Group opens Melb office, eyes market rebound

Simon Parker

Harcourts, the third largest real estate franchise network in Australia, has opened a new office in the Melbourne suburb of Vermont South as the group sees positive signs emerging for Victoria’s property market.

The new office, in the city’s eastern suburbs, will be run by long-term local real estate professional Frank Chen.

“My first aim is to build up a steady and good team, and provide them with the right training,” he said. “In the long term, I believe our business will do well – I have no doubt in my mind.

“When it comes to real estate, my philosophy is always the same – it is never the market but the way you run your business that leads to success.”

The new office opening comes just months after Sadhana Smiles, the former Harcourts NSW CEO, returned to her former home to take on the same role at Harcourts Victoria.

She said earlier this week that Victoria’s property market is showing the early signs of recovery as home buying sentiment has improved and population growth figures have increased.

Ms Smiles pointed to the Westpac Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment, which showed home buying sentiment rose 9.6 per cent in October to its highest level in over three years.

Home buying sentiment, as measured by the ‘time to buy a dwelling’ sub-index, is now up 17.9 per cent over the past two months, which Ms Smiles said is a positive indication of general market improvement.

“This data is incredibly positive and is being mirrored by growing auction clearance rates in Melbourne,” Ms Smiles said.

Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) data shows Melbourne's auction clearance rate has hovered above the 60 per cent mark for much of this year. Moreover, the REIV's September quarter medians data revealed that the residential housing market remained stable, with a median house price in Melbourne of $530,000 compared to the revised June quarter median of $525,000.

REIV CEO Enzo Raimondo said that whilst home buyers and sellers have been acting cautiously this year, prices have remained stable, and he believes that once there is an improvement in consumer confidence capital growth will return.

“The pattern this year has been low transactions and prices at the level they were in early 2010," he said earlier this month.

“A combination of lower interest rates, lower prices, an improving clearance rate and small improvements in consumer confidence should sow the seeds of a recovery in the residential housing market."

“REIV analysis of the market shows prices are beginning to trend upwards, particularly in the middle and outer suburbs. In trend terms the inner city median has dropped by 0.4 per cent this quarter compared to an increase of one per cent in the middle suburbs and 0.9 per cent in the outer suburbs."

Ms Smiles also pointed to the latest demographic information, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which showed the rate of population growth, at 1.49 per cent, the highest it’s been since the October-December 2009 quarter.

“This is another positive sign which points toward market recovery. Population growth has a significant impact on the property market as it creates increased demand for housing,” Ms Smiles said.

“Going forward, population growth is expected to grow further which will again mean positive things for the state’s property market.
“It is early days, but I believe property market conditions within Victoria have started to improve and all the positive signs are there for further growth,” Ms Smiles added.

Simon Parker

Harcourts, the third largest real estate franchise network in Australia, has opened a new office in the Melbourne suburb of Vermont South as the group sees positive signs emerging for Victoria’s property market.

The new office, in the city’s eastern suburbs, will be run by long-term local real estate professional Frank Chen.

“My first aim is to build up a steady and good team, and provide them with the right training,” he said. “In the long term, I believe our business will do well – I have no doubt in my mind.

“When it comes to real estate, my philosophy is always the same – it is never the market but the way you run your business that leads to success.”

The new office opening comes just months after Sadhana Smiles, the former Harcourts NSW CEO, returned to her former home to take on the same role at Harcourts Victoria.

She said earlier this week that Victoria’s property market is showing the early signs of recovery as home buying sentiment has improved and population growth figures have increased.

Ms Smiles pointed to the Westpac Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment, which showed home buying sentiment rose 9.6 per cent in October to its highest level in over three years.

Home buying sentiment, as measured by the ‘time to buy a dwelling’ sub-index, is now up 17.9 per cent over the past two months, which Ms Smiles said is a positive indication of general market improvement.

“This data is incredibly positive and is being mirrored by growing auction clearance rates in Melbourne,” Ms Smiles said.

Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) data shows Melbourne's auction clearance rate has hovered above the 60 per cent mark for much of this year. Moreover, the REIV's September quarter medians data revealed that the residential housing market remained stable, with a median house price in Melbourne of $530,000 compared to the revised June quarter median of $525,000.

REIV CEO Enzo Raimondo said that whilst home buyers and sellers have been acting cautiously this year, prices have remained stable, and he believes that once there is an improvement in consumer confidence capital growth will return.

“The pattern this year has been low transactions and prices at the level they were in early 2010," he said earlier this month.

“A combination of lower interest rates, lower prices, an improving clearance rate and small improvements in consumer confidence should sow the seeds of a recovery in the residential housing market."

“REIV analysis of the market shows prices are beginning to trend upwards, particularly in the middle and outer suburbs. In trend terms the inner city median has dropped by 0.4 per cent this quarter compared to an increase of one per cent in the middle suburbs and 0.9 per cent in the outer suburbs."

Ms Smiles also pointed to the latest demographic information, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which showed the rate of population growth, at 1.49 per cent, the highest it’s been since the October-December 2009 quarter.

“This is another positive sign which points toward market recovery. Population growth has a significant impact on the property market as it creates increased demand for housing,” Ms Smiles said.

“Going forward, population growth is expected to grow further which will again mean positive things for the state’s property market.
“It is early days, but I believe property market conditions within Victoria have started to improve and all the positive signs are there for further growth,” Ms Smiles added.

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