Beware the Expert

Disclaimer: These comments are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the current opinions and policies of the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia.

Like most professions, real estate has its fair share of so-called “experts”; folk that profess a qualified view on all things “property”.

As practitioners, we often joke about the dreaded, well-meaning expert father figure keen to protect his daughter from paying too much for a cute cottage that “needs work”. As soon as she utters, “I just want my dad to have a look before I put in an offer,” normally means the sale is doomed!

Over the past decade, the amount of information available to the public about property has markedly increased. The internet provides specific data on every house, information about the suburb, property growth patterns, census information, how “walkable” it is, the average wage earned in the suburb, what the property last sold for, etc. Most of the information is useful and can provide a broad picture of the local property scene, but much of it is pitched in a manner that aims to bring traffic to the site so the site can sell its advertising space.

One site features a “suburb rating” that encourages home owners to rate how their suburb performs in certain criteria. Hilton, for example, rated 88 out of 100. A reasonable score but essentially meaningless when you read the actual reviews and discover a local real estate agent, an agent talking about their own home and someone called “ajc” who reckoned South Street was “good” were the only reviewers; hardly a reliable sample or meaningful.

More recently, banks are offering a “free property report” for a property compiled with heavy disclaimer by well known national property groups. One such report assessed the value of a property at less than half the anticipated market value because its author had not visited the property, had used noncomparable property data as evidence and being from Sydney was unaware of the recent rebuild and extension.

Like many things, it is the quality of the information and not the quantity that matters. The REIWA web site and Landgate is really the only place to get accurate, unbiased and – most importantly – locally produced information about the Perth property market. But even this information is not specific enough about your property. For that, you need a local REIWA agent who has the industry intelligence on houses, streets and neighbourhoods that can’t be easily replicated from afar with computer modeling.”

by Hayden Groves
REIWA President
REIA Deputy President

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