When most people job hunt they turn to employment portals, job agencies or recruiters, but not David Eastway.
When David wanted a career in real estate he turned to Google and typed in six simple words, “Get a job in real estate”.
As luck, or fate, would have it, up popped some information on a one-day seminar with Ray White for those considering a career in the industry.
David went, handed in his resume and the following day Charles Bailey, then of Ray White Newtown, got in touch.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
In the beginning
Having previously worked in hospitality and as a furniture salesman, David was good with people and knew he had to build a database of potential clients, but other than that, he admits “I didn’t really know what I was doing”.
David is the first to admit he “did it tough” in his first two years in the job.
“I spent the first couple of years just relentlessly door knocking suburbs over and over again, meeting people and building a database,” he says.
“I was in the streets so often people thought I lived there.
“My shoes were always wearing out and I had holes in them, but I had no money. I couldn’t afford new shoes so I put cardboard in them each day, two or three times a day, just to stop the cardboard from wearing out and then wearing holes in my socks.
“I had one black suit that turned brown from the dust. It was pretty tough going for the first few years and then it started to fall into place after that.”
David’s first sale
It took 18 months for David to chalk up his first sale, which was a little house in Day St, Leichhardt, that was a deceased estate.
David says it was a “fluke” he got the listing, with the family of the owner turning up to start organising the sale not long after he had dropped his flyer into the mailbox.
“They just called the agent that had their flyer on top,” he recalls.
“They called me and I was literally down the bottom of the street when they rang, so I popped up and went through.”
The auction “went off like a firecracker” and it wasn’t long before other vendors in the street gave David a call to sell their places.
A quick look at CoreLogic records show there’s 119 homes in Day St and David has now sold 38 (31 per cent) of them.
Gradually David’s portfolio began to grow and so too did his collection of suits fake watches and an expensive, lifelong hobby – cars.
He started with a CLK500 Mercedes convertible.
“It broke all the time, cost me so much money and I couldn’t afford it,” David laughs.
The deal with data
His passion for cars hasn’t waned, but these days they’re more long-lasting. Just like the hard earned lesson he carries from this chapter of his career – the importance of servicing data.
David filled endless notebooks with homeowner data during his door knocking days. While some homeowners weren’t interested in selling right now, they planned to in six months, 12 months, or even two years. And so David would write that down – and into a drawer it went.
After attending a business conference on the importance of databases and checking in with clients, David’s heart sank. A rummage through the hundreds of notebooks in his desk confirmed his worst fears.
“There was potentially about $300,000 in commission that I’d missed because I didn’t have a system in place to follow it up,” David says.
“That was a huge eye-opener for me about collecting data, servicing it and running a clean database system.”
David spent six years with Ray White and notes he’s still good friends with his first boss, Charles Bailey, today.
He says Charles taught him many thing but perhaps the two most important were to enjoy what you’re doing and that success takes time.
“He’d been doing it (real estate) for 10 or 12 years to get to that level, so I knew it wasn’t going to happen straight away,” David recalls.
This, he says, helped him understand that he had to manage his energy to avoid running too fast and too far early.
“So many agents come in and burn out after two or three years, they give up, leave and never get a taste for what real estate could really be long-term,” David explains.
David says the secret to his longevity in the industry was setting realistic expectations, quickly working out his capacity limits and, once he was established, bringing on an associated to assist with the tasks that either weren’t his strength or that he didn’t particularly like doing.
“I like to use the jumbo jet analogy,” he says.
“A jumbo jet uses 30 per cent of its fuel just to take off and it also has to land with 30 per cent of its fuel.
“It only uses 40 per cent of its fuel for the whole journey, which is very similar to real estate. You use so much energy in the first probably five to seven years, you do need to work long hours and work hard. It’s not easy.
“Then once you get to that point where you’ve got a profile and you’re known in the area, you can definitely take your foot off the gas or outsource.
“I’m definitely not working anywhere near as hard as when I first started. After you get that out of the way, you’re at cruising altitude and then you’ve got a sustainable business and it’s far easier to maintain at that level.”
Establishing Hudson McHugh
With a solid reputation established in the industry, particularly in the Leichhardt area, David and his best mate, James Price, who was also with Ray White at that time, decided to bite the bullet and open their own agency – Hudson McHugh.
Hudson is David’s mother’s maiden name and McHugh is James’ mother’s maiden name.
David jokes about them both being “mummies boys” but, in truth, the name symbolises the ethos behind the agency – one built on strong ethics, a moral compass and a culture that fosters a strong and unified team and produces winning results.
“Some agents would step over their own mother for a deal and I always think there’s enough out there for everyone,” he says.
“I think you need to lay straight in bed at night, operate ethically, morally and be sympathetic to people’s circumstances.”
David says his friendship with James comes before the business and the office culture is second to none.
“There’s not a weed in this garden,” he notes.
David and James have just opened a second Hudson McHugh office in Summer Hill, which forms part of their goal of building a large, profitable business with a strong culture.
He says the ultimate goal is to have the business work for them.
“That means building your salespeople up to a level where they’re really high-performing, tying them to the business, so you’ve got a nice exit strategy,” David says.
“With real estate you’re either growing or you’re profitable and we’re always growing because of the nature of the way we operate.
“But to get really profitable, you need to work on the people that are inside the walls of your business and keep growing them.”
Creating a positive culture
That growth comes from fostering a culture with an ‘always learning’ mentality and following through with continuous training.
“There’s sales training on a Wednesday, juniors training on a Thursday and we all get together as an office on a Friday,” David says.
“I do accountability with the sales teams on a Wednesday morning after that sales meeting.
“We offer a lot of in-house training. We hold all of our guys accountable for their targets and KPIs. What gets measured gets done.”
As well as continuing to build and grow Hudson McHugh, David’s other goals for 2023 and beyond include a long-awaited holiday to Europe with his wife and building a new home where they plan to start a family.
He notes that over the years a few agents have come and gone at Hudson McHugh but many have also returned after realising the grass isn’t always greener elsewhere.
“I’m still doing the same things I did 14 years ago and that’s another reason why Hudson McHugh has the traction and saturation in the marketplace that we do – because we haven’t stopped doing the things that made us good.”