What I Learnt From The Worst Date Of My Life

Luckily there are plenty of polite fish in the sea…

March 4, 2016

The One Idea Turning Real Estate On Its Head

Every so often a story hits my email and I think, yeah that’s interesting. When I got this story though, it blew…my…mind! There in front of me, lurking behind the product promo was a real life David and Goliath battle of Biblical proportions. I was engrossed from that moment. I organised an interview and got stuck into some very intriguing reading.

So what was it that captured my attention? Well it’s the remarkable tale of Andrew Blachut and a business he and his family created called Property Now. Recognising a flaw in the centuries-old real estate industry, Andrew wanted to correct it. Pretty simple, really.

RELATED: How To Add Value To Your Home For Less

However, we all know that shaking up an old way of doing things is never easy. Particularly when billions of dollars are at stake and people’s livelihoods are in question. What looked simple in theory has morphed into an epic journey and, according to Andrew, it’s not going to let up anytime soon. “Vested interests… won’t take it lying down. They will destroy or assimilate the concept.” So what’s Andrew done that seems to has gotten these vested interests so riled up?

Once upon a time, a battle was born…

Property Now, Andrew Blachut, agent assiated private sale, Australian real-estateLet’s start at the beginning. Andrew was a real-estate agent. He begins: “After supposedly selling over 300 homes traditionally I had an epiphany and realised I had not sold any of those. Houses sell themselves and as an agent I had just been a handy marketing conduit.”

When I asked him about his idea he went on to say, “I like finding something that’s deeply entrenched and asking WHY? Can this be done better or differently?” So that’s essentially how Andrew Blachut went from a real estate agent to his current occupation as an “entrepreneur and consumer improver (real estate at present)”. Quite a mouthful, but this is quite a story!

Wondering why Andrew would want to shake up a lucrative industry particularly as it was his bread and butter, Andrew honestly revealed “Simply that the vast commission [received by agents] cant’ be vindicated. As a friend once told me ‘a solicitor and an accountant need years of training. A person can become an agent in a week, literally. Houses sell houses. Whoever is involved will get the credit’.”

Andrew acknowledged that credit involves massive sums of money. All of which the Australian real estate industry are determined to keep. Property owners have been handing their hard earned cash to real estate agents for over a century. They don’t want it to change. Why would they?

For over a century, real estate agents have instilled fear in Australian property owners. They explain that their expertise is essential to rent out or sell properties and get the best price. It’s sales, just like selling anything else.

This is the message Andrew wants out. I’m pretty certain the industry as it stands would just love the ground to come up and swallow him whole! They tried to make his concept and business disappear but Andrew, the underdog, has had a few wins up his sleeve and motivated to keep going. He wants us to question if real estate agents are worthy of the commissions they attract. He knows first hand that any property owner who wants to rent or sell can do it and end up with just as much in their pocket, if not more. It’s a lot like selling a car.

Yes there’s paper work involved but accountants can handle all that at a fraction of traditional selling costs. Owners effectively advertise, run inspections and take offers. That’s an agent’s role and is it worthy of thousands of dollars? Andrew doesn’t think so and many property owners are beginning to agree. His business has thousands of satisfied clients.

Andrew had to come up with a new way of private selling and renting. Marketing was the key. How could he get private owners onto those exclusive agent websites?

That’s when the agent-assisted sales method was born. It’s essentially where private owners sell or rent their properties, but get the basics from an agent. They access vital agent exclusive websites get advice, signage and what ever else they need. At $550 to sell a home or $150 to rent out an investment property it sounds like a massive saving to me.

This is the primary reason Andrew and the “mistress of the keyboard”, his supportive wife Joanna, began Property Now and just as importantly, haven’t given up. Andrew acknowledged, “I absolutely knew there would be conflict [when they began] because billions of consumer dollars and people’s careers were at stake”. I don’t believe however they could have anticipated the amount of conflict!

Andrew recalls the future of their business and the concept of agent-assisted sales “completely hinged on an ACCC [Australian Consumer and Competition Commission] intervention at the eleventh hour. During 2010, put in writing our account closure (which would have killed our business). It did this due to agent pressure. The ACCC, which initially said we had no cause/grounds, intervened and backed off.”

Property Now, Andrew Blachut, agent assiated private sale, Australian real-estate

Faced with consistent challenges – including reports to Fair Trading, vital internet marketing account closures, massively inflated advertising rates, internet search engine hacks and even client harassment – Andrew, Joanna and “CEO in waiting”, daughter Coreyna have had to sustain far more than most family businesses could cope with.

When I questioned Andrew about the sacrifices to keep going he offered:

 “We lost a great deal of time, money and especially business momentum. While we experimented, fought and refined things a new player arrived who had few scruples and to whom making a fast buck was more important that creating and stabilizing an emerging industry.”

When I asked if he’d ever a though about giving up, Andrew confessed, “Absolutely everyday for 10 years.” Thankfully, they didn’t.

“I felt the cause was both valid and a natural evolution in the industry.” Andrew went on to provide further motivation. “Also I was desperate in not wanting to be forced back into traditional commission-based selling.”

Andrew is so passionate about his new agent-assisted sales method and giving property owners the opportunity to sell or rent their homes that he has recently written a book detailing exactly how it’s done. I’m a bit jealous. It only took him a month! That’s because he has everything he needed at his fingers tips. He listed to what people wanted and needed and simply supplied it. His book is called Get More For Your Home and it invites property owners to do just that. It’s a great read and Andrew’s battle and personality shine through. I’m not selling a home but I really enjoyed it.

