The real estate market in 2004, will be remembered with mixed emotions due to the constant interruptions that agents have had to contend with. It started with the hangover of the two rate increases in November and December 2003, then the uncertainty of an election date. It is a fine balancing act, to manoeuvre advertising campaigns around the constant school holiday breaks, throw in the Olympics, and then an election, and what do you have ? Hopefully, a clear run to Christmas. The release of the September quarter auction results have certainly identified that as in 2003, the number of properties auctioned was 5499, in 2004 it was 2482 across Sydney. On top of that the value of housing finance commitments fell 0.7 per cent in August, which is in line with the reduced property offerings in the overall marketplace. When the property market is down on confidence it is very easily distracted. It has always had a weak retention period, which is exactly why the figures are down. The same cannot be said for who has just announced its record breaking month.

In September, it eclipsed its all time record with 1.2 million visitors to its site. It was broken down with 1,074,121 eye spies from Australia, and 123,474 overseas onlookers. I called the jubilant CEO, Simon Baker and asked for a breakdown of the numbers and here they are: NSW 350,000, Victoria 310,000, Queensland 200,000, Western Australia 93,000 and South Australia 65,000. These figures clearly identify an eastern seaboard domination. Domain, came in next with 649,091 visitors, and Just Listed had approximately 100,000. This week was supposed to be the much awaited launch of Just Listed and yesterday, it was known as “just missed it”. The inaugural launch was postponed until next week due to technical difficulties. We look forward to reading the first edition, which will also see its online visitors jump significantly. It is actually very exciting to see what its recorded traffic will be as we have not had the opportunity to monitor a new portal for quite some time. The property portals are jumping ahead in leaps and bounds, and the three major players in the Trojan War, are very much reliant on the continued success of their property portals.

I met this week with the General Manager of Cumberland Newspaper Group Mark Elgood, and as a group it is excited, positive and very much looking forward to the new challenges that lie ahead. I was advised that the group is very much upbeat and is presently engaged in discussion to “meet the agents, to address their thoughts on what they believe we need to deliver”. Sounds like the group has a new plan of engagement. Whilst page costs were discussed he played his cards very close to his chest, although I did notice the occasional wink !! Time will tell, and he does have time, as Fairfax is playing a “mum’s the word”, on a Domain North launch.

Whilst much has been said about the distractions to the property market, the constant innuendo about the impact of the “exit tax” simply won’t go away. So much so that Bobby “Dazzler” Carr, and his “State of Decay”, continues to fall behind in the paperwork regarding his innovative exit tax. Given that he has recently failed to lodge his monthly statements for his brainchild, most are now somewhat curious as to how embarrassing this tax is fast becoming. Bearing in mind that Dazzler hoped that his new tax would raise close to $690 million a year, which averages out at $57.5 million a month. In June it delivered just under $500,000, and in July it delivered just $10 million, another blunder-crunching example is delivered yet again. I guess the reality is that Mosman awoke to a blackout this morning, (and my car still remains in the garage), further endorses that the “State of Decay” remains the Premier state.

We have received many e-mails about the Trojan War from subscribers and this one still remains the office favourite thus far. “Regarding the Trojan War, the combatants would do well to remember the words of the greatest political manipulator that ever lived and who taught Sir Humphrey Appleby everything he knew: “Their is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new.” Niccolo Machiavelli. Now we have the Internet and property portals, which are a vital key to the equation of the battle. Cheers and clink ^__^

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