Just like Batman and Robin, Sonny and Cher, and Thelma and Louise, The Agency’s Charlie and Tori Lund are nothing short of a dynamic duo.
For the past seven years, the mother and daughter team have been building steadfast momentum as a premier real estate team in the Hunter Valley, and especially in Maitland.
As the owner of The Agency’s Hunter Valley office, Charlie is a well-known and respected face in the industry and Tori is much more than just a sidekick – she’s a revered property partner in her own right.
Together, the women make a formidable team, with Charlie focusing on winning listings and negotiating, while Tori ensures a top client experience and marketing excellence.
“I’m all about getting results, and I just power through to get there, whereas Tori is really big on detail, process, systems and how we get there,” Charlie explains.
“I think we complement and balance each other.
“Tori does a lot of client nurture and she’s really big on marketing. She uses her communications degree to ensure all of our marketing is spot on.
“I’m really good at securing the business. I focus on doing appraisals, and if I’m going for a listing, I’m not coming out without an agency. I’m also big on asking for that extra $10,000 or $5000 to push the price for my vendors.
“Tori might get the initial offer and nurture them and then I’ll come in and be the bad cop.”
It’s a partnership that works, with Charlie and Tori coming in second in 2019 for the highest number of sales within The Agency, selling 85 properties.
This year they’re on track to sell 100 homes and they expect to make the top three again.
“There are some big performers in The Agency, so it’s a pretty big honour,” Charlie says.
“You’re up against the Ben Colliers, the Brad Gillespies and the Catherine Murphys.
“For us, in our little town, it’s a great result.”
As well as being built on dedication and a lot of hard work, a good deal of serendipity has seen Charlie and Tori climb the real estate ranks.
Charlie started in the industry in 2005 by accident, after walking into the wrong TAFE classroom.
A single mother with three daughters to support, Charlie was going back to school to learn to type so she could get a job as a secretary.
But fate had other ideas.
“I walked into the wrong classroom and the teacher there said to me ‘I think you’d make a brilliant real estate agent’,” Charlie recalls.
“I don’t know why, but I enrolled in the class, and I did really well.
“I think I was meant to walk into that classroom because after I did, I went to do a TAFE assignment where you had to watch and report on an auction, and this gentleman walked out to ask me who I was.
“I told him I wasn’t there to buy the property and I was just a TAFE student, and he asked me if I wanted a job.
“He was the principal of LJ Hooker.”
Charlie was on her way, starting as a sales cadet and going through LJ Hooker school.
It was a swift learning curve and one that still benefits Charlie to this day.
“They put me in an area called Aberglasslyn and told me I had to be the area specialist,” Charlie says.
“They had zero market share in Aberglasslyn in 2005, but I’ve held the market share in Aberglasslyn ever since.”
Those early days were a mixture of fear and excitement for Charlie as she learnt the ropes, started to build her client base and pipeline.
“I loved it,” she says.
“I loved that no two days were the same and that every day you were in a different house, you met different people and you never knew whether you were going to be in a Circa 1800s property or a modern, contemporary home.
“It was exciting.”
After a few years, PRD head hunted Charlie and she worked as a high volume agent, before moving to River Realty.
Charlie says she changed the way she worked after meeting real estate coach Josh Phegan at AREC in 2014.
Under Josh’s guidance, Charlie changed her lifestyle, joined the 5am club and focused on improving her listing presentation and vendor paid marketing.
She also wrote down all of her dollar productive tasks that became the “non-negotiable” things she must do and then she set about introducing two things she’d learnt from Josh’s BluePrint course every month, until she’d implemented everything.
“Josh took me to that next level where I really broke through as an agent,” she says.
For Tori, her real estate career also started almost by accident, when she jumped in to help out when her mum’s personal assistant departed in 2013.
Tori had just completed a communications degree at university and was in the process of undertaking internships in Sydney and job hunting.
“I was just planning to help her out for a bit until she found someone else and I was going to go into communications,” Tori recalls.
“But it just worked, and I enjoyed it, so I ended up staying.
“I love working with people and helping them to achieve their real estate goals, as well as meeting so many different people and hearing their life stories along the way.
“I love being a part of the buying or sales process knowing that I am a part of helping them with their next step.”
Charlie says she did worry early on about what working together would mean for their mother-daughter relationship, but those fears have been proven false time after time.
For Tori, working alongside her mum has been nothing but a positive experience.
“Working with mum has been an exciting venture, and it has definitely made our relationship stronger,” she says.
“We have always been like two peas in a pod, but I think now, more than ever, we are so alike.
“We have the same goals and passion, which I think is very important.”
Charlie and Tori started with The Agency in 2018 after meeting Matt Lahood and being impressed with the company’s focus on it being people, not brands, that sell property.
Building strong relationships with their clients has always been the cornerstone of Charlie and Tori’s business, and it’s not unusual for them to gather kisses and hugs if they go to a restaurant for dinner and a former vendor is there.
Charlie says they always go the extra mile for their clients and in 2020 achieved numerous suburb records including selling 34 The Avenue, Lorn, for $1.365 million and 10 Evergreen Way, Gillieston Heights, for $759,000.
“There are some pretty cool houses and some big sales, but it’s the relationships with people that you tend to remember long-term,” Charlie says.
Charlie attributes their success to developing those relationships, as well as a straightforward approach where she tells the truth, even if the client may not like what she has to say.
“I’m honest with vendors,” she says.
“I tell them what they need to hear and, sometimes it might be something they don’t want to hear, but you need to tell them that their house is dirty because you’re selling their biggest asset and you want them to get the best price.”
Charlie admits that over the years she has refined the way she breaks the bad news to vendors and she credits Josh Phegan with giving her lots of guidance.
“I used to say, ‘your house is dirty,’ and one day this lady was really offended,” Charlie explains.
“Josh explained to me that it was all about the wording so now I’ll say, ‘at the moment this is your house, but we have to turn it into a product to sell, so let’s set it up like a display home’.
“I’ll say to them, ‘is it ok if I give you some advice and a list of things to do that I think I can increase your sale price’?
“If you let them know you’re doing it in a constructive way, not a destructive way, and they are going to benefit from it, people are a lot more open to the idea.”
Last year also saw Charlie and Tori employ a buyer’s agent and a property manager.
They are building a rent roll organically and currently have about 20 doors under management, with a goal of reaching 120 in 2021.
In terms of sales, Charlie and Tori have a clear goal of selling 150 properties in 2021.
Charlie’s advice to young agents just starting in real estate is straightforward – be honest, tell it like it is and, if you say you’re going to do something, make sure you do it.
“That’s a lesson a 95-year-old vendor taught me very early on,” Charlie says.
“He said, ‘Lassie, you make sure that if you say you’re going to do something, on principle, you do it’.”