The internet records everything and forgets nothing

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Before the internet, properties were mainly promoted via newspaper advertisements, flyers, signs and agents’ windows. These locations had a remarkable and often overlooked advantage over modern forms of advertising: they left no easily traceable marketing or sales history.

There is an old saying: ‘Nothing is as useless as yesterday’s newspaper’. In the newspaper age, a property owner could dip their toe in to test the waters. If they didn’t like the result, they would take the property off the market or reduce the price. With no digital footprint, there was very little long-term harm to the property value. The marketplace quickly forgot.

Now, the rules have changed: the internet records everything and forgets nothing.

Properties advertised in Australia appear on several real estate marketing websites, which advertise almost all properties for sale in Australia: realestate.com.au and domain.com.au.

Before the internet, the only indication a property had been on the market for an extended period was a faded card in a real estate window or a crooked, worn sign in the front yard. Once these were removed, the attempt to sell faded quickly from the marketplace’s collective memory.

That’s no longer the case. The internet creates a digital footprint: a visible record of a property’s advertising and pricing history.

A digital footprint intensifies the danger posed by an extended marketing period. If a property is launched on the main real estate websites at an inflated price and doesn’t sell, this can cause significant damage to the property’s recorded history – and thus the eventual selling price.

Many websites provide easy options for buyers to explore information that was previously hidden. On realestate.com.au, one click shows the number of page visits, giving a buyer an early idea of a property’s time on the market and desirability. The CoreLogic homepage for agents is one click away from showing all listings that have been advertised for more than 60 days. Agents use this to find owners who may be fed up with their current agent and are ready for a new start at a new price.

The majors are not the only websites offering buyers property information. Countless others offer buyers the chance to find a bargain: oldlistings.com.au, for example, has a complete digital footprint on properties marketed in Australia – for example, a unit for sale in Essendon, Victoria, had nine different marketing campaigns over a 10-month period, with every detail recorded, including its various prices. This is valuable information for a buyer considering buying this property.

The greater the exposure, the greater the pain. When selling property, the pain comes in the form of a lower selling price.

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