We Are Real Estate

John Cunningham: Professional and Proud

One of the industry's most recognisable and hard-working identities tells his story of growth, from his first sale to his hopes for the future.

On getting into real estate
I started out training to be a valuer and completed a Diploma in Valuation whilst doing all kinds of work. After two years working at The Water Board, I was very bored with the prospects so started to look at general real estate when I was 21.

The happiest moment in my career
I think within my first six months in sales I realised I was good at this and that it came naturally to me. I was able to connect with people by focusing on their needs and I found it easy to deliver opportunities to both sellers and buyers and to create deals. It was an amazing time, especially for someone who was very self-conscious and lacking in confidence, so I was able to thrive and grow at a very young age. From then to when I opened my own business with my wife in 1991, I was in go-mode and then in those first few years of our business we focused on changing the clients’ experience in a very positive way. We just took off and were having a ball, which has never stopped. Now with 75 people, including nine business partners, we are a mature business and my happiness comes from the development of others into being the best they can be.

The most memorable moment
My first big big sale in our first year in business was as a result of looking after a potential seller for the previous four years and helping him develop a new waterfront in Clontarf. He had the faith is us being able to deliver and we produced a campaign that was unparalleled at the time, with media coverage and TV stories. It produced a result that had buyers from Asia, Europe and all over Sydney competing with each other at an amazing on-site auction that I conducted. It put us on the map for premium properties.

Best advice he’s received
From my father when i started in real estate: 1. Always tell the truth, you always remember the truth. 2. Always apply commonsense, even though it is not so common these days. 3. If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. 4. Just be nice to everyone, it costs nothing but pays very well.

Biggest challenge
The biggest challenge in my view is the Industry in general being its own worst enemy by being complacent and ignorant of what the future looks like. Massive changes are already happening and the emerging consumer expectations need to be factored in for everyone who wants to thrive in the future. The willingness to be educated and to apply that knowledge for the betterment of consumers will be one of the biggest shifts needed if we want to be known as trusted advisers in a very crowded market that is currently full of agents with a kit bag full of empty promises, massive egos and the illusions of knowledge and value – as well as on the flip side, agents who are the epitome of professionalism.

Change for good?
The overall support for the purposeful introduction by the industry itself of a professional standards scheme instead of further regulatory creep from ill-informed political knee-jerk legislation.

‘Elite’ Agent means
An Elite Agent is someone who is highly skilled through constant learning and improvement.

  • They always put their client/customers’ needs above their own.
  • They possess high levels of awareness and perception to the needs of others.
  • They always conduct themselves in a totally professional manner and apply a set of guiding principals and standards to themselves.
  • They understand the dynamics of property markets and the way the economy operates.
  • They have a strong set of core competencies and apply that to providing the best advice, experience and results for their clients/customers.
  • They know how to develop the environment for a high-quality team culture in their businesses. They respect their peers and always deal in a fair and mindful manner within the industry.
  • They share their success and are grateful for it and are part of their community and contribute to and participate in activities that help others less fortunate.
  • They are innovative, dynamic and effective in what they do and are always looking at ways to improve. They utilise the latest technology as an enabler to do the best in their endeavours for their clients/customers.

#WeAreRealEstate is a series of short interviews with 140 agents all over Australia exploring the industry’s hopes, concerns, future challenges, and what it really means to be an Elite Agent.

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To contact the editorial team at Elite Agent email editor@eliteagent.com.