Welcome to some of my more informal insights into the world of Real Estate. Here I’ll introduce some of the hot topics within the industry and add some of my tips to help you make the most of your career in this business.

June Quarter Sydney market snapshot

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

What has happened to Sydney property prices and housing affordability in the June quarter? Why have we seen a rise in apartment prices despite the fear of oversupply? Andrew has the answers. Read more

What has happened to Sydney property prices and housing affordability in the June quarter? Why have we seen a rise in apartment prices despite the fear of oversupply? Andrew has the answers.

It’s in the jeans!

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Harcourts Hills Living are great believers in getting involved in their community. Most of the staff are locals in The Hills District, and most of them have children.  Read more

Harcourts Hills Living are great believers in getting involved in their community. Most of the staff are locals in The Hills District, and most of them have children.

This year, the local real estate agents embraced the “Jeans for Genes” fundraising campaign. On Friday, 4 August, Australians showed their support for the cause by wearing their favourite denim gear. The staff at Harcourts Hills Living didn’t hold back, in the office or out visiting clients!  

The Jeans for Genes cause is not just about community; it’s personal. Harcourts Hills Living’s owners, Andrew and Melinda Drane, have three children of their own.

“In business, you often hear about the power of engaging with a community, and the need for responsible corporate citizenship”, says Andrew. “But this issue transcends business. If there’s one area of life we should all feel strongly about, it’s children. A lot of our staff have kids. There’s no cause more important than that of giving children a great start to life by identifying and preventing, or curing, birth defects and genetic diseases.”

Andrew knows from personal experience what it’s like to deal with childhood conditions that come on without warning. “We’ve got children of our own, and we’ve had our own issues. Nothing makes you feel more helpless than seeing your child go through something that only the right drug or proper treatment can relieve them of. This cause is close to our hearts.”   

Next year, they have something even bigger in store. “We want to enable people who don’t have employment or who work from home to participate in Jeans for Genes day, and will have prizes for the biggest donation and best outfit.” 

The genius of jeans has rubbed off! Harcourts Hills Living staff intend to continue supporting the campaign all through the month of August.

Castle Hill Suburb Spotlight

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

With our expansion into Castle Hill, the suburb is the focus of this weeks market update. If you live or work in Castle Hill, or have thought about moving to this area, this is a must watch. Read more

With our expansion into Castle Hill, the suburb is the focus of this weeks market update. If you live or work in Castle Hill, or have thought about moving to this area, this is a must watch.

Making Headlines in the Hills

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Proud to have a recent sale promoted on . This record breaking price was only achieved due to the auction process. With 10 registered bidders and over 50 bids, this unique property with its large home office space has smashed the sale price record in Kings Langley. Read more

Proud to have a recent sale promoted on . This record breaking price was only achieved due to the auction process. With 10 registered bidders and over 50 bids, this unique property with its large home office space has smashed the sale price record in Kings Langley.

New record set in Kings Langley as buyers look for value

Harcourts Hills Living expands into Castle Hill and Glenhaven

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

From today, August 1 2017, real estate agency Harcourts Hills Living will officially expand their operations to Castle Hill and Glenhaven – areas which Harcourts has served for many years. Read more

From today, August 1 2017, real estate agency Harcourts Hills Living will officially expand their operations to Castle Hill and Glenhaven – areas which Harcourts has served for many years.

Until a Castle Hill premises is opened, the centre of operations will still be the substantial Baulkham Hills office, which is located nearby just a few kilometres away, on Old Northern Road. From there, the agency will be easily able to continue delivering their unique and effective Harcourts Hills Living brand of dedicated professionalism, expert marketing and successful auction results on behalf of Castle Hill and Glenhaven clients.

Harcourts Hills Living Principal, Andrew Drane, is thrilled with the opportunity. “Our vision is to be the number-one franchise in the world in the Harcourts group, and that means our aim is to replicate the excellent service we have already been providing in the Hills area. This isn’t exactly a new market, as many people in Castle Hill and Glenhaven are faithful clients of Harcourts, but it’s fantastic to make it official with a greater physical presence in the area.”

For further enquiries, call Kevin Foong on 0478 077 471 or email

Andrew Drane's Real Estate Q&A - with special guest Mike Green

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Andrew Drane:

Well I'm here today and it's an absolute pleasure to introduce Mike Green, the Managing Director of Harcourts International.

I just want to say at the outside it's an absolute pleasure and it just goes to the culture of Harcourts to have our head honcho, number one man come out to the office and deliver a powerful one hour presentation to the sales and property management admin team here.

