Sales is in Gary De Paoli’s blood.
While many proponents say sales can be taught, for Gary, it’s something that has always come fairly naturally to him.
Over the years, he’s sold spring water and garage doors, but it’s his time as a real estate agent that is closest to his heart.
Gary joined the industry in 2005, and the Century 21 Living Local principal, in Woombye on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, says 16 years later, he still loves the industry just as much, if not more.
“I love the many different people you meet,” Gary explains.
“The stories and their history. It keeps life interesting, being able to help people through the different stages in their life journey.
“I think what I like the most about real estate is the first-home buyers. They are excited; it’s a big deal for them.
“Their enthusiasm is infectious.”
With a solid background in sales, including running his own businesses, Gary says it was his father-in-law that “chose” real estate as his next venture.
“He was a real estate agent in New Zealand for many years and often said to me, ‘You should be a real estate agent. I think you’ve got what it takes’,” Gary says.
“I thought about it for about a year before doing it.
“It’s a tough gig at times and a lot of weekend work, but I’m very glad I did it.”
Initially, Gary joined a franchise agency as an agent before he moved to an independent office, Riddell Real Estate, in his neighbourhood.
A few years later, with the owner approaching retirement, Gary went to him to see if he was interested in selling the agency.
“Before I knew it, I was the owner of what was then called Riddell Real Estate,” Gary recalls.
“It was the perfect transition. I had worked there for six years prior and had built up a good clientele.”
The agency was successful and built up a loyal base of repeat clients, which Gary is immensely proud of.
But in a competitive market, Gary says he wanted to push the agency to the next level, and that’s when he and his wife, Caroline, who Gary describes as “my rock”, started to consider joining a franchise.
“As independents, I felt we were getting lost amongst the forest,” he explains.
“We looked at a lot of franchises, thinking do we, or don’t we? It was a big decision and it took a few years (to decide).”
It was around that time that Gary and Caroline noticed that Century 21 had renewed and refreshed its brand.
They were attracted to the way the brand presented itself and the fact that it’s the largest real estate company globally, with more than 13,500 offices in 86 countries and territories.
“We looked into it further, and we left the initial meeting with Ian Carter, the Queensland state manager, feeling confident with the brand,” Gary says.
“It just felt right, and, at the end of the day, that’s how we want to feel in life.
“We want to feel good and we want our clients to feel good.
“Century 21 is the largest real estate franchise in the world – it looks great, it’s very professional, it’s friendly and trustworthy.”
Riddell Real Estate became Century 21 Living Local in November 2019, and since then, Gary says the agency has gone from strength to strength.
“Century 21 has helped our business incredibly,” he says.
“It’s helped us gain listings, and we have doubled our sales in the past 18 months.
“With Century 21, the ethos is very much about how they can help and support us.”
Gary says just a few months after joining Century 21, the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic struck, but it only served to highlight that Century 21’s national network was really like one big family.
He says there was a Zoom meeting every day for all of the principals to ask questions about the new regulations and support each other.
“Charles Tarbey, the chairman of Century 21 Australasia, was there every day taking us all through it,” Gary says.
“Any issue we had we brought up there, and we talked about it as a group, and we helped each other.
“The other thing that clearly stood out to me was Charles saying, ‘We’re all here for each other but remember the other guys. Remember the other agencies in your town and make sure you give them a call and check they are OK’.
“It was brilliant. It wasn’t just about us, it was about everybody, including checking to see the opposition was doing OK.
“I thought that was amazing.”
In a business sense, Gary says Century 21 provides a great depth of support for business owners ranging from training for principals, agents and staff, an in-house CRM and sleek and modern marketing.
They are also given all of the tools to run their social media campaigns, which is something Gary describes as a “God-send”.
This has all recently been coupled with Century 21 rolling out RiTA by AiRE across the network.
RiTA is a lead generation and nurturing robot that helps agencies generate more listings from their database using artificial intelligence and automation.
“It’s really bringing our business into a new era,” Gary says.
“RiTA does the job of two or three people and it gives us back a lot of time that we can then spend with our clients.”
Gary says his vendors have received the switch to the Century 21 brand with great positivity.
“Clients listing with Century 21 Living Local in Woombye know that their property will be marketed in the most professional way with our local, national and global website and the social media push is the ultimate package done with a modern brand that has the latest technology,” he says.
“It’s a brand that has been around for 50 years, so there is a lot of confidence in their national and international success.”
The franchise is now helping Gary and his team implement online auctions in a buoyant Woombye market.
“The sales and rental markets are the strongest I have seen in 16 years,” he says.
“The median price in this area has increased by a minimum of 25 per cent.”
While they’re yet to work out a timeframe, Gary says the goals for the future are to more than double their business and open another one or two offices on the Sunshine Coast.
“We’re in a really great place,” he says.