards is Danelle Hunter, managing director of Biggin and Scott Knox. Danelle, congratulations.

Danelle Hunter: Thank you very much. It’s exciting.

Kevin Turner: Oh, very, very exciting. Well, just to quickly run through. Your company, you’ve won the gold Stevie award in the company of the year category, which is just phenomenal. Also the silver Stevie for customer service department of the year. And you also took out an award for that more locally too, which we may get a chance to talk about. And the bronze award to yourself as managing director of the company. Wow, that’s just phenomenal. Congratulations.

Danelle Hunter: Thank you very much.

Kevin Turner: So what does this mean to your company?

Danelle Hunter: Obviously exciting because we can be recognised internationally I suppose. So just having a different type of award that we can be recognised for is always a plus in the market place. We’re trying to get business and everything. And to me personally, being Woman of the Year internationally, it’s very exciting. Even though it’s only a bronze medal, but it’s better than nothing.

Kevin Turner: Oh wow. No, I think it’s phenomenal. It’s a great feather in your cap. I mentioned that you’d taken out a customer service award. Was that earlier this year, or was that last year?

Danelle Hunter: That was late last year for realestate.com through the areas they call them, and that was for me, yeah, for customer service.

Kevin Turner: Yeah. That Melbourne market that you operate in, you know, one of the most competitive markets, not only in Australia, but in the world. So for you to take out these awards must be pretty thrilling for your company, for the whole team.

Danelle Hunter: Yes, it is, and I get a trip to London out of it.

Kevin Turner: Well, you can’t complain about that can you?

Danelle Hunter: No.

Kevin Turner: Are you going to take a bit of a break while you’re there?

Danelle Hunter: Yeah. I might quickly pop across to France and Italy while I’m there.

Kevin Turner: Oh yes. Yes. No, that’s the thing to do when you’re in London. You’re that close to France, you can’t not go in there.

Kevin Turner: Can we just quickly talk about the Melbourne market? Still lots of, you know, word about pressure on prices and oversupply of units. What are you guys seeing at present?

Danelle Hunter: Yeah, it definitely has changed. We’re finding that things are staying on the market a lot longer than normal. We’ve got, yeah prices have come down a little bit, but I suppose we’re still able to get good prices on some of them. It’s just taking a lot longer to sell them, and trying to educate the vendors as well.

Kevin Turner: As we head towards spring of course, you know, that’s the peak selling time. The Melbourne market to me seems to have held up fairly well. I mean Sydney’s gone through a bit of a topsy-turvy, you know, well particularly with their clearance rates. But Melbourne seems to have held up fairly well.

Danelle Hunter: Yeah, it’s not too bad. They’re still, like I said, they’re still selling. They’re just taking a bit longer at the moment so it’s just a matter of yeah, keep just doing what we’re doing and getting buyers through and yeah, they will sell.

Kevin Turner: I guess from a seller’s, yeah from a seller’s point of view too, it’s fairly critical that they get an agent who is actually going to keep them in touch and does understand what the market’s all about. Because it’s not just a matter of waiting. It’s a matter of presentation. It’s also a matter of pricing and understanding what the market, where the market’s headed, Danelle.

Danelle Hunter: Definitely, and I think obviously, newer agents in real estate haven’t sort of dealt with a difficult market before. So the more experienced agents are still doing well, but some of the newer ones to real estate are struggling a little bit, trying to get their vendors in line with the market.

Kevin Turner: Well done. Congratulations, Danelle. Danelle Hunter who is a director of Biggin and Scott Knox has taken out, she and her team have taken out three awards in the international Stevie awards. Bronze, silver and the big one, gold. So congratulations. Enjoy your trip. Have a bit of a break and take in some French wine on my behalf.

Danelle Hunter: I will.

Kevin Turner: Good on you, Danelle. Congratulations again. Thank you.

Danelle Hunter: Thank you.

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