Industry Insiders: A column featuring the experience and opinions of leading industry proponents brought to you by The Real Estate Voice.
Company: Green St Property
Job title: CEO and Licensee
What attracted you to the real estate industry (and when)?
I have always been attracted to the idea of sales and the concept of real estate (and) becoming a real estate agent was a natural progression. As a kid, my parents always taught me the value of investing in property for the future and this industry has always offered the challenge I personally enjoy. I started in real estate in my early 20s and am approaching 27 years in the industry. In fact, this year marks 20 years of operating my own agency. Everything about this job makes me “tick” — negotiating deals, the people you get to know along the way, the trust people give you to sell their investments — it’s an amazing industry to work in if you are passionate about it.
What do you love most about the industry?
This industry forces you to think on your toes, and there’s plenty of room and freedom to think of new and exciting ways to sell real estate. What do I like the most? I love the excitement I feel when I get the opportunity to sell something unique. Not every listing is a beautiful, historic landmark — but when you get the opportunity to put your name behind something that has prestige and presence, that’s exciting. Working in Newcastle, I have had a unique opportunity to consistently sell real estate that is embedded with personal stories — it’s exciting to be able to tell your team: “I grew up in this street and now I get to sell my old next-door neighbour’s house 20 years later”.
What do you consider your proudest moment or greatest achievement (in the industry)?
When I reflect on my career, I have so many proud moments. The first home I sold, earning suburb records, negotiating difficult deals — I could go on forever. However, the thing I am most proud of has been establishing a successful long-running agency within the Newcastle region that allows me to work alongside my wife, Amanda. The business has certainly seen challenges over the years, but I’m so proud to see the way we have handled any obstacle that has come our way. We have seen natural disasters, office changes and now a pandemic — and we are still standing strong.
Biggest challenges in the industry? How has the pandemic affected the way people buy, sell and rent property?
The pandemic has affected us greatly here in Newcastle — the market is hot! We found when the pandemic hit and the world began adjusting to new ways of living, this essentially forced people to audit their living situations. People no longer needed to be confined to the traditional idea of working in an office. They were discovering a lot more flexibility to their careers by working from home and, as such, we saw an influx of buyers coming from Sydney to Newcastle to purchase homes closer to the beach that were traditionally cheaper. The interest has been great for us. As a boutique agency, we have the flexibility to include our “personal touch” in the way we do things. We were the first in our area to develop pre-recorded virtual inspections, but with a custom twist. If we had buyers overseas, we could still show them homes through a medium that was personalised for them. Other agencies soon followed suit. This process is now embedded in our leasing department and we have found it has streamlined our entire approach to the way we operate in-house.
Latest real estate/economic trends affecting your state or region?
It’s a sellers’ market! Industry-wise, we are seeing street records and suburb records being broken on a weekly basis (some by us), which is really exciting. We are seeing growth in developments and huge interest/demand in large, family-sized homes. Apartments are still generating a lot of interest as investments, especially within our CBD.
How would you improve the process and incentives for property ownership, from an owner-occupier and investment perspective?
I have a passion for fair and equitable planning. Specifically, I have been working on a detailed plan for first-home buyers to enter the market, which relieves government of inconsistent offering of stamp duty, home builder incentives and cash splashing, while replacing this with an educated savings plan through superannuation savings and incentives. This plan can also be tailored and considered for investors who want to take back control to a hands-on investing approach and not leave their superannuation in the hands of superannuation funds. We know that when investments are managed privately, we have the potential for greater returns and flexibility. This is an area that I would love to see developed.
What’s the biggest misconception people have when buying or building a home?
I think the biggest misconception people have when buying or building a home is how easy it looks on the surface. We live in an age where we are flooded with TV shows that portray “buying and flipping homes” as an easy option with a large financial reward. People never talk about the red tape involved; the council approval, the logistics of going about doing that, the stress, the taxes and the costs. Don’t get me wrong; it can be fun, but it’s definitely not all roses — and it’s something you have to be smart about. We pride ourselves on transparency, so we educate buyers on what would be involved if that is a path they decide to take when buying or building.
What tips would you give for future-proofing an investment?
COVID has shifted ideas of investing and, prior to this, our company has been ahead of the change. Investing is about attracting and placing your investment in an area that attracts multifaceted incomes that can ride out the changes in the market. This investing relies on dual income streams. An example is a residential income with commercial opportunities or a property that has a granny flat, which can be sublet. In terms of ongoing management, it is so important to conduct regular and thorough property inspections. These detect faults before they contribute to a reduction in the value of your investment. Stay on top of pest inspections to reduce possible structural issues and consider investing in landlord insurance. The adage “you need to invest to invest” to look after investment should amplify your returns.
What should prospective buyers look for when choosing a property?
It depends on the reasons for purchase. If buyers are seeking a solid investment, you want something that will retain/grow in value — look for minimal damage, a house located on a corner block is always great and something that doesn’t require a lot of money for renovations is also ideal. If you are looking for that “forever home”, it really boils down to finding a configuration that’s right for you — if you can see yourself in that home happily for the long term, then it’s for you!
In terms of technology and interaction, what do you think buying a home will be like in 2030?
The future is exciting! I think we will see a huge change in the way we showcase housing by 2030 — we already have. We might be doing pre-recorded tours now to minimise contact, but who knows? By 2030, we may be stepping into a virtual reality world where we can physically immerse ourselves in the houses we are selling/leasing. I think social media will play a huge part in the way we advertise; it’s just so much more accessible to the public. In saying that, fingers crossed by the time 2030 hits and I’m in my 50s, I will still be managing the traditional methods of looking after people. Not just letterbox drops, but the opportunity to say “hello” to the people in my city via sporting club meetings, commercial gatherings, etc. — it’s a great part of this job.