Only 12 months ago, Alex Jordan was poised for what looked like being the most challenging year of his two-decade career in real estate.
Instead, the McGrath Paddington sales agent has been named the Top Residential Agent in Queensland at the 2020 Annual REA Excellence Awards.
The judging criteria is based on sales volume, price and other statistics, as well as reviews over the 2020 calendar year.
Despite his success over the past year, Alex says winning the award – which 8500 agents from across the state were automatically in the running for – came as a total shock.
“I wasn’t really aware of the award, I didn’t expect it, so it came as a bit of a surprise – and a nice one at that,” Alex tells Elite Agent.
“We thought it was going to be a slow market and it has turned out to be the exact opposite. We had our best-ever selling year in 2020 and 2021 looks set to be even better.”
Alex has been at McGrath for more than seven years, and has previously worked in a variety of roles at agencies including RE/MAX, Ray White, and Harcourts.
Based in Paddington, in inner-city Brisbane, Alex’s primary focus is the prestige market, particularly inner-western suburbs including Indooroopilly, St Lucia, Fig Tree Pocket, Chelmer, Graceville, Taringa, and Toowong.
Some of his most outstanding sales in 2020 included a riverside estate at 500 Jesmond Rd in Fig Tree Pocket, which traded for $5 million in June last year, and 57 Sutton St in Chelmer, which sold for $2.75 million in October.
Taking both off-market and on-market sales into consideration, Alex says he and his team at McGrath Paddington topped $160 million in sales for the calendar year and are on track to top $200 million this financial year.
“The areas I sell in are all surrounded by some of Queensland’s most reputable schools, in primary, secondary and also tertiary education,” he says, referring to the University of Queensland at St Lucia.
“A lot of the market that we are selling to are families with children and what’s interesting is that these people are willing to invest much more in their homes at the moment.
“They’re saying, ‘If I’m going to be here all day doing Zoom meetings and working from home, I’d like to live in a nicer home’ and because money is so cheap at the moment, they’re able to do that.”
Alex acknowledges favourable market conditions have played a part in his success over the past year, but says “it’s all relative”.
“I think the market has a direct influence on the agent’s performance, you can’t deny that, but we’re all playing in the same market, and there’s a definite benefit in the market,” he says.
Alex says March 2020 was unquestionably the low point of the past year, with forecasts predicting low levels of confidence, fewer buyers and a correlating drop in house prices as a result of the then-emerging COVID-19 pandemic.
“The anticipation was that we were going to have to reduce our costs, spend some more time with our families and take advantage of this quality time, since we’re not going to have a situation like this again,” he says.
“But what happened was the exact opposite.
“We factored in a market correction, we factored in low buyer demand and a really tough market and instead we saw an increase in demand, we saw an uptrend in prices, business became a lot busier and time off became more difficult.”
In fact, Alex says he has never seen a stronger market in Brisbane.
“In my 21-year career, I haven’t seen a trend this strong and it’s mostly due to low stock levels,” he says.
“We have very limited supply in the market and the demand is not lessening, it’s actually getting stronger.”
Alex puts part of this demand down to increased interest from interstate and overseas buyers over the past year.
“The notion of the interstate buyer in our industry in Brisbane has been spoken about for many, many years but the only real evidence of that happening has been in the past 12 months, and particularly in the past eight months.
“The interstate market, in terms of buyer demand, has been a big influence on our property sales process and prices.
“There is a direct correlation between the demand from interstate buyers and the prices that we’re achieving.
“There are also expats moving back to Australia from places like Singapore, the UK, the US and Hong Kong, and that’s been more noticeable than I’ve ever seen in my 21 years in the industry.
“They are typically our best buyers, so interstate buyers and expats are paying more for the same property than a local buyer would pay.”
SECURING THE WINNING EDGE
Alex says technology has had a big impact on the way the industry does business over the past few years and agents have had to evolve and move with the times too.
Like many, he has relied heavily on Zoom over the past year and says video-streaming apps have been vital tools, especially when it comes to interstate and overseas buyers.
“I put my iPhone on a gimbal, and I do a FaceTime or WhatsApp video to show them through the property,” he says.
“A lot of these buyers didn’t have anyone else look at a property on their behalf, so they made their decision purely based on a WhatsApp or Facebook video from behind the lens of a phone.
Alex says it would not have happened pre-pandemic, but today it is much more common.
“I just sold the property for $2.95 million to an expat in San Francisco, just using the same technology – a FaceTime walk-through using a gimbal,” he says.
“I do about a one-hour tour of the home and I can take them through the home, room by room, and they can direct me to where they want to see and that gives them a really good feel for what they’re buying and they’re making a decision purely on that.
“I think we did about 12 deals via WhatsApp and FaceTime videos, sight unseen, just over the past four months.”
A HUMBLING EXPERIENCE
When Alex won the No.1 Sales Agent award at this years AREAs, McGrath Estate Agents founder and Chief Executive Officer John McGrath was full of praise.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the best agents in the country over the last 30 years but I can honestly say I’ve never met one better than Alex Jordan,” John says.
“Not only is he an extraordinary agent in every way, he’s an absolute gentleman. I can’t think of a more deserved winner for such a prestigious award.”
Alex describes John’s words as “very humbling”.
“I think it helps me believe in myself,” he says.
“I guess we see him as a real estate celebrity and a thought leader of our industry.
“I listened to John for many years before joining McGrath and I was already fond of him as a human being.
“Just the way he communicated, it resonated with me a lot because he was more about the person than about the transaction and that aligned with the way I want to look at life.”
PLAYING THE LONG GAME PAYS DIVIDENDS
Alex says he ultimately sees real estate as “being a human-to-human interaction business” and if you can leave a transaction knowing you’ve conducted yourself with honesty and integrity, and left a positive impression on both the seller, then you have done your job well.
“Playing the long game in this industry will pay dividends, so rather than focus on the ‘now money’ and be transactional, just think about the long-term outcome,” he advises.
“I think when you shift your focus to the long game, you end up making better decisions and you give better advice that’s not self-serving.
“I find that what goes around comes around and if you do the right thing by the client and give them good advice, it comes back in multiples.”