This week, we are very lucky to have principal of Richardson & Wrench Marrickville, Aris Dendrinos as our next guest.
We discuss Aris’ background and what put him in to the industry, the changes he’s seen in the Hurlstone Park/Marrickville areas over the past 20 years, changes in the area through developments these past 12 months, and his outlook for the 18 months to come. All that, plus some interesting notes on how he sees the value of selling via auction vs private treaty.
Michelle May – Sydney Buyers Agent
Marcus Roberts – Mortgage Broker
Aris Dendrinos – Richardson & Wrench Marrickville or via 0412-465-567
Michelle: Hi. We are thrilled to introduce our next guest on the Sydney Property Insider Podcast. We are very lucky to have Aris Dendrinos, principal of Richardson & Wrench Marrickville, with us here today.
Aris was born into a family run agency, and he has had extensive practical training in all aspects of the industry from an early age. Educated at Sydney Technical Boys High School, Aris moved to complete a bachelor of arts degree, majoring in politics, psychology and mass communications at Macquarie University, and the advanced certificate in property agency, at Petersham TAFE.
A fully licensed real estate agent since ’96, he understands the rapid change and development in today’s technological age. His skill in effectively marketing and selling residential real estate has allowed Richardson and Wrench Marrickville, Dulwich Hill & Hurlstone Park to lead the other local agents into the era of fast, accessible service.
Most recently, he and Richard & Wrench Marrickville have taken our Agent and Agency of the Year 2018, by RateMyAgent. Congratulations, Aris, and welcome!
Aris: Thank you.
Marcus: So, Aris, thank you for being here. The first question that I have is, tell us about your history in the Marrickville area. So, did you grow up there? What was your decision to become a real estate agent?
Aris: It’s a bit embarrassing. I was born in Marrickville Hospital.
Marcus: Okay, yes.
Aris: The Salvation Army Nursing Home Hospital.
Michelle: Oh, dear.
Aris: Which I also sold, to a developer, who then developed it into apartments. So, I’m, literally, I can say, Marrickville born and bred. Didn’t grow up, specifically, in Marrickville, but grew up in the Inner West, and have grown up in a real estate office, so my mother and father bought into a real estate agency in 1971, and I was born in 1971. So, school holidays, university, etc. my part-time job was always helping out in the office, which was quite interesting, and even more interesting was, I was very, very clear and adamant, to my father, in particular, that I would never, ever work in real estate, ever, and that I was going to be a journalist, and I was going to do documentary films, and I was going to travel the world.
Aris: And, yeah, so-
Marcus: Well, it’s never too late. It’s never too late.
Aris: No. I think, unfortunately, my dad was right.
Michelle: So how did come you never left, then? How come you did end up being a real estate agent?
Aris: I think travel’s very good, so when I travelled after university, at 21, 22, 23 years of age, I think that broadened my horizons, and then, made me aware of the opportunity that the office was. So, my parents had been running it for just over 20-25 years, at that point, and I realized that there was an opportunity there.
So, if I’m being really honest, I entered the industry from a family business interest. I was very interested in working with my family, in the business that they developed, and then, I kind of fell in love with real estate after that. Which is kind of, a little bit of a different perspective.
I think a lot of other people are really interested in real estate, and then, enter the industry. I was kind of the other way around. I was in the industry, and then, found this passion for it, because I’d had an interest in something else. But this sort of overtook it all, pretty quickly.
Michelle: So you’ve been doing it over 20 years, and professionally then?
Aris: So, I got my license in ’96, but to be frank, prior to that, I’ve been collecting rents in a brown paper bag, from the 1980s, as a 17-year-old.
Aris: On behalf of my family, from a very young age. So, I’ve been sort of exposed to it, if that’s the correct word, from a very young age.
I used to join all sorts of sporting teams, because if I wasn’t in a sporting team on a Saturday, I would go to the office, and work all day. So, I did that deliberately. My father hates cricket, right? Here’s a great background. I was in a cricket team, because it was the longest sport. Used to take six hours to play.
