Meet the neighbours before you buy: The real estate portal taking buyers behind the scenes
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Meet the neighbours before you buy: The real estate portal taking buyers behind the scenes

Co-founder of Homely, Jason Spencer, discusses how his own experience of a failed property purchase led to a lightbulb moment, and the birth of a new property platform

By KANEBRIDGE NEWS
Mon, Feb 19, 2024 9:43amGrey Clock 5 min

Jason Spencer is passionate about technology, but not for the sake of it. Instead, Spencer’s focus is  the kind of ‘life changing’ technologies that make a difference in the way we live and do business. His most recent obsession is Homely, a real estate platform with a difference, offering reviews of suburbs and streets — by the people who live there.  Founded with Adam Spencer, it’s the kind of game changer Jason wished was around when he was on his home buying journey, tapping into a desire from buyers to take a deep dive before purchasing, as well as giving locals the opportunity to share what they love about their area. The Homely story starts with a very personal experience, as Jason Spencer explains.

Homely draws back the curtain for buyers, giving them access to street and suburb reviews from the people who live there. Credit: davidf/Getty Images

Kanebridge News: The Homely story comes out of your personal experience of moving to a suburb in inner Melbourne. What happened? Why did you hate it?

Jason Spencer: Homely was created out of my own frustrations with real estate. After buying my home in a nice leafy suburb in Melbourne, I quickly realised that the street wasn’t for me. Almost immediately after we moved in, we had all sorts of issues. First it was the neighbours, who we didn’t get along with, then it was the cut-through traffic and noise, the flooding and — the final straw—the swarms of bats that flew over our house each night, settling in our backyard! One night I remember saying to my co-founder, “If only I knew about this street before I bought the house”. And that was the lightbulb moment. That was when Homely was born.

KN: What would you have liked to have known before buying?

JS: The inspiration for Homely was the truth that “finding the right neighbourhood is just as important as finding the right home.” I’d like to have known what the locals thought, not just of suburbs but of individual streets as well. Before Homely, the majority of people would rely on generic suburb information available on Google and if lucky they’d find a static local guide page, census data or Wikipedia entry. To address this gap, we established a forum and community where real locals could openly share their experiences, insights, and history about their streets, suburbs, and towns. This kind of information is invaluable for making an informed decision about property, especially considering it’s one of the most significant decisions someone can make.

KN: Did you move? If so, what did you do differently the next time you were in the property market?

JS: Yes I did. I moved to something a little further out from the city but with more land and a bigger home for a similar price. This time, I did a lot more research on Homely and by asking locals what they thought. People were more than happy to share what they loved about their home suburb and streets, which is why we have the wealth of content on Homely we do.

KN: How did that personal experience spur you and Adam on to found Homely?

JS: For most of us, finding a home is one of the most difficult and stressful decisions we can make. As founders, we felt the combination of useful local information written by those that live in the neighbourhood combined with the access and utility of a real estate portal would make for a very unique way to find a home online. We wanted to create for real estate what sites like TripAdvisor had done to travel.

Homely co-founders Adam (left) and Jason Spencer (right) want to connect buyers with the right street and the right neighbourhood.

KN: You’re starting to build a substantial database of suburb reviews now. Where are the reviewers drawn from?

JS: Our reviews come from all over Australia. When we launched the site, we received some great media coverage, which generated an initial base of content. This encouraged locals to have their say about areas they knew well, which in turn created a sense of community on the Homely platform that grew, along with relevant property listings from all over Australia. We have seen some intense debate about suburbs, which is always interesting!

KN: What has surprised you, if anything, about the reviews?

JS: The amount of information (and passion) that locals are prepared to share about where they live. People love to talk about the great schools in a suburb, the best restaurants and shopping. Of course, crime and safety are always hot topics. 

KN: What can a review on Homely give a buyer that a visit to a suburb cannot?

JS: Homely gives you immediate access to reach out to a community and unlock secrets and truths about the neighbourhood that you just can’t do easily by visiting the suburb. You can also ask questions and join local forums. We’ve had feedback that Homely reviews have saved people time and money, as they’ve been able to refine their property search and time spent on inspections.

KN: How specific can reviews get? Is it possible to read a street review?

JS: We pride ourselves on being the first in Australia to offer reviews down to the street level, delivering “hyperlocal” content that even includes vendors reviewing their own streets to give potential buyers a sense of what drew them to the area initially.

KN: What have buyers said about the value of the reviews?

JS: Buyers consistently tell us that Homely is a great starting point to the home buying journey. Whether they’re investors seeking information to bolster their decisions, or families searching for the perfect suburb, Homely reviews often serve as a first stop, offering valuable information they can’t get anywhere else.  We find many buyers land on our street and suburb reviews via Google after searching for a specific location. While reviews can be diverse it’s the nuggets of information contained within the reviews that really help buyers.

KN: You’ve been in property for 25 years. What still excites you about the residential market?

JS: The untapped opportunities for innovation in the proptech space and the property seeking journey are what excites me most. From the birth of the first property websites in the early 2000s, to the innovations that Web 2.0 and Google Maps brought to portals in 2007, to the role of smartphone technology in the search experience, I’m now very excited to be a part of how AI and blockchain can enhance the home search experience. 

