Friday, December 24, 2010

Sarah Lorden Real Estate 2010 review

Our year has been a rollercoaster of charity events and achievements!

We started like most agencies in Sydney, experiencing the property boom straight after Christmas, with a red hot market. Our sales agents meticulously sold many properties, some clearing for record highs. We hosted an Easter stall where our team and friendly Easter bunny gave away free chocolates to the children in Balmain while raising money for the Salvation Army. Some of our team then involved themselves in the Phoenix Kindergarten annual charity auction - the theme was retro and our auctioneer Damien Cooley kindly gave up his time to host the night. Other members of the team including Sarah and Kate attended the Roz-Vegas Casino night which helped raise charity for the local schools. Sarah and Kate also gave up their time (and comfy beds) to spend a night out in the open for the CEO Winter Sleep out.

Every October, we girls at Sarah Lorden Real Estate go pink for the month to raise money for the McGrath Foundation and to promote Breast Cancer awareness. We hold a charity stall in Balmain selling McGrath Foundation merchandise. It's a big hit with the children who love getting their faces painted. All of our banners go pink for the month and we donate $500 from every property sold to the McGrath Foundation. In that same month, we sponsored the charity celebrity cricket match out on Birchgrove Oval where celebs like James Tobin and Todd McKenny competed in a friendly cricket game.

All of this charity work did not go unnoticed by our colleagues and peers at the REI Awards night where Sarah Lorden herself was honoured for the second year in a row with the John Greig OAM Award for Community Service. The REI also recognised the high performance of our team of agents and property managers by awarding Sarah Lorden Real Estate the top gong of the night - the Residential Agency of the Year (Large) 2010 award. Securing the RER's Highest Value of Property Sold per Agent 2010 award was just another proud moment for all the team in seeing their efforts rewarded.

Despite all this hard work, we at SLRE also know how to let our hair down! Our half annual general meeting involved dressing up in clown costumes and intermingling with patrons at the Exchange Hotel! While Kris Kringle resulted in a wild game of pass-the-parcel and celebrity heads! The Christmas party began with a leisurely game of lawn bowls before the party moved inside and got… well a little crazy! To top the year off, the directors Sarah and Kate, organised for the whole office to go on a jet boat ride around Sydney Harbour! Whoa!

2010 has also been a strong year for innovation at Sarah Lorden Real Estate with our ventures in product marketing and social media growing in success. Embracing social media, we began writing a community blog documenting the history of the inner west as well as relating to current events in the market. This blog in under a year has become the most read property blog in Balmain.
We started a facebook and twitter page with its aim to introduce a new generation of home buyers to Sarah Lorden Real Estate while at the other end we took out our first Billboard on the corner of Victoria Road and the Anzac Bridge. We also reorganised our shop front, doing away with photo slides and replacing them with 3 large plasma screen displays.

We would like to make a special mention to our marketing manager Amalia Miceli who is leaving us today and moving to London to begin a new life. Good luck! Also congratulations to Justine Brown for her having her second beautiful baby Lola.

Merry Christmas to everyone,we are looking forward to 2011 with the unveiling of a new suprise in the new year....

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The World's Most Expensive Coffee

Question: What drink would you expect to see a real estate agent in Balmain drinking? A staple for Balmain real estate agents is obviously the double shot soy mocha latte with cinnamon, just don't get any froth on my bluetooth earpiece! Duh!

Balmain and coffee go hand and hand with each other, from Bertoni's to the Little Marionette to Cafe Berlin; the whole of Balmain loves coffee and we have some great local brewers of the black stuff.

But what is the most expensive coffee in the world?
Surprisingly, it isn't from Columbia or Africa but in fact Indonesia! Kopi Luwak is the most expensive coffee in the world but it's not the location that makes it special, it's how it's made. "Kopi" is the Indonesian word for "Coffee" while "Luwak" is the name of a local palm civet (a type of weasel-like animal).

*Yuk Warning* The coffee is made from coffee beans that have been eaten and partly digested, then excreted by the civet. Apparently, the digestion process of the civet dissolves the outer layer of the coffee bean, removing the traditional bitter flavour of coffee. The beans are then collected from the dung of the civet and sold by the locals. One kilogram bag could set you back by $300 and a cup retails around $50.

Unless you are Bear Grylls, I don't think anyone would find this strange brew a rewarding experience!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Pubs of Balmain

Some of the feedback I've received from the readers of our Balmain blog is that people would like to know more about some of the pubs in Balmain. So, come next year, I'll be writting a number of pieces introducing you to some of the local watering holes and their history. The Balmain Association's book "Called to the Bar" will be providing me with much of the information and I'd recommend anyone who is interested in this subject, to pop down to Brays Books on Darling St Balmain and pick up a copy.

The first pub I'd like to talk about is the Marquis of Waterford, Balmain or better known as the Waterford Arms Hotel, Balmain. No longer a working pub (now a private residence) the wide sandstone building was built in 1841. Located at number 50 Darling Street, Balmain East, the Waterford Arms was originally called "Cathemore" (Fort on the Hill) and was Balmain's first bakery, the original open wood fire oven still exists.
In 1846, four years after the first pub in Balmain (the Balmain Hotel) opened, an eccentric man named Charles James Bullivant who converted the building into a licensed pub. Bullivant, a former army officer, had been discharged from service for drawing an unflattering caricature of Governor Macquarie on the wall of the guardroom. He was said to be obsessed with his own death and, from a young age, had his own coffin made up and carried it around with him. When he did eventually pass at an elderly age, he left instructions for his son to bury him in an unconsecrated tomb in his backyard with the inscription "The first day of darkness, the last of danger and distress."

