Luxury Real Estate for Sale Around the World

At the forefront of luxury real estate marketing, the proud the recipients of two awards from the esteemed Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate The World’s Most Outstanding Luxury Agency Under 2 Years Old (Outstanding Rookie 2008) and Best Luxury Real Estate Brand (2009), Marquette Turner Luxury Homes is the home for your property search including luxury homes, resorts, developments, apartments, condos, villas, mansions, penthouses and islands throughout the world.

We focus on assisting high-net-worth individuals to achieve the most appropriate exposure in marketing their luxury properties via the luxury lifestyle magazine-style website MarquetteTurner.com and in assisting aspirational investors find their ideal property.

We have forged partnerships with developers, real estate agents and vendors throughout the world and are proud to present to you an exceptional showcase luxury homes for sale or rent throughout the world.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Scrooge: Will the RBA Lift Rates Before Christmas?

Homeowners could yet face a pre-Christmas interest rate rise from commercial banks, after evidence they are in their strongest market position for nearly a decade.

While the funding squeeze on wholesale money markets has forced non-bank lenders to lift their prices, banks, with their large deposit bases, have been keeping prices low in an attempt to steal customers.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show the strategy has paid off, with the market share of banks, by value of loans extended, rising to 84.9 per cent in October, the highest in seven years.

As banks continue to hold regular weekly internal meetings to set their standard variable mortgage rates - which so far have remained unaffected by the credit squeeze - some economists think a move before Christmas is likely.

The chief economist at Deutsche Bank, Tony Meer, said banks were likely to put rates up by between 10 to 15 percentage points above the official rise in interest rates last month.

An economist at JP Morgan, Helen Kevans, is tipping a rise of between 10 to 25 percentage points above movements by the Reserve Bank.

"It is becoming increasingly likely that major Australian banks will attempt to alleviate the current pressure on their spreads by passing on the significant rise in funding costs to borrowers," she said.

The prospect of higher rates, along with the official rise last month, has already deterred some new borrowers.

And even if the RBA keeps rates on hold before Christmas, they could still spoil the New Year by increasing them before 31 December. Marquette Turner believe the latter to be more likely


How to Have a Hassle-Free Christmas

Entertaining friends and family during the festive season is a lot of work.

Aside from the planning that goes into a festive event, post-party cleanup can be a full-time job. If you feel the holiday tension, you aren’t alone: Nearly half of Australians report experiencing stress during the holidays, according to a Gallup survey.

Help keep your Christmas hassle-free with Marquette Turner's time-saving party-preparation and clean-up tips:

House Guests:
Resist the temptation to wait on out-of-town guests hand and foot. As the host, you need to relax and enjoy the spirit of the season and the cheer that comes with houseguests.

When your houseguests offer to help with meals, graciously say “yes” and allow them to prepare their favorite side dish or dessert. Take them up on offers to help set the table or clean dishes. This offers extra time to catch up with your guests while you’re all in the kitchen and dining area contributing to a great celebration.

Highlight your home’s best assets:
Instead of tirelessly trying to make every room of your home spotless, concentrate on the areas where guests will spend the most time.

Focus on the bathroom:
Your guests will likely visit this room before they head home. Pay attention to little details like refilling soap dishes and having fresh hand towels.

Have a solid plan:
When creating a guest list, consider your options ahead of time. Buffet-style meals are easier for larger groups, while you can better host a sit-down dinner with six or fewer guests.

The holiday feast is not a time to try out an all-new recipe. The key to being a less stressed hostess is building your menu around foods you are comfortable making.

Cook ahead:
Make dishes in advance of the big celebration to cut down on the time spent in the kitchen when your guests arrive. Many hors d’oeuvres, desserts and side dishes can be made and frozen until ready to serve.

Control mishaps:
A good host handles disasters with grace. Do not fear the dreaded gravy stains on the white linens or the cranberry sauce spilled on grandma’s white blouse. Use the internet to find the quick solution.

Good luck and happy holidays!

Simon Turner, Marquette Turner

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Real Estate Cartels: Part 2

A cartel is a coalition of political or special-interest groups having a common cause, as to encourage the passage of a certain law.

In Australian real estate the cartel is indeed alive and well. I posed the question in part one - "how has this situation been allowed to happen"?

The answer to the overarching problem has two origins:

1. The different guidelines governing real estate in every State and Territory
2. The different level of training required to be an agent in every State and Territory

The formation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901 gave the States the power to regulate real estate. The States made little if any effort to pass uniform laws governing the industry and as a result we have a mish mash of requirements across the country. There is the Office of Fair Trading in NSW which is charged with the responsibility of looking after real estate agents in NSW.

There are equivalent bodies in every State and Territory and co-operation between these departments seems limited at best. Therefore the laws under which agents operate and the training required for real estate have been vastly different across the country since Federation. Bringing the States and Territories together and gaining agreement for a National system has been impossible to achieve.

Like any industry lobby groups act to alter decisions in favour of themselves. Each State has a Real Estate Institute and there is also a National Body. The Real Estate Institute of NSW has always been a major advisory body to the NSW Government when decisions have been made to alter the requirements of real estate agents or the real estate industry.

The Real Estate Institute of NSW like any organisation relies on the money it receives from memberships from real estate agents and other related bodies and as such it would unwise of them to get offside with a large number of agents by pushing for reforms which would revolutionise the industry - reforms which might be unpopular with their paying members and thus reduce the amount of money received in the form of annual memberships. Even worse would be to get a major franchise chain like LJ Hooker or Ray White offside as the risk to membership monies would be all too great.

So in understanding who is acting to advise and lobby the Office of Fair Trading and other Government bodies we start to see the cracks start to appear in the assurance of the integrity of any advice. It is also important to note that the Real Estate Institute in each State is a major training organisation, making considerable money from providing training courses like the Certificate of Registration and the Real Estate Licensing programs.

Would it be in the interest of these bodies to advise the Government in every State and Territory to form a national system? By doing so each State and Territory Body would be unnecessary and in doing so they would all be out of a job. Would it be in their interest to advise the Government to increase the educational standard of real estate entrance to Bachelor level, thus reducing their training revenues and moving education across to Universities?

As we begin to pull the process apart it becomes very apparent that the entire advisory system has self interest at heart and changing the status quo will be extremely difficult indeed. It takes just one person to start a revolution and as we continue to examine and expose the real estate cartel next week we will look more closely at the influence of the large franchise chains and existing real estate agents in maintaining the status quo. In doing so a National Forum in 2008 may be possible and true change as part of the "Education Revolution" might be just around the corner.

Michael Marquette
michael@marquetteturner.com.au

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Marquette Turner Launches "Home-Page"

Marquette Turner is extremely excited to launch "Home-Page", a service allowing EVERY SINGLE property listing to have it's very own website.

Managing Director Michael Marquette said yesterday that "in keeping with our philosophy of providing an individual and personalised experience at all times, and with our constant pursuance of improving the technology with which our business operates, Home-Page is to property listings what our ground-breaking Concierge service is to people."

With immediate effect ALL vendor's and landlord's properties will be presented using a Home-Page, as well as the traditional internet marketing services. This will allow their properties to stand-alone in all their glory, and for prospective purchasers and tenants to fully appreciate the property online.

Another reason for you to enjoy our company!

Click here to see the very first Home-Page property.

Simon Turner

How To Get On The Property Ladder

THE HARD FACTS

  • More than a third of a family's income goes to mortgage (In NSW it is 38%)
  • Affordability has dropped in every state except Tasmania
  • NSW is the most expensive state, ACT has the least affordability
In Sydney, with almost 40% of the household income going towards housing it is little wonder that there is any money left for anything else after living expenses are met (food, utilities, schooling etc).

Additionally, credit card debt is increasing hand-in-hand with the increase in the cost of living.

The new Rudd government promises action, and Marquette Turner remain hopeful that their election promises of first home-owner saving’s schemes are just the tip of the iceberg of a myriad of plans to improve housing affordability.

In the short-term, however, here are some suggestions to help you improve your chances of buying a property.



WHAT TO DO


Rent and Invest.

If renting, don’t wipe investing from the equation. You CAN do both! While rents have also gone up over the last year, the rise has not been anywhere near as steep as increase in mortgage payments (due to increasing interest rates) and rising property prices.


