Following the recent launch of multiple property-focused smartphone applications, investors have been urged to consider some of the online tools’ potentially serious flaws.
Real Estate Buyers Agents Association of Australia (REBAA) president Rich Harvey has warned buyers not to fall into the trap of relying on technology and free online tools exclusively in their purchasing decisions.
Mr Harvey’s comments follow the recent launch of a number of new smartphone apps directed at property investors, some which give real-time national data to home buyers and renters, and others which are aimed at helping maximise investors’ tax returns.
According to Mr Harvey, while there is a plethora of free information available on the internet and via mobile apps, the serious danger for buyers and investors is how this information is interpreted and acted upon.
“Take the investor who sees a report promising high capital growth and yield based on two years’ figures, then buys a property, but has major regrets two years later when developers flood the market or the mining boom subsides,” Mr Harvey said.
“While an app can punch out a price estimate in five seconds, it can takes years of training and experience to understand property values accurately.
“Engaging a buyer’s agent adds yet another layer of protection by analysing the data, negotiating for the purchaser and protecting them from making an emotional decision rather than an informed one.”
Mr Harvey said many free valuation tools and technology apps are highly flawed and fail to take in renovation works and aspect.
“There is no dispute that technology has enabled faster delivery of information across a multitude of devices and in a more efficient timeframe, but it’s alarming to think that people are basing the biggest financial investment decision they’re likely to make in a lifetime on some free online tools,” he said.
“These apps generally don’t provide any financial advice, but simply offer a one-size-fits-all database of information and documents on which the naive investor needs to make a decision.
“It might seem like you’re saving money in the house hunt by relying on property apps and free online reports, however it could be far more costly in the long run if you buy an unsuitable property.”