So if you’re interested in how it works and more information about the battle raging on behind one of Australia’s most profitable industries, head to the Property Now website. Here’s a link to their price guide with no hidden extras and all costs quoted upfront. Plus they offer free advice to their clients. It’s truly a breath of fresh air in an industry which has been based on illusion for far too long!


March 22, 2015

5 Things Your Real Estate Agent Might Not Be Telling You

House hunting this weekend? Did you know that while sellers have a duty to inform their agents of any issues surrounding a property, many simply neglect to disclose issues if they are likely to influence a buyer’s purchasing decision.

As such, buyers are often kept in the dark about what they are actually purchasing. Nicole Ciantar of Vogue Real Estate Australia has devised a list of five things that your real estate agent may not be telling you about when renting or buying a property – so make sure you ask the right questions.

1. Urban development and infrastructure projects
For buyers, the environmental surroundings of the property are a key determinant in the purchase decision. Real estate agents may fail to inform buyers of any government projects or new infrastructure, such as roads or housing blocks being built near the home if they haven’t been notified by the seller.

2. Criminal history of the home
Any crimes committed in the house are often left undisclosed, from drug-labs to shoot-outs to cases of abuse. “Although these types of crimes may not result in death, the sensitive type of consumer is still going to feel distressed,” Ms Ciantar said.

3. Termite damage or impact
Annually, termites damage over 180,000 Australian homes and buildings. Estimates of the combined cost of termite damage range from $700-1 billion when agriculture and horticulture are taken into account. Despite this, many buyers are unaware of homes affected by termites and are generally only made aware after conducting a termite inspection. Often people don’t consider doing this.

4. Changes to Residential Tenancy Agreement
Previously, if a tenant wished to break free of their property lease before the end of the fixed term of the agreement, they were obliged by contract to continue paying rent and property fees until a suitable replacement tenant was found. Changes to the Residential Tenancy Agreement provide an alternative for tenants, allowing them to break free of the lease so long as notice is given and they pay six weeks of rent upfront. “Many renters are unaware of this new clause and feel stuck living in a property when they simply want to move on” Ms Ciantar said.

5. Suicide, deaths and backyard burial sites
“The gory history of a home often remains hidden,” said Ms Ciantar. The previous owner may have committed suicide with new buyers completely oblivious. “This is concerning, as many people would probably feel uncomfortable living in a ‘haunted’ and stigmatised house.”

So how do you avoid these pitfalls? Ms Ciantar suggests that research is essential, and buyers should thoroughly inspect the home and ask detailed questions before making any purchase decisions. Examining old records, conducting termite inspections and even carrying out a simple Google search is sure to deliver valuable information. Above all, a good real estate agent can make all the difference, so buyers are encouraged to look around and find an agent that best understands their needs.

November 27, 2013

5 Tips to Help First Home Buyers Buy Property with Confidence

With interest rates sitting at historical lows, and lenders proving they are hungry for business, now may be a great time to consider your property options.

Of course buying property, particularly if it’s your first, can be a daunting prospect. According to a recent survey by Mortgage Choice*, four out of five future first homebuyers do not feel well informed about the property purchase process.

Purchasing property can be a complex process but, provided you set achievable goals, do your due diligence and seek professional advice, home ownership can be a rather fulfilling and enjoyable experience.

Mortgage Choice spokesperson Jessica Darnbrough offers a few tips to help first home buyers feel more confident about getting into the property market and achieving their goal of home ownership sooner rather than later.

1. Find out if you are eligible for government grants or concessions
For example, the First Home Owner Grant is a national scheme funded by the Federal Government that can help first time buyers get onto the property ladder sooner. The amount available varies by state and ranges from $5,000 up to $25,000 for first home buyers towards the purchase of their first home.

2. Consider Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI)
As a borrower, if you do not have a deposit of at least 20%, you can be forced to pay LMI. This insures your lender, protecting them against any loss incurred if you default on your loan. While LMI does not protect you as the borrower, it can potentially help you purchase property sooner if you have a smaller deposit. However, it is important to weigh up your options carefully and consider whether or not it is right to pay LMI and jump in now, or hold off, watch the property market and save a larger deposit.

3. Buying with others
If you’re struggling to put aside enough money each month to save a deposit for your first home, you could consider pooling your money with others, be it a partner, friend or family member. Combining your funds will not only give you a bigger deposit, it may also increase your borrowing power and help you secure a home loan that meets your needs.

Of course, if you decide to go down the path of co-ownership, it’s important to seek legal counsel as this will help you to address all the important issues upfront, such as what would happen if one person sold their share or defaulted on their mortgage.

4. Let your mortgage broker do the legwork
Choosing the right home loan is an extremely important part of the home buying process. At no cost to you, a broker can walk you through the mortgage minefield and help you find the right home loan for your needs – often saving you a great deal of time and money.

5. Get ahead with pre-approval
Before hitting the pavement in search of your new home, consider getting pre-approval. This will give you a good idea of your borrowing capacity and save you from looking at properties that aren’t in your price range. Contact your local mortgage broker to obtain home loan pre-approval.

If you want to learn more about your home loan options, visit

Are you thinking of buying property in 2014?

October 17, 2013