Renting can save you money in the short term so use the savings, no matter how small, to:



a) pay off any credit card debt (as the interest on this is likely to be far higher than any savings account can offer)

b) invest the money in an internet savings account (around 7.25% currently). Do not leave in a standard bank account as the interest returned to you is barely worth the cost of a stamp.

c) for those with more confidence, the stock market is returning almost double such saving’s account: on average 14% this year. Money invested in the stock market can quickly be withdrawn (i.e. is liquid) and can be used for the down payment of a mortgage.

d) some of you may even be in a position to consider to investing in a cheaper city to the one you're renting in.



Budget and spend carefully.
In times like this it is especially important to keep a budget and spend wisely. The more you save now, the more can save and invest meaning that your money is working for you now so that when affordable opportunities present themselves later you will be ready.



Move back in with your parents.

If this is still an option, don’t dismiss it. Rather than pay rent to a stranger – help out the parents by providing an extra income source for them.


Move.

Yes, the major cities in Australia are expensive. So move to a smaller city that is growing. Both cities are relatively cheaper and jobs are available. While this is probably the most difficult option, it may be the best long term solution for finding that affordable dream house.





Keep looking.
Despite high prices there will always be a potential bargain out there if you are willing to compromise a bit. The big thing when buying is Location, Location, and Location. Look for old houses which with some renovation. This could be the affordable option you were looking for.


Don’t Stop Researching

Whilst housing affordability may be at its worse, one’s ability to research and make sound investment decisions is probably the best it has ever been. Use the internet to educate yourself on processes, ideas and trends. Marquette Turner's blog's can provide you with useful insights, regardless of your experience, intentions, or available funds.


Maybe things are looking up after all! Good luck.

Simon Turner

What Women Want: Guess Who Makes the Investment Decisions!

A survey by Suncorp Metway has uncovered that women make most of the big decisions when it comes to investing in property.

A staggering 85 per cent of all purchasing decisions are influenced by a female despite the findings that most women are ignored during the purchasing process.

Real estate agents and mortgage lenders seem to think that women who come along are just there to support their partner meaning that they are treated fairly poorly.


Quite simply, anyone ignores a woman at their peril, as they can make or break a transaction. And reversely, any woman that finds she is being ignored or that the agent is looking to her husband for approval can also potentially use this to their advantage. She can be silently but deadly, her moves poorly followed.


The investigation also showed that women tend to research more when it comes to buying, meaning they’re more likely to find a good balance between their head and their heart.

They are most interested in features of the property, such as living areas, number and size of bedrooms, kitchen appliances, and off-street parking with the ultimate deciding factors being the size of the block or house, overall aesthetics and proximity to amenities.

Simon Turner

The Hit List: Latest Buyer Trends

HOME buyers are looking for fewer but bigger rooms, a bedroom with a view and the latest in technology. Not to mention a great location and water tanks!

The trend is for fewer but larger rooms, and while the formal dining room went out of fashion a long time ago, spare bedrooms and the third bathroom are the next to be crossed off the home buyer's shopping list.
A master bedroom with a view is the ultimate desire. And while it doesn't have to be on another floor, there does have to be a bit of distance between it and other bedrooms. The ensuite must have plenty of room, where owners can sit in the bath and see outside. And, despite current water restrictions, they like to have a spa.

Home theatres are still on the "must have" list but now we also want plasma or LCD screens throughout the house: in nearly every nook and cranny, including in the kitchen, bedroom, near the pool and even in the bathroom.

Technology continues to affect our homes and it is also now important to buyers that their home has a wireless connection so they can work from home, throughout the home without having to compete with the rest of the family for cable access.
When it comes to looking into the crystal ball to see what will be the most desirable asset of your home in the future, the location remains the ultimate key.
Schools in particular, shopping centres, public transport, parks and lifestyle conveniences such as, cafes, restaurants and gyms are all desirable aspects.
From most buyers' viewpoint, the really important features for the location of their home are that the neighbourhood is safe, close to schools, medical services and shops, and also close to their workplace or to reliable public transport.

The aesthetic characteristics of a suburb or street also rank high on most homebuyers' list of desirable features.
A recent survey by Archicentre asked home buyers about what feature they would place above others. Almost 80 per cent said a water tank for gardening while 14 per cent said a spa in the en-suite and 6 per cent went for the large plasma screen.

Sustainable housing practices, such as rainwater tanks, are becoming more popular across the board given that water restrictions are unlikely to disappear in the near future.

Simon Turner

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Interest Rates Remain Unchanged

Yesterday morning the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) announced that the official cash rate will remain at 6.75%.

The renewed volatility of international financial markets, concerns about the US economy and uncertainty about the likely path of fiscal policy and labour costs here in Australia are acceptable reasons for delaying any further rate hike.

The RBA Board warned, however, that rates may rise early in the new year, due to its concern about the outlook for inflation

Recent information continues to indicate strength in demand and output in Australia, with the economy having relatively little surplus capacity. Inflation on a year ended basis, as measured by the CPI and underlying measures, is likely to be above 3 per cent in the first half of 2008, and to decline somewhat thereafter. Simon Turner

Property Vs Shares: And The Winner Is...?

I was talking to a friend in the last week who has just purchased a great 1 bedroom apartment in Surry Hills. I visited him there just after he moved in and while showing me around asked the BIG question - which is a better investment for me, shares or property? The question took me back a little as he had just purchased his first home and yet still felt uncertain enough to ask the question. We then sat down and discussed what it had cost him to purchase his first home.

He had $50,000 to invest and he could have chosen property or shares. The property cycle and share trading cycles over the last 100 years or so have shown study after study that similar returns are achieved in the long run by investing in either area. Property prices typically double every 7-10 years depending on where you are in the country and share prices tend the same way over a similar period. The issue for the person with $50,000 to invest is gearing.

Gearing is what I believe makes the big difference for the average long term investor. Given that no stamp duty is payable up to $500,000 for a first home buyer, combined with the first home owner's grant there is an immediate incentive of up to $30,000 approximately. The big deal is financial institutions of all types will lend you up to 100% of the purchase price of property and most will lend at or above 90% LVR (Loan to Value Ratio). What this means is that you can take advantage of the capital growth of a property worth $500,000 with no stamp duty payable and legal and mortgage fees all paid with the first home owner's grant. At an LVR of 90% you would owe $450,000 to the lender and the property should be worth around $1 million in 7 to 10 years following on from past trends.

This sort of capital gain would simply not be possible for those investing in shares without significant security such as existing property or other assets. Few if any financial institutions would lend at such a high LVR to anyone purchasing shares and therefore I have to say that property comes out on top well and truly for the average Australian. Of course we have seen some huge success stories with people making millions from shares and it would be unwise to ignore shares as part of your total investment portfolio when you have the means to do so. Shares are cheap and easy to trade and if traded well can return enormous sums of money. The winner for the average Australian starting out their financial life in 2007 is property! Michael Marquette

Education Revolution: School Visit Update

Last week each of us at Marquette Turner committed ourselves to visiting one Public and one Private School within the week. We are awaiting confirmation of the times from the schools and will let you know more as soon as we can. Michael Marquette

Buy Low to Make Big: How To Find a Bargain

Finding a bargain property, one that is being sold well-below its worth or potential worth, is not as easy as riding a bike or watching T.V. Not that it is that difficult either, but the task of getting a good deal on an investment property can at times be cumbersome.

In the brief list below, four methods for finding and grabbing that good deal are explained, and although the descriptive nature of the list is brief, it will give you just enough to ignite your thought.

1.) Distressed sellers – These are people who are eager to sell due to personal reasons, such as changing jobs, upsizing or downsizing, family issues.

2.) Vacant Properties – Here’s a simply one: drive around an area and look for homes that have tall grass and a crummy exterior. You can then go to the Land Titles office to search for the owner, get in contact with them and see if they are open to an offer being made. Often it is a case of the owner not having the time, means or inclination to renovate the property, which is a prime opportunity for someone with all three! Win-Win is the best!

3.) University Towns - Here there are often an abundance of rentals and a plentiful stock of professors and students to rent the properties. In these areas, there are always landlords wanting out of the game for various reasons. Not only can you get a property that is already a rental, but often you can buy them with a tenant under lease, lessening the risk of an upfront vacancy. Usually these properties are priced around their actual value, but the bargain is the fact that they usually demand a higher-than-average rent because of the continuous demand for housing.

