Real Estate Insight Expert Opinion with Leanne Pilkington

July 16, 2021 |
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Industry Insiders: A column featuring the experience and opinions of leading industry proponents brought to you by The Real Estate Voice.

Leanne Pilkington
Company or organisation: Laing+Simmons Corporation / Real Estate Institute NSW
Job title: CEO and Director / President

What attracted you to the real estate industry (and when)?

I started answering the phone in my Dad’s agency as a 12-year-old and moved into it full time after I finished school. I never really wanted to be an agent and studied to become a valuer, thinking that was my career path. But, ultimately, sales was my future.

What do you love most about the industry?

I love the people; real estate agents are just good people (at least the majority are). I also love dealing with small businesses. The business owners work hard; they know how to have fun; and are grateful for all the help we give them to achieve their individual business goals.

What do you consider your proudest moment or greatest achievement (in the industry)?

Buying into Laing+Simmons after working there for 25 years, and being the only person ever voted REINSW President twice.

Biggest challenges in the industry? How has the pandemic affected the way people buy, sell and rent property?

Finding good people is an ongoing challenge for every business, and real estate is no different.

People’s real estate decisions have been profoundly impacted by the fact that many of us are able to work from home. This includes different styles of property in locations that were previously desirable, but not viable.

Latest real estate/economic trends affecting your state or region?

The majority of areas in NSW are suffering from low levels of availability of rental properties, and although the sales market has seen more properties being listed, we are starting to see a levelling out of demand. We are still seeing strong prices and high clearance rates.

How would you improve the process and incentives for property ownership, from an owner-occupier and investment perspective?

I would like to see some stamp duty incentives for downsizers – there are a lot of people living in large properties that no longer serve them. Some incentives would see those family homes hit the market, which would be good for everyone.

What’s the biggest misconception people have when buying or building a home?

That you will find something that’s absolutely perfect and will tick all of your boxes. Usually, we have to find areas of compromise.

What tips would you give for future-proofing an investment?

Use a good real estate agent and take their advice when it comes to handling repairs and upgrades. Make sure you look at refinancing regularly and check the yields you are achieving. Spend the time developing an investment plan and clarify what you are trying to achieve from your property investments.

What should prospective buyers look for when choosing a property?

Be clear on what your non-negotiables are and where you are prepared to compromise. Make sure you do your research thoroughly and visit the property at different times of the day and different days of the week to ensure you are not surprised by traffic, or flight paths and the like. Make sure you get a pest and building inspection from a reputable company.

In terms of technology and interaction, what do you think buying a home will be like in 2030?

I think properties will start to find us, in that the platforms will start offering properties that will potentially suit us as soon as we even just think about moving! Agents will still need to be part of the transaction, although agents that refuse to implement technology will be replaced by those that do.

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