KN: What’s next for Homely?
JS: We have a strong pipeline of innovations to make the home search experience better for every consumer. We are looking forward to a big 2024 with an increase in residential listings hitting the market and a forecast record number of home buyers and renters looking on Homely to discover their next perfect place to call home.

 



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We reveal the No. 1 areas for price growth in each capital city

By Bronwyn Allen
Thu, Jul 18, 2024 3 min

Home values across Australia rose by a median 8 percent in FY24, delivering the equivalent of $59,000 in new capital growth to the two-thirds of the population that owns a home, according to CoreLogic data. Investors received total returns of 12.2 percent over the year, including capital gains and gross rental income.

Very tight supply and demand in most capital cities except Melbourne and Hobart was a significant driver of the capital growth, with the smaller and more affordable capital cities of Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide experiencing the most price appreciation over the year. A lack of properties for sale trumped the usual dampening effect of higher interest rates.

As usual, some areas outperformed their city’s median growth benchmark. Here are the top SA3 areas for capital growth in each capital city of Australia in FY24. SA3 areas are large suburbs, or districts incorporating clusters of suburbs, with more than 20,000 residents.

 

Sydney

Home values across Sydney rose by a median 6.3 percent in FY24. The No. 1 area for growth was Mount Druitt. Its median value rose by 13.96 percent to $859,939. Mount Druitt is located 33km west of the CBD. It incorporates the suburbs of Mount Druitt, Ropes Crossing, Whalan and Minchinbury. The Mount Druitt community is very multicultural with almost one in two residents born overseas. It is home to many young families, with the median age of residents being 33 compared to the NSW median of 39.

 

Melbourne

Home values across Melbourne rose by a median 1.3 percent in FY24. The top area for capital growth was Moreland-North with 4.71 percent growth. This took the district’s median home value to $746,488. Moreland-North includes the suburbs of Hadfield, Pascoe Vale and Glenroy. It’s a multicultural community with a particularly large contingent of residents with Italian ancestry. One or both parents of 66 percent of residents were born overseas, according to the 2021 Census.

 

Brisbane

Home values across Brisbane rose by a median 15.8 percent in FY24. The No. 1 area for growth was Springwood-Kingston in Logan City. Its median value swelled by 25.55 percent to $710,569. Springwood-Kingston is approximately 22km south of Brisbane CBD. It incorporates the suburbs of Springwood, Kingston, Rochedale South and Slacks Creek. It is a multicultural community with one or both parents of 55 percent of the residents born overseas, according to the 2021 Census. More than 15 percent of residents have Irish or Scottish ancestry.

 

Adelaide

Home values across Adelaide rose by a median 15.4 percent in FY24. The best area for capital growth was Playford in Playford City. Its median value soared by 19.94 percent to $530,991. Playford is approximately 40km north of Adelaide. It incorporates the suburbs of Elizabeth Downs, Elizabeth Grove, Angle Vale and Virginia. It is home to many young people under the age of 40. The median age of residents is 33 compared to the state median of 41.

 

Perth 

Home values across Perth rose by a median 23.6 percent in FY24. The No. 1 area for growth was Kwinana in Kwinana City. Its median value skyrocketed by 33.19 percent to $618,925. Kwinana is approximately 37km south of Perth CBD. It includes the suburbs of Leda, Medina, Casuarina and Mandogalup. Henderson Naval Base is located here and there is a significant community of servicemen and ex-servicemen living in the area. It is home to many young families, with the median age of residents being 33 compared to the state median of 38.

 

Canberra

Home values across the nation’s capital rose by a median 2.2 percent in FY24. The best area for capital growth was Weston Creek. Its median value rose by 5.24 percent to $937,740. Weston Creek is approximately 13km south-west of the CBD. It includes the suburbs of Weston Creek, Holder, Duffy, Fisher and Chapman. Approximately 43 percent of residents have a bachelor’s degree, which is on par with the ACT median but much higher than the national median of 26 percent. Household incomes are about 35 percent higher than the national median. Almost one in five residents work in government administration jobs.

 

Hobart

Home values across Hobart fell 0.1 percent in FY24. The top performing area for capital gains was Sorell-Dodges Ferry with 2.78 percent growth. This took the area’s median home value to $615,973. Sorell-Dodges Ferry is approximately 25km north-west of Hobart. It incorporates the suburbs of Richmond, Sorell, Dodges Ferry, Carlton and Primrose Sands. The area has a large community of baby boomers and retirees, with the median age of residents being 43 compared to the Australian median of 38.

 

Darwin

Home values across Darwin rose by a median 2.4 percent in FY24. The No. 1 area for growth was Litchfield. Its median value moved 3.21 higher to $672,003. Litchfield is about 37km south-east of Darwin and includes the suburbs of Humpty Doo, Acacia Hills and Southport.  It has a high proportion of middle-aged residents, with the median age being 39 compared to the territory median of 33. About 12 percent of residents are Indigenous Australians. The biggest industries are government administration and defence. Median household incomes are about 35 percent higher than the national median.

 

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11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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