Marcus: Yeah. Takes a full day, full afternoon.
Aris: So I would do that, yeah. But along the way, those strategies failed. I’ve worked in the industry. I became very passionate very quickly, because it was all around me. I knew it. Without even training, or working in the industry, but being exposed to it all the time, it kind of got in my blood is the best way to explain it.
Michelle: One of the reasons why we invited you for the podcast is because I very much enjoy reading your e-mails that you send out.
Aris: Oh, thank you.
Michelle: I get millions of e-mails from real estate agents about their point of view of the markets, and things like that, but I really would advise listeners out there to pick up Aris’s e-mail every week, because he does have some really good insights, and his own honest opinions on, and well-researched opinions on what’s happening. So you’re obviously excellently placed to talk about Marrickville, and Hurlstone Park, in particular. How has it changed, then, since you started as a school kid? How has that are actually changed, in your opinion?
Aris: So Marrickville’s biggest change, or that core area that we mainly operate, is Marrickville, Dulwich Hill, and then, quite a small boutique suburb called Hurlstone Park, that we’ve got an office in. The biggest change has been the demographic shift from blue-collar working-class new migrants to Australia, and that’s now evolved into white-collar, a lot of professional services people living in the area. Children of migrants, probably the more prominent demographic that’s come into the area.
Having said all of that, what has remained of that whole process has been the eclectic diversity of the area. So we have a huge, diverse range of cultures, political persuasions. If you look at Marrickville Council, 25-30 years ago, it was just Labour brethren, and it’s moved into a lot of independent councillors, Labour councillors, Liberal councillors, for the first time, and Greens.
So, there’s been a huge shift in that area, but ethnically, very, very diverse, still. A lot of different ethnic backgrounds. The migrant level, or that affordability factor, has obviously become far more challenging, so you don’t find the new migrants to Australia moving to our area as readily or as quickly as they used to, which is the only major, sort of, probably, negative, in a way, I think, with the area.
Michelle: Yeah, and there’s also been a huge change in developments, obviously, that’s changed the actual look of Marrickville, too.
Aris: Yes, and we’ve been lucky, though. Because of that political diversity, what’s happened is, there isn’t swathes of areas that have been, sort of, marked for development. And I say the word “yet,” because, obviously, it’s not over, but I think Marrickville’s a bit better placed than other suburbs, because we’ve got pockets of industrial, that can be identified, isolated and changed, and there’s less of a NIMBY sort of response to that. The locals don’t get as upset about it, because it’s not building towers across the road from federation houses that are single-story.
We actually have isolated pockets of the suburb, where you could build multi-residential, or high rise, and obviously, no one’s happy about that, that lives in the area, but they would at least accept it, because it’s a little bit quarantined from their immediate area. So that’s where we’ve been lucky, from sort of that background.
Marcus: Yeah, so, Aris, that’s really a good history, I guess, over the past 20 years, but if we move, then, to say, the last six, last 12 months, what are some of those specific trends that you’ve seen over that past 12-month, year, 18-month period? Have there been any recent developments that have had an impact on property prices in the local area?
Aris: I don’t think Marrickville’s been affected by anything specific to its immediate geographical area. I think the greater market and the greater economy of Australia has definitely had an impact. So, if I had to pinpoint two things that have had an impact on the area, there was the APRA, Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (I’m very proud I remembered all the words). That came in, and that’s definitely had an impact on the investors across Sydney, and Martickville’s no exception. We have been impacted by that, definitely. So, that one factor. I think, also, the injection of the stamp duty concessions back into the state government, backed by the state government, into New South Wales, has had an impact, as well. So what we’ve now started to see is the investors are getting a bit more marginalized, first-time buyers within price brackets, obviously. The key one would be, maybe not exactly 650, where they pay no stamp duty, but a little bit higher, where they still get-
Aris: So, at 650, they pay nothing. If they pay seven, then they’ll pay, 15%, 20% of the stamp duty. Which is still absolutely insane.