4.) Repossessions – Homes that have been repossessed by banks due to mortgage defaults will almost certainly be auctioned by a real estate agent, and clearly advertised. Simply search the internet, or ask agent’s to keep you informed of any upcoming repossessions.

Whilst these options may seem somewhat unconventional, remember that you generally make money when you buy a property rather than when you sell. Good luck. Simon Turner

Bleak House

It is widely known that houses prices in Australia, particularly Sydney are becoming increasingly unaffordable to an increasing number of the population. Higher interest rates have begun to limit the extent to which demand for housing can be financed. Rates have risen six times in just a short space of time.

Given that household debt now exceeds approximately 150% of disposable income (a historical high), and that the mortgage interest burden stands at 20% of gross income (up from 11% in 2003), even if demand were strong enough to continue to push up house prices, the recent credit crunch has reduced the funds available to potential house buyers as lenders have reined in borrowing.

Increased mortgage repayments are set to deal current homeowners a further blow.
Given the current credit squeeze and sup-prime mortgage crisis in the US, Australian banks will feel the pinch.

From a consumer’s point of view, this will mean that there will be few attractive offers from banks to refinance for a better deal. Indeed, many lenders have tightened their lending criteria as a result of the problems in the US subprime mortgage sector.

These trends will inevitably lead to an increase in the number of defaults in Australia —although it is unlikely that there will be a surge in defaults to the extent witnessed in the US, where many subprime mortgage holders are being hit by higher "reset" repayment rates.

Faced with higher mortgage repayments, Australian homeowners will be in less of a position to release their equity to purchase additional homes. Simon Turner

Australia's Mortgage Blackspots

NSW home owners are the most stressed, and WA by far the least, according to a new study by Fitch Ratings, with home owners in south-west Sydney are by far the most likely in the country to miss more than one mortgage payment.

The Sydney suburb of Guildford topped the list, with 5.65% of mortgagees there missing more than one mortgage repayment. The NSW areas of Granville, Wetherill Park, Cessnock, Belmore, Greenacre and Punchbowl take up the next six spots on the list, all with payment default rates of between 4.63% and 4.91%.

Fitch managing director Ben McCarthy states that “This report, for the first time, confirms the anecdotal evidence that south-west Sydney is the most stressed part of the country in terms of residential mortgages. In south-west Sydney, mortgages that have missed more than one payment at 30 September were almost twice that of the national average.” Simon Turner

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Latest Market Round-up

The latest figures just released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics for the month of October, reveal the following:

· Growth in retail sales revenue dropped to just 0.2% in October
· New dwelling approvals also disappointed in October, although the 2.8% decline followed on from an unusually strong 6.8% jump in September.
· The volatile apartments sector was behind the fall, dropping 5.5% after a 17.8% hike in September.
· But in good news for the housing sector, new private house finance increased 0.9%, a result that Westpac economics says points to an “unambiguous upturn” in the broader housing sector.

Simon Turner

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Australia's Real Estate Cartel: Part I

It is astounding in Australia today to contemplate the existence of a fully functioning cartel. In fact many people would only associate cartel-like operations with oil companies or in countries where the rule of law is not at the forefront of society. So what is a cartel and how could they exist in this country? How has this situation been allowed to happen, slipping under the noses of regulatory authorities? The answer to all of these questions are extremely complex and hit at the heart of the failures of governance of all areas of real estate. The aim of this examination of the industry is to expose the issues that have been ignored for too long and put forward a set of solutions to the multi layered problem which will require co-operation between all levels of government.

The first piece in the puzzle involves the fundamental issue of power sharing between the State and Federal Governments. Every State and Territory has its own set of laws covering real estate which can vary significantly. There is not a Federal set of guidelines to govern real estate agencies or real estate agents. and there are completely different training requirements in every State and Territory. This means that in some jurisdictions it is extremely easy, taking only 3 days for a person to be qualified as a real estate agent. This person then has the legal right to advise vendors on the best method of selling their home. That means that the three days course miraculously takes you from novice to industry expert, able to give advice to clients on what is generally their largest asset.

It would seem outrageous to visit a Doctor for medical treatment knowing that all they did to get their qualification was a three day crash course in first aid. Wouldn't it be alarming to know that your Accountant had completed a three day correspondence course in company tax law - never having been formally assessed under exam conditions? How about being represented by a Barrister who had completed a 3 day course in legal practice? All of these examples would be considered totally unacceptable in almost every country in the world, however real estate seems to be the exception. Understanding that each State or Territory has it's own guidelines and that no Federal guidelines exist is the first part in piecing together the evidence of cartel-like behaviour and finding a way in which to transform the real estate industry nationally. The second part is in understanding the training requirements to become a real estate agent as it forms the base upon which every other issue within the industry is built upon.

In the next part of our examination of the Real Estate Cartel in Australia I will discuss the ramifications of the low entry standards in the industry and will start piecing together the lobby groups who actually have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. I will talk about the groups that benefit financially from this extraordinary situation and start the process of piecing together the links between these groups and the reasons behind their co-operation. This is a must read for all those involved in real estate in any way in this country and it is only when these issues are put into the public forum for open discussion and debate that we will be able to push for change protecting both consumers and the industry as a whole. Michael Marquette

Housing Affordability Worst in 22 Years

Home affordability lowest in 22 years
AUSTRALIANS looking to buy homes are needing the highest portion of family income in 22 years to make average mortgage repayments, according to the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA).

The Deposit Power/REIA Affordability report for the September quarter found 36.6 per cent of household income was needed to cover average home-loan repayments. Home affordability dropped in every state and territory, except Tasmania, with a 2.2 per cent decline in the quarter and 8.1 per cent over the previous 12 months.

NSW was the most expensive state with 38.3 per cent of a household’s income needed to meet average repayments, as affordability fell 0.8 per cent in the quarter and 5.4 per cent over the year.

As interest rates continue to rise, as seems likely on the horizon, home affordability is likely to drop even further in the near future. Benefits of schemes such as home savings and land release programs will only appear in the longer term, which means that the new Labor government has it’s work cut out to find a solution that assists the Australian public now. Simon Turner

All Hands on Deck: How Safe is Your Balcony or Deck?

A Melbourne balcony rail collapse that injured three people has prompted a pre-festive-season warning from architects about the safety of Australia's balconies and decks.

Pre-purchase inspections conducted by the Royal Australian Institute of Architect's buyer inspection service revealed that 6per cent of Australian homes had a timber balcony, and 2 per cent of these had the potential to cause life-threatening injuries.

These figures indicate around 8000 balconies in Australia could be life-threatening, and last week 3 people were injured when they fell 7m after a balcony rail collapsed. And this is not the first time: balcony collapses in several states in recent years had resulted in several injuries and deaths.

Coastal properties had the greatest risk because of the harsh environment and corrosion caused to metal fittings.

Clearly, people need to inspect their balconies and decks for rotting timbers and rusting fittings.

Particularly given the approaching festive season, these areas would be used for Christmas drinks, lunches and dinners, and many are likely to be overloaded, with people leaning on balustrades or balcony rails.

Clearly apart from possible injury or death to family members or friends, home owners would be foolish to ignore the legal liability which could arise from a collapsing deck which is proven to be in poor repair.

While balconies and timber decks had become important parts of Australian homes, many timber decks built in the 1960s and 70s were illegal because they had been built using inappropriate timber, some of which was now rotten and unsafe.

Whether you have a balcony or raised deck, whether timber, concrete or steel, please inspect the structure for shaky hand rails and balustrades, rust stains and cracking. If you find faults please take immediate action to repair them or seek professional advice if you are unsure. Simon Turner

The Renter's Dilemma

Rents continues to rise across all areas of Sydney, some areas far more than others, and typically all under the instruction of landlords, and perhaps with “advice” from their estate agent.

With the rises in interest rates, and the never ending increase in a landlord’s outgoings, such as council rates, land tax and strata levies, it is perfectly normal for a landlord to expect to cover these constant increases through the rental income from an investment property. And why not? Every day we read in the papers of the shortage of rental properties, the hysteria associated with large numbers of renters vying for the same property, and to a lesser extent, rental properties “being auctioned” to the highest bidder.

Of concern is the expectation a landlord has in gauging a realistic rental price of their property. The real estate agent managing the property is expected to keep the landlord up to date and ensure the property being managed is attracting a fair market rental. And in most circumstances, this is indeed what agents do.