Mike, thanks very much.

Mike Green:

Thanks, Andrew.

Andrew Drane:

I just want to put out there of course as well that we've got a vision to be number one office international by 2020, and part of Mike's discussion today was to talk about how we're going to get there and what some of the amazing offices are doing.

Mike, in a nutshell, for all those people out there wanting to be the best in the industry, what do we need to do?

Mike Green:

It was a really good session, Andrew, and I thank you for thanking me but it was great to be here. Because as I said to your team, I spend a lot of time in board meetings and doing other things, and to spend time with people like yourself that are actually doing it and doing such a great job, that's great for me.

What do you need to do? It's a whole host of things, obviously. It's never one thing. I think a lot of it is to continue what you're already doing, because you've clearly created an environment where there's energy, there's enthusiasm, there's passion. Your people clearly are proud to be here. If you're going to be the number one you've got to look the number one, and your people do. The office does, which is great.

You know, the basics are the basics. You've got to be fearless in being persistent and consistent at delivering the highest service. Creating clients and experiences clients have that they just go, "Wow that was amazing," that's the key.

Having the auction process in place, and doing as well as you do; using social media; making sure that the profile's out there being heavily involved in the community. Our business is so driven and the foundation for it is the people that we work with and the environment, the community, that we're in. Making sure that we support that community and are very visible in it, not just from a commercial perspective but with sponsorships, and community events, and what have you, doing that.

Business plans; we've talked about that. One of the challenges for our industry is a lot of us get into it because we want the freedom and we want the time to do what we want to do, but of course that's our biggest weakness as well, because it doesn't matter how disciplined you are, we have times where we're not as focused as we should be.

Having the why, having the plan, and sticking to the plan, and being held accountable. The most successful people, that's what they do. Continue to do that.

The basics in real estate are the basics; talk to more people, make more calls, grow the momentum. More people, more marketshare. You create an energy, you become an attraction business. That's what you're doing, which is fantastic.

Andrew Drane:

We talked about disruptors in an era where we've got digital technologies exponential. We talked about Purplebricks, we touched on that. There's a lot of concern out there about businesses like that and disrupting industry.

We talked about value, but what do we need to do? Should we worried to start with? Those offices that are trying to get more marketshare, what do we have to do to make sure that those businesses coming in don't effect us?

Mike Green:

Yeah, it's a really good question that's why we talked about it. There's a lot of talk at the moment about Purplebricks for instance, but I think let's make no mistake, Purplebricks is just a discount, that's all they are. There's spruiking TIC and all that sort of stuff, but at the end of the day they're just a discount fee operator.

We've seen plenty of those in the past, we'll see more in the future. I don't think they're going to disrupt our industry at all, but I think forgetting Purplebricks or anyone else for that matter, it's just delivering the best value to our clients by doing what we know we need to do unusually well. I mean, that's the bottom line.

The top people in our industry, they do an incredibly good job. They genuinely care; they focus on the objectives of the client. What does the client want to achieve? They work hugely hard to achieve those objectives. They have clear strategies in terms of marketing; they have the highest standards in terms of how they present the property and present themselves and their communication with the seller right through the process; their ability to negotiate; they're in the main hugely experienced and focused negotiators. Which is what we do. Then their after-sales and their follow up and their relationship building is colossal.

Provided we keep doing our job exceptionally well, then no one is going to disrupt the core business-

Andrew Drane:

Like the old saying, in the absence of value people always question commission, won't they?

Mike Green:

Exactly. The people that go out there basing their business on price are the ones that can't base it on value.

Andrew Drane:


Mike Green:

That's the bottom line. I'm not worried about Purplebricks. We've seen lots of them in the past and there'll be more in the future.

That's not to say that we shouldn't always be mindful of disruption in our business, because as it's a huge business then there will be disruption. But at the end of the day, if we continue to set the high standards and do the best job in the business, we create real value for clients and we're changing people's lives.

I think that, in the end, is an enormously powerful position.

Andrew Drane:

One last question, Mike, is on culture. Just to have you here shows the culture of Harcourts, and one of the reasons I love the brand is because I know that we make a call, you fly down from Brisbane for an hour, you come down and you train the team.

You're looking after over ... How many offices internationally?

Mike Green:


Andrew Drane:

830-odd offices. To make the effort to come out here just to me is just cultural.

How important is it that the offices that are going to be the best, how important is their culture overall?

Mike Green:

I think culture is the number one thing. Harcourts in over 20 years has grown from 80 offices to 800-odd, and so I often get asked, "What's the difference? How has that happened?"

