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The Baston & Co. Property Story

The original Baston & Co. shop

It is our privilege to continue the Baston & Co. story in WA, more than 130 years from its beginnings in the then Wild West Gascoyne town of Carnarvon. George Baston started a trading store in 1881. Baston & Co. selling butter, bacon barbed wire, beer, buttons and 'whatever' to pearlers, pastoralists, Afghan camel drivers, drovers and jackaroos... read more

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18 December 2018

Ladyboys and Cricket - it’s very confusing!

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Suddenly it’s all tinsel and test cricket.  Another year, just like that, gone!

What a quirky and confusing year it’s been in real estate land.

Like a night out on Pattapong Road, the market has been full of metaphorical ladyboys providing confusing and conflicting messages. What does it mean? How should we feel?

One minute the mainstream media says the world is ending - with the Eastern states driven real estate storyline attempting to encompass Perth, with its catastrophizing and doomsday predicting. And yet I’m seeing double digit growth in some western and inner city Perth suburbs. Domain group today posted their expectation that Perth house values are likely to grow by 5% in 2019.

On the ground the talk is batteries - Nickel, Lithium, Cobalt and Graphite. Gold is having a renaissance. Oil, gas and iron ore are all rumbling to life with new projects across the state.

To continue this confusing conversation home loan lending is being constricted with the big four making it harder for applications to be approved.

In a state with better economic conditions than it has enjoyed for years, new mines being built, higher commodity prices, improved employment prospects and population growth, it seems that we are the target of a big bank reaction to the banking royal commission, with money substantially harder to borrow.  Surely, as the change in WA’s economy becomes obvious and the housing lead malaise in Sydney and Melbourne sets in, the banks will relax their national lending restrictions and look at markets like Perth as being a good risk? I’m naive, but I can’t see how a broad blanket approach from the banks is in their best business interests?

Although the bottom of the market may be past there is loads of opportunity for those that are in a position to buy. Apartments continue their unexciting road to recovery.  It is still possible to buy apartments for less than real world replacement cost.

Opportunity also abounds in the outer suburbs of Perth, where exists a real estate purgatory with recovery somewhere over the horizon. A surplus of supply and a broken system incentivised by state government handouts, fuels the new home market. Second hand is second best for new home buyers. Trapping highly leveraged sellers underwater on loan to value ratios, making an exit from the property market almost impossible.

With increasing sales volumes and buyer confidence, Perth is on the other side of a particularly awful economic and housing market hangover. But like that one Uncle on boxing day morning, it’s going to take more than a soluble Disprin and a lie down to be bright eyed and bushy tailed again. Regardless, the market is showing more than green shoots and the good news far outweighs the bad.

We at Baston & Co. Property, would like to wish you and yours the best of Christmas’ and a safe holiday season. I can’t wait to get back next year to an exciting marketplace filled with positivity and people fulfilling their home ownership dreams.

Derek Baston

04 November 2018

Market Roundup

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It has been a while between blogs! And I have an excuse.

We have been bloody busy!

In a marketplace that saw the lowest sales volumes for 25 years. According to REIWA just 26,223 houses and units traded hands in 2017. Even Paul Keating’s 1990 recession “we had to have” was a better year, with 27,601 dwellings changing hands. And to double down on just how low last year’s sales figures really were, consider that Perth’s housing and apartment stock has doubled since 1990!

2017 really was awfully tough.

And now just 12 months on, a chalk and cheese transformation is under way.

Here on the ground in the Town of Victoria Park, sales volumes are up. Our agency and its dedicated team are looking down the barrel of a record year (in 16 years of sales activity!).

