Elite AgentFEATURE INTERVIEWSWA

Paulette Contessi: Going her own way

Paulette Contessi honed her customer service skills running her own restaurants, events and recruitment companies, but it’s real estate where she found her true calling.

Paulette Contessi is no stranger to running her own business, but she never expected to have just a matter of days to decide whether to go it alone in real estate.

The Perth agent opened Home Realty and Living on July 1.

“It happened really quickly,” Paulette says.

“I had to make quick decisions… I literally had four days to come up with a new brand and everything.”

The right fit

Home Realty and Living is Paulette’s fourth start-up business, having previously had restaurants and events, and recruiting companies.

She says she had the option to work at another agency, but her gut told her it wasn’t the right fit.

“It just didn’t feel right,” she says.

“This is my fourth start-up business… so it wasn’t a scary proposition to start from nothing and only 15 days in, I’ve sold two properties already.

“I already knew who I was, what I stood for and what I wanted the business to represent, so that part was easy. 

“The hard part was the administration side of things, the paperwork.”

Paulette is thankful her client database was able to move with her as she has been developing and growing her real estate connections for the past seven years.

Begin with buyers

Now she’s excited for the future and dedicating herself to a sales strategy that focuses on off-market sales and nurturing buyers.

The idea stemmed from the buyer work she did as an intern for LJ Hooker back when she was 21.

Paulette says she’d spend a lot of time driving buyers around to look at homes. 

When she joined Atlas by LJ Hooker prior to opening Home Realty and Living, she decided to reconnect with this vintage industry technique but suddenly found there wasn’t much stock to show them.

That’s when part two of her plan came to life, and she started the savvy strategy of contacting vendors whose properties had been languishing on the market.

“I literally knocked on the doors of people who hadn’t sold their homes in 2019 and 2020,” Paulette says.

“That’s how I had an incredible November last year…..”

“Then 70 per cent of the homes I have sold between November and the end of the financial year was from door knocking or dropping letters in the mailboxes of people who hadn’t sold their home.”

When she knocks on those doors, Paulette’s approach is honest and straightforward.

She tells the owner she knows their property hasn’t sold and that she’s got a buyer that she’s matched to their home.

“With the buyer’s permission, I’m able to tell the owner their names, and things like the fact they’ve got two children, and they want to live in this suburb to be close to the kids’ school,” Paulette explains.

“I tell them, ‘Your home is what I believe will suit them’ and ‘Can I please show them through?’

“It’s not a scary proposition (to knock on those doors) because I’ve got the truth behind me.

“In recruitment, I used to match people to the right jobs and this is the same. I’m matching people to the right property.”

To aid the process, Paulette also gives her buyers a DL flyer that they can pop in the letterbox of any property they see and think could be their perfect home.

It contains Paulette’s contact details and a short blurb about the buyers.

“It’s a really tough market over here in Perth at the moment, and it’s not nice to see buyers crying when they miss out on a house,” Paulette says.

“The stock is limited, but there are a lot of buyers, especially in that $500,000 to $2 million price bracket.

“People are missing out, missing out and missing out, and they have no idea why they’re missing out, and they’re not getting a lot of guidance.

“So I’m trying to embrace the buyers and find them homes.”

Property matching

Paulette says the catch-22 that’s prevalent in the market right now is that owners aren’t listing their homes for sale because they fear they won’t be able to buy another property.

Her sales strategy means she targets the off-market properties, sells that home to her qualified buyer and then finds a new house for the seller.

It’s a circular process and means she’s automatically topping up her pipeline.

“One house I sold recently worked exactly like that, so now I’m looking for a new house for the vendor, but I’ve built in a big buffer, so we have until September,” Paulette explains.

The core ethos of Home Realty and Living is stellar customer service, and Paulette says that includes answering her phone at 11pm if that’s when her clients need her.

Clients get to deal with Paulette from the start of the sales process to the finish, with her VA only stepping in to handle the paperwork and administrative tasks.

“Being customer-focused sounds like what everyone says, but to me, going above and beyond for my clients is what it’s all about,” she says.

“I want to make sure that the client is 100 per cent satisfied, no matter what, even if that means taking a call late at night.

“I’ll do that because we get paid handsomely. So I give 100 per cent customer focus, make their lives easier, make it as stress-free as I can and provide solutions that are not cookie-cutter.”

Dollar saver

One of the things Paulette likes to do is save her clients money, and she says one of the best ways to do this is no upfront marketing costs.

She says selling off-market to her database of buyers means clients can avoid the fees associated with digital and print advertising.

Paulette’s core suburbs are City Beach, Wembley Downs, and Floreat, which is the same area she’s lived in for the past 19 years. 

But not everyone is happy with her sales methodology, and she’s faced some negativity from other local agents who now have to explain to their clients why off-market isn’t part of their strategy.

“I’ve just said, ‘Well you do you, and I’ll do me’,” Paulette says.

Paulette says there’s a misconception that you can’t generate any publicity or brand awareness from off-market sales, but she says she still puts up sold signs in the two weeks before settlement.

“Also, word of mouth is worth 1000 signs,” she reasons.

Paulette is also steadfast in her belief that she still gets the best possible price for her vendors.

“A lot of agents think that if they put the home on realestate.com.au then more people will see it, and the home will sell for more,” she says.

“But what’s actually happening is people are offering way more than the appraised price to stop it from going onto the portals.

“The last home I sold, I appraised at $780,000, it sold for $850,000 with a four-person bidding war because they didn’t want it to go to the full market.”

The future

Moving forward, Paulette’s goals for the remainder of 2021 include streamlining her processes and potentially bringing a team member on board to handle the paperwork and administrative tasks.

But she’s adamant that all of the ‘hands-on’ work will still be her. 

Paulette says while some agents get their assistants to do open homes, she loves doing them herself as she gets to meet so many new people.

“I don’t take on more than 10 houses at a time, and if I have to open six of them on the weekend, then that’s what I do,” she says.

“I don’t need to be a million-dollar lister, so I don’t need to have 50 listings.

“I do it for the people. I love people. I love meeting the buyers and sellers, hearing their stories and helping them.

“That’s why I do what I do.”

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Deputy Editor at Elite Agent.