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Back from the brink: Nick Borelli’s unconventional path to real estate success

It was a near-death experience that was the catalyst for Nick Borelli pursuing a career in real estate.

Back in 2013, the Ray White Norwood sales executive was working with a fruit and vegetable wholesaler in a job he loved when he suddenly fell very ill.

“I was unwell one day, but I went into work but came home pretty quickly,” Nick recalls.

“I gradually got worse and worse and ended up in hospital.”

A mystery illness

Just days later, Nick was in a medically induced coma, but to this day, his illness remains a mystery, with doctors unable to say what the bacteria that infected him was.

But its effects were clear for all to see.

“It caused multiple organs to shut down,” Nick says.

“Slowly, my heart was failing.

“They put me in a coma for about two weeks… we got the priest out and got the family to say their final goodbyes.”

Nick says he lost about 25kg in just 15 days, but miraculously he pulled through and started on the long road to recovery.

“They never found out what it was,” he explains.

“I had appointments with infectious disease specialists and cardiac specialists, but they never found out exactly what it was.

“They know what it caused. It caused all my organs to shut down. But they don’t know what the bacteria was.

“They had never seen it before.”

But Nick says he doesn’t fear COVID-19 or the global pandemic we find ourselves in today.

He’s cautious and practices COVID-safe measures to a tee but keeps a level mindset and prefers to focus on what he can control rather than what he can’t.

A new direction

Nick notes it was while he was sick that he first thought about leaving his job with the fruit and vegetable wholesaler and pursuing a different career.

“I thought, ‘I’m not going to do this forever, what else do I want to get into’?,” he says.

“I’d always had a keen interest in economics and real estate, and that’s what drove me to look at getting into the industry.”

At about the same time, Ray White Norwood Director Jason Spagnuolo was selling Nick’s then partner’s property, and he jumped at the chance to pick Jason’s brain about becoming an agent.

Nick got his license and kept in touch with Jason, who told him a position would be available in a few months.

“At the end of 2014, Jason called me and said, ‘There is a job in January if you want it’,” Nick says.

“So I ended up working as an associate for Jason about six years ago, which was at a time when EDU teams were still pretty new here.

“There were three of us, Jason, Ryan Evans and myself, and we still all work together.”

A tricky start

Nick says his first sale was an eye-opening experience with divorcing vendors making negotiations tricky, and the auction a fizzer with no registered bidders.

“It sold shortly afterwards, which was good, but it was a baptism of fire, that’s for sure,” he says.

Nick’s other main recollection from his early days as an agent is just how much technology has changed and made agents much more efficient.

He says even though it was only six years ago, the way agencies keep and manage their database is far superior today.

“When I started, the database we used at the time was only on one laptop,” Nick recalls.

“It wasn’t a web-based one; it was on Jason’s laptop.

“So I’d have to come in in the morning and find out all the tasks, handwrite all the tasks and give him back his laptop.

“Then I’d handwrite all these letters, print all these little reports and post them all out individually. 

“Then, at the end of the day, Jason would give me his laptop back, and I’d tick them all off.”

A mentoring mentality

Nick said he learnt a lot under Jason’s tutelage before branching out on his own about three years ago.

Just as Jason mentored him, Nick loves mentoring his team, which comprises Isabella Defazio as team administrator and Nik Ilic and Andrew Mayne as sales executives.

“My focus is to slowly help and mentor everyone in my team and to build them up,” Nick says.

“That’s what Jason did for me, and when I was in a position to go out on my own, I was able to hit the ground running.

“I want to help them build a foundation, learn the skills they need, learn what to say, how to say it and how to act.

“Slowly, they can focus on building a career and upskilling, as opposed to having the pressure of, ‘It’s your first day in real estate, here’s a retainer for you and you’ve got to sell. Otherwise, you’re going to be in debt’.

“It takes the pressure off people, and it worked really well for me.”

Back to basics

Last financial year, Nick had his best year yet in real estate with he and the team selling 134 properties.

He puts the success down to a strong work ethic and “doing the basics” day-in, day-out.

“It’s about making a lot of calls, we don’t want any leakage to happen,” Nick explains.

“We make sure we’re getting onto everyone we meet and that we’re building good relationships.

“Our core focus is to do the right thing by people.

“You hear of instances where people make a decision to favour them at the time, or they try and find the easy way out of a sticky situation, but sometimes you have to have an uncomfortable conversation and make sure you’re always doing the right thing for the client.

“That’s how you have longevity in real estate.”

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Deputy Editor at Elite Agent.