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How to find a hidden property gem

By Mo Zeitouneh

Most of us search for property online these days. But what simple search hacks are we forgetting to ensure we’re never missing a beat? 

If you’re like most people, you’re probably putting in your desired location and price range, then hitting ‘search’ when on the hunt for a property.

What you may not realise is, this approach will automatically bring up the most recent listings that everyone is looking at, and you’ll suddenly find yourself dealing with a lot of competition from other purchasers.

To avoid this common real estate trap and find yourself a property gem that’s not receiving a bucketload of attention, it might be an idea to manipulate your search a little to focus on all listings – not just those that have just been put up.

Finding a property gem

In Australia, most properties sell in less than 40 days.

However, some do take longer than average to sell. The pandemic has affected sell times in markets all over Australia. But for some of these areas – such as the apartment market in Melbourne city and Docklands – this has been a positive for buyers giving them more leverage with agents to break in.

“These listings are not necessarily bad property, as there are many reasons why an excellent property can be online for a while,” says Anne Flaherty, economist at

“The first reason that comes to mind is when a vendor has overestimated the price.

“The property ends up staying on the market until they are able to adjust their expectations downwards.”

Home prices may be updated several times before the property sells, so keep an eye on older listings for any changes.

Another reason properties languish online is due to market conditions.

“During COVID, there were some properties in regions across Victoria that were challenged because it was difficult for people to come and view them,” Flaherty says.

This results in a market where there is too much stock available, Flaherty adds.

“Melbourne city is an example. There has been a lot of apartment developments. But the population growth, which was underpinning a lot of that development, was suddenly turned off. So, there is an enormous quantity of properties that, in the absence of COVID, would have sold but now are competing against each other.”

But this is good news for buyers…

A buyer’s market

At any given time, there are literally thousands of good properties sitting online waiting to be discovered.

And, if you find one that suits your desires, you’re in a better position to negotiate on a price and settlement conditions that suit you, says Flaherty.

In some areas, there are also State Government incentives to entice buyers to choose older listings.

A Victorian initiative in inner-city Melbourne is offering buyers stamp duty savings of 100% for new dwellings that have been unsold for 12 months. For any new property in the Melbourne city region, stamp duty will be halved. The properties need to come in under $1 million in value and be purchased before June 2022.

This makes for huge savings for anyone willing to put in the effort and really hunt for their ideal property.

Views like this one could be yours for under $650,000.

The smart approach

To take advantage of the buyer’s upper hand, you still need to be savvy. Properties won’t come to you.

The first thing you need to do to find your next property is tweak your online search habits. If location is high on your list of priorities, it can help to sort properties by distance to amenities and places of importance to you, such as a family member’s home.

“A fantastic feature on sites like that buyers can use is the map view,” Flaherty says.

“This will show you all the properties that are available in your ideal location, no matter how long they’ve been on the market, which is much easier than scrolling through pages and pages of listings.”

The map search view allows buyers to sort properties by distance to amenities and places of importance to them.

Another choice for buyers is to use the filters when searching. In particular, changing the listing format from ‘most recent listings’ to ‘older listings’ first, she adds.

Next, you should buddy up with the local agents in the areas you’re interested in. A real estate agent worth their salt will not only tell you about listings you might have missed in the online search, but about listings that haven’t even made it online yet.

As the saying goes, you need to be in it to win it. Good luck!

All images are from


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