Brisbane's sales market

5 questions Brisbane real estate agents can’t answer

We’re generally speaking a helpful lot, us Brisbane real estate agents. You can ask us most things about properties for sale and if we don’t know the answer we’ll dig and probe to get you the info you need to make a buying decision! But there’s some questions we simply can’t answer and first time buyers can often find these frustrating:

How much will the owners accept?
Sometimes this is asked tongue in cheek, hopeful a giveaway might save you thousands. And we know that a handful of agents are guilty of answering, trying to shortcut a deal by offering up their clients’ worst-case position. But we work for and are paid by our sellers and our first priority is to get them the best price possible. We’re here to help, but you’re not getting that one out of us!

What do you think it’ll sell for?
Similar to the above and commonly asked for auctions or other properties sold without an asking price. The law says an agent can’t offer an opinion – we were involved in the legislation’s adoption and while we know this can be frustrating it means buyers never have to second guess an agent’s estimate. There’s no low-balling, no wasting anyone’s time or money. It’s a good law. What we can usually do is provide a sample of recent sales that we think are comparable. And that’s factual.

Brisbane real estate agentsIs this a good investment?
In the early days of my real estate career we’d offer up financial forecasts, estimates of rental returns, deductions and capital gain. And then some abuse of that freedom (as is often the case) saw us banned from offering more than the barest of real estate info. So an agent can tell you about the history of the property and past rental returns. But we’re not permitted to speculate or advise on what might happen into the future, and can’t suggest whether or not a property might be the right investment for you.

Is this a good neighbourhood?
We know our patch inside out. In the case of Bees Nees it’s the suburbs within 5km of the CBD and yes we know the good cafes, bars, theatres and schools. We’re going to write them into our ads and point them out at your inspection. We also have some insight into areas more likely to experience crime and places where new development is more likely to occur. But as a home buyer you have a lot of places you can find that info and it’s not our job to point out an area’s less desirable features. We’ve written before about the police crime map, for example. We have a duty to act fairly and to disclose lots of info on the property, but it doesn’t usually go that far. This is probably the largest financial decision you’ll ever make – do your homework!

Tell me all the repairs done or needed on this building?
Buying into a body corp can seem daunting and it’d be nice if every owner (and their selling agent) had a full understanding of an apartment building’s history. Read more at our recent blog post – while there’s some legal disclosure requirements, most sellers have limited knowledge of what’s happened in their body corp. And if the agent says confidently that there’s never been any maintenance or repair work? Good reason to do some digging into body corp records!

We’d argue home buyers often don’t get great service from Brisbane real estate agents, and we’ve made a number of changes to our business to really improve on that. While we’re paid by sellers we make more sales when we’re able to help buyers more, and faster. But helpful as we want to be, the law and our duty to our sellers will always mean there’s some questions that we just can’t answer.

We’d love to hear your comments. Is there something you ask agents you feel you never get a good answer to?!