THE ONUS OF THE BONUS

THE ONUS OF THE BONUS

Those who monitor the property market are usually opinionated and more often than not, most continue to get it wrong. However, the one thing about Mosman participants is that they continue to get it right, with prices more than holding their own.

Most observers would have noticed recently that the Mosman housing market has been enjoying a run with many properties selling within days to a few weeks on the market. Cast your mind back a few months when the average (market time) was as high as ninety days. The question that begs as the property market enters its final stage for 2005 is, will it continue?

Given that the market has recently been artificially inseminated by ‘bankers’ bonuses’ it is impossible to say, however the recent run has injected confidence back into the house market. The apartment market is also enjoying the return of investors, although they still remain somewhat relaxed and content to gather information.

The most interesting alignment that we noticed with the recent housing run was that in most instances (with our sales) the purchasers all enjoyed employment within the banking industry. This is nothing new as bankers have always enjoyed the Mosman lifestyle, however it was more than a coincidence that most worked for the same institution and subscribe to ‘Virtual Realty News’. Also, they don’t have “which bank” stickers on their cars.

Given that many have generously provided themselves with an early Christmas present, many are now asking will this run continue, considering that today we are witnessing the largest property numbers on the market this year. One thing we do know is that the next five weeks will be fierce and the most obvious clue to assess the strength of the market will be evidenced by quick sales (otherwise known as ‘Sold Prior’).

Earlier this week there was much speculation that the Reserve Bank could or should or would raise interest rates. Later on in the week it was a case of don’t and won’t. It would be safe to suggest that the rates will remain the same for the remainder of 2005 with the central bank watching the property market’s performance very closely. It comes as little surprise that the economists predicted a rise in interest rates as they have been wrong with their spins on the state of the property market all year.

Who could forget the best prediction in 2005 (thus far) by BIS Shrapnel chief economist Frank Gebler (not to be confused with Frank Drebin of The Naked Gun) that rates in Australia would be peaking around 8 per cent by mid – 2006. With those predictions, their is a similarity between the two. Frank Drebin: “No…you’re right, Ed. A parachute not opening…that’s a way to die. Getting caught in the gears of a combine…having your nuts bit off by a Laplander, that’s the way I wanna go.”

Realestate.com.au launched their Northern Edition (offline) in partnership with The Mosman Daily this week and it will be interesting to monitor the response they receive online, obviously a sharp increase in traffic. Again this clearly identifies that online businesses still (and for quite sometime will) rely heavily on the offline publications to attract greater traffic.

Just as interesting will be where News Ltd venture with their intention to acquire this portal which remains unsuccessful to date. Their positioning could become stronger if it was to enter the Eastern Suburbs and Inner West property markets next year, simply by following the Fairfax blueprint. We have said time and time again that only two external portals can dominate the market and from what we are monitoring with regard to traffic at other portals nothing has changed our opinion.

Even incoming Fairfax chief executive David ‘Captain’ Kirk said this week in an interview in The Financial Review, that Fairfax can create new print and online revenue streams. “I’m an optimist about newspapers,” he says. “They are a great vehicle for advertisers. I think there are ways we can drive new revenue across our newspapers. Our online positions are growing very rapidly and we need to continue that”.

No doubt he would find this week’s release by domain.com.au, that in September 2005 was a record with 1,188,742 unique browsers viewing over 63.3 million pages of property information.* (* Nielsen/Net Ratings, Market Intelligence (total), September 2005). Also a record number of email leads were sent to clients. An increase of 15.7 per cent to over 120,000 email leads. This figure will decline in coming years given that savvy IT agencies rely on their own alerts. These portals will experience declines with email alerts given that real estate agencies that can’t provide this technology will cease to exist in coming years. We only send out alerts through our database, and have never relied on external sources.

As I have mentioned previously, Fairfax remains in the box seat as they have ownership of the offline publications Saturday Domain, Domain North, Domain East, Domain Inner West and Domain Rentals (clue, they keep using the word record),which combined, continue to act as the perfect driver for its successful online business Domain.com.au.

2006 will be a very interesting year for the property portals – my tip is that News Ltd will eventually acquire realestate.com.au, (this acquisition should be viewed long term not short term), as they need a greater balance of online to offline ownership ratios. Maybe The Cumberland Newspaper Group will be paying a harbour bridge toll, should it too, decide to enter the new markets as Fairfax has done.

The best bonus without a shadow of a doubt, was the awesome news that Phil and Julie Kearns daughter Andie, is making a recovery from last Saturday’s driveway accident. The Mosman community has really rallied behind Phil and Julie, which just goes to show why this little community is so special. I guess when you place this accident in perspective it clearly shows what life is really all about. Cheers to Andie … one very brave and special young lady. ^__^

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