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How nosey neighbours inspired a revolutionary app

By Orana Durney-Benson
19 January 2024 | 12 minute read
tori huxtable tamsin lapointe Auction Snitch app reb y9737f

Neighbourhood snitches might be the bane of Aussie communities, but two innovators realised that their tenacity could be harnessed for the greater real estate good.

When Sydney real estate agent Tori Huxtable drove up to Armidale for a birthday party one sunny day a few years ago, she never imagined that it would end with a successful proptech venture.

“I had finished my opens for the day, but I desperately wanted to know what a property was going to sell for,” Ms Huxtable recalled. “Whatever that house sold for was going to impact my property, and I wanted to know hot off the press.”


She reached out to longtime friend and tech pro Tamsin Lapointe, and asked her: “Can you be my auction snitch?”

That conversation planted a seed in their minds which, one year later, had grown into a groundbreaking real estate app.

In the last decade, the pair had noticed an increasing number of properties being sold without price guides, and a growing pool of properties whose sold prices were withheld.

“The more we talked about it, the more we thought, ‘This is actually quite important’,” said Ms Lapointe. “Someone wanting to sell their house couldn’t really get a sense of what the other properties in the neighbourhood were selling for because that information just isn’t available.”

The pair ascribe this trend towards opacity to the increasing competition between real estate agents in recent years.

“Real estate has attracted a lot of people to the industry because there’s a handsome reward to be made,” said Ms Huxtable. “When I look at the agents servicing my patch, it has almost doubled or tripled since 20 years ago.”

As a result of the flood of newcomers, agents now must fight tooth and nail to hang onto their sales pipeline. Agents keep client information close to their chest, meaning that it is the norm to see listings with the maddening footnote: “Price withheld, contact agent.”

“It’s a high stakes game,” said Ms Huxtable.

Auction Snitch aims to reinject some much-needed transparency into property pricing by providing a platform for those in the know to snitch information to the public.

For every property listed on Domain, app users can report price guides, sales results and auction results.

“We capture the listing date, the agent, any price guide snitches and then updates to those snitches as they change. If the property is selling by auction, we’ll have the date that the auction is set; and if the auction is postponed or cancelled, that will show in the history as well.”

By publicising these details, Auction Snitch prevents a property’s sales history from disappearing into the memory hole of Australian property.

“When you change the price guide, you’re expunging any evidence that it was ever guiding $2.9 million when it is now guiding $2.7 million,” explained Ms Huxtable.

So far, the majority of downloads have taken place by Sydneysiders, but with every property on Domain featured on Auction Snitch, Ms Huxtable and Ms Lapointe believe it is only a matter of time until it reaches audiences Australia-wide.

Eventually, they hope that “the price guides will then start to be a little bit closer to the sales results, and the whole property market will become more efficient”.

“What we see at the moment is a huge divide between the seller’s expectations and the buyer’s expectations,” said Ms Lapointe. “The only way to narrow that huge gap is for more information to be available.”

“I reckon one in every 30 at a standard auction is a snitch at heart – they’re a Mrs Mangel,” said Ms Huxtable.

“There’s always a nosey neighbour in every auction,” she concluded. “If we harnessed their wherewithal and desire to share what they know, we would basically have every auction covered in Australia.”

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