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New app helps Aussie homebuyers get upper hand on real estate agents

Two mums have come up with an idea to help everyday Aussies cut through the 'nightmare' property-buying process.

Aussie homebuyers frustrated by the stressful process of finding their dream property can now access inside info real estate agents don't want you to know.

A new app, which aims to shake up the industry, is the brainchild of two Sydney mums - real estate expert Tori Huxtable and tech project veteran Tamsin Lapointe. Auction Snitch allows house hunters to gain in-depth knowledge about price guides, sale prices and auction results — data often kept under wraps by sellers and realtors.

Aimed at removing the secretive practice that allows agents to underquote to get punters through the door, the app - which relies on crowdsourcing - lets users anonymously "snitch" on real-time sales info, putting power in the hands of the buyer to help them realistically decide if they can afford what they're bidding on before wasting their time and cash.

For Sale sign with Sold sticker across it; Auction Snitch real estate app screen
The new app helps homebuyers access data real estate agents often conceal. (Source: Getty/Auction Snitch)

Huxtable told Yahoo Finance the duo came up with the idea after she was rushing to attend a property auction. Knowing she wouldn't make it in time, she asked Tamsin to "auction snitch" by attending the event and letting her know the result.

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This prompted the pair - who are both from Sydney's North Shore - to set up Auction Snitch, with the aim of providing a level playing field for buyers who are often left in the dark when it comes to property purchases.

"Navigating the Sydney property market can be a nightmare," Lapointe said. "People spend an average of nine months searching for the right property, often viewing over 300 listings and attending numerous inspections.

"A major frustration for buyers is encountering listings without prices. Our app addresses this pain point by leveraging community crowdsourcing to enhance market transparency."

While every state has different rules when it comes to advertising properties for sale, price guides must reflect a "reasonable estimate" which could be a single price or a 10 per cent range based on comparable sales and market conditions.

Real estate expert Tori Huxtable and tech project veteran Tamsin Lapointe looking at phone; Auction Snitch app screen
Real estate expert Tori Huxtable and tech project veteran Tamsin Lapointe want to level the playing field for buyers. (Source: Auction Snitch)

Although overquoting is illegal in NSW, the fine is only $2,200 for agents caught in the practice. Huxtable said many skated in a "grey area" of what was allowed.

As a realtor herself, Huxtable said estate agents were working on behalf of vendors to get "top dollar" for properties, often underquoting during sales campaigns, with homes selling way above the price guide at auction. She said some agents didn't list a price guide at all.

"People are often looking at multiple properties, it could be 10 or 20," Huxtable told Yahoo Finance. "Agents will not volunteer that information to do their job. We want to get your inquiry. If we give the game away, we cannot have the one-on-one conversation with you, which is a legitimate sales tactic."

Snitched data could include how long a property had been on the market, whether it had been passed in at auction, or how much it eventually sold for. This gives home hunters behind-the-scenes property and suburb prices before they fork out for expensive pest and building reports or conveyancing fees.

The unique app is based on listings provided by Domain and, since its soft launch in August, there’s been an overwhelmingly positive response, with 42,000 snitches.

Huxtable - who has personally bought and sold several properties outside of her day job - said homes could go for 10 to 20 per cent over the guide at auction so the app helped people who were new to certain suburbs or the buying process get realistic information.

"That's why it's unique," she said. "Some buyers might have come at the eleventh hour."

Auction Snitch is free to download and allows unlimited searches by suburb or postcode. Snitches shared by others are available to view for up to 60 days, while a more comprehensive version is available via a paid subscription.

An upvote or downvote system on "snitched" information helps to validate the accuracy of the data and increase confidence in the app's content.

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Yahoo Australia