Australians treat the property market with as much reverence as the ancient Egyptians revered cats (and that’s to say nothing of their equally ample desire to leave a f*ck off legacy). So when, a quarter of the way through 2020, the property market momentarily froze (cheers, COVID-19), it’s hardly surprising there was a huge influx of buyers rushing in to fill the hole.
Not one to miss a trend, a DMARGE correspondent also bought a house in 2020. What he did not expect, however, was to be underwhelmed at the end of the process. Though this had nothing to do with the property, the price or the region (those crucial elements we regularly discuss in our Money vertical), it stemmed from the sense of anti-climax around buying a house.
The main gripe? He was presented with a set of keys in a crumpled envelope, a real estate branded umbrella, and then… done. Hasta la vista. Finito.
This idea of post-purchase depression (and the related ‘house porn’ trend, whereby new property owners obsessively keep checking prices to see if they could have got a better deal by waiting) has been trending on Reddit of late too, so our underwhelmed friend is far from alone. To ask if this is usual, or if he’d had a particularly sad experience with the not-to-be-named real estate agency in question, DMARGE got on the phone with founder of The Rubinstein Group, Gavin Rubinstein.
The Rubinstein Group is based in Sydney, and offers a bespoke service for clients who want a perfectly tailored home property transaction.
The reason you don’t tend to see a lot of bells and whistles thrown at you when you purchase a property is actually fairly simple. As Rubinstein told us: “The vendor pays the agent’s fees,” not the buyer.
This means – although real estate agents must ensure the buyer has access (if they want access) to the house and that “everything is sorted prior to them settling in,” there is more of an incentive for real estate agents to celebrate with the vendor than the buyer.
Rubinstein says to imagine how buying a house is different to buying a car: “When you go and buy a car, the client is you. In a real estate transaction, though the real estate agent is serving the buyer and wanting to do everything they can to make it smooth and enjoyable for everyone, the client is the seller.”
“The real estate agent services the seller.”
That said, Rubinstein told us he does sometimes buy a little something for buyers too.
“Sometimes liquor, sometimes flowers – it depends.”
Additionally, Rubinstein says: “real estate agents should do better on everything” and that “there is so much room for improvement in our industry – myself included. We all need to be able to raise the bar with regard to service.”
“Overall on every facet of service to both buyer and seller, there is scope to improve the real estate practise.”
“I really kind of customise it based on the situation [and take it] case by case. I definitely have a little key box and sometimes include a bottle of some sort of liquor. I very often go out to dinner with the owner to celebrate.”
Rubinstein also told DMARGE: “I’m not a transactional agent. I like to do one, two, three; four things with people. Having built up that sort of client list every year I send my clients a Dom Pérignon at Christmas time.”
Finally, Rubinstein told us real estate agents face an “interesting predicament” in their role, as they are “representing one side of a two-party transition, whereby our job is to get the best outcome for the seller and the buyers want to spend as little as possible.”
“If a buyer can offer less or pay less to acquire a property, they’re going to do what they can to do so. We’re in an unusual position here.”
For the latest information about the Australian housing market and all its kinks, head on over to our Money section.