Last Tuesday I was at a conference in Sydney. Sitting in a room of 550 shiny suited, suitably coiffured, East coast estate agents. I felt every bit the West coast cousin, my pants were too long and I was wearing socks with my shoes. Who knew the hipster plague had slipped so far up the food chain over here…

The leading New South Wales Agent (Alexander Phillips) in a panel discussion warned those agents that their market was about to drop, and 20-25% of agents may not be in the industry in 12 months. Melbourne and Sydney are about to take the medicine we took 4 years ago. The next speaker was a Domain statistician who discussed the future of the Melbourne and Sydney market, then pointed to Perth as the ‘sleeper’, and he intimated if he were investing in a capital city (outside of Hobart which is experiencing double digit growth) Perth has to be the next cab off the rank.

On the ground we are already seeing positive changes to our marketplace. Investors are starting to wake from hibernation, the decrease in vacancy rates and re-awakening of the corporate rental market driving their interest.

In Western Australia the klaxon horn of the resource sector has rung, with new lithium, gold, mineral sand and nickel projects, iron ore mine expansions and extensive oil and gas activity. Our farmers are enjoying, by and large, a respectable to very good season, in an environment of higher prices and a lower Australian dollar. Money is moving in the Western Australian economy. 

The first home buyers are back in the established home market, with prices finally low enough to lure them away from the state government’s $10,000 sugar hit to buy new builds.

It’s now or never. This is the last sniff of Perth’s doldrums. By 2020 reasonable forecasters are talking about double digit growth.

Anecdotally I hear that the outer suburbs are still slow, regional centres (excluding mining towns) are not exciting and that Perth apartments still are cutting away on price. Conversely, the western suburbs are healthy, inner ring suburbs are moving and especially in these suburbs detached dwellings and single tier development sites have risen in value over the last 12 months. 

There is a lot to be positive about.
They say the darkest hour is before the storm. Right now there is every reason to believe the storm has well and truly passed.

Derek Baston.
Baston & Co. Property

15 August 2018

Pick Me. Second.

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Recently I have been the agent that gets the opportunity to list and sell, after the first agent has had their 90 days of not selling the home.

Why the seller chose their first agent is always interesting. It usually boils down to; 

I liked him/her the most and I thought all agents were the same (they are not). 

We sold with them before (in a far flung suburb, so no local knowledge).

They gave me the best “quote” (this one is a classic as good agents are marketers not valuers, and shouldn’t be crystal ball gazing pie in the sky sale prices - particularly in the current environment).

They were cheaper (the ultimate in false economy! If the agent is not “better” then cheaper matters not at all).

Selling the second time ‘round is a difficult position for all involved.  As an active local agent I am happy to pick up the pieces and solve the problem, but the marketing and conversations are next level.  From a sales person’s perspective it is like fighting with one hand tied behind your back. To win you must make every punch count.

Buyers can pick up cached versions of the previous marketing campaign.  We can’t pretend the previous campaign didn’t exist.

Getting it right the first time ‘round is so important as the buyers in the market place make snap decisions. Qualified buyers are absorbing market data, calling local agents for their feedback and trawling through the various online real estate portals. They are informed.  There are no wood ducks waiting for your poorly marketed, over priced listing.

Fortunately it is definitely possible to sell the second time ‘round and there are a host of strategies to deal with buyers in this situation. To be, fair it is just as important how an agent deals with the sellers the second time ‘round as well.

The first sale failure will be as much a communication breakdown between seller and agent.  

Did the agent effectively explain strategy? 

Did the agent explain timelines for executing changes to marketing if the property does not sell? 

Did the agent make contingency provisions in the marketing spend for a late stage marketing push? 

Were the agent and the seller on the same page on all of the above (and more) before the Listing Authority was signed and the seller’s money committed?

Invariably the first agent will blame the client if there is no sale. 

“I got them a great offer, for this market!” 

Well clearly the seller didn’t see it that way.  What didn’t they understand about the market that the agent did? The agent is the professional and their job is to provide a clear and accurate prism for the truth of current market activity to be viewed through. They are Tenzing Norgay leading the seller to their Sold Everest. Without the correct guidance the prospect of a deal will die along the way.

