“I think real estate is one of those jobs where you only get out what you put in,” explains Ivan Sarakula of The Agency, who appeared on Married At First Sight in Season 7.
“You’ve really got to do a lot of groundwork early on to build data, to gain trust, to get your name out there.”
Ivan had an odd entry into real estate.
Working as a workshop manager for Audi, he noticed one of his clients was dropping off some of the more expensive cars he was working on.
This guy was a real estate agent.
“I’d just bought a house, and I’d owned a lot of nice cars in my time, and I thought, ‘I want to adapt this sort of mentality into real estate’,” Ivan explains.
“To work in the place where I want to gain knowledge, and potentially invest more.”
The Audi-lover happened to be a principal at Ray White Sylvania, and Ivan asked him if he could do some pro bono work in the office on a Saturday.
“I ended up really enjoying it. I just wanted to be engulfed in it.”
Soon he was offered a job, and a new career started.
“The hustle is a lot harder in the early days,” he recalls.
“Then you can strategise and plan a bit better as your career progresses.
“People start to know you, and you get referrals. It’s a more flexible lifestyle than it was when I started.”
Part of that flexibility was the ability to appear on the seventh season of Married At First Sight, where Ivan was paired up with another real estate agent: Aleks Markovic.
Although the love affair didn’t last, the effects of his television exposure have.
“I think there’s an instantaneous trust element associated with someone on the TV, for some reason, so it’s definitely helped me win some business,” he says.
Ivan credits the “genuine curiosity around television” for making him a little more relatable than previously.
“There is undoubtedly a social stigma around real estate agents and untrustworthiness, sliminess, greed, and all the rest of it,” Ivan admits.
“Going on television has helped me wipe a lot of that stuff, because I was real.”
However, Ivan was well aware the show had the potential to sink his career.
“I think there always was that consideration, that going on TV might jeopardise things: how I was edited, how I was received by the public, but at the end of the day I walked out of there with my integrity intact,” he says.
“I wasn’t vulgar, and I was conscious of my integrity, throughout the filming and throughout my responses and the way I conducted myself.
“That might not appeal to the greater audiences of Australia, but I’ve walked away intact.”
You can catch up on our recent series of feature interviews that take a deep dive into the pros and cons of agents appearing reality TV here.