However, consider an investor living overseas who has a rental property managed by an agent. No doubt that person would be fully aware of the shortage of rental properties and the increasing rents commanded – this is daily news both here and overseas. How realistic do you believe that landlord is in relation to their investment property? How much correspondence do you think the investor has with the agent? The property may not be in a suburb where rental demand is high. The property may also be in need of major repairs.

Typically, if a rental property goes on the market and is not snapped up quickly by a renter, the property is quite possibly overpriced. The agent would normally set the price of the property, after consultation with the landlord.

Unfortunately there are a number of landlords with high expectations in what their property should be attracting in rental income, brought about because of their increased outgoings and of course the media attention (as well as the all too common “agreeable” nature of many agents).

This clearly makes it even harder for tenants to find a new and affordable place to live.

Our advice is, particularly if you are considering vacating and looking for a new property in the early part of the New Year because your lease is ending and the landlord is asking for maybe a 5-10% rental increase:
- The cost and stress of moving far outweighs this increase;
- The beginning of the year is generally the most competitive for tenants;
- Explain to your agent/landlord that you have been a long-term, reliable tenant;
- General wear and tear on a property obviously increases the more tenants that move in and out of a property, it is in the best interest of the landlord to keep an existing tenant
- Offer to sign a longer term lease;
- Many landlords have not been able to increase their rents over the last few years, despite increasing costs, interest rates and a flat market, so it is unsurprising that it is “their turn now”.

Should you have any questions regarding your particular situation, whilst the Office of Fair Trading should be able to advice you of your rights and opportunities, Marquette Turner is more than willing to assist you. Simply call us on 1300 737 778. Simon Turner

Consumer Watch: How Fair is the Office of Fair Trading?

I have had an extremely interesting last couple of weeks in dealing with the NSW Office of Fair Trading. It has resulted in me wondering if it truly is all that fair? I have had cause to email members of the Specialist Support Unit almost daily and getting a response has been like pulling teeth. In fact I have had meetings or discussed the situation with various State, Federal and Territory MP’s and have also spoken with the New South Wales Ombudsman in order to clarify what we can expect as “reasonable” from the NSW Office of Fair Trading and it’s Officers.

A myriad of problems have arisen including bias, where comments have been made by one Officer indicating that guilty until proven innocent is the accepted way of thinking. There has been a complete unwillingness to assist a mother of 7 children in St Helen’s Park, near Campbelltown who as a tenant has been bullied and harassed by a local franchise agency. She is facing the prospect of being homeless just before Christmas and all of this through no fault of her own. This is just one example why major reforms are necessary to the powers, processes and manner in which complaints are handled by the Office of Fair Trading. Changes to training guidelines and compliance assistance for real estate agents are a must and
I will continue to speak with MP’s at all levels of Government to lobby for urgent reform.

It is not too much to expect those policing our industry to return calls, emails and conduct investigations in a timely manner. It is also not too much to expect a “Fair Go” which includes immediate assistance for all people needing urgent care. Surely a mother of 7 children in crisis would be considered urgent enough to be first priority. It’s time to cut through the red tape and the culture of secrecy surrounding the actions of Fair Trading Officers and if you have an Office of Fair Trading horror story please email me with the full details and I will ensure it is passed onto the Minister and other appropriate authorities as soon as possible. Michael Marquette

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The House of 2020: An Education Revolution, Marquette Turner style

Following the lead of Prime Minister elect Kevin Rudd and the new Labor Caucus each Director or Partner of Marquette Turner will be visiting one Government and one Private School by next Wednesday.

We are determined to do our part in assisting primary school children to start developing an understanding of real estate, with a particular emphasis on “green living” and “environmentally friendly homes”.

In next week’s E-Magazine we will report back on the feedback we received and announce the details of our “Year 2020 Green Home” competition where there will be prizes at different levels including the school, class and individual who comes up with the best all round “2020 Green Home”. This will be an annual Marquette Turner initiative and we are incredibly excited about helping to create a greener Australia.


Michael Marquette

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Supply & Demand

When you market your property, you need to employ a strategy that can run counter to your emotional perception of the home’s value.

This sometimes means listing at a price far below what you have emotionally anchored upon.

Like any commodity, a home’s price will follow supply-and- demand trends. In theory, custom homes in desirable neighborhoods should hold their value. Other properties should be discounted depending on how many similar homes or untis are on the market.

Every market is different, though. If there are no "bites" even after only a week of marketing, then drastic action is required. Most agents will wait until week 4 (or after the auction!) to tell you that, in actual fact, the good news that they had been telling you no longer applies.

Do not wait until your property is stale before adjusting the strategy as by then you may have missed the boat. This also requires you as a vendor to be pragmatic and commercial (but not bullied of course into accepting a price that you are unhappy with). Simon Turner

Friday, November 23, 2007

Landlord Insurance

I have just received a notification from my property manager suggesting I take out landlord’s insurance for an investment property I have recently bought. I already have building, contents and public liability cover. Is this just another unnecessary product that I’m probably already covered for?

No it isn’t just another unnecessary product! One of the biggest mistakes I see is investors assuming that a standard home and contents policy will cover them for any eventuality. The reality is that there are circumstances that are unique to investors as opposed to home buyers. The type of coverage landlord’s insurance gives relates to events such as rental default or any accidental or malicious damage caused by tenants. The cost of this protection is very little compared with the potential losses it covers. Simon Turner

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Real Estate Education Revolution

An “Education Revolution” has been at the heart of "Kevin 07" campaigning and what education could mean under a Labor Government. The question is what this could mean for real estate?

I have some very strong views on the current training requirements for real estate agents in New South Wales and would like to think that 2008 will be the year that truly brings about a revolution for this industry. The only problem is that Federal laws do not govern the real estate industry and every State or Territory has its own set of guidelines. Most of them are fairly similar, however they are different enough to make the process of operating legally across the entire country almost impossible for any one agent or agency.

There are three main initiatives which would constitute an “Education Revolution” in 2008 for me. Firstly, a national set of guidelines under which all real estate agents operate would be an enormous step forward. The Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002 (NSW) governs real agents only in NSW – a Federal Act covering Australia would be wonderful but of course this would require co-operation between the Federal, State and Territory Governments.

Secondly, a national approach to the “Certificate” requirements for all real agents is essential. A completely revised entry program for all new agents must require more than a 3 day course, which currently fails to provide the basic skills required to succeed in the industry. We need to totally ban correspondence entry courses which require only a mailed assessment task. I know of many real estate agents who have simply printed off the answers from a friend and not completed a single minute of study when completing their Certificate of Registration.

Thirdly, a national approach and total overhaul of the current Licensing requirements is a must. Currently in NSW there are multiple providers of Licensing programs which vary in length of time from less than one week to up to 2 years. Assessment is inconsistent and there is a culture of “pay and pass”. A was told recently of a student studying the licensing program at TAFE who was passed to avoid the administration nightmare of failing him/her (Identity Protected). The teacher was unable to fail the student who had not turned up to class or had left the class early almost every night. To make matters worse the student did not complete assessment tasks on time and still received a pass. This system is resulting in sub-standard agents with poor knowledge and the big losers are the general public and the industry as a whole.

The real estate industry is struggling to lift its image and yet bodies like the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales fail to push for reform in such basic areas. To truly enjoy an “Education Revolution” the real estate industry requires a complete overhaul, necessitating a “clean slate approach” to rebuilding the educational requirements of the industry to attract people who would otherwise choose other consultant roles. The status quo will result in the continuation of real estate as a dumping ground for those who have failed elsewhere and have nowhere else to go.

The annual turnover of agents is around 80% (first year agents). This attrition rate is completely unacceptable and exemplifies the failure of real estate training as it now stands. By lifting the calibre of real estate newcomers we will lift the image of the industry.

Michael Marquette

2008: The Real Estate Year Ahead

2008 is set to be an interesting year in so many ways. We are looking at further interest rate rises as inflationary pressures force the Reserve Bank to tighten monetary policy. Further increases in the cost of oil and grocery's are likely to put pressure on prices for consumers and low unemployment will continue to fuel spending.

