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Michael Coombs: Selling real estate by numbers

When it comes to prestige real estate on Sydney’s lower north shore, Michael Coombs is the name on everyone’s lips.

Flashing in bright red text on a charcoal background is the figure $1,600,000,000.

No, it’s not the prize the latest lotto winner has scooped, but the total value of properties Michael Coombs has sold.

It’s an enviable figure by anyone’s standards and one that sits proudly on the LJ Hooker Avnu founding partner’s website biography.

When it comes to prestige real estate on Sydney’s lower north shore, Michael Coombs is the name on everyone’s lips.

He has built an astounding 40 per cent market share and has a median sale price of $6.7 million.

If there’s a high-end home on the market in suburbs like Mosman, Kirribilli, Cremorne, McMahons Point or Hunters Hill, you can bank on Michael being the selling agent.

But Michael is about more than just impressive statistics. 

It’s the methods he uses to get those statistics that matter most to him. 

His strategy when selling prestige property is less about being the rockstar and all about embracing the whole band – a solid team approach.

Even if that team includes other agents from other agencies.

A case in point is the staggering sale of 35 Marine Parade, in Byron Bay’s exclusive Wategos Beach, for about $22 million.

The seaside hideaway of Mosman resident, and co-founder of recruitment firm Morgan & Banks, Geoff Morgan, it took Michael just five days to sell the property, which was jointly listed with LJ Hooker Byron Bay.

“The key to selling that was knowing, before we took the property on, that buyers would come from Sydney, Melbourne and overseas and I have good networks in those areas both personally, and through other real estate companies,” he says.

“Byron Bay is such a sought after location at the moment with expats, overseas buyers and celebrities and I can cover all of those markets and get quite a bit of interest.

“We had to make sure everything was perfect for selling this property because you only get one shot at it.”

When it comes to teaming up with other agents from what would normally be considered the competition, Michael is an industry leader.

He firmly believes in putting his vendors and their properties first, even if that means splitting a commission.

Michael says one of the main reasons he’s built such a large market share, including one that extends nationally and overseas, is due to those relationships he’s fostered with other agents.

“The marketing campaign is just one step in the sales process, the other part is networking with other agents that want to deal with you and trust you,” he says.

“They might be working for a different brand, but they’re good people with integrity and honesty.

“I fully believe the days of an agent working alone are gone.”

Michael Coombs LJ Hooker Avnu

Michael also has connections in cities such as Hong Kong, New York and Singapore, and it’s quite common for him to sell prestige properties, sight unseen, to expats in these locations.

“I have an abundance mentality where I tap into other agents’ networks and databases and split the fee with them,” he explains.

“There are some agents that won’t change the way they do things, that are set in their ways, but that ends up showing in your results and in your reputation.”

Michael says he’s always had a strong work ethic.

Growing up he lived with his mum and three sisters in a little apartment at Dee Why, on Sydney’s northern beaches.

When he was just eight years old, he started a paper run and, at 12, he was washing trays at the local butcher shop after school.

“I’ve always worked,” Michael says.

“I kind of fell into real estate because, growing up in a small apartment, I always wanted my family to have a bigger house.”

By the time he was a teenager, Michael would scan the weekend real estate listings and, when he left school, he took a landscaping apprenticeship and studied for his real estate certificate simultaneously.

These days Michael realises he doesn’t have to do everything himself, and better results are achieved now that he doesn’t do it all.

While he focuses on listing, negotiating and selling, Michael relies on his team of five, Angela Koulouris, Jacqui Wansey, Sean Phuah, Stephanie Gibson and Steven Kechichiam to ensure every other facet of the business is running smoothly and customer experience is second to none.

Bo Zhang, a top prestige agent in his own right, also works as part of the team as a Chinese buyers agent.

“Everyone in the team has a different role and everyone is an expert in their department,” Michael explains.

“My speciality is selling property, negotiating and expats, while Bo is one of the top agents on the north shore, and he connects us locally to the Chinese market.

“Angela, Stephanie and Jacqui have a fine attention to detail where client experience is concerned and also look after house preparation and marketing campaigns.”

It’s a system that clearly works, with the Coombs team experiencing a 30 per cent increase in business this year.

“In April I sold $32 million worth of property while we went into lockdown,” Michael says.

The team is tracking close to 80 sales for the year so far and is on target to reach its goal of between 90 and 100 sales with a total value of $400-$500 million.

Michael says the business already used the latest in technology, so when COVID-19 hit they were ready.

Team Coombs uses technology to manage everything from the backend of the business to social media, virtual floor plans, digital listing presentations and online auctions.

The entire sales process, from vendors reports to offers and buyer updates, is all done on their vendor portal in real time.

“You can login 24/7 and get live updates on how your property is tracking,” Michael says.

Michael says using technology smartly has freed up a lot of time so that he and the team can focus on clients and dollar productive tasks.

“I can achieve more in three days now compared to what I would achieve in six days two years ago,” he says.

Michael says given the team has achieved such steady, strong results during 2020, in the face of COVID-19, he’s confident 2021 has greater things in store.

“We’re just warming up,” he says.

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Deputy Editor at Elite Agent.