Marcus: Yeah, absolutely, yeah. So they are getting concessions, all the way up to, sort of that $800,000 bracket.
Aris: Yeah, so what we’ve seen is, the investors are not as prominent. We’ve seen significant bank restrictions on their ability to lend. Interest-only loans and our significantly interest rates, far more bells and whistles to jump through, to get a loan.
Aris: Across all price brackets, across all categories, and across all employment sectors. It’s not, doctors get a blank check, or these people get a blank … They’ve just put the screws on everybody. That’s had an impact, definitely, and that’s just led to the market, I would call, as a stabled, plateaued market now. What I’ve pretty much been used to, for the majority of my career, what we’ve just left, has been madness. Just, unbridled, runaway train craziness, and that’s why, for me, it’s like, okay, this is normal. For someone, maybe, they’ve been in the industry for only five, six years, it’s very confronting, I think, for a younger person. Because they don’t, I think, understand a market, for example, where clearance rates are 60%. Or even slightly less.
To me, that’s how it’s normally is; 80%’s Bizarro World. That’s not something that we were very used to, 10, 15 years ago. At any stage, that would be a little shooting star weekend, where, a couple of weekends, it went to 80. Not, a year, two, three consistently.
Michelle: Now, as a real estate agent, you obviously are out there, week on week on week, but you also get to see the other real estate agents. So, for those people out there who are thinking of listing their property, what do you think they should know, or ask about, when they meet real estate agents for the first time, what about listing their property?
Aris: I think, unfortunately, today’s world of quick and cheap, that’s the problem that many vendors may fall into.
Aris: “I want something to happen as quickly as possible, and I want to pay as reasonable or as low a fee as I can.”And I think that uniqueness in the selling side of things to a property is that that property is unique. So, if I’m selling a car, or a phone, or a fridge, or I’m buying it, it’s generally replicable, and it’s worth a certain amount of money.Give or take a very fractional difference. I think, with a house, people don’t understand or think or buy into the fact that different agents could get significantly different prices for that property.There could be an agent, could get $50,000 more for it, higher than another agent would get. So, I think, the answer to your question, and I’ve gone around it a little bit, is, they need to focus on the strategy that that agent’s going to employ on their behalf, to get the best price they think they can get from a home. And then, once they’ve looked at all of that, and shortened the list to the agent they think they’re interested in, then talk to the agent about their fees and their advertising. Unfortunately, what tends to happen is, those two things get more firmly in front, and then, everything’s judged afterwards on that. It’s very simple and easy to do. I think owners all think that all the agents are going to get, like with a car, like with those items I said, very similar prices.
If you list with the blue or the red or the green agent, it doesn’t really matter. They’re all going to get within one, two, three thousand dollars of each other, and I can definitely tell you, that that is not the case.
Marcus: So, rather than, for those people looking at selling in the months ahead, who may have looked at price as the number one factor being, choosing the real estate agent, based on price, based on cost, what other things you think they should focus on, instead?
Aris: The strategy the agent’s going to employ. So, what do they recommend, what method of sale, presentation of the property, promotion of the property, what behind the scenes little 1% things do they think the agent can bring to the equation? Open for inspections. All these bits and pieces that the agent will be a fountain of information about, that you can let them help you with. That’s the key, I think, to getting the property sold for the best price.
It’s almost like getting to a point where an offer comes in, and you don’t, in any way, shape or form feel that there was anything else you could have done, to get a better price. So it’s an informal decision. When an offer gets passed to the owner, I’d like that owner to feel like, “Well, we’ve pretty much done everything we could to get the best price, and if we didn’t do certain things, we knowingly chose not to do those things, with the understanding of the pros and cons to it.”
Like, a perfect example would be, I go to see a property that’s tenanted, and the tenant is a lovely person, pays the rent on time, extremely helpful with, open for inspections. But, to be perfectly frank, has furniture and décor that is not lending itself to the property photographing, or presenting very well, to when the buyers come through.
