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Australia's Only Not for Profit Real Estate Agency Goes National

17 May 2016 at 11:44 am
Wendy Williams
Australia's only Not for Profit real estate agency is rolling their model out across the nation.

Wendy Williams | 17 May 2016 at 11:44 am


Australia's Only Not for Profit Real Estate Agency Goes National
17 May 2016 at 11:44 am

Australia’s only Not for Profit real estate agency is rolling their model out across the nation.

HomeGround Real Estate launched in Melbourne in March 2014 as a Not for Profit real estate agency providing landlords and tenants with a professional property management service, while reinvesting the revenue back into the community.

After two successful years the team in Melbourne is looking to share its expertise and bring the model to other Australian cities.

Dr Heather Holst, deputy CEO of Launch Housing and a board member of Community Housing Federation of Victoria, said the agency had a partner in Sydney with initial discussions also underway in Brisbane and Adelaide.

“We feel like it’s an idea that can be used in other places,” Holst told Pro Bono Australia News.

“Basically, we’ve worked it all out here in Melbourne. Each city will have differences, but the idea is to go to a local homelessness housing agency who knows their city and then they can sort of adopt the same approach.

“We’ll be able to use the same website, combine our marketing message together and other types of media appearances we get, that can be of use to the different cities who are participating.”

It comes after the Melbourne-based agency has continued to grow over the last two years.

“We’ve got at the last count, a bit over 230 properties, and about a third of those are full price rentals,” said Holst.

“We use the real estate commission from those to cross subsidise the rest of the activity. About two-thirds of them are affordable, at various levels, which is really good. We didn’t think it would be quite that high, we thought it would be the other way round actually. This is all about improving housing supply so we are really delighted by that number.

“We want to build it up a lot more than that, because the problem is big in Melbourne as it is in much of Australia actually. We’ve got our team working really well now too, because we had to come into this new branch of business, we had a lot of experience but not in exactly this. The team is quite mature now which is fantastic.

“I’ve been working in the sector a long time and I always wanted to do something that could be scaled up. As an affordable housing agency you build buildings when you’re lucky enough to get some funding and can put the package together and that’s a lot of work and that’s great, but it’s unusual to get more than 50, 80 affordable units, but we have 230 and hopefully many more to come.”

Holst said she was “pleasantly surprised” by the success and is looking forward to continuing to grow.

“I thought it should work, but we didn’t have anything to compare it to. So it was more our sense that we think there are a lot of people who may well trust us with their property and have got a concern about affordable housing and homelessness in this community and indeed there are.

“And with a new idea, there are always people who are willing to be a bit more adventurous than others and show the way, so the landlords who came in first I am really grateful to as they helped us to work it out, and show it could work to the other people.”

The national rollout is also being supported by as part of a three-year funding sponsorship.

“ gave us money and have encouraged us to do that,” Holst said.

“They’ve sponsored the rollout and have been incredibly helpful with the advice and connections around it as well.

“We started a bit over a year ago with funding from them over a three year support, for developing it in Melbourne but also the national rollout. They have been very excited about this opportunity for something a bit different in the real estate sector. That was sort of the same but different.”

Holst is hoping the rollout will happen “sooner rather than later”.

“It really is up to the local agencies to get it all through their boards, but the sooner the better as we’ll be able to use that sponsorship money from to support it for longer. We’ll have that resourcing that we’ll be able to put forward into the other cities.”

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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