AREAS 2021: What Kate Smith did to create an attraction business

Harcourts Smith Director Kate Smith isn’t one to take the easy option. She firmly believes in the real estate process, has her clients' interests front of mind and draws on two decades of experience to have the tough conversations when they count. Here’s an insight into how all those ingredients saw Kate crowned Top Residential Agent for South Australia in 2021.

After 20 years in the real estate industry, Kate Smith is of the firm belief the best agents adapt quickly, leverage the prevailing market conditions, and stand by their processes to achieve the right result for clients.

That was exactly what the Harcourts Smith director did last year, and the approach saw her named Top Residential Agent for South Australia at the 2021 Annual REA Excellence Awards.

As property prices rose throughout South Australia and interstate buyer inquiries flooded in, Kate harnessed the strong market conditions to sell 250 properties within a year.

In the process, she stood firm on her commitment to vendor communication, adapted to trends emerging such as video walkthroughs, and utilised the auction sales method to create urgency and competition amongst buyers.

As a result, her properties averaged just 17 days on market, and commanded a median sales price of around $700,000.

Kate notes she has long been a fan of the auction process and uses it to sell around 90 per cent of the properties she represents.

However, while auctions might have been gaining traction in SA throughout 2021, the major challenge involved educating sellers to see the process through to the end.

“We could have sold off market or we could have sold prior to auction, but we would have left, in some cases, a hundred thousand on the table for our vendors,” Kate notes.

“So instead of taking the easy option, we ran the processes and achieved maximum results.”

Looking back at 2021, Kate says it marked a breakthrough year in her business.

Five years ago, her sales volume was around 80-89 properties a year, a couple of years ago it climbed to 150, and in 2021 it pushed well beyond the 200-mark.

“For me, I feel like we’re at a point in my career where we’re very much an attraction agency, so we do get a lot of requests for appraisals and listing opportunities, but then we get a lot of referrals and repeat business as well,” she notes.

Key to that referral business are reviews, which Kate says offer prospective vendors confidence when it comes to selecting the right agent.

At present, Kate has 198 reviews on realestate.com.au with an average rating of five-stars.

She notes that volume and high ranking reflect the hard work of her team, along with her commitment to having honest conversations with clients.

“I’ve always been really big on communication,” Kate says.

“At the end of the day as agents, it’s our job to achieve the maximum results for the current market.

“I’ve always been very comfortable with having conversations, good or bad, because then you build rapport and trust with the client.”

Last year also saw new roles and technology introduced into her team in response to client demand.

Kate explains she employed an internal marketing person who was responsible for video and drone content.

Along with FaceTime walkthroughs of properties, that resource allowed her to react quickly to buyer interest at a time of on-again, off-again lockdowns and border closures.

At one stage she also put someone on specifically to manage buyer inquiries in a timely manner.

“We would literally have a hundred emails come through every night,” Kate says.

“I’ve been in the industry for 20 years and I’ve always been a very high transaction agent, but I’ve never experienced the level of demand that we’ve just come out of.”

As for receiving the Annual REA Excellence Award, Kate says she was both humbled and proud to be recognised by her peers, but notes the accolade reflects both a team effort and the hard yards put in over a memorable year.

“I think the thing about this award, in particular, is that it just doesn’t go on the dollar value of what you’ve sold,” she says.

“Obviously there’s a whole algorithm to how the winners are announced, so it’s nice to know that all aspects of the way that you operate are taken into account.”

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Cassandra Charlesworth

Cassandra Charlesworth is a features writer for Elite Agent Magazine with over 15 years’ journalism experience in metropolitan and regional newsrooms. She has a specialist interest in real estate, tech disruption and a good old-fashioned “yarn”.

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