Many owners will think, “Oh, well, that’s your job. You just show the buyers through, and you convince them to pay top dollar.” To many, to a large extent, we can do that, but if you have it presented a certain way, then it could get you a better price. Then the owner’s got to look at, “Well, I’m losing rent, and I’m paying the money for that styling, or professional work, or that repairs or maintenance,” and they’ve got to weigh that into what the price will be.
Having that sort of conversation with an owner, and showing them those options, is where I think owners have to look at what they could do, to get the best price for their property. It’s not as simple as it used to be, of just putting it on the market, and then, the buyers will do the rest of the work for you.
Michelle: I think that a lot of agents that I know are willing to have those frank conversations with their vendors upfront, and I think that’s really important, to not have to manage that afterwards, right? I mean, I know one agent, for example. I mean, I’m in the market all the time, and so, I know which agents like to do what, I said, what types.
And so, this one agent, in particular, who loves to, he’s great at listing properties, but then, what typically happens is that he over-quotes it, or the price expectation’s too high. And then, typically, you, see what happens. It gets passed to another agent, and if you’re a vendor at that point in time, you think, “Oh, well, he talks the talk. He sounds great. He works for a reputable company. Yeah. No, he’s quoting far more than everyone else is. Andy’s doing a reasonable price.”
You take him on, but what you don’t realize, then, is that, actually, you’re going to be left with the property. It’s going to be left on the shelf for awhile, because he typically can’t follow through. So, I think your points are very valid, that you have to have, as an agent, those conversations upfront, and go, okay, “Yes, this is how much it costs, but this is what we’re going to do for you,” and have those very clear understanding of what your plans are.
So, following on from that, how do you determine whether a property should sell via private treaty, or auction? Is it typically a formula there, that you apply, or …
Aris: I only have two things that have to apply if it’s going to be auctioned. So the first one is, we’ve got to have a very strong feeling, or confident feeling, that we can create some form of competitive interest. That’s number one, and number two, it sounds really dumb, but I’ve made this mistake. I’ve been in this industry long enough to make most of the mistakes, I hope. If the owner doesn’t buy into the process, it’s not worth it. It really isn’t worth it, because they will second-guess every bump in the road. Every time there’s an issue or a problem, it will be a drama.
Look, the best example I can give you is, I had a very, very nice man, elderly gentleman, lived on, it was a place called St. Hubert’s Island, up on the Central Coast, and I kind of bullied him into auctioning his property. He was so nice, and he was a soft touch, too much. He would have taken anything for his home. I said, “Look, this is such a nice home, Mr. Johnson,” I don’t remember his name, “we should auction this. Put it up for auction.” Poor guy got so stressed out. He just was not open to the process at all. Got very, sort of, just stressed.
He got nervous, and anxiety, and in the end, we almost had, well, pretty much, a Dutch auction, where we had four, five, six people, all having a go at it, and having to pick the best buyer and playing God. In the end, it was a mess, and in the end, I went back to the beginning, and I said, “This would have been a much better process to have engaged in with a For Sale.” Because he just wasn’t ready for the auction process.
Aris: If an owner buys into the process, and I feel like, with the right marketing and presentation, we can get competitive interest, I think most properties lend themselves to auction. But those two things are easily said. They don’t apply in many cases.
Marcus: Now, Aris, one of the things that you’ve just talked a bit about, most properties, in your experience, go into auction, is a preferred strategy, perhaps, if it ticks all the boxes. But you also mentioned around styling the property. So, if you’re a vendor, and you’re looking at selling over the months ahead, and you’re thinking through, “Okay, these are the costs to put the property on the market,” how much should you as a vendor budget towards things like styling, advertising, and so forth?
Further on from that, what is the best bang for your buck, besides the obvious, say, realestate.com.au, domain.com.au? Do you use other new avenues, such as Facebook ads, or Instagram, other platforms, such as that?
