Andrew Acton celebrates 20 years in real estate

Explore Property leader and industry stalwart Andrew Acton is celebrating 20 years in real estate this year, and to mark the occasion he sat down with Elite Agent to reflect on his greatest wins and biggest challenges so far. 

With a background in civil construction, Andrew says he got into real estate at the suggestion of his father Warren, who was a commercial agent in Townsville.

“In those days my work took me away from home for long periods of time,” he says. 

“We built roads, pipelines, dams and things like that, and while it was a good life for a single man, after meeting my wife Emma I wanted a change and to settle down in one place.” 

The decision was a “burn the boats” moment for Andrew, but a choice he doesn’t regret making for a second. 

“My dad suggested I get into real estate and I distinctly remember him saying, ‘You’ll get to dress better, and it’s a good career, I think you’ll be good at it.’”

“I owe my father a lot, he was a good mentor to me in real estate and still is to this day: he actually taught me how to properly iron a business shirt, which wasn’t a skill set of mine when I started in real estate –  I was as green as they come.”

After a stint as a residential agent at LJ Hooker in Townsville – an experience he remains “very thankful for” – Andrew decided to join his father. 

“I left LJH to start an independent business with Dad and that evolved into a Harcourts business,” he says.  

“I sold that business and then later aligned with Ray White.”

Nine years ago he decided to branch out again, establishing Explore Property which has office across Queensland and a presence in WA. 

“That’s probably been the highlight of my life, when I evolved into this next level of leadership, and we created our own brand.

“Now we’ve expanded, and while we’ve got a long way to go, it’s opened up a whole new world of successes but also great challenges.”

Plenty of things had changed since he started in the industry, Andrew says.

“I think the hardest thing was starting out,” he says. 

“I remember when I started, I had to wait until after everyone had finished in the property management team and then I’d print out 100 flyers, and then drop 100 flyers on my farm every day.” 

Twenty years has also seen plenty of technological advancements, something Andrew welcomes. 

“It’s the major thing that will drive us forward as an industry,” he says.

“I really look at technology as a friend that has just allowed us to be better at our interactions. It’s given us a path to do it.

“Technology gives you the ability to communicate, to build a client base and communicate with them over time and get a return on that, so technology has been a wonderful thing for the industry.

“But it’s a tool, it’s just a complement to the peoples’ skills; at the end of the day, you still have to meet the people and you still have to be able to have wonderful personal skills with people.”

Among many lessons gained during his career, Andrew says learning to appreciate those working around you was among the most valuable. 

“I’ve had plenty of challenges along the way: we’ve had some really good rises, but you can’t have rises without the dips,” he says. 

“A lot of my life has just been about people-alignment.

“I think to have a good real estate business, the thing that good real estate leaders understand is that it’s actually not about the product, it’s not about the houses, but it’s about the people within your office.

“The realisation that your true customers are agents – because if you’ve got the agent, you’ll have the mums and dads selling the houses by default – I think that was a lightbulb moment for me.” 

That extended to team members who aren’t agents as well, he says. 

“I always say that the secret to a great real estate business is a great admin team that even comes before the agents because you can’t give the agents the service they need without a really good administration team,” he says. 

As for what lies ahead, Andrew says he intends to continue as a “lifelong learner”. 

“I’ve always tried to stay humble about my journey, I’ve been lucky along the way and have had mentors and colleagues who have taught me a lot and supported me,” he says. 

“My ambition is to share what I’ve learned but to also continue as a learner. 

“To me, good leaders are good learners and I take that approach to everything in my life.”

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Jack Needham

Jack Needham was a Digital Editor at Elite Agent in 2022 & 2023

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