Craig Caughlan is a well-respected agent at Dukes Estate Agents in Penrith, NSW. Starting in real estate at the age of 40, he is consistently recommended for his integrity and sincerity. Craig’s long-term clientele and incredible sales record both provide evidence of the focus he places on each and every client.
What motivated you to get into real estate?
My family has been involved in property development since the 1970s, and as a young kid I used to get dragged down to my Dad’s development sites. I suppose I’ve had real estate in my blood from a young age. As an adult I began doing a little bit of small-time development and that eventually led into buying and selling real estate. I’ve had a lot of exposure to negotiating and customer service, and just being involved with people at all levels of sales and management. I like dealing with people, and property is one of the fantastic businesses that it’s great to be in.
How did you get started?
I started about six years ago; I went to see John McGrath and asked if I was the sort of person that would fit into a real estate- type business. Luckily he said yes! I started my career at McGrath estate agents under the tutelage of the great Matthew Lahood.
Working under Matt for three years was fantastic. I learnt so much from his mentorship, and also got to work with some of the greatest agents in Sydney: people like James Dack, Ben Collier, Peter Star, Steven Chen; many fantastic agents. I met some brilliant people through the McGrath business. You can’t pay for training like that; it was sensational for my life in real estate.
How do you define success?
Success to me is having a fantastic work/life balance. That’s an interesting term that doesn’t really hold a lot of weight unless you can manage it properly, and I tend to think we manage it pretty well within our family. It means spending quality time with my wife and kids, and also spending the optimum time required to meet my budget, KPIs and the requirements I need to be a million-dollar agent in the western suburbs of Sydney.
How’s the market in your area right now?
The Nepean Valley, the Penrith area of greater Western Sydney, is on a massive growth curve, having grown in the last 30 years from being a small country town. We’re on the peripherals of the Sydney basin, at the base of the Blue Mountains, so the extension of growth from the Sydney metropolitan area finishes here.\
We’ve seen exceptional growth west from the CBD of the city; now the second CBD is Parramatta, and the enormous growth that’s going on there now. The next stage is going to be Penrith. Only 20-30 minutes down the road will be the next national airport in Sydney in the not too distant future, so there’s going to be a massive growth opportunity for this area. We’re already having five new suburbs built in and around the Penrith area.
This incredible growth is certainly fantastic for local business life. The lifestyle around the Nepean river is wonderful. There are some great parklands, great trail runs, national parks, places to go picnicing and for enjoying time with the family. It’s a really nice area to be.
Is there something you couldn’t live without?
I couldn’t live without my family. They’re a fantastic support; it’s great to get home to the kids, and of course my very supportive wife, Charlotte, is there through thick and thin. Together we live out the good and the bad experiences of business and family life.
What do you most enjoy about reading Elite Agent Magazine?
I love the magazine; it’s got a great fresh approach. You get some really good advice from people who are actually doing it, rather than just talking about the theory of real estate business. I hope it continues down the track. It’s a very different publication to what else is in the industry – it’s wonderful.
What advice would you give someone starting out in real estate?
I’m 46 but I really started out when I was 40. Had I been younger and had more time up my sleeve, I would have probably started off as a client service manager or assistant to a top performing agent and worked my way through the business till I got to a point where I was able to stand on my own two feet.
I may have also stayed in my local area. I was born and bred in the Sutherland shire, Cronulla, so I may have stayed down there; that’s the world I knew before I branched out and travelled around. That way I would have hit the ground running and had a lot more contacts than I did have, with people I knew around me. So that’s what I would advise younger agents just starting out.
However, if you’re someone my age coming into the business, work really hard, do whatever it takes and listen to the performing agents to get you off the ground running as quick as you can.
Words to live by?
The key to this game, like any other business, is persistence; that and staying true to yourself.