Aris: Yes. So, obviously, unfortunately, and fortunately, whichever way you look at it, the duopoly of real estate and domain.com.au has really given them a very strong presence in the marketing space for real estate in Sydney, and Australia. So that’s definitely the main strategy. But, as you said, in addition that, we try everything we can. So, any specific opportunity each individual property has, we try and maximize it. So, sometimes, a property could have a real line access, where we can put a second board. It’s on a street that’s well-traveled, so we’ll put a soluble, with a light.
We definitely do Facebook. It could be near a school, we’ll try and tap into the school, to see if there’s anyone within the school that’s interested in it. I’ll open it just before school pickup, because a mum might be picking their kid up from school-
Marcus: That’s a great idea.
Aris: Have no interest in buying a property, bang, they see the open, they wander in.
Marcus: That’s a great idea.
Aris: Clamoring to their husband on a Tuesday night, “We should move, we’re commuting,” or what. So, any angle we can find like that, that’s what we look at. It’s getting harder, in that respect, but the social media arena does help. It’s still very much, domain, real estate, are the main areas. But, in addition to that, obviously, if you’re in the area for a long period of time, the database is very important. There could be people you’ve had on your books that have missed out, and obviously, with Michelle, buyer’s agents.
The best thing that buyer’s agents are is they speak our language. So, it is a secret language, in many respects. When a buyer comes to see a property, the agent’s quite guarded. They are representing the vendor. They want to try and get the best for them. When a buyer’s agent, they’re kind of doing the exact same job for a buyer, and there can be a meeting of the minds. There are some agents that are a little bit, I have no idea why, a bit paranoid, a bit, sort of, defensive with buyer’s agents.
I’m the exact opposite. I love them, because they’re helping me. If the buyer’s got a bad solicitor that’s not very easily contactable, and two, three days drop off, and we can’t get what we need done, they step in, and help with the efficiency of the sale. So they’re the main things with marketing. The other thing with, you mentioned, presentation and styling. Poor photography, and poor presentation on the day of the open, or at any other time an appointment’s being made, it really is a marginal factor. It really does put you behind the eight ball today.
Unfortunately, in today’s society, in my opinion, and I’m happy to be corrected, the eyes are in front of the brain. The brain’s no longer leading the eyes anymore, it’s the other way around. What people see is what draws their thought first, and they process that thought after. So what I get, what I’m getting at is, if your photos don’t catch the eye when people look, because everyone has such a short attention these days … It could be, as dumb as it sounds, the difference between them shortly [inaudible 00:21:20] to look at, and not looking at you.
Marcus: Completely agree.
Michelle: I would second that, too.
Michelle: Because I’ve taken my clients through properties where, that I’ve put on their shortlist to look at, and they’ve gone, “Aw, no, that doesn’t look good,” and I’ve gone, “No, I know it’s good. You’re coming with me.” Just because there’s a tenant in there, like you said, it’s perhaps not presented with a million cushions, that it’s not just been painted white, doesn’t mean it’s not a good property. And then, we’ve ended up buying those properties. So I would absolutely agree with you on that, that, definitely, a lot of people, if it doesn’t tick the right visual boxes initially, even online, they will not even go through that. So, yeah, absolutely, I think that you have a very good point.
Marcus: So, Aris, that’s a really good summary of the last 20 years of your experience, the last few months, as well. One final question, I guess, from us would be, for the next 12 months ahead, what do you see in the local market, that you look after? So, in your local patch of Marrickville, Hurlstone Park, and Dulwich Hill, et cetera?
Aris: It will be natural selection.
Aris: The agents that don’t find the angle, the way to help the owner get a good offer, will struggle. There needs to be creativity, there needs to be patience, and there needs to be a strategy. If those things aren’t available, or in place, with the owner-agent relationship, then you’ll start to see properties withdrawn from market, properties going to the second, if not third agent, and that dynamic creeping in, because I don’t see growth in price this year, of any significance. I think CPI will be the best-case scenario for most properties.