The big questions are how high will interest rates go and who can we blame for the increase? There is no simple answer to the question, however I believe interest rates will increase to 9-9.5% and it would be unlikely to reach double digits. The Reserve Bank’s independence means that increases in rates will be made without political bias and will be in the best interests of the country as a whole.

The Australian economy has enjoyed 16 years of consecutive growth which means the first 5 of those were under a Labor Government, followed by 11 under the Coalition. Regardless of which party is in power after Saturday interest rates will increase in 2008 and Australians should be tightening their belts and avoiding excess.

The top end of the market is booming and will continue to boom in 2008. The top end of the market has come through 2007 unaffected, with units and low-end property prices steadying, although many buyers are carefully considering their decisions and taking their time to make offers.

This leads us to yet another question – Will 2008 be a good time to sell? In 2007 most vendors have made the decision to move based on lifestyle factors and financial pressures rather than the realization of capital gain. 2008 looks like continuing that trend.

There are buyers at every level of the market, however, prices are steady and should continue to be the same over the next 12 months. Top end property and those in the Sydney’s West will be the exception in 2008. We will continue to see records set in Sydney’s beachside and harbourside suburbs and suburbs in Sydney’s “mortgage belt” like Glenmore Park, Blacktown and Liverpool will struggle under the weight of further interest rate increases. This should provide some excellent buying opportunities for those with the capacity to purchase with foreclosures likely to reach levels not seen since the early 1990’s. Rental prices will continue to increase in 2008. Increased yields will please investors who have struggled for so long and chosen shares over property. This could mean further movement into bricks and mortar which is a positive thing for those selling in 2008.

All in all the year looks like being a tough one for those already feeling the pinch and the rich will continue to get richer. The need for an immediate solution to housing affordability will become even more apparent and investment in infrastructure to connect the regional cities to our capitals will require a solution that involves full co-operation between the State and Federal Governments. Maybe a Labor Federal Government will be able to better co-operate with the State Labor Governments? Michael Marquette

Housing Stress Continues

Housing affordability has been talked up by both major parties as a key fixture of the election campaign. It is, however, an issue that will not simply go away as quickly as the election battle.

For an increasing number of Australians rising interest rates and inflation on the back of rising fuel and grocery belts, are tightening many belts. Those with mortgages are being consumed by mortgage stress, and with low vacancy rates fuelling big spikes in rents, tenants are not being left behind either.

A report by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling and the Housing Industry Association (HIA) predicts that the number of households spending more than a third of income on rent is set to rise over the next three years. There are expected to be another 230,000 households facing rental stress over the next three years, and that takes the total in Australia to three quarters of a million.

Chris Lamont of the HIA states that almost one in two tenants throughout both metropolitan Australia and regional Australia, are really struggling just to put a roof over their head.
Whilst traditionally rental stress has been more an issue in the major capital cities, we have to now take into consideration that a lot of regional centres, as a consequence of the mining boom rents have also been rising at very fast rates. In some areas, wages have kept up with those increases, in most, they haven't.

Regardless of which party occupies the powerful side of parliament following the federal election, the rental crisis is really going to rear its ugly head at the beginning of 2008.

The majority of tenants are looking for new properties at the beginning of the year, and given that the market is already very inflated and strained in addition to a vacancy rate at its lowest on record at 1.7%, the stress is only going to get worse.

Some form of targeted assistance, perhaps in the form of a rental rebate scheme would certainly assist many and deflate the issue, as would further assistance to first home buyers.
Unfortunately, it’s definitely time to batten down the hatches and tighten those purse strings as such relief will unlikely be forthcoming quickly enough. Simon Turner

The Zero Energy Tower

Burj Al-Taqa: Middle Eastern Zero-energy Tower

The recent building boom in the Middle East has given rise to some of the world’s most extravagant and innovative buildings. The latest proposed tower to sprout up among the ever-changing skyline is the Burj Al-Taqa Energy Tower for the Middle East.

Designed by Eckhard Gerber and cutting a 322 meter high silhouette, this commercial high rise will produce zero emissions and use sun, wind and water to create all of its own energy. The 68-story structure will use natural air conditioning based on Iranian wind towers which draws wind in and down to cool interiors. Gerber’s cylindrical design uses this principal to ventilate the tower.

A central atrium will provide fresh air inflow. The incoming air will be pre-cooled with seawater, dispersed throughout the building and ventilated through a double-skin glass fa├žade. Tubing throughout the ceilings will run cool water for additional radiant thermal comfort. Solar gain control is dependent on a new type of vacuum glazing that is still in development but expected to be over 60% more efficient than current technology.
A rotating solar shield covering one sixth of the building circumference will provide shade at the highest incidences and use an integrated photovoltaic array to capture the sun’s energy for electricity. And yes, that is a wind turbine on top. The Darrieus-type rotor, together with two more roof-mounted photovoltaic arrays and a floating array in the nearby sea, will equip the Burj Al-Taqa to meet its energy needs. Any excess electricity will applied to generating more energy – extracting hydrogen from seawater for fuel cells.

Gerber’s ambitious projections for the Burj Al-Taqa depend on unproven techniques and untested materials. However, if the Energy Tower for the Middle East lives up to expectations, it will require 60% less energy than comparable buildings, produce no CO2 emissions and, from a lofty height at number 22 on the list of the world’s tallest buildings, can boast complete independence from non-renewable energy. Read more Simon Turner

Share the Burden: Housing Affordability Made Easier

Person to person loans for home buyers

Affording property could suddenly be made much easier with Home Equity Share matching home buyers with investors.

To be precise HES brings together buyers who can afford monthly payments but not a 20% down payment, and investors who want to get into real estate but don't want to become landlords or make monthly payments.

Potential home buyers post a profile listing their preferences, including the area they want to buy in, and the price range they're looking for. They're automatically matched with compatible investors, come to an agreement and sign a preliminary commitment. This allows the buyer to become pre-approved for a loan, and to start looking for a property. Once the buyer and investor agree on a property, the investor provides the down payment, the buyer arranges a mortgage for his home and moves in. At the end of a specified agreement term—usually three to seven years—the buyer can purchase the investor's interest in the property, or they can sell the house share its appreciation in value.

For more information visit: www.homeequityshare.com Simon Turner

The Great Land Sale

Commonwealth Sell-Off of Land to Help Housing Affordability Crisis

The Federal Government has announced its long-awaited plan to sell off Commonwealth land to address the growing housing affordability crisis. It has promised to speed up the sale of enough blocks for 10,000 houses across the country by 2010.

For the cynical amongst you, it may be interesting to know that the first property that will be available in Sydney is part of an estate in the John Howard’s wobbly seat of Bennelong. For those less cynical but nonetheless concerned about housing affordability, such houses are already on the market for $790,000.

A further 700 dwellings on the banks of the Parramatta River in Ermington will be disposed of by the Government in 2008 as part of the plan that would provide enough land for 6000 dwellings in western Sydney.

Prime Minister John Howard announced plans similar to those of Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd, to spend $500 million on infrastructure for community facilities such as playing fields and libraries around new housing on the city fringes and in urban areas.

The most likely area to be sold first is the former Naval Stores Depot in Ermington, which lies in Bennelong, where the developer Stockland has four-bedroom "manor homes" on the market.

Additional sites include the Ingleburn Army Camp in South West Sydney and the Schofields aerodrome in North West Sydney. The Ingleburn site would provide enough land for 4680 dwellings and would require $75 million worth of remediation to be covered by the Commonwealth.

The final two sites in Sydney are West Wattle Grove in south-western Sydney and Bringelly Radio Receiving Station. Simon Turner

The Rental Bond Con

A 34-year-old woman who accumulated $47,420 by tricking more than 200 victims in a crime spree was last week given a suspended jail sentence.

Magistrate Pat O'Shane said the woman had taken bonds from people, purporting to be leasing properties she did not own. Among her victims were financial institutions.

The magistrate stated that the woman had been "naive" as she had dealt with people in her own home, used her own name and deposited all the monies into a single personal bank account. Nevertheless, she had exhibited "a high degree of planning and criminal conduct".

Ms O'Shane accepted Prince had had a troubled history and had suffered from a bipolar mental disorder for which she had had inadequate medication, and at times she had not kept up with the medication.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

You Might Be At Risk of Losing Thousands of Dollars - Vendors Beware!

