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Government to provide free property data

By Nick Bendel
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A government plan to provide free property data has been hailed as a way to fight underquoting, but also criticised as potentially misleading.

The NSW Coalition government has announced that it will provide free property sales data by October if it wins the 28 March election.

Finance minister Dominic Perrottet said government websites will publish the recent sales history of individual properties as well as a summary of all recent sales by street and suburb.

Mr Perrottet said the government receives more than four million requests for land and property information each year.

“If elected, our commitment is to make it available for free and make the process of buying a house or land much easier and more efficient,” he said.

Real Estate Institute of NSW president Malcolm Gunning welcomed the government plan, which he said would provide greater transparency and reduce underquoting and overquoting.

“Open data will go a long way to taking the speculation out of price and equip all involved in property transactions with the historical information to make an informed decision,” he said.

However, Andrew Bell, chief executive of Ray White Surfers Paradise, said he would not welcome a similar system being introduced to Queensland.

Mr Bell told Smart Property Investment's sister publication Real Estate Business that property data could mislead buyers into make false comparisons between very different properties.

A proper comparative market analysis requires the sort of expertise that agents possess but most consumers don’t, he said.

Mr Bell said free government data would probably be most useful with apartment blocks, but even then buyers might be comparing a rundown unit with something refurbished.

Property data providers could potentially lose business under the NSW government plan, especially if it is replicated in other states.

However, CoreLogic RP Data’s commercial executive general manager, Craig MacKenzie, said he didn’t expect agents to stop paying for CoreLogic RP Data services.

Mr MacKenzie told Real Estate Business that CoreLogic RP Data doesn’t just regurgitate government statistics, but also offers a faster and broader service that includes analysis.

“The information we get from government is an important data source because it’s an official record. But it’s one of 500-600 sources of data that drive our products and services,” he said

“Typically, state governments take 60-90 days to get us property sales records. In a market that’s changing every day, market professionals can’t wait that long, so we go to great lengths to collect sales data prior to the government providing it to us.”

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