Hey, I think we've got great training, and I think we've got great tech and all the various things. But in the end I think the difference is culture. I think it is the fact that people are proud. Our people are genuinely proud of the business.

I appreciate you saying that, but to come and spend time with you and your team and Mel, it's the best thing in the world for me. I just love it. People say, "Oh you're the Managing Director," and all this. I'm Mike Green. I went into real estate when I was 19. I've sold houses, worked in real estate offices. I love this business. I love our industry.

I love the fact that we're growing something that people like yourself, Andrew, and I can go to see Martin Cooper in Auckland, or I can see Dane in Brisbane, or Lee Perry in Mandurah, or Steve Caradoc-Davies in South Africa. We're a like minded group. We're values driven, we really genuinely care about what we're doing, and we're proud of what we're doing. When you get a whole bunch of people together that share a common sense of purpose and values, it's a pretty special place to be.

I'm going to start to sound a bit philosophical now, but-

Andrew Drane:

I'm getting misty eyed here.

Mike Green:

I know! We'll be hugging in a moment.

As you get a bit older too, you realize that you spend so much time at work and when you look at your life and think what are you doing? What does it mean? What does it matter? There's something special about being involved in a group like this with a whole bunch of people that genuinely care, that you sort of think, yeah, this is worthwhile. This is a worthwhile endeavor.

I played a video this morning and Steve Jobs was on that video. One of the things you said was, "You've got to love what you do," and I think in the end that's the difference. If you love what you're doing, coming and doing this and talking to the guys and catching up with Jamie and new baby and those things ... You just love it. It's just a special thing to do.

Andrew Drane:

You can tell you love it. I think that's what I love about you Mike, is you're actually ground roots. You enjoyed coming here and speaking to the team. That comes from your real estate base; you love getting in front of people-

Mike Green:


Andrew Drane:

And imparting knowledge.

Mate, thank you very much-

Mike Green:


Andrew Drane:

I appreciate you taking the time to train us and put this video together. On behalf of the team, thanks a lot.

Mike Green:

You're welcome.

Andrew Drane:

Good to see you, Mike.

How often should you do a routine property inspection?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A routine property inspection during a tenancy is crucial to ensure that a home is being cared for and that there are no maintenance or pressing health and safety issues.  Read more

A routine property inspection during a tenancy is crucial to ensure that a home is being cared for and that there are no maintenance or pressing health and safety issues.

As a letting agent or property manager you need to look after your clients investment while respecting their tenants privacy and rights. This is also an opportunity for the tenant to point out any maintenance required at the property.

Scheduling a routine property inspection

You can legally inspect a property up to four times a year and under the Residential Tenancies Act you have to give the tenant at least 7 days written notice. This letter will specify the date and a timeframe during for the inspection to take place.

The first routine inspection should be carried out after 6 to 8 weeks of a new tenancy, and then every 3 to 6 months. The first inspection is important as it gives you a good sense of how the tenants are treating the property.

The tenants need to be present for the inspection, but they must be aware when you plan to visit the property. Always be polite and courteous when dealing with tenants, and record any issues which they raise to forward to the owner.

What to look for during a property inspection

During a property inspection you need to look for any signs of disrepair and anything that could pose a risk to the tenant’s health and safety. Things to look for include:

  • Major structural issues such as cracks in walls or ceilings
  • Mould on walls and ceilings
  • Smoke detectors with flat batteries
  • Unsound balcony, stair railings or decking
  • Dry rot in timber structures
  • Swimming pools that do not comply with current safety regulations
  • Any potentially hazardous plumbing, gas or electrical issues

Use a checklist template to make this task easier and take photos as a record to share with the owner and to monitor any potential problems that could be developing.

After the property inspection

After you have completed the inspection you need to notify the owner of your findings, including if you have found any issues they are responsible for rectifying. You also need to notify the tenant if they are abusing the property, preferably in writing. This should be followed by another inspection to ensure they are complying. If any work needs to be done to the property the owner's approval must be obtained. A work order can then be forwarded directly to the tradie, who will liaise with you to arrange access.

Are you a Property Manager looking for a change of office and culture? We’re always on the lookout give me 0430119601 or the office a call (02) 9686 3999

18 Chianti Court, Glenwood - with Andrew & Celeste from Harcourts Hills Living

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Hi, I'm Andrew Drane from Harcourts Hills Living. Today do I have a treat for you.

18 Chianti Court in Glenwood, it was built as a master built home three levels in design, and I want to let you know, this house has its own soul, its own character. It comes with much of the furniture that suits the house particularly. This one would go to a buyer looking for a very special type of home. I'm very excited.

