2017 will see end to vendor hibernation: John McGrath hopes

2017 will see end to vendor hibernation: John McGrath hopes
2017 will see end to vendor hibernation: John McGrath hopes

While McGrath has improved its market share during FY16 in around two thirds of the localities it serves, the vendor hibernation had caught the listed estate agency by surprise.

That was the major takeout from the first annual general meeting held by the listed ASX company.

But the issuing stockbroker Bell Potter expressed disappointment at the paucity of guidance.

The share price hovers at near lows.

Bell Potter said no trading update or guidance was provided at the company’s first AGM as a listed company.

"We were hoping or expecting that at least one would be provided," Bell Potter analyst Chris Savage noted.

"It is therefore somewhat disappointing that neither has been provided and this obviously does not help with regard to short term earnings visibility."

Bell Potter also noted there was also "no mention of potential staff departures which has been mentioned in the press."

The issue however came up with shareholder questions.

When questioned on why two key executives, Matt Lahood and Steven Chen, had departed recently, the chief executive Cameron Judson said the two men "wanted a change after 20 years in the business".

The chairman Cass O'Connor advised the company had experienced unprecedented market conditions.

"Our first-half performance was on budget. Then, it was as though every vendor woke up in the New Year and made a resolution not to sell," she said.

"Listing volumes as a per cent of total property stock are currently at levels we have not seen since the data set began ... We share your disappointment."

She told investors at the McGrath shareholder meeting on Wednesday that rocketing real estate prices have created "an environment in which vendors are reticent to sell, fearing they will not get back into the market."

She cited data showing volumes as a percentage of total property stock are at levels not seen since the industry started collecting the data. 

In 2005 homeowners in Australia's capital cities would move every 6.7 years - today that is 10.7 years, said Ms O'Connor.

For apartments it was every 5.9 years, which was now nine years. 

Its founder and executive director John McGrath was confident property listings would pick up early in 2017, confident the listing drought would not be permanent.

Though he was of the view things would improve post the July federal election.

"I was of the view things would improve post election, but it didn't.

"We are seeing anecdotally it will improve early in the year," he said.

Mr McGrath also said state governments had a responsibility to fix the reluctance of homeowner to sell given stamp duty costs.

On its first day of trading, the $2.10 share price fell to $1.83. Then in April, due to falling listings and concern about a residential price bubble, the price lowered to 90¢.

It has since bounced around this level. 

Bell Potter noted its had recently downgraded its forecasts for McGrath "when it was clear that there was going to be no late surge in Sydney auction volumes this spring.

"With no trading update or guidance provided at the AGM there is no further change to these forecasts and we now wait to see if any 1HFY17 or FY17 guidance is provided between now and the 1HFY17 result in February."

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of our authors. Jonathan has been writing about property since the early 1980s and is editor-at-large of Property Observer.

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Mcgrath Market Share

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