In the last 24 hours I have been contacted by a real estate agent who had an issue with Marquette Turner. Well, the issue wasn’t so much with us as it is self-serving. See, the agent who will remain nameless was not actually thinking of his client’s interests at all. He was far from being client focused and had only self-interest at heart. I will summarize the situation which really begs the questions – Is this person really doing the best by his clients? Is he really trying to achieve the highest sale price for every property? How do you deal with a person like this in the industry?

This is a true Story:

I received a telephone call yesterday from a well-known real estate agent on the Lower North Shore threatening to report myself and Christine Watson to the NSW Office of Fair Trading for speaking to a client of his. I am quite serious when I say this and am I discussing the Lower North Shore in Sydney – not North Korea. He was furious that we had spoken to his client who has been trying to sell her property for quite some time and she had noticed the hugely successful auction that we had conducted just a couple of doors down from her property – in fact the two properties are extremely similar and in terms of price are also quite similar. The lady had called our office to ask about the sale and had requested to meet with us. She also had no idea if she was in an exclusive agreement as she believed it had run out. To further complicate the situation she is based in Melbourne and the property had been leased for over twenty years.

I recently met with her on a trip to Melbourne and discussed her situation and also resolved the issue that she was still under an exclusive agreement with the other agency. She had signed an agreement for 90 days after auction – taking the agreement to a staggering 4 months! At Marquette Turner this would just not happen as we consider that length of time to be quite excessive. In the real estate industry an agent is not allowed to approach a client whilst he or she is in an exclusive agreement with another agent, however the client is most definitely able to make contact and ask questions. If the client employs a second agent during an exclusive sales agreement with another agent and the property is sold then the client may be forced to pay two commissions. I explained this situation to the lady and gave her the advice she required.

During the phone call to me the agent in question un-leased a barrage of personal insults about his client, including that she had been a shocking client for some twenty plus years – in his words “ a slum landlord”. He went further to say that he had arranged for the renovation of the apartment at considerable time cost to him and that the sale did not require another agent just a realistic vendor who would accept an offer of $530,000. This by any account is well below what I believe the value of the apartment to be and well below the price expectation of his client. In other words he was only worried that he might not get his commission as the agreement is almost over, and he had failed to sell the apartment and had lost the confidence of his client who was looking to us (Marquette Turner) for an answer to her predicament.

The sad thing about this situation is that the agent was only interested in getting a sale – not a sale at the highest price – but a sale at any price. This is surely not in the best interest of his client and is the sort of behavior that we can only hope is rare. Unfortunately he also claimed to have been in the industry for over thirty years so I was left wondering how many other sales he has adopted this approach and attitude toward? This story is incredibly important in informing would be vendors of the underlying motive that might be driving their agent in giving them what is supposed to be professional advice. At what price is this advice really coming at? When considering the total commission paid to the agent and the lost money in a low sale price it could amount to tens of thousands of dollars – vendors beware!

Michael Marquette

The Lies and Lows: Consumers Losing Out

It has been an interesting last week in real estate with so much going on with the Federal election, interest rates and auction clearance rates to name just a few.

To add to the mix we received a complaint from the NSW Office of Fair Trading which had been lodged by a former landlord. Marquette Turner takes extreme care in everything we do and we accept the fact that we are always striving to improve and strengthen our systems and procedures to make our service the very best possible. We realize that we can sometimes be wrong however the NSW Office of Fair Trading seems intent on the concept of guilty until proven innocent.

The complaint was made after the former landlords (husband and wife) of our company completed a 2 day induction program at our Sydney Headquarters. The two clients desperately wanted to become part of Marquette Turner, working as Consultants leasing and selling property through our Melbourne Office. During the two days it became apparent that the two people would not be suited to our company and after discussing our feelings with them they decided to move the management of their property elsewhere and lodge a formal complaint regarding our mismanagement of their property (without making any complaint to us).

Their tenant was devastated when she was told that we would no longer be managing the home and she immediately wrote us a testimonial which was extremely touching (we are happy to share this testimonial with you which can be viewed by seeing the comment to this article or by selecting the attached link).

The disappointment of this is that the current system of lodging a complaint to the NSW Office of Fair Trading is resulting in people making unfounded, untruthful or vindictive claims (with no repercussions to them). It is resulting in bundles of bureaucratic red tape for agencies like Marquette Turner as we waste hours on explaining why we are not guilty of any wrongdoing.

What this also means is that time is being wasted on people who are really abusing the system at the expense of consumers who really need help. The current complaints system must be changed and those found to be fabricating stories must be held to account and prosecuted for doing so. That way the NSW Office of Fair Trading can focus on the issues that really count.

The directors of Marquette Turner have written to our local member The Honourable Clover Moore (Member for Sydney), and The Honourable Linda Burney (NSW Fair Trading Minister), requesting an audience and I will keep you posted with regards to our ongoing efforts to improve the system. Michael Marquette

Friday, November 9, 2007

Banks to Increase Cost of Home Loans in Addition to Rate Rise

Not content with the interest rates rise, the cost of home loans is set to increase further with the major banks likely to lift their rates by a further 0.25 per cent in the next month or two

Despite today releasing record profits of $4.4 billion (up 18 per cent) the National Australia Bank has warned today that it couldn't keep absorbing the price pressures that have been added to its own cost of borrowing which, in turn, is used to fund the mortgages it offers.

NAB was the first major lender to lift its home loan rates yesterday in line with the Reserve Bank's quarter of a percentage point increase in the overall cash rate.

But it appears almost certain that NAB's home loans - and that of the other leading banks - will go up again before or just after Christmas.

Thus, regardless of the party that forms our next Government, they will be looking down the barrel at the daunting issues of housing affordability and the increasing financial tightness that families are feeling.

Simon Turner

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Rate Rise the Cost of Australia's Economic Success?

The latest rate hike is ultimately to keep inflation incheck, and what one might just describe as the cost of Australia's great economic success.

Therefore, additional rate hikes will almost certainly be needed. The only way to avoid a series of rate hikes is for the incoming government to aggressively trim its spending programs.

Whilst this should be the immediate priority for the new government, regardless of whether it's in Coalition or Labor colours, moderate spending promises are more likely during the final stages of the election campaign. Simon Turner

Interest Rates Rise With More Likely

In line with most forecasts the Reserve Bank of Australia yesterday lifted interest rates by 0.25%. The decision lifts the RBA’s cash rate to 6.75% and will mean an extra $68 per month on an average $400,000 mortgage.

Governor Glenn Stevens was clear in his statement that the strength of Australia’s economy is operating close to the limits of its capacity. Hawkishly, however, he pointed out that there are few signs of that strength diminishing as yet, and reports of high capacity usage and shortages of suitable labour persist, thus suggesting too much growth rather than not enough.

Commonwealth Bank senior economist John Peters says the statement suggests the RBA sees all the risks to the economy being on the side of too much growth, rather than not enough.
“It’s a hawkish statement that signals they’ve got a pretty firm tightening bias in place,” Peters says. “It points to stimulus coming from all corners; high capacity utilisation, consumers are spending, lowest unemployment in three decades, governments are spending as well, and new dwelling investment has started to become a positive factor and will make a bigger contribution as time goes on.”

The key question now is not if there will be another rate rise, but when. Such strong economic conditions could mean that more rises are on the way, perhaps as soon as December. Given that the RBA has increased interest rates twice in the last three months, it would be unwise to suggest that yesterday’s rise will be 2007’s last. Simon Turner

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Is Sydney the Next Target for Al Qaeda?

I was travelling from Sydney to Tamworth recently, on my way to the Marquette Turner country retreat. It’s a great escape from the pressures of Sydney and as I checked in my luggage and received my boarding pass I continued through Security where I was pulled up and searched as I had inadvertently left a pair of nail scissors in my carry on luggage. They were confiscated and I was cautioned and allowed to board the plane. This was on a Saturday afternoon at around 3.15pm. I was wearing a suit and had just finished a successful day of Auctions for Marquette Turner Estate Agents – surely I didn’t look like a terrorist threat!

I started the return journey to Sydney the following Wednesday morning at around 7.00am at Tamworth Airport. I checked my luggage in and was asked if I was carrying anything dangerous in my hand luggage. I assured the young lady that I was not and was issued with my boarding pass and had a coffee with Simon Turner. At no time did I pass through an x-ray machine or have any other type of security to pass other than my promise at check in that I was not carrying anything that was dangerous. The fact was that I wasn’t carrying anything dangerous, however, I certainly could have been. There was no x-ray machine or any other security to pass through. My aircraft was a Qantas Link Dash 8, carrying around 50 passengers plus pilots and crew.