Celeste is inside. She's going to take you on a tour of the property right now and I'll see you at the other side.

Taking your first steps in the tile entry foyer, this palatial home opens up into three stunning levels. The living spaces bountiful and glistened with a natural light beaming in from many large windows. Your family's covered for formal entertaining as well as everyday meals with distinctly separate zones.

To serve all these zones is this master built oversize kitchen with breakfast bar and gas cooktop. For additional family space or extended families, there's an enormous downstairs rumpus which sits accompanied by a handy extra bedroom complete with en suite.

From my belief this house has its own heart and soul. What I mean by that is that the owner has generously decided to leave much of the furniture in the house here. Why? Because it forms part of the character of the home and without it, it just wouldn't be the same property.

For the remainder of the family, the top level houses four bedrooms with built ins all generously proportioned and two sharing a walkthrough ensuite.

This opulent home is also complemented by the stunning library. This incredible piece of architecture will astound with its combination of functionality and design.

To the rear of the property sits an easy care Roman inspired garden. Paved for entertaining, grass for the green thumb and style to impress.

As I said, this is the sort of home that's going to go to a special type of buyer. It has heart, it has soul, it has its own unique character. This home's going to suit the buyer that has refined tastes and is looking for something a little bit above the norm.

I'm Andrew Drane from Harcourts Hills Living. I hope to see you soon.

Auction works yet again! At Harcourts Hills Living

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Let me give you one very simple tip before the auction gets underway. The highest bidder today will always have the best chance at any auction of buying the properties. Andrew Drane is my name. I'll be your auctioneer today looking after proceedings. First of all, thank you must go to our vendors for entrusting Harcourts with the auction sale of their property. A number of people have come through, a number of contracts issued today, that has translated into you, as the bidders vying to buy this wonderful home. Ladies and gentlemen, make sure you're the highest bidder here today, 45 Mulgrave Avenue in Baulkham Hills, I'm in your hands, ladies and gentlemen. I'll ask you now for an opening bid offer to get me started where we need to be.

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm in your hands now. Where do we start? At $1,100,000. Number 7 in front. I should see paddles in the air at that level. Thank you. We open the bidding now at $1,110,000 the bid. I'll take 10 or higher if you like. Anyone can come in. 150. Thank you. $1,150,000 madam, and sir, it's back to you now. 60. Thank you very much. By 10, I'll take it. 170. 95, I've got it. $1,195,000. We're at 1.2 now. Where do we go? $1,202,000. $1,215,000 it is. Come straight back, make it strong, make it bold. 25. Thank you sir. We're at 1.23 on the first call. 40, good bidding. We are selling. Make no mistake. $1,253,000. Are we done? We're selling. Big round of applause. Sold. Congratulations. Well done.

On behalf of the team, congratulations to our new owners of this beautiful property. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Thank you.

67 Jasper Road, Baulkham Hills - with Andrew Drane & Celeste Kopps from Harcourts Hills Living

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

What I love about this area is that many people have chosen to build their dream home here, and the reason being is it is quite a substantial area for block size. Lynn's house here for instance is a 923 meter block of land. It's ideal for the first home owner, it's perfect for the knock down re-build renovator, but at the end of the day you're still going to be on a block of land just shy of a quarter of an acre. That's where the real value is.

What Lynn's going to miss the most about this home, having brought family up here, and what she wants the buyer of this home to appreciate is the warmth. It's the kids playing and laughing in the background, and simply having a cup of tea with good friends, family, and neighbors alike. It's a solid home constructed when things were meant to last but if you buy this house I've got to warn you, you're going to be subject to the following. Kids laughing in the background, family gatherings, entertaining the neighbors, and people dropping in for a cup of tea.

I'm not going to tell you anything about the area that you don't already know. Jasper Road Primary School's literally a five minute walk from this location. Ample bike tracks and recreational facilities just around the corner, and look at this, sitting in the middle of this backyard in a beautiful spring day I can hear nothing but the birds chirping. I remember growing up in a backyard this big. When I was a child we had family gatherings, there was ample space to run around because the backyard is just that big. It's hard to find that in modern day properties and I think you lose that connection with the family when you don't have a block of land of this proportion.

As you can see I leave Celeste alone for five minutes, she can't help herself, they've made a cup of tea, they've settled in and this home really does lend itself to that sort of activity. I'm Andrew Drane, sitting with Lynn is Celeste Cox. We'll see you at the open home.

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