E-conveyancing drama, a big investor for McGrath and two new CEOs
While there was nothing much happening from the RBA with respect to interest rates, there has been lots going on in other areas of the property world in the last few weeks.
PEXA was a company name on everyone's lips, but unfortunately it wasn't good news. A client lost $250,000 from a transaction using the platform when their conveyancer accidentally transferred funds into a hacker's bank account. This occurred because the hacker was able to get into the conveyancer's emails and reset the PEXA account information. All's well that ends well, though – the client was able to finalise the transaction and PEXA are beefing up security protocols.
Also trending online was the news of a big investment in McGrath Limited (MEA). Chinese-based developer Aqualand became the second biggest shareholder in the company through a purchase of a 15 per cent stake over two transactions. The investment was to the tune of around $20 million, and part of the agreement allows McGrath agents to get first dibs on appointments for Aqualand development listings. Since then Aqualand has been adding more Australians to their board and making their plans for development domination here pretty clear. John McGrath remains the biggest shareholder in the company.
HELLO SILICON VALLEY
There have also been a bunch of new leadership announcements and plenty of people moves. VIEW has a new CEO - they appointed Toby Balazs, an ex- REA staffer who's looking to boost their reach. Word on the street is VIEW, Australia's third largest portal, are trying to improve their image. They're not a regular property portal, they're a cool property portal - or at least they will be. Watch this space.
The news that stopped the Elite Agent newsroom and had us all frantically logging in on our morning commute was a new CEO for Domain. Since the big Catalano departure in January, Domain has been under the management of Chairman Nick Falloon (who received $4300 per day for the honour…) as the search spread internationally. The new man in the job is Jason Pellegrino, whose most recent role was Managing Director ANZ of Google. He joined the search engine giant in 2008 and had been climbing up ever since, working across the sales, operations and strategy divisions. He'll be joining the team in August - no word on what his focus will be yet, but with that pedigree, we can hazard a guess…
STATE CHANGES BRING FEW CHANGES
Lastly, all the state budgets were handed down which brought very little change.
WA had an increase to foreign investment surcharges, and the ACT abolished stamp duty for first-home buyers - but everything else was much of a muchness. The figures on stamp duty earnings came in higher in most states than forecasted, which just added another string to the bow of those calling for the controversial tax to be removed to aid property affordability.