If you've looked for a house or apartment anywhere in Australia in the last few years, you'll know that the difference between the price you see on brochures and agents' listings and the actual selling price can be massive. There's a new service that uses a combination of computer smarts and crowdsourced data to more accurately paint a picture of property prices and expose underquoting within the industry.
I've been to a fair few auctions in the last couple of years, helping a few friends look for properties. Last weekend I was in Dulwich Hill in Sydney's inner west, where a three-bedroom house pegged for an asking price around $1.4 million eventually sold for $1.675 million -- that's almost a 20 per cent bump over the initial suggested figure. A new website called realAs says that it can accurately quote a house's selling price with four times the accuracy of that margin.
RealAs claims its predictions are within 5 per cent of the final selling prices. If it works as suggested, it could be a valuable tool for property buyers in determining the real cost of a property they're considering rather than relying on the often optimistically low suggestions of property agents. How realAs reaches its figure is a little arcane; for example, for a 2br apartment in Burwood priced at $700,000 on Realestate.com.au, realAs claims an agent quote of $749,950 -- we're not exactly sure where that comes from -- but suggests $783,000 as a more realistic expectation:
RealAs will work more effectively, its founders tell BRW, as more people signed up and started using it to check predictions, make their own suggestions and input final selling prices. There's a baked-in base level of accuracy, though, as realAs uses historical sale data and market information to determine prices independently of any users' estimates.
Buying property in Australia seems to be a bit of a mug's game at the moment; if you can turn up at an auction and find yourself several hundred thousand dollars out of the bidding, something is wrong. If realAs goes some way to make it a bit more of a transparent process, that's a very good thing.