Chameleons in the city: An institutional analysis of sales agents in Sydney's new apartment market [thesis]

Rupa Ganguli
Multi-unit dwelling (MUD) development is complex and involves multiple relationships, introducing market risks. Following the Global Financial Crisis, a 'boom-bust' MUD market cycle eventuated in Sydney against a contrasting political and economic backdrop. The 2017-19 supply peak was crucially enabled through off-the-plan sales by 'project marketers' (PMs). Many new entrants into the project marketing industry sharpened competition. Established ways of working were disrupted by technological
more » ... novation. REAs needed to adapt to retain market share. An understanding of PM roles and practices in facilitating this ownership exchange is under-represented in existing research. This thesis presents an institutional theory-based conceptual model to investigate the embeddedness of PM actions and relations within institutional 'structures'. The key question is how PMs evolve over a market cycle to influence market outcomes as key 'institutions', or 'urban managers'? A mixed-methods approach utilises interviews with 36 industry professionals involved in MUD sales practices in the peak (2017-19) and downturn (2020-21). Secondary data charts the sales industry structure and capabilities empowering PMs during the supply peak. These discussions uncover the consequences of sales practices on the spatial distribution of new supply and MUD ownership profile. PMs were found to adjust to changing institutional 'rules'. Their 'beliefs' on the dominant MUD buyer profile shifted over a market cycle. In the boom, financial and government institutions supported voluminous sales to foreign buyers and investors. Little effort was needed to reach sales 'goals', high pre-sale rates and prices. Official imposition of constraints dissipated demand in the bust, but fiscal stimuli supported sales to owner-occupiers. As building defects came to the fore, PMs' 'information provider' 'role' became more prominent to allay buyer concerns. Sales 'practices' were modified to suit the temporal context. While voluminous sales were secured using channel [...]
doi:10.26190/unsworks/24264 fatcat:eekok6pehbf7tjcl5cxyheox3q