The Waterford Arms, Balmain was fourth oldest pub in Balmain and was only a licensed premises for 5 years before Bullivant sold the property to Joshua Frey Josephson who then sold it to Balmain's first mayor, John Booth in 1969. The property has remained a private residence ever since but in it's heyday it would have been a lively place to be. The trams stopped in front of the pub while next door Oddfellows Community Hall would have been a scene of much debate and merry-making!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

3 Great iPhone Apps for Real Estate

The real estate industry is moving forward technologically at such a fast pace that it is sometimes difficult for agents, buyers and sellers to keep up. In this blog, I listed 3 iphone applications that we at Sarah Lorden Real Estate use often and find quite helpful. iphone App
If you are looking to purchase a home or even looking to research what your home would be worth, then this application is essential. It is basically a condensed version of the website and holds thousands of current listings Australia wide including photos and descriptions of properties. You are able to view the properties on your GPS map as well as bookmark open times to remind you when the next inspections begin. The application is probably the most familiar and comprehensive application for those who are in the market right now. And it's Free!

Tapmortgage iphone app
This application has only just been released but it is one of the best of it's kind, simply because it's so easy to use. Tapmortgage is a finance application that allows you to calculate the interest on your mortgage or stamp duty. There are a couple of things that make this app great. The first is how easy it is - just put in your mortgage details and up come the calculations. The second is that it will actually provide you with suggestions to how you can better save and cut down your mortgage repayments. For example, if you are paying you mortgage on a monthly basis, the app will let you know how much interest you will pay by week, forntight and month. It is great for first home buyers or people looking to refinance as it spells it out, in dollar amounts, what you will save if you pay weekly or fortnightly compared to monthly. Thirdly, this app is great because it FREE!!

Commbank Property Guide & ANZ Property Tracke
These two apps are basically the same in content, they're just sponsored by the separate banks, although & rpdata do endorse the Commbank app and I've found that the Commbank app does work better than the ANZ app, however both can be buggy at times. The amazing thing about this app is the concept that they provide. If you are an agent, picture this: You are at a listing appointment with your iphone and you are talking to your vendor about what the houses in the street sold for and you say "let's go outside and I'll show you." With this app you point the iphone's camera at any house in the street and up will pop the price range and date in which that house sold for. You can just walk down the street with you vendor and you iphone will inform you of all recent sales in the street. We have done it with a few of our clients and they have been impressed. This app is also FREE so I suggest that you download it and try it for yourself!

There are many more real estate applications that work well such as Evernote, MyDesktop and Homebuyer but if you are looking for the best apps on the iphone, we believe that, Tapmortgage and Commbank are essential for all agents, buyers and sellers, not only because of their content and information but also because they are all absolutely free.

Monday, December 13, 2010

For the past two weekends Santa has been in Loyalty Square taking photos with all the good girls and boys in Balmain. We would like to thank everyone who came and got a photo with Santa as well as making coin and food donations to the Salvation Army. We managed to raise nearly over $400 in total. Your generosity will go a long way to helping others in need this Christmas.

As can be expected in animal friendly Balmain, it wasn't only children who wanted their photo with Santa! It seemed half of the puppy dogs in Balmain were not too camera shy to be snapped with the jolly man in the red suit! They made for great photos and they were all well behaved on the day.

It has just become official that our blog is the number one most read Property Blog in Balmain. We'd like to thank everyone for being such avid readers. We try and keep the posts interesting, yet focused on the community and the market.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dr. William Balmain - The man behind the suburb

It's been brought to my attention that I have not yet written about Dr. William Balmain, the man the suburb of "Balmain" was named after.

Born over nearly 250 years ago in 1762, William Balmain was a Scottish surgeon. At the age of 18, he was appointed the assistant surgeon of the First Fleet. He sailed on the First Fleet ship "Alexander". There, served as Civil Magistrate of Norfolk Island where he met his wife, a convict, Margaret Dawson. Balmain then returned to Sydney where he was appointed the Chief Surgeon of the Colony of New South Wales.
Dr. Balmain was intrically involved in a number of Sydney's early conflicts including the Irish rebellion in Castle Hill and the Rum Rebellion of which, Balmain blasted John Macarthur, the rebllion's leader, as "a base rascal and an atrocious liar and villan."

On 26th April 1800, the NSW Governor John Hunter granted Dr. Balmain 223 hectares of land, what is now know as "Balmain". Back then, the wild bush area was known as "Ross's Farm". Dr. Balmain only held the land for fifteen months before his failing health forced him to return to England. Before his departure in 1801, he quietly sold the land to John Gilchrist, a scolar residing in Calcutta, India, for just 5 shillings. Such a nominal sum is ludicous when we consider today's Balmain property prices! Gilchrist wished the area to be known as "Gilchrist Place" but the legalities of the sale had been so quiet that it had not become public knowledge until 20 years later. By that time, the suburb name of "Balmain" had rooted itself on the area.

In 1801, Dr. Balmain's health had failed and he returned to England where he died a year later due to kidney failure. His kin returned to Sydney where they fought to reclaim the land, refuting the transaction that had taken place between Dr. Balmain & Gilchrist. They're attempts were ultimately futile and Gilchrist sold the first plots of land at auction in 1836.

Santa visits Balmain

Last Saturday, Santa came to Loyalty Square in Balmain much to the excitement of many children.

With the busy Christmas period ahead, we would like to thank all of those people who generously donated a gold coin to the Salvation Army and had a photo taken with Santa Clause. The weather threatened to dampen our stall but thankfully held off and we were able to raise over $100 for charity.
Santa will be back at Loyalty Square next Saturday 11th December between 10am - 2pm. Come and join in the celebration!