Clearly I see real estate sales as a consultative process.  The Seller and Buyers understanding is paramount. This ongoing discussion around the process creates trust and comfort for all parties, and ultimately a result.

As a famous anonymous Australian fireside philosopher once said, and I paraphrase, “we are not here to copulate with spiders”. This translates to, “we are here to do a job, so let’s do it and do it properly!”.

I am happy to be the second agent.  I am much happier to be the first. It means we get a chance to do the job of selling the home for the highest possible price.

Do it right. Do it the first time.

Derek Baston

04 August 2018

Well that was unexpected...

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As the rain belts down in mid winter Perth, people hunker in their homes wishing for sunshine.

Meanwhile just over the Darling scarp the same rain has farmers swinging contentedly on kitchen chairs coffee in hand, too wet to work, it’s the rain that they have been waiting for.

It is amazing when change comes how it affects people differently.  

Change comes in many forms, but fundamentally it is the change that is beyond our control that affects us most deeply.  The unexpected.  

Humans are wonderful creatures but on the whole we are creatures of set expectations.  We build our framework of the world and if all goes well we are happy and satisfied.  But if one of the pillars of our reality is shifted then most go to water.  

We see this daily.  As jobs are lost, marriages fail, the rain doesn’t come, a family member passes away unexpectedly.  

As a real estate agent often we are late on the scene to play our part in people moving forward. But more important than the house sale that is facilitated, is the watching (and learning) how different people deal with life’s speed bumps.

The one thing I’ve learnt is that from change comes opportunity. New perspective.  People survive, and ultimately overcome.  As a keen observer of human behaviour it is a wonderfully positive narrative that plays out time, and time again.

I spoke to someone on the phone yesterday.  A year before a sudden bereavement of a partner had left this corporate high flyer anchor-less.  When I spoke to him back then the world was an empty place.  Now he is reinvented. Based in Bali. Learning to be a spiritual healer whilst contracting at a corporate level in the region.  And he is content, rebuilding his new reality.

In 16 years of dealing face to face with people often at this pivotal point in their lives, I have observed numerous private stories, that start with the unexpected and unfortunate and end with happiness and success.

As the beginning of the up-tick in WA plays out, I am seeing people make decisions that will affect their lives. Dealing with unexpected change. Sellers sometimes selling for less than they paid for their property. Painful, but invariably this decision allows them to move on, to tackle life’s next goal. Equally in this very same environment, I am seeing people buying with belief that the time is now to stake a claim. Undoubtedly some of these people will set themselves up for life off the buying opportunities that exist today. 

Unplanned change as difficult and unattractive as it can be, is also the catalyst for new and fruitful beginnings.

I was going to end this blog with a suitably pithy quote from a suitably eminent historical figure. But I found one that was un-credited that I liked.

Stop looking for happiness where you lost it.  

Personally I run with a slightly more blunt version, SUMO - Shut Up, Move On (I have to admit this is not my term but is the title of a fantastic book by Paul McGee - promoted as “the straight talking guide to succeeding at life”).  It is the sledge hammer reminder that the past is past and only you can determine the future.

My son’s footy coach has his own version that works for 13 year olds and adults alike.  “Who can change the game?”, he asks every game at some pivotal point, and the kids know the answer, and they all look him in the eye and say “the bloke in my jumper”.  They get it.

So remember almost all life’s success stories come from a position of sudden unexpected and unwanted change.  There are plenty of extreme examples - never think that the Twiggy Forrests of the world or the Richard Bransons didn’t face this type of negative event repeatedly. They did. And they changed, shifted perspective, and got on with it.

Derek Baston 

11 July 2018

Calling all budding Bransons - it’s time.

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As a past recipient of a scholarship to attend Curtin University’s 2017 Ignition program, I was excited to hear that The Town of Victoria Park are this year, for the first time, offering two fully funded scholarships to attend the 2018 Ignition course.

What is the Ignition program?

‘Ignition is a one week entrepreneurial program for aspiring entrepreneurs, academics and corporate innovators to trial and then prepare high growth business ideas for the commercial environment.’

