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AREC 2018 Feature Interview: Sean Hughes with Samantha McLean

In our latest feature interview from the AREC2018 Elite Agent Studio, Samantha McLean talks to Sean Hughes about his family's leadership style at Realmark Coastal, why age is no longer seen as experience and the future of real estate in WA.



Samantha: Welcome back to the AREC 2018 couch. And my guest here right now is Sean Hughes from Realmark Coastal. Welcome Sean.

Sean: Thanks for having us.

Samantha: Who was your favourite speaker?

Sean: Gavin Rubenstein was really quite good. So, some of the people were yesterday Peter was exceptional as well. Lots of different messages, but it seems as though this year is very much less about the actions and dialogues and things like that and more about understanding yourself and why you do what you do and I subscribe to that.

I think there’s a lot of people out there that can work on how they interact with people and the relationships they have with people.

Samantha: You are the top Realmark office and Realmark’s an amazing brand over in WA and you have a bit of a story actually. So, straight out of high school into real estate. How many years is that now?

Sean: It’s been nearly 20 years actually in real estate. I’m straight out of high school and my Mum was in real estate beforehand and her Mum was in real estate as well. So it was sort of a bit of a generational thing for me.

My Mum’s a certain style. It’s definitely a different style for me and I think that’s what works quite well than selling and managing sort of program inside the business

Samantha: What’s her role in the business now?

Sean: She’s director, but she still lists and sells like myself. She’s a working director. She probably oversees a lot of the culture inside the company, which is good.

Samantha: What about your Nanna? What did you learn from her?

Sean: Nanna told me a couple of pearls. “List and last.” That was a great one that she had. She went into real estate at a late age. I think that’s the good thing about this industry. It’s fantastic over the last 20 years to see the young generations now coming through, but certainly to show that it doesn’t matter what age you are. You can go into it late in your life as well make a career out of it.

Samantha: You’ve mentioned that your mother’s a director of the business and she still lists and sells, and you’re a director of the business and you list and sell. So, how do you balance the fine line between being the boss and also still being out there in the field?

Sean: I think leading by example is a really important one to be able to be there in the trenches with the team and to know exactly what it’s like. It’s very hard, I think, in order to direct if you’ve never done.

You do have to take on and off your hat at different times and be different things for different people, but that’s what’s exciting.

Samantha: It does help when you’re out there in the trenches when someone says, “I’m having a tough day” then it makes that easier to relate to, right?

Sean: Yeah, definitely. You know, I think for me, the thrill of the chase, the thrill of the hunt, turning over rocks and trying to make things happen, all that hustling. I love that. So problem shooting and helping guys on a day-to-day basis around that is something that I get enjoyment out of as well.

Samantha: What are the advantages and the pitfalls of family business?

Sean: I think it’s hard for them to leave work at work. It’s hard for real estate agents to leave work at work. They go home, you know, they still at work effectively. We’ve got husband and wife teams inside the business, as well as mother and son scenario. Mum and I have had a great relationship where we’ve never really had an argument before in the past and it’s pretty unique. I’ve got an identical twin brother, and I know that I couldn’t work with him. We’re different personalities. Mum and I are just a great mix of the Yin and the Yang and that seems to work quite well.

Samantha: Dealing with people’s biggest assets, how did you get them to take you seriously at such a young age?

Sean: Yeah, that was probably the thing. Sam. that I really struggled with to start off with, because 20 years ago, two decades ago, age was age was seen as experience.

And so even if someone had been in the industry the same amount of time as me, because they were 40, it was deemed that they had experience. You just got to know your product knowledge better than everyone else and I think that information is accessible these days anyway, so the consumer knows so much more now than they did 20 years ago.

So it’s pretty hard to wow them with product knowledge, but I think you’ve got to be really good at that energy and enthusiasm. I think really it trumps a lot of that age thing these days. And also, I think you’ve seen here, like, even the crowds. The age demographic is getting younger and younger.

Samantha: What are your goals for the future and what do you think, after being here for the last couple days, what is the office of the future look like?

Sean: I see it changing. It’s interesting to see how disruptors can and can’t make a difference if we don’t adapt and change the industry.

WA’s always been a ‘wait awhile ‘state if you will. You know, I will be concerned if some of the Sydney and Melbourne reps who operate extremely well there came to the West and operated. We’d like to be able to take that style of doing business and the way that it’s done and implement that as best as we can in WA and be the leaders in that.

I’m really excited about the way that I think it’s going to go in WA because there seems to be so much headroom between very mediocre reps and the best. So, I’d like to be able to create some distance between us and the pack. I think we’ve always been a company and people who like to reinvent what they do and we’re always looking to innovate.

I think it really is quite a simple business. Get the basics, get them right, do them well. Do them really well from a world class experience point of view. I think the market back home is ready for a drastic change in that.

Samantha: Yeah. That’s what everyone’s sort of saying, that WA is sort of starting to pick up again. Interesting times. Well, I wish you a great conference. Thank you very much for joining me on the couch. We’ll see you soon.

Sean: Thanks so much, Sam.

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