“The average person is starved for solutions when it comes to property issues. There is extensive legislation which surrounds renovations, tenancy disputes and neighbour disputes. People don’t usually know their rights and responsibilities and this can be risky in terms of liability. An uninformed property owner is also vulnerable. They are an easy target for shoddy tradespeople looking to cut corners or unfairly inflate their charge,” said Pia Vogel, Joint Managing Director, of HomeSource.
The NSW Fair Trading received 2,476 consumer complains about property construction which includes renovations and the CTTT received 3,039 applications about tenancy disputes. It was this demand that lead Pia and Guy to want to provide a comprehensive resource that enabled homeowners to make decisions about their home with certainty and confidence. In 2005 they introduced HomeSource Access to the market.
“Access is appreciated by anyone who was left with a dodgy repair or renovation, or who feel they were overcharged. A membership means access to personalised legal and building advice on any property matters. Members can find out their legal rights in a dispute with a neighbour, builder or landlord/tenant. The service provides advice on home DIY, how to tackle things yourself or whether a professional is required. Access also provides referrals to qualified tradespeople.”
Access was the first membership product offered by HomeSource. It provides members with advice as well as offering access to the Find-A-Tradesperson database of fully qualified tradespeople. It is a database which has grown over the years and which can be accessed independently at a reduced yearly rate.
In 2006 HomeSource introduced Home Assist. Described as “roadside assistance for the home”, it is now their most popular product.
“When faced with an unexpected home emergency repair, more than advice is needed to fix the situation. This is why Home Assist was developed. When a member’s property is experiencing an electrical, plumbing, gas or locksmith emergency, the member simply calls Home Assist on one phone number to have the problem resolved. For covered events, HomeSource organises and covers the cost of getting a contractor one site and the first 30 minutes of their labour. The tradespeople are taken from the Find-A-Tradesperson database which members of Home Assist can access themselves 24/7.”
Other available products include HomeSource Prestige which combines the benefits of Access and Home Assist for a reduced rate, Landlord Assist and Business Assist similar concepts to Home Assist which cater services to the needs of Landlords and Businesses, and numerous specialised helplines such as Gadget Help Line and Home Trades Help Line. HomeSource also offers unique insurance products through its subsidiary PropertyCover.
In 2010 HomeSource secured partnerships with ANZ bank and American Express, providing Home Assist to their high value customers as a value add benefit. In 2011 energy company TRUenergy took up the service as a value add for their some of their clients. This year the energy company turned national, rebranding as Energy Australia.
For the future HomeSource is looking to expand its online services. Three new web platforms are currently in development. HomeSource has been in communication with prospective new corporate partners and is looking at other opportunities in property related industries.
“All in all the future looks good for HomeSource. All our products have been new to the market and that has often made gaining recognition a struggle. The future offers a lot of opportunities but what we know for certain is that we will continue in our goal to make home ownership and property management as easy as possible for the average Australian,”