Agent Profile: Chris Saleh, Starr Partners St Marys

Chris Saleh is the Sales Manager of Starr Partners’ St Marys office and has been in real estate for 13 years. He also has a passion for the ultra-competitive sport of thoroughbred horseracing and is part of a syndicate. As far as his vendors are concerned, his ultimate aim is to make sure that ‘they couldn’t have got a dollar more, and this is exactly what unique sales method Property Launch is designed to do.

Tell us a bit about the area around St Marys?
I’ve lived in the area for 21 years, so I think I have a pretty good understanding of our clients’ needs here. Essentially it’s a low- to medium-income area in Western Sydney, in terms of its demographic. We service most of the local area from St Marys, out to St Clair and over as far as Erskine Park. It’s still affordable, compared to other areas of Sydney, and it’s still a place where people can invest and get very good rent returns. Interestingly, we have people who have grown up here and lived here a long time, and now we’ve got a lot of people flooding in from outside the area. For example, people from the north-western region, Parramatta region and south-western Sydney where prices have increased so substantially.

Infrastructure is also very good, with the announcement of Badgerys Creek airport and potentially a connection from St Marys train line out to there; the M4 motorway, the Erskine Park industrial area – a lot of things are happening in this area, which are really getting people’s attention.

The combination of these two things means there is a lot of activity here right now.

So that would make it quite competitive to secure stock?
Well, it is very hard to get stock; many of our competitors are probably selling it a lot more than we are. That’s leading to people dropping their fees and maybe doing things that they shouldn’t do. We just keep sticking to the same system. I think our brand awareness is helping a lot with this; we still list 20 to 30 properties per month.

Explain to us what Property Launch is.
It is a bit like an auction but geared directly towards the needs of Western Sydney. We find that a lot of the people who are buying out here are traditional first-home buyers or investors. Your first-home buyers aren’t really that conditioned as to how to purchase at an auction. They need to organise evaluation; they need to be sure about pests and building and that generally means spending money as well. Some people won’t do that without knowing that their offer is going to be accepted.

Property Launch is a method of sales that allows them to do just that. It’s a two-week program where we list the property for sale; we follow a marketing process finishing with an open home on the second Saturday. It still allows people to do their due diligence in terms of the market itself and pricing and the area. Then they can come along on open day and make an offer, based on what they think the house is worth from what they’ve seen during their inspection. They’ve still got a cooling-off period to do the necessary inspections and so on that they need to spend money on afterwards, but they can do this knowing that they’ve got the property. I find that works so much better in this area more than what an auction does.

How do you ensure top dollar for your vendors using Property Launch?
We’ve found that we’re getting better sale prices with Property Launch. If a buyer walks into a property on their own they tend to like what they see, but they don’t see any competition. They don’t necessarily get a feeling that anyone else is interested or a sense of urgency. When a buyer feels like they’ve got time to negotiate they will always try to negotiate.

Under the pressure of a Property Launch, the buyers walk in and see everyone else there at the same time; that’s what creates that fear of loss and competition. Under those conditions, you will always get a better price. This is purely a set-up for our owners. I find a lot of agents in this area are not even listing the property for sale but selling it before it hits the market at full price, where I think an owner could have got a lot more from someone else who liked the property more.

At the moment with Property Launch we’re securing above- market and above-listing price probably 90 per cent of the time. Some properties are even going substantially higher. In some cases we’re getting $30,000 to $60,000 above the listed price.

What’s the most memorable property you have ever sold?
It was a property we sold recently; it needed a fair bit of work, but it was four bedrooms, two bathrooms, double garage. That style of house in this area is ‘the upgrade’, because a lot of the houses are probably three bedrooms, one bathroom, single garage. It was listed by my colleague Sara; we actually had 116 groups go through the property. It was on at $529,000 and we sold it for $625,000.

What do you feel are the key aspects of maintaining good relationships with your vendors?
It’s all about communication. I find a lot of people go in and promise a lot, and then tend to under-deliver on that. I’ve always said that if I promise to do something, I do it. This type of market makes it a lot easier to communicate and I’m calling my vendors every day. I’m giving them feedback on the advertising and what we’re getting back from that. It’s really about following through and delivering on what I’ve promised.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Stick to the basics. A lot of the trainers that I have met say the same things. Don’t get me wrong, you’ve got to keep improving your skills, but the basics are the things that work. Prospecting is something we agents mostly don’t like doing. It seems that if something else comes up that we like doing better, we do that! Prospecting is something that we never like doing but we can’t ever afford to stop.

Lastly, what advice would you give to someone starting out in real estate?
Have an ideal day and stick to it. Do the things you need to do in the day to create the opportunity you need to be successful. When you’re at work you’ve got to be at work. Keep learning and learn with good people. If there’s someone in the office who’s getting good results, go grab them and pick their brains, practise what they do and you’ll get better. It’s a lot about attitude as well. You’ve got to have the right attitude, but don’t forget you have to practise your skills too.

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