Real estate agents - ideas sought

Does anyone have a recommendation for an ethical real estate agent in Sydney? I’m in the Inner West area. I am unimpressed with the one we use for our rental property for many reasons, but most recently they sent us stuff about voting in the federal election in relation to negative gearing, ie pointing out that a vote against the Libs could reduce my tax avoidance (not in so many words, of course).

There used to be Jenman approved real estate agents around the country that agreed to a number of ethical principles. Not sure if they still exist as their website searching approved agents does not appear to be working.

I agree with @phb that you should seek out a Jenman approved agent. Look at ,
On the right hand side, there are links for you to get or download a couple of free books about buying and selling.
Highly recommend them.

Thanks for the tip. I’ve never heard of them. Not sure if they’ll want to help me as I am not buying or selling, but I’ve signed up to hear from them.

We have used various real estate agents in Sydney and Melbourne (for buying/selling/renting/managing) and have found that it is not so much the agency but the person that we are dealing with that we judge in relation to ethics, performance etc.

Some agencies have prided themselves on the additional elements that they bring to a relationship (ie newsletters, insights, free advice, etc). All these extra items we do value, however it all ultimately comes down to quality of service, results and value for money.

Jenman licensed agencies supposedly subscribe to the Jenman code of ethics (and we have done some research and also checked out our local Jenman branded agency), however we have never used one … mainly due to their very low profile, lower turn over and perhaps perceived lower level of results and value for money. As mentioned, as a disclaimer, this may just be our perception.

Hi all, this is very interesting as we are currently looking at ways we might make the rental marketplace more fair, just, and safe for consumers.

I was wondering how people might feel about interacting directly with Owners/Tenants, if there was for example an app that guided those interactions according to high ethical and ease-of-use standards. Would people like to pay a fraction of the costs they pay agents for management, and manage the relationship themselves, via an app?

1 Like

Absolutely! A great idea @KalpanaVignehsa.

Why not do the same for selling & buying homes too?

I’m not generally in favour of cutting out human services and replacing them with automation. I believe in maximising employment, or at least fulfilling employment!

I also don’t know that app could do everything needed. Who organises the fixing of a faulty washing machine or gets the locks changed when tenants skip town without paying rent?

Hi Kayelle. I am a retired real estate agent with more than 40 years experience (but no axe to grind). The big danger with dealing direct with tenants is that tenants with a bad history target owners without an agent as it is much harder for the owner to ascertain their rental history. I agree with ChiVe in that it is most important that you relate to the individual property manager rather than any particular company or group. Property managers need to be well organised first and foremost, and you can usually discern this when you visit their office just to chat. If you feel you can relate to them, then mostly they will serve you well. The closer the office to your rental property the better, as they will have greater opportunities to keep an eye on your property. Good luck.

Thanks @meltam @Kayelle @Footyfrank

All good points to consider as we do our research. We’re coming from the perspective of lots of research that shows poor consumer experiences in the rental market. In fact, we are about to conduct Australia’s first nationally representative survey on renter experiences, where we will gather more data and be confident of data quality.

I personally think promoting employment is worthy, but not at the expense of practices that hurt a person’s consumer rights. Also, sometimes it is worth exploring if technology can actually boost good practices, including employment where people are incentivised to act more ethically. Also, this type of hypothetical app would definitely not be for everybody.

I think an app could speed up the process with which a faulty washing machine is fixed - because it promotes direct communication, but also because it can search for the appropriate tradies and give the Owner a choice of quotes quickly. However, it would be less useful to the Owner in the case of getting locks changed and would work for people who are close enough to their investment properties to look after these types of issues. And then there are the pros and cons to think about from the Tenants perspective too.

I think @Footyfrank raises some good points based on experience and anything we design will take into consideration how to provide alternatives for people who are having negatve experiences, but also provide incentives for ethical actors.

In terms of your initial question Kayelle, I live in the Inner West and unfortunately have mostly dealt with very shady real estate agents, some of whom have charged fees that the Tenancy Act explicitly forbids them to charge. However, I’m in the process of moving at the moment and have found my dealings with the new agent promising, the caveat being that I have only dealt with him for a few weeks. His name is Adam, you can reach him at 0423 764 152.