For more information, click here and get on it stat as applications close shortly.

No idea is ever silly, trust me - if I can do it, anyone can.


My road to Ignition 2017.

I sleep with an ‘Ideas Book’ and pen next to my bed. Weird I know.

Stay with me.

It is not uncommon for me to scrawl random business ideas, life/fitness goals, quotes or marketing ideas in this book at all hours of the night.

Sometimes these random business ideas are shared with Derek. Other times not. He is affectionately labelled the ‘Dream Squasher’ in our household 😬

It has to be logical and researched. There is no tolerance when it comes to investing. The farm boy does not react well to risky business in any form.

Last year, one of these random business ideas was mentioned flippantly to him over our morning cuppa. Silence…then a single head nod ‘Lee, I like it’. I carefully explained the concept with drawings. Research papers were regurgitated verbatim, my target market discussed and although I had more research to do, I knew I had him.

It was by pure chance that Derek was listening to a radio interview on the ABC regarding Curtin University’s ‘Ignition’ program. 

I attended the information session a few days later where all aspects of the program were discussed and a presentation by Marc Berryman, founder of Rhinohide, sealed the deal. What did I actually have to lose?

A number of scholarships to attend the course were on offer from local councils, businesses and private sponsors as the course comes with a hefty price tag. Despite the latter, the course is oversubscribed and worth every cent.

I finalised my application and hit the send button. My concept was based on what I saw as a major educational hole in the market and the belief that this simple device could make a difference to health outcomes globally.

Three weeks later, I received the email I was waiting for. I had applied for and was successful in receiving a scholarship to attend the 2017 Ignition course courtesy of the Hon. Simone McGurk MLA - Minister for Child Protection; Women’s Interests; Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence; Community Services.

What a week it was. Intensely challenging and exciting on every front - mentally, physically and emotionally.

You are putting your ‘baby’ out there for critique. Something you’ve spent months or years, researching and perfecting. Some attendees were already running viable businesses and were looking to take their next step (Darren Lomann from Greenbatch, Mel Langdon from BossMaMa check them out online - amazing, inspirational people) others were somewhere in between and then there were those with only the seed of an idea.

Many candidates faced ‘pivots’ - where your idea takes a different path following feedback, constructive criticism and a final pitch (think Shark Tank). Some dreams were shattered and others made.
Ignition gave me the tools and confidence to believe that what I was aiming to achieve, might just be possible. 

I am currently at prototype stage with a graphic/industrial designer, following which we’ll print a 3D model to pitch to a potential investor/s in Australia or overseas. Patent research is in full swing and in the hands of patent lawyers.
Will it be a success? Who knows, my fingers are firmly crossed ;)

If you have a burning business idea, I implore you to throw your hat in the ring.

Irrespective of whether you are successful in gaining a scholarship or not, invest.

Invest in you. Back yourself, you just never know your luck.

Check out the Town of Victoria Park scholarship criteria here  and if you’d like more information from a participant’s point of view, please email me via lee@bastonandco.com

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Cheers & good luck

Lee Baston 

30 May 2018

Win with GREENBUNCH!

Image: instagram @greenbunchperth

The brain child of effervescent local, Shellie Attwood, GREENBUNCH is a floristry experience with plenty of ‘jungly’ goodness thrown in!

From beautiful blooms to giftware and of course, masses of indoor plants, GREENBUNCH is a much welcomed and unique addition to our vibrant strip.
Located at 907 Albany Highway, East Vic Park (next door to The Prophet) and with a café due to open very soon in-store, please pop in and say ‘Hi’ to the fabulous team.

To celebrate their opening, we’re giving one lucky person a chance to win a $300 voucher to spend in store! 
Entry is easy peasy and via the link below:

https://bastonandco.com/win

The winner will be announced on June 26th - Good Luck!


If you’re on Instagram, make sure you follow Shellie and the Team here.