How ethics and empathy built Daniel Harris’s real estate career

Daniel Harris’s real estate philosophy is simple.

It’s also highly effective.

“The more you do the right thing by people and get good results, the more they refer you,” he says.

And it’s that ethos that’s helped the Real Estate Central Director of Projects build his business and his brand in Darwin to become a highly-sought and successful attraction agent.

“A lot of agents spend so much of their time prospecting for opportunities and pitching for business,” Daniel notes.

“More than 50 per cent of my business comes to me pre-sold as the trusted advisor, ready to go, so I’m not spending anywhere near as much time chasing listings and most of my clients are taking my advice by presenting them well and marketing them properly, which significantly improves the chance of a successful result.  

“That didn’t happen overnight though, it’s taken years of hard work to reach that point and you can never rest on your laurels. 

“There are always challenging days, but I enjoy choosing resilience over retreat. 

“All the magic in life happens when you push outside your comfort zone.”

In the beginning

Daniel first stepped outside his comfort zone 16 years ago, when he moved from Melbourne to Darwin after a weekend trip to watch a mate play in a footy grand final also turned into a highly productive fishing tip.

While real estate was new to Daniel, selling wasn’t, having had solid success in sales roles for Barbecues Galore and Foxtel.

In the early days it was a high work rate, positive energy and self-belief that saw Daniel gain traction in the market.

And, once he started getting runs on the board, it created momentum that snowballed.

“Once you start to get the results and you’ve got the social proof, that’s pretty powerful,” he says.

“But it’s also about the way you treat people, playing the long game and not trying to take shortcuts.”

Daniel says resilience, managing the inevitable ups and downs of the market and owning a mistake if he makes one, are other key attributes that set him apart from the competition.

High emotional intelligence, empathy and the ability to develop and nurture relationships are also integral, along with work ethic and “likeability”.

“The great agents make it easy for buyers and sellers to transact with confidence,” he says.

“(They’re) passionate about what they do and help clients move onto the next chapter of their lives, as well as understand it’s a privilege to be trusted with a client’s most valuable asset.”

Triumph of talent

In each of the past three years, Daniel has sold between 120 and 140 properties, and has taken out the Real Estate Institute of the Northern Territory Residential Salesperson of the Year award in 2021, 2022 and 2023.

He’s also claimed the Annual REA Excellence Award as the Top Residential Agent in the Northern Territory in 2021, 2022 and is hoping to secure the trifecta this year.

“I actually think it’s the purest and the best award for a salesperson to win,” Daniel notes.

“There’s no personal opinion involved and it’s based on factual data. It’s based on sales volumes and total value of sales, with a little bit of weight thrown towards receiving positive reviews.”

A team effort

But Daniel is the first to admit his success is not created solely off his own back.

He says building a good team has been crucial to generating excellent results and happy clients.

“Building a really good team around you that allows everyone to play to their strengths and ultimately provide the client a better service is critical,” Daniel notes.

“Performance gets amplified if you have the right people operating in the right lanes.

“I’m good at what I think is the fun stuff, spending my days listing and selling, managing vendors, hot buyers and putting deals together. 

“My team is the real engine room looking after the myriad of tasks that come with the sale of a property. 

“Team synergy is huge. I’d be nowhere without Kylie and Lauren keeping things under control at base camp.”

A dynamic duo

And that team has recently grown further, with Darren Hunt, the agent who finished second in the 2022 AREAs, joining the team.

The pair met after being the only Darwin agents to take part in a John McGrath and Tom Panos mastery group at AREC a few years ago.

“We built a relationship and opened up on each other’s strengths, weaknesses and areas to improve,” Daniel recalls.

“I was lucky enough to be operating in Darwin’s high performance office with five $1 million-plus agents, all with varying levels of EBU’s assisting them.  

“Darren came from an environment with minimal support and was keen to realise his potential. 

“It wasn’t an easy decision for him, but I could see that’s what he wanted to do, so I did my best to accommodate him.  

“He’s been amazing and fitted in really well to our culture. We’ve been doing some listings together, mainly the higher end of the market type properties. 

“Clients love it. I doubt there is another state or territory in Oz where a seller can engage the Number 1 and Number 2 AREA agents working in tandem.”

Despite the accolades, Daniel says he’s nowhere near ready to rest on his laurels.

“I enjoy the challenge of trying to improve year-on-year and being the best I can be,” he says.

“As much as I still look at individual numbers, I tend to get more joy these days looking at my team’s success.

“I’ve got Darren, who is highly experienced and Ryan Rowsell working his way up the rankings. Ryan just purchased his dream property.

“Witnessing the team’s growth and success, and the positive impact on their families, clients, and the company at large, is incredibly rewarding.

“Freedom of choice for my family is another reason I get out of bed in the morning with purpose. 

“That’s my big ‘why’.”

Work-life balance

Daniel, who has two children with wife Jade, says he works at a “sprint” for weeks on end but always has a break planned at the end.

He also blocks out the school holidays in advance and takes time off to go on family adventures and make memories.

I’ve got two young children and the last thing I want is them to grow up fast and I’ve missed it,” he says. 

As for what’s happening in Darwin real estate, Daniel notes that the traditional boom or bust market has been steady for the past few years, going up or down by less than 1 per cent most months.

“At the coalface we are seeing a two-tier market,” he says.

“Demand for turnkey homes, with little to no work to do, are selling really well with competition in a short time frame. 

“These properties haven’t really changed in value at all, in fact in many cases they’ve gone up. 

“Properties that need money spent on them in any location, and certainly those in less desirable suburbs, have definitely dropped off.”

Daniel notes that Darwin remains the cheapest capital to buy a property in, but the second most expensive to rent in, which means rental yields for investors are high.

Investors are active in Darwin and we’ve seen an increase since other markets dropped off, however owner-occupiers still represent most of the market,” he says.

“We are currently selling a lot of homes to people moving here next year for work or lifestyle changes. 

“If they are coming from Sydney and Melbourne they think our housing is so cheap and can’t believe what $1 million to $1.5 million buys them.”

And Daniel’s advice for young agents entering the industry is also straightforward. 

“Work hard and if you want it enough you’ll succeed,” he says.

“Do the right thing by people and it will pay dividends in the future.”

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.