Founder of Stills Properties, Brigitte Stills is a touchstone of expertise and guidance to those navigating the property landscape in Sydney.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Brigitte Stills, a highly experienced and respected figure in the real estate industry. With over 44 years of experience, including 27 years as a business owner and manager of franchises like Ray White and Laing+Simmons, Brigitte is an expert in the field.
Brigitte now serves as a consultant, coach, and mentor, assisting other agencies in building their businesses, strengthening their brands, and fostering growth in property management.
Brigitte’s passion for property and her commitment to supporting individuals involved in property sales, purchases, and rentals make her an invaluable resource in these uncertain times. As living costs continue to rise across the country, her insights and expertise offer guidance and assurance to those navigating the real estate landscape.
Brigitte’s dedication led her to establish Stills Properties, a company that encapsulates her wealth of industry knowledge and experience. By focusing on the needs of both landlords and tenants, Brigitte and her team strive to match the perfect tenant with the right property.
Stills Properties specialises in listing and expertly-managing residential and commercial properties in Sydney’s North Shore and CBD. With a comprehensive range of services, Stills Properties handles all aspects of property management, from marketing and maintenance coordination to compliance and standards advice. Their commitment to client satisfaction and personalised service ensures that both landlords and tenants can trust their property is in capable hands.
When I first started in real estate, it was a completely different landscape. I was the first woman to enter the field as a salesperson. Back then, I joined a large agency with 12 offices, and they handed me a book with 30 listings. Those listings were all open listings, which is not something we commonly see nowadays. Additionally, they gave me a folder containing upcoming auctions and our private exclusive listings, which were the properties I was responsible for. Real estate has undergone significant changes since then.
Presently, we face challenges such as a shortage of listings, and ensuring that buyers are qualified and have their finances in order. However, in terms of the market, there are some positive aspects. The current shortage of listings is resulting in a situation where there are two to four buyers for every property. Auctions often see seven or eight bidders competing for a property. Unfortunately, this means that some people miss out on their desired properties.
We experienced a housing boom in 2020 and 2021, during which the Sydney housing market wasn’t as robust, with a decrease of about 12.3%. However, in late 2022 and early 2023, the market picked up significantly. Recent research indicates a significant increase in house and unit prices across Sydney. Prices have risen by approximately 4.5% to 10% in certain locations. For instance, in the eastern suburbs, the real estate market is currently thriving, and properties can be priced accordingly. According to Call Logic’s index, prices have risen by 1.1% as of June/July. Dr Andrew Wilson states that housing prices have increased by two percent. Essentially, you can set a price for your property and successfully market it, depending on its location.
The key is to identify your target buyers and ensure that your marketing strategy aligns with their needs. Over the past 30 years, Australian housing values have increased by 415%, while unit prices have risen by 294%. This indicates that the real estate market is performing quite well overall.
At the moment, it’s all about securing the right quality listings. Agents are competing with each other for every property that comes on the market. There’s strong competition to get the right listings. Unfortunately, some vendors still have unrealistic expectations, thinking their property is better than others and should reach a higher price. There’s also a nervousness among buyers about their financial situation. Qualifying buyers, in terms of their finances, and understanding their potential to reach desired prices, is a significant issue for agents.
Currently, there’s a major shortage of rental accommodation across the board. This is a recurring observation in my research, with a vacancy rate as low as 1% in Sydney. Agents and property managers are facing challenges in getting listings and leasing properties. Some property owners have inflated expectations about rental prices, and there’s also a trend of tenants subletting properties to make ends meet.
The rental market in New South Wales, particularly in Sydney, has always been critical. We’ve never experienced an excess of properties and a flood of listings without being able to secure tenants. There’s a high demand for accommodation due to job relocations, immigration, and people moving to Sydney. Even areas further out west and rural areas like Orange and Mudgee are facing a shortage of available properties. I see the situation changing in the future, but it won’t happen this year.
It starts with effective advertising and marketing, targeting the right tenant for each property. When screening tenants, I conduct thorough interviews – even during COVID times, using methods like Zoom. It’s essential to understand what tenants are looking for and their compatibility with the property. One key aspect is communication and asking the right questions to ensure a good fit. I always encourage my staff to trust their instincts and have conversations with tenants to gauge their understanding and alignment with rental obligations. At the end of the day, it’s our responsibility to ensure that tenants are well-suited for the property and understand their obligations.
It’s a difficult situation, and my advice would be for struggling renters to still apply for rental properties. Even if you’ve lost your job, there are financial support options available from government sources and other avenues. Have an open conversation with the property manager or person in charge. Explain your situation and propose a plan for meeting rental payments. In the past, I’ve worked with tenants who lost their jobs during COVID. We discussed reduced rent or deferred payments with the property owners. It’s important to be honest, provide necessary paperwork, and legitimise your plans for meeting rental obligations. Having the bond ready to move into a property also helps significantly.
One challenge we’ve faced is managing properties for owners living overseas who may not be aware of the current market conditions in Australia. They often have unrealistic expectations for rental increases. Explaining the reasons behind limitations on rental increases becomes a challenge. Another challenge we encounter is landlords who expect significant rent increases without making any improvements to their properties. I always emphasise to landlords that if they want a rental increase, they should consider upgrading or improving the property to justify the increase. Installing new appliances, air conditioning, or making other upgrades can help justify the rental increase and keep tenants satisfied.
My advice for anyone entering the real estate industry now is to consider starting in property management. It’s a great way to grow in the real estate space. Personally, I started in property management as a part-time job while I was studying at university, and it turned into a lifelong passion. If you have the motivation and drive, there are agencies actively looking for staff, especially in the current market. Show your willingness to learn, work hard, and seize the opportunities available.
The Stills Properties team treats every managed property as if it were their own, combining professionalism and accessibility to deliver exceptional experiences for all involved.
If you have a property in need of expert management, Stills Properties offers a free rental appraisal.
Contact Brigitte today to experience the difference her expert consultation services can make.
TBS Likes is a strange place where anything goes. Like International Waters, or Christmas morning after the shine has worn off and the booze has kicked in. May the ugliness commence.