I suddenly realized that I could have been carrying a bomb in my carry on luggage, a knife, 5 litres of petrol or even could have packed explosives in my checked luggage. We were flying into Terminal 2 in Sydney and I was free to cause as much terror as I wanted to. In fact I could fly into Terminal 2 and board a much larger Boeing 737 or Airbus of Jet Star or Virgin Blue (or Qantas Link): I wouldn’t have been required to go through the normal security checks at Terminal 2 as I would have landed and already been in the terminal. This is staggering given the amount of attention our Government has placed on airport security and terrorism since 9/11 and ultimately emphasises how easy it would be for Al Qaeda or other Terrorist Groups to attack Sydney, or any other Australian city.

On the topic of security, Marquette Turner has successfully implemented a security system requiring photo ID to be shown at every open home – we haven't gone to the extent of x-ray machines or bag searches but we have drastically improved the security at EVERY open home.

Our Government should look at the security at EVERY Australian Airport if it is truly committed to protecting this country. Thankfully it was me that was travelling on that flight – what if it had been a terrorist? The attack we all fear on the harbour city or in Australia in general could easily happen if security at EVERY Airport is not at the same level. Michael Marquette

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

An Education Revolution in Real Estate is Sorely Overdue

With the Federal election unfolding the concept of an education revolution has pricked my ears up. Recently the Marquette Turner Director's convened a "think tank" where we spent two days in lockdown considering how best to continue educating our team as well as what new initiatives could help in attracting high calibre individuals to our company and also the industry as a whole. Simon Turner, Christine Watson and myself are committed to a transformed industry where tertiary level training is compulsory and negotiation is formally taught and examined. Our vision is to see the real estate industry in Australia mature into the profession that it needs to be - much like Accounting, Medicine and Law.

The reality is that real estate agents are one of the highest paid consultants in any industry, yet the entry requirements are so low and the training reality is that very few people ever fail once enrolled in the course. The "pass everyone" mentality is continuing to see hundreds of people enter the industry - most really should not be there. I have listened to the education plans of both major parties and while they are both touting to increase spending on education there appears to be little focus on improving or completely restructuring the training requirements for real estate and other professions which are in desperate need of an overhaul. Marquette Turner is a fierce opponent of the "increase places" education revolution that seems to be the centrepiece of what we are hearing. Simply increasing the number of places does not improve systems that are clearly failing and in need of immediate attention.

It was only yesterday when I was told of a real estate agent in Newcastle offering a potential purchaser part of his commission if he were to buy a house from him. This sort of person should not be in the industry and is a perfect example of why a formal, tertiary level qualification is so desperately needed at Bachelor level as part of the process of cleaning up the real estate industry. More places in existing training programs where standards are low and almost everyone is guaranteed to pass is just not the answer. Let's hope our politicians are listening. This is something that Marquette Turner is working diligently towards. Michael Marquette

Monday, October 29, 2007

Junk Mail is a load of rubbish!

As the environment continues to be one of the most important topics in the world at the moment I am ever fascinated by the increase of junk mail in both home mail boxes and private post office boxes.

The focus of the world has been on increasing the awareness for the need to conserve our precious resources and yet both individuals and businesses in our local areas continue to proliferate tonnes of unsolicited as their main source of marketing. This is especially true for real estate agents and Marquette Turner Estate Agents has taken a stand against this ever increasing pile of junk by banning "Do you want to sell?" letters and focussing on environmentally friendly communication - namely the internet and email.

Only last Saturday (October 27, 2007) I was in Barry Street, Neutral Bay conducting an auction of a unit for fellow Marquette Turner Director, Christine Watson. I was horrified to see just how many real estate agents had stuffed junk mail in the letterboxes of the apartment block. The free local newspaper is called The Mosman Daily and there was a pile of them scattered near the mail boxes - all of which had been soaked by the rain in Sydney on Thursday and Friday. Most real estate agents in the area feel compelled to waste their vendor's money on advertising in this newspaper even though the latest statistics from the USA have indicated that less than 5% of real estate buyers are finding their properties in the newspaper. The cost of this madness is massive to both vendors and the environment and Marquette Turner has taken the stand that sound, statistically proven sales strategies that actually sell homes rather than promote real estate agents is what we are going to do.

Our 100% sales record for 2007 remains intact even though we have not advertised in papers like the Mosman Daily or Wentworth Courier. I fully support the Lord Mayor of Mosman in her environmental focus and congratulate her on taking a stand to end the endless pile of junk mail in Mosman mail boxes. At Marquette Turner we strongly advise a "No Junk Mail" sticker on your mail box and we hope that other councils take a similar stance on stopping real estate agents and other proliferators of junk mail in their tracks. Michael Marquette

Crunch Time - Will Interest Rates Rise on 7 Nov?

November 7 is the day when the Reserve Bank of Australia [RBA] announces the outcome of its decision as to whether there is a new official cash rate. Most analysts think the RBA will have to raise rates by at least 25 basis points. Marquette Turner Managing Director, Michael Marquette is inclined to agree that a rate rise prior to the 2007 is a high possibility but also points out that the sheer size of the debt burden of Australians should be a bigger cause of concern than by any single headline interest rate number.

Steve Keen, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Western Sydney recently stated:

''At 160 per cent of GDP we are now faced with the highest level of private debt in the nation's history - twice what applied during the Great Depression, and one and a half times the previous record, which was set during the Melbourne land boom and bust of the 1880s-90s,'' he says.

''This is the biggest [credit] bubble we have ever had. Interest payments alone are now consuming 15.5 cents in every dollar of household disposable income.''

Michael Marquette



Saturday, October 27, 2007

Clients & Customers - What's the Difference?

Clients and Customers – What’s the Difference?

As a buyer of a property, have you ever felt totally ignored by the sales agent? Have you put in an offer for a property, been advised by the agent that it would be accepted and then told you have missed out because someone else has offered more than you? Does this sound familiar? There is one explanation for this. Real estate agents work with clients and customers, but fail to recognise that in this industry there can often appear a distinct difference.

The legal definition of a “client” in the world of property is the person who has signed a written contract with the estate agent and who will be paying the fee for service once the property has sold. In other words, the vendor or seller of the property is the person with whom the estate agent has a written contract or Agency Agreement with and therefore is the person the agent will receive their commission from.

Customers or buyers do not have a written agreement with the estate agent, (unless it is with a Buyers Agent – which is a totally separate agreement) and therefore do not pay any fees to the agent when the sale is transacted. To some agents, this means the vendor is treated with the utmost respect and courtesy, at the expense of the buyer.

Unfortunately many real estate agents lose sight that buyers of properties may well become vendors of properties. Not to mention the lost opportunity to have business referred because of outstanding service.

Thankfully times have changed. Marquette Turner recognises that true customer service is of the major factors both clients and customers seek. Real estate is a service industry after all, and should be no different to the major airlines, etc, in seeking to provide a service that is second to none.

Christine Watson

Email: christine@marquetteturner.com.au

Telephone: 1300 737 778



Thursday, October 25, 2007

Marquette Turner - Changing the Face of Real Estate

It is no secret that Marquette Turner are something different! We are keen to educate the public to ensure that as many people we deal with are "property intellectuals". Whilst such a concept may not seem particular akin to real estate, Marquette Turner's desire to form long-term relationships with vendors, buyers, tenants etc - who ultimately became great and trusted friends - rather than focus on "the quick buck" whereby we can not see past a property transaction ultimately means that by educating those that we come in contact with provides great long-term benefits to all involved.

We have both youth and experience on our side. We have a hunger, boundless enthusiasm and Entrepreneurialism that quite easily makes us stand-out from the local agent that has little desire or interest in looking beyond "getting a listing, getting a buyer, and getting a commission". They have no incentive to do anything more, which ultimately means that the customer's and clients that are unfortunate enough to come in touch with them will rarely receive an experience that is outstanding.

This is one of the significant reasons that makes Marquette Turner so unique. We are in a position to look to the long-term, which means that our immediate actions, as well as those in the near and distant future are always in the best-interests of everyone.