Having said all of that, the prettiest and the best-presented properties in the nicest streets always have competition, and will always go for premium prices, and the ones that are marginal, on undesirable locations, that aren’t presented very well, will always sit on the shelf forever. Those fundamentals apply, in whatever boom or bust market, so buyers also have to understand that, with this transference of choice and time, and a little bit more power in the negotiation process, it’ll only give so much.
And then, if you don’t take advantage of it, the owners can always just keep their properties. So, that’s the one thing, why buyers, at the moment, I’m finding, are struggling with the new advantages. Because they haven’t been used to them, and I’m almost inviting people to make offers, and then, responding to that invitation, to make an offer, kind of.
Michelle, you’ve seen … “Yes, you’re interested? Yes, you’ve got the contract, yes, you’ve done a building report.” “I mean, yes, I have. So, would you like to make an offer?” “Oh, yeah, I guess I would like to make an offer.” That’s where it’s at. Now, whereas, previously, I didn’t have to do anything, because there’s someone up their back side, up to buy it.
Aris: So they had to ring me, and chase me. So, now, the good agents have to identify that, find the buyer, and then, bring them over the advantage line, to the sale. And the owners have to start to understand, that that’s the relationship with the agent. We’re a partnership. It’s not an employee-employer relationship. It’s not a servantile relationship.
We’re working together as partners, to get this result, and if we both buy in together, and help each other, then the result’s always there. The agent will get a fee, and the owner will get a great result, with their price. If you look at it the other way around, that’s where the agent and the owners are going to struggle.
Marcus: Absolutely, and I think that’s a really good point to finish on, being that, when you’re selling a property, you’re ultimately a partner with the vendor, for that period. So you’re working together. It’s not working to conflicting goals. You’re both working for the same outcome, which is a great price for the vendor.
Aris: Yeah. The vendor’s got to buy into it. So it’s just simple things. If a vendor doesn’t want to give me a key. If a vendor doesn’t want to pay for marketing. They’re just like, massive red flags, that they’re not ready yet.
Aris: Because there’s issues. There’s issues with trust, which, straightaway, if there’s no trust, there’s no partnership.
Aris: There’s nothing. So that’s very important.
Marcus: So, Aris, thank you very much for that. That’s a fantastic introduction to the local area, as well as yourself. If our listeners do want to get in touch with you, what is the best way for them to do that?
Aris: On the web or mobile.
Aris: So, mobile’s, I’m a bit old school, I love to talk. So, 0412-465-567, and on the Web, you can always get us through my e-mail address, or www.rawmarrickville.com.au.
Marcus: Great. So we’ll put links to both of those on the show notes, for the listeners out there. That’s all from us, for this week. I certainly am interested in reading these weekly updates, given, Michelle’s given such a rap about how funny they are, and how much personality comes through, of those. So, we’ll leave the links for those in the show notes. So, if you wish to go on the mailing list for Aris, or if you wish to get in contact with him, you easily can do so.
Aris: The only thing I’d say about the updates is, what I make a very conscious effort with them, is to have them from a perspective of interest. I really try and avoid, as much as I can, advertorials.
Marcus: Yes. Yeah.
Aris: So, there is a gratuitous advertorial, probably once every five to six weeks, because I am a real estate agent, after all.
Aris: And I do have owners, but in general, I’m trying to give a balanced view, and actually justify my university degree, and my hex.
Michelle: Well, that’s right, and that’s why I like your e-mails, for sure. That’s definitely, you’re definitely on my top number e-mail, yeah.
Aris: Oh, thank you.
Marcus: Well, thank you very much for your time today, Aris.
That’s all from us for this week. If you have any questions here for Aris, or for Michelle and myself, please send those to [email protected]. That is A-S-K, at sydneypropertyinsider.com.au, and we will be with you, same time, same place, next week. Have a great week, everyone.