Discount Real Estate

"I think you will find buyers across Australia saving millions of dollars through this, I really do, because people rush in so often and buy with their hearts when they could be saving something with their wallet."

So says real estate agent turned consumer advocate Neil Jenman. He's commenting on a new real estate internet tool which is aimed at making sales more transparent than ever before.

If information is power, then when it comes to real estate most people buy blind. All we usually know is the asking price, which makes bargain hunting impossible unless you have inside information.

Alison Bird and her husband have been house hunting for 6 months. They want a 3-bedroom home around the $750,000 mark on Sydney's lower north shore or inner west. So far they can't find a thing and there's so much about the houses on the market they just don't know. "I'd like to know how long a property has been on the market. I'd like to know its original price. I'd like to know if it's up for negotiation, whether it has gone through an auction phase," Alison told Today Tonight.

But that information has never been made public before. If you want to know anything you have to ask the real estate agent and hope to get the truth.

Louis Christopher from SQM Research has devised the 'Home Discounts Report", an internet tool that tracks houses that have been on the market for 60 days or more.

It's normally after 60 days that vendors start to panic if their properties haven't been sold and they follow advice to lower their prices. That means bargain time for astute buyers.

There are 175,000 properties on the market right now. The home discounts report identifies 105,000 as potential bargains because they've been on sale for more than 60 days.

And these are just some of those potential bargains -- a five acre property and large family home with pool at Taylors Road in Dural is going to auction from $1.1 million but in October it was $200,000 dearer at $1.395 million; a small house at Auburn, at $335,000 is one of Louis Christopher's bargain homes because late last year it was priced at $450,000; while a 2-bedroom apartment at Sydney's Manly beach with a pool and stunning views is another hot spot. The owners want $989,000, nearly $300,000 less than October last year.

Further along the northern beaches, at Grandview Drive at Newport, there's a potential saving of almost half a million dollars. With sweeping ocean views

the renovated home is being marketed for $1.5-million, but when it first hit the

market in August last year it was for sale for $1.95-million; and for those on a tighter budget, Strathfield in Sydney's inner west is offering a townhouse for $779,000 - $71,000 cheaper in 6 months.

Remember this is information buyers didn't have before. "It's like they've been blindfolded, the buyers, up until now. This has suddenly taken the blindfold off and suddenly they see this is what has really been going on with this property", said Neil Jenman.

In Melbourne, the discount homes report found yet more bargains. For the budget conscious a house at Carrum is on the market for $369,000 -- it started at $450,000 -- a significant cut; at Point Cook a four bedroom, three bathroom home has an offer of $650,000 lodged, $149,000 cheaper than the original asking price 10 months ago; and a house in Greenvale, described as the "field of dreams" is asking $2.5 million -- it was $2.9 million in March last year.

In Brisbane the hot buys are all in working class to middle class suburbs so far. A classic Queenslander on a large block in Pinkenba is on for $420,000, its dropped $125,000 since it went on in January; while a 5-bedroom 2 storey home in Springwood with views of the mountains is asking for offers from $570,000 -- in May the owners wanted $725,000.

"I think it's a terrific idea and I think it will revolutionise the way buyers look for properties. In all my years in real estate I would say this is one of the best ideas I have seen for buyers", Neil said.

Neil has spent years exposing shonky real estate practices, so when he endorses one, people pay attention. "What the buyers care about is the price, and the price is something so often concealed from them. The past price, the present price, all sorts of prices -- now the clouds have been blown out of the way and suddenly we can see it", he said.

The "discount homes report" is available on the internet but it's not free. You get charged per postcode.

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