Agents desperate to build inventory to cash in on exodus to regional Australia

HOME DEMAND: Agents are door knocking across regional Australia trying to convince their owners to take advantage of rising prices.
HOME DEMAND: Agents are door knocking across regional Australia trying to convince their owners to take advantage of rising prices.

Real estate agents are in a battle to coax home owners in regional Australia to sell up.

Agents say they have never seen rivalry so fierce with big rewards on offer in the booming rural housing market, especially in areas within commuting distance of the capital cities.

Some agencies are now paying sales staff more in commission to secure new listings than for the actual sales. The commission is paid when a home is sold.

Agencies have ramped up some traditional tactics and are trying out some new ones as well after exhausting their inventories.

"Selling a house in the country is not the problem at the moment," veteran Ballarat agent and Real Estate Institute of Victoria member Trevor Petrie said.

"For every successful sale, and there's been a lot of them, there are three or four people missing out who want to move to the country, we are all trying to find houses for them."

Today's "ramped up" tricks of the trade are:

  • Letter drops - free appraisals for existing homes, particularly in neighbourhoods with recent sales.
  • Door knocking - on-the-spot appraisals of home values, again in proximity to recent successes.
  • Phone calls - calls from agents who may have listed the property or even sold the property to the current owner in previous years.
  • Phone calls - rental admin staff calling landlords to advise of rising house prices.
  • Commission to salespeople - increased payments for signing up new listings.

The competition in regional Australia for find homes to sell is white-hot.

Homes in regional areas, particularly those within commuting distance of metropolitan areas, are selling fast with owners keen to cash in on the 20 per cent rise in values over the past year.

There are still no signs of any slowdown to the rush to regional areas - courtesy of record low interest rates and the pandemic-induced escape from the cities.

A letter drop from last week in regional Australia.

A letter drop from last week in regional Australia.

Real Estate Institute of Victoria president Leah Calnan said winter was typically a relatively low activity period but this year was different - Victorians are out there making property decisions," she said.

Real estate agents are fighting it out to cash in the boom as well.

The warning signs emerged several months ago with a Regional Australia Institute roundtable told the surprise trend had quickly exhausted available homes in the country.

First to go were available homes within 1-2 hours of the cities, just in case employers ordered workers back to the office and they had to stop working from homes.

Low interest rates, government building incentives and the pandemic-induced trend of people being able to work from home has sparked a net gain of 43,000 people to regional areas in the past year.

New home building has slowed across Australia, on the back of pandemic lockdowns, a shortage of materials and even labour.

Veteran Ballarat real estate agent Trevor Petrie.

Veteran Ballarat real estate agent Trevor Petrie.

City buyers are keen to move immediately to the country and not wait on house and land offers sometime in the future.

Ballarat real estate agent Trevor Petrie has been an agent for 45 years and operated his own business for 32 years and says he is witnessing a boom a regional prices largely driven by a lack of housing stock.

The median house price in Ballarat is now $475,000, up 4.6 per cent from $454,000 in the March 2021 quarter, and a mighty 14.5 per cent from the June 2020 quarter.

"The secret to being a successful selling office is to generate selling opportunities," Mr Petrie said.

He said some of the old marketing tactics were being "re-invented" such as letter drops and door knocking.

His office is calling landlords on their rental register asking if they want to sell, clients who bought a home through their office are being called on anniversaries of the sale asking if they had thought about selling as well.

"We are finding there is still a lot of people who are surprised at the increase in value of their property."

Mr Petrie said "generating stock" was the key now for regional agencies.

"Today for our selling staff there are more rewards in getting the listings than for the selling of the home.

"Commissions have swung around to reward those who get listings."

Mr Petrie said because of the demand many people were "missing out" on their country home.

"The challenge for us is to find a property for them too."