Caine Real Estate

Caine Real Estate
Jack Hayes

There are few names more synonymous with luxury property in East Melbourne than Caine Real Estate.

Founded in 1997 by current director, Paul Caine, the brand has grown and evolved to become the pre-eminent agency in East Melbourne and surrounding suburbs for purchasing, leasing and selling property.

This prominence, however, was not always the case.

According to Caine Real Estate CEO, Jacob Caine, the brand had long been considered apartment experts, unable to break through to the luxury home market.

“When I took over in 2012, I was keen to change those perceptions, to modernise, but also add a new dimension of professionalism,” Mr Caine said. “It was always there and present among the people that work within the company, but when you look at the other agencies we compete with, they are some of the best agencies in Australia.”

“In order to compete, we had to radically shift how we were perceived in the community. With these larger luxury brands playing a predominant role in the area, we were entrusted with apartments and some of the smaller houses, but not necessarily a three-, four-, five- or even ten- million dollar property.”

According to Mr Caine, square metre rates in East Melbourne are among the most expensive in the country, with some properties selling for north of $20,000 per square metre.

Breaking into a market boasting some the most distinguished property in the nation sits as one of the most daunting, yet privileged, prospects any agency is likely to face; a magnitude not lost on Mr Caine and his team.

“We worked incrementally breaking into those higher value properties by establishing our connection with clients,” Mr Caine said.

“Repositioning ourselves with an emphasis on technology and marketing know-how has been crucial to leveraging our way into that market, along with developing partnerships with the community.”

Mr Caine’s pursuit in breaking perceptions does not stop within the confines of his own business.

As an advocate lifting public perception of the industry, he was voted on the board of the Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) by running on a platform of reform to raise the bar for entry into the industry.

Mr Caine is determined to shatter the image of the “Costa del Sol tan, the pin stripe suits, the flashy cars and the used car salesperson” approach to real estate.

During a period during between 2013 and 2014, the company started advertising auction reserve prices, well before the new legislation came in during 2016, which mandated a statement of information, otherwise known as an agent estimated range.

“We tried to remain as transparent as humanly possible. That campaign garnered a fair amount of attention other news outlets which pinned me up against the former head of the REIV who was still advocating this opaque approach to pricing in property,” Mr Caine said.

“There was an attitude that the only way to preserve competition is through a cloak and dagger approach to pricing where people who may not necessarily be able to afford the property are encouraged along to stimulate competition at auction, which is a total fallacy.”


There is competition regardless. Properties will go over reserve when the reserve is advertised. We saw that happen for over a year and a half. We had total transparency and everything we sold at auction, sold over reserve.


According to Mr Caine, it was still common to find agencies advertising reserves, for example, ranging between $800,000 to $900,000 giving hope to prospective buyers, but in reality, the reserve price was closer to $1 million.

“These are massive assets that we deal with, and you can be an agent’s representative after a five-day course at the real estate institute and you are dealing with millions and millions of dollars in assets on a weekly basis,” Mr Caine said.

“The most expensive thing a person will deal with in their life, and you have someone with a qualification pulled out of a corn flake packet. That’s not good enough.”

“The reason why some people are cynical or sceptical of the operations and practices of the real estate industry is partly because of those credentials.”

Currently, the qualification level needed to enter the industry is a Certificate III in Real Estate Practice. Mr Caine would like to see that entry level raised to a diploma level minimum.

Along with a revised entry level, his push for reform would see continuing professional development mandated, particularly with ever changing nature of legislative changes in property.

Mr Caine said by creating a higher level of entry, professional standards and commitment would follow suit, mitigating the prevalence of people prone to short cuts.

Now, with the relocation of their office to Cambridge St, Collingwood, marking a move outside East Melbourne, albeit by only 300 metres, for the first time in more than 20 years, Mr Caine and his team are eager to revitalise their connection with the surrounding suburbs like Carlton, Collingwood and Fitzroy.

“Funnily enough, we are actually closer to the majority of our clients in East Melbourne than when we were in Jolimont,” Mr Caine said.

“We feel very privileged to work where we do. The communities and types of properties we deal with are among some of the finest and most unique in Australia.”

“So much diversity, so much history, so much style, so much beauty and idiosyncrasies. There are so many places that surprise us to this day, to be awestruck when first stepping into a property is something we are greeted with each and every day.”

“Our team are many things, but if nothing else, enamoured completely with property.” •

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