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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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White picket fences and backyards with mulberry trees. Apartments and town houses and villas and everything in-between. It's got a bit of everything.

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11 February 2019

Crazy good stats!

Well we’ve been back selling houses since the 13th of January and our local market is ticking along nicely.

With median time on market for house sales dramatically dropping over the last 12 months;

Victoria Park - April 2018 57 days - October 2018 32 days 

East Victoria Park -  March 2018 80 days - October 2018 34 days

St James - June 2018 51 days - October 2018 29 days

Lathlain - March 2018 44 days - October 2018 27 days

Carlisle - February 2018 71 days - October 2018 38 days

This up tick in transactions still hasn’t equalled measurably higher prices for sellers, but watch this space as renewed confidence starts to positively affect the marketplace.

First home buyers are back buying established homes in the Town of Victoria Park, with a surprising number of under $550,000 sales in recent months. Free standing properties like villas and character homes on strata blocks are most in demand. It seems they are eschewing the government’s $10,000 sugar hit for new builds and are instead seeking out well located established homes as close to the city as they can afford. 

The Sydney and Melbourne buyers are actively shopping for big blocks with character homes, using buyer’s agents they are buying here, sight unseen.

Well located blocks of land in the Town continue to be snapped up. Plenty of people will bite the bullet and build if it means the right house for their needs and the ability to stay in the area. 

I am still seeing an exodus of people who want family homes out of Victoria Park into Lathlain and Kensington. If you are sitting on a family home in Victoria Park or East Victoria Park, the buyers are waiting!
Investors are still conspicuous in their absence, and even if they wanted to get into the market, the banks are not supportive, investment rates are higher and the Federal Opposition are talking about removing tax concessions for investors (and with a Federal Election soon this is creating real uncertainty).

The upside of this it is taking the pressure off the bottom end of the market and creating an opportunity for first home buyers to get into the area at a reasonable price. Sales volumes are up, time on market is down, the vacancy rate is down, rents are rising and Western Australia was the only state to report a rise in retail spending in December 2018.
The only thing holding us back right now is the supply of money.

Derek Baston

06 February 2019

Free Coffee Friday!

It has been a long time between drinks and we thought we’d share the love down at the ‘West End’.

Call in to Social Manna this Friday February 8th between 7am and 10am and grab your free shot of caffeine on us!

Make sure you let Sandro and his amazing crew know who sent you and bonus points for a tag on instagram @social.manna and @bastonandco!

Enjoy, we’ll see you there!

Lee & Derek 

18 December 2018

Ladyboys and Cricket - it’s very confusing!


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


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.


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...


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