Both Michael Marquette and myself are constantly looking at other industries to see how we can "do things better". You only have to see some of the huge press coverage that our unique Concierge service received in the national and local press to see how we really are trying to raise the bar in a service industry that is renowned for offering, at best, a very average service experience.

The Marquette Turner team is excited at any opportunity to demonstrate what sets us apart from "traditional agents". Thus whether you're a tenant, vendor, buyer, or just someone that is interested in learning more about real estate, please feel free to contact any of us. Call 1300 737 778 or visit www.marquetteturner.com.au

You can even Skype us on Marquette Turner and Marquette Turner1! Simon Turner

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Should I Borrow the Entire Purchase Amount PLUS Costs?

If you are considering buying a property and are tempted to borrow the entire purchase price, as well as enough to cover all the other outgoings such as stamp duty and conveyancing, Marquette Turner will always advise you to err on the side of caution, as enticing the opportunity may seem to be.

As is always the case with property, make sure you are looking at your long-term goals, and never be unaware of economic factors, regardless of how “novice” you may rate yourself in such issues.

Think of a worst-case-scenario: don’t try to relate to your comfort zone now, relate to issues that may make your like somewhat more difficult.

Remember, the more equity you have in the property you are buying the more comfortable position you are in. This will allow you to weather booms and busts, and all investment cycles.

Listen to your head and think of the long-term. And of course, never be afraid to ask Marquette Turner for a little bit of guidance. Our team are always available to offer our assistance and thoughts (real estate or not!) but remember that it’s always better to ask the question than regret it down the track.

Simon Turner, Marquette Turner

Monday, October 8, 2007

Are Sydney Housing Prices on the Rise?

The biggest question facing home buyers right now is whether or not home prices have started to rise again and is the rise going to be like that of 2000-2003?


Well, here's my thoughts:


The top end of the market is booming with multi-million dollar sales for Sydney Harbourfront homes continuing to set new records with Point Piper continuing to be the stand out piece of Sydney real estate.


Prices in Sydney's west are continuing to struggle with buyer demand lower than supply. The biggest problem facing vendors in Sydney's west is that many real estate agents are suggesting prices that are way too high in order to "buy a listing".


The term " buy a listing" refers to agents suggesting inflated prices for homes, dishonestly trying to create hope of achieving a higher price to win the listing by convincing the home owner that the impossible is actually achievable. Vendors really need to beware of this practice and should insist on evidence to support any suggestion of a price outcome.


I guess the best way of looking at housing prices at the moment is that suburbs of high demand around the harbour and beaches are pushing forward and looking stable and positive. Suburbs that have been traditionally less popular are proving tough going when it comes to sales, however, a sensible and well thought out sales strategy will result in a successful sale. Huge opportunities exist for cashed up buyers who can buy into suburbs like Lakemba which I believe is a Sydney real estate hot spot.


Be realistic with your pricing and sales strategies and choose the agent that proves his or her ability to attract buyers to your home and negotiate the highest price possible every time. Ask to see their qualifications and do not accept that they have been agents for many years as proof of their ability. The largest sales office, the largest sales team or the closest office all mean very little in the internet age and with around 80% of homes being purchased by buyers searching on the net your agent needs to prove that they will and can maximise your sales price.


Look at companies like Google to see that the oldest isn't necessarily the best. Always choose an agent who shows a real point of difference - at Marquette Turner you can expect a proven strategey every time.


Michael Marquette

Saturday, October 6, 2007

How Much Money Should You Spend to Market Your Home?

How much money should you spend on marketing when you choose to sell your home? This question is one of the biggest problems facing vendors when examining marketing proposals from real estate agents in Sydney, Melbourne and throughout Australia. Rarely are the true facts ever offered as most agents have no formal marketing or negotiation qualifications. Even worse for vendors is that the entry requirements into real estate are so low, requiring a Certificate of Registration - taking in some cases just three days or even less if completed by correspondence.

The real issue here is what are the facts when spending money with real estate agents? Are they really looking to sell your home for the highest price possible and will their marketing suggestions make any difference? At Marquette Turner we have examined the issues associated with marketing in enormous detail and the reality is very different to that put to vendors by agents with little knowledge regarding marketing - which is in most cases your biggest asset. The fee you pay to real estate agents in Sydney, Melbourne and throughout Australia is one of the largest professional fees you will ever pay! - usually more than you will pay to your Solicitor or Doctor.

The best research has been done in the United States by the National Association of Realtors who examined how buyers found homes between 2004 and 2006. The internet is becoming more and more important in the lives of all Australians and the results of their research cast enormous doubt over the effectiveness of newspaper real estate advertisements. Most agents would suggest advertising in glossy newspapers like the Wentworth Courier and Mosman Daily in Sydney costing up to $3500 per page each week of any marketing campaign. The research from the USA sugggests that less than 5% of properties are purchased by buyers who found their home in a newspaper. The research indicates that almost 80% of all homes sold are found by buyers searching on the internet.

I guess the most important consideration when looking to find the agent to sell your home is what evidence they can show you to substantiate their suggested marketing campaign. What statistics can they offer from independent sources to support their claims and what formal qualifications do they have in negotiation? These questions if answered well will make the process of choosing an agent an easy process and will ensure that you save thousands of dollars in wasted marketing money. You will also achieve the highest price possible by ensuring your agent has formal qualifications in real estate negotiation - maximising your net result.

Michael Marquette

Should I rent or should I buy?

The Marquette Turner team frequently are asked the question "should I rent or buy?" And this isn't just for first-home buyers, but also investors.

Whilst everyone's personal circumstances obviously vary, and with the price of real estate in capital cities these days, it is certainly an important question.

Whilst there is not a simple answer, here's a useful link that can help you decide whether you would you be better off, financially, if you rented and invested instead.

Try moving the investment return assumption up and down to see what a difference it makes. See www.yourmortgage.com.au/calculators/rent-vs-buy

Simon Turner

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Best House in the Best Street?

The saying goes that you should always buy "the worst house in the best street". But we wonder how much of this is based on old wives tales, and how much on fact?

So, could it be better to buy "the best house in the worst street" or perhaps even "the best house in the best street"?

Whatever your thoughts on this subject, we'd love to hear them.

Smart people use the services of smart professionals

The benefits of education of the property industry to our clients is smart business.

For companies that provide excellent products and services, the most knowledgeable clients are the best clients. The reason is simple. The more our clients know about our industry, the more they appreciate the services provided.

Thus, whether your interest is in buying, renting, strata, investing or just general knowledge, we cannot over-emphasise the importance of being well informed.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Home owner tricks to boost property prices

MOST real estate veterans know the trick of brewing coffee when you're trying to sell your house, but some savvy vendors are taking dressing up the family home to a new level - parking shiny luxury cars in the driveway.

Sydney agents are taking an extra step to boost house prices by as much as 10 per cent by using props, cleaners and expensive cars to make the first impression count.

Real estate firm Marquette Turner now offers a complimentary "CONCIERGE" service to help increase the final sale price with some simple yet effective techniques.

Parking a brand new flash BMW in the driveway is hardly subtle, but it works, Marquette Turner partner Michael Marquette said.

"Impressions count right from the start, first impressions really do matter," he said.
"We have a deal with a BMW outlet and for every home we can choose what sort of product might best suit that home."

"We see prices rise 5 to 10 per cent, and sometimes even more," Mr Marquette said.
Having the front garden and lawns prepared and manicured professionally before the open house is another good tip.

There are also techniques that can improve the interior.

"We make sure people take down photos, otherwise buyers walk around looking at them instead of the house.


"We also give advice on making sure the place has a fresh coat of paint if it needs it - which costs next to nothing.


"And we'll bring flowers to provide the right aromas. It's the things that make people feel comfortable and at home."


The agency will also bring a carer along to take pets for a walk while the doors are open.

From the Daily Telegraph. Written by Rhys Haynes. August 04, 2007

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Neutral Bay Apartment For Auction

Enjoy apartment living at its best.

A beautifully renovated 2 bedroom apartment in a quiet, tree lined street, within minutes to transport, plus all the shops, cafes and restaurants that Neutral Bay has to offer.

Situated on the top floor at the rear of a boutique building, the block is only three storey’s high and offers full security, plus a large garage able to house a car with plenty of room for storage.

The perfect place to live in when you want every modern convenience close to you, the property will be auctioned on-site on Saturday 27th October 2007 at 12.15pm. View this property