There needs to be a revamp of all the tenancy laws across Australia, especially in light of the fact that less than 50% of the population are currently home owners.

That is an oxymoron, an ethical real estate agent. Just aim for fair and reasonable.

Hi Kayelle, I just sold a property recently. I contacted Open Agent. They offer a free service to find reputable agents in the area where you want to sell/buy etc. The agent they found for me was awesome. He was excellent in every respect. He almost seemed too good to be true. He helped us with advice and contacts for renovations and we sold the property for much more than I expected to get.

Thanks everyone for your help. Jenman have bit yet returned my call and it’s been quite some time now. Will make some other calls now with those tips!

I have been dealing directly with my landlord for around a decade - I rent a house in Marrickville - and it’s been so much easier than putting up with real estate agents who don’t give a fig about you but only care to make their job as easy as possible. Trouble is, he wants to sell the house in 2017 and I can’t afford to bid for it so it looks like my young family and I will be scouting for a house somewhere in the inner west which I’m very apprehensive about. This agreement worked out well for the landlord too, because he avoided agent fees for a decade and we’ve been responsible tenants

That’s great to hear that you’ve had a happy experience renting for the past decade @ted and sorry hear about the apprehension about the future move. Here’s to finding a new arrangement that is at least as satisfying!

Given your lengthy experience with liaising directly with the Owner of your rental property, I was wondering if you’d be willing to have a chat about your experience with me. I’m heading up some research into experiences of people liaising directly with their landlords and it’d be great to talk with people who have substantial experience doing that. I am sending you a PM about it.

1 Like

@KalpanaVignehsa my experiences might also be helpful for you and people on this thread as I’m in somewhat unusual circumstances which I have found to be fantastic.

My parents are the landlords of the building I live in and they also live in that building. They have a property manager as they’re sometimes away and on holidays but mostly my dad is happy to fix anything around the building as it happens and has a good relationship with all the tenants who have lived there - he’s retired so it makes it easy.

They’re also able to see how the building is going and as such are doing some major work on the apartments in the building at the moment. They’re able to do things a property manager wouldn’t be able to do, like offer to juggle tenants around different apartments while they upgrade (something the tenants are happy with themselves, as they’re getting new bathrooms and kitchens).

It’s not a usual experience for renting, but I’ve found it to be a good one for everyone in the building. They have pride in the place as it is also where they live and consequently have been keen to keep the exterior and lobby in a nice condition (we have a vegetable garden on the median strip which the tenants are welcome to take herbs from and they also keep fresh flowers in the lobby).

It’s nice to know the building owners are in the building should something go wrong, but also that they’re more alert to the wear and tear of the building.

I contrast this experience with my experience as an owner. I own a place that is a good 45 minutes drive from where I live and I have literally zero contact with the place (I haven’t seen it since I bought it two years ago). I rely on advice from the property manager as to what needs fixing, how much the rent should be and what tenants should live there. This is all fine, but sometimes I do wonder if my agent is doing a good job - for all I know he could be ignoring requests for things to be fixed or replaced. My agent only contacts me when the place needs to be put on the market for rent (twice since I bought) and I am happy with that level of contact. However, I would be disappointing if the treatment of my renters was sub-standard there isn’t really a clear way for me to know this, beyond going and knocking on the door of the property and introducing myself.

Very cool @TillySouth! I am curious - do your parents use an agent to find/manage tenants? You mentioned a property manager - is that more for strata management or for tenant management too?

I had the opposite problem at my last place. The Owner owned the whole building, didn’t live there, didn’t have any strata management because he WAS strata and did close to no maintenance. So our common areas wouldn’t be swept for 6-9 mths at a time, and any maintenance, like putting in new lightbulbs in common areas would happen when someone was moving out, so prospective tenants wouldn’t fall over in the dark.

Hi, I had a look at Jenman, looks like another vendor’s advocate to me?

An agent agreed to give me a price guarantee. Is there a form to be filled for this?