Paying it Forward: Melita Bell

IMAGINE HOLDING 40 TO 50 LISTINGS a month and operating at a level where if you’ve sold only 12 listings two weeks in, it’s a trigger for you to ‘pick up your game’. Now imagine you do this without using a database and with the juggle of being a mum. Welcome to the world of Melita Bell from RE/MAX Success Toowoomba.

MELITA BELL has an infectious smile and has friendly good vibes just oozing out of her. But don’t mistake the affable exterior for a lack of ambition. She is as driven as the next agent, but always puts the people she meets first. And being active in her local community means she meets many of them in places you may not traditionally expect.

“I like having a centre of influence,” says Melita, “So I do get listings from getting my hair done, or getting my nails done, or the other day I was in a grocery store and just talking to the lady behind me, and she says, ‘Oh, I’ve got a house to sell,’ because I told her I’m a real estate agent. I think every person I meet is an opportunity. Like, how simple is that? It was just talking to someone. It’s about being real.”

Melita started real estate in Ipswich (QLD) after a pivot from her role as a finance manager in a real estate office. She joined the industry as a PA to Suzy Niemeyer, who coincidentally is the mother of another very successful agent in Qld, Dane Atherton.

“I was Suzy’s PA for seven years. Then she branched out on her own and I helped her set up her office. I got to see every insight, how the Office of Fair Trading works, how trust accounting works and then I ran the business with her. So I got to learn all the background knowledge of how real estate works from the bottom up.”

Melita then moved to Toowoomba and became a mum herself. While taking a break from real estate, tragedy struck following a major car accident which also led to some financial hardship while recovering. Realising her situation wasn’t the life she wanted she knew there was only one person who could change it.

“It’s so true, when the darkest hours come upon you, what you’re capable of doing and the strength that you find. You can either crumble or you can get up and just go hard. That’s what I decided to do.”

And so selling real estate became the driver for Melita to move beyond her own struggles, and in doing so set about conquering them. In her first year back in real estate, selling property, the stakes for Melita were high – to win or to lose everything: “I had a six-month-old baby and I was single at the time. So yes, a single mum. And I sold 102 properties in that year. I wanted to be an example to my little boy.”

While many agents struggle with the balance of having it all, Melita’s son is clearly a driving force for her and fundamentally connected to her purpose in selling property. But Melita is also refreshingly realistic and says what most people are too afraid to be. On the program of AREC 2017 with a major keynote this year, Melita says, “I just want people to know that it’s okay. You know, I do such big, long hours, but [still] I can sit in the car and I cry on the way home sometimes because I’ve missed out on some really vital parts of my son’s life. And you can have a bad day in real estate and be driving home – and be really emotional, and I’ll ring my mum up… but I know it’s worth it because I’ve had to make these sacrifices to be where I am today, and I have no regrets because I’m going to set myself and my son up.”

“I think, if you have family support; I’ve got really, really good parents, they lifted up their life from Ipswich to come and help me with raising my son. They really helped me when I needed them and if it wasn’t for them, I probably wouldn’t have been able to do what I did.”

Melita’s gratitude for real estate as a means to abetter life is obvious and it’s often been said that this approach creates a sustainable long-term drive for a successful career: momentum of that depth is difficult to derail with the day-to-day tactical obstacles that happen in sales. When asked about how she deals with the tough patches she is practical in her response. “I always think of someone worse off than me. I’ve got my health, I’ve got a roof over my head, I can put my son into a fantastic school, I don’t have cancer, I’m not dying. So why should I feel sorry for myself? And I always think, in real estate, you can be a rooster one day and a feather duster the next!

“That’s what I say to everyone. You think you’re going really good; you’ve got 15 contracts on the board and then five fall over. But you know what? It’s okay, because what’s going to happen? I just have to sell them again.”

Her Real Estate Gym Coach, Tom Panos has watched her journey and is admiring of her tenacity in overcoming obstacles. “It’s true,” says Panos, “Melita has overcome adversity and eliminated every excuse. She has become one of the most successful female agents in the country, while bringing up a young child, in an area that has a low average price. She has proven the secret is to make your goals bigger than your excuses.”

While for Melita purpose comes first, people come next. Being honest and authentic with people isn’t some sort of tactic for her to get listings – it is absolutely grounded in her as one of her core values. The upshot of the referral business she has is an outcome, but not the intention.

Her secret superpower? “Be honest. Don’t fluff things around; just be honest to your clients, be honest to yourself and just don’t lie. Be humble. There’s no point in lying, it gets you into trouble. I always say, ‘You can remember a truth, but you can’t remember a lie’.”

Melita’s work practices also demonstrate the same simplicity and honesty as her approach to people. On working without a database, she says “When everyone asks me why I’m successful and I have no database, it’s great to email and text people, but you know what? There’s nothing better than picking up the phone and talking to someone, because usually in real estate we’re either talking to people who are struggling financially or going through separation. Sometimes people just need to hear your voice, that it’s going to be okay. That we can get the house sold and they can move on to the next stage of life.”
Melita also has one of the sharpest memories in the business and can rattle off her key prospects in a matter of minutes without looking them up. “I have a list of people every week that will be my top 20 listings that I know are going to come up with very soon, and then I have a list of every single vendor, every client that I have currently. I have Monday through to Sunday tick boxes and I tick as I’m driving in the car. I’ll just ring people on the way. And then it will be like my priority people who are going to be listing with me in the next couple weeks, I keep in contact with them.”

“Sometimes, I’ll be driving in the car thinking, man, I haven’t talked to that person for about three months, I’m just going to give him a call.”

Perhaps partly the result of her own personal journey when it comes to vendors, for Melita it’s about the relationship, not about making the sale. She adds, “And I don’t even care if I don’t sell the house. Pay it forward, I always say.”

“I sometimes have owners ring me at 10:00 pm at night, crying because they don’t know what to do about their personal situations. So I feel that half the time I don’t even talk about real estate to people. It’s about what they’re going through, and half the time because I’ve been through it, so I can be very sympathetic to whatever it happens to be.”

Melita also doesn’t closely count results, benchmarking or beans, although she does say she’ll be taking on a PA this year and yes, perhaps even a technology based database solution. But she says her approach will remain service-based. Through serving her clients and immersing herself in the local community, her own million-dollar milestone slipped by almost unnoticed. On hitting a million dollar GCI target, Melita says again with that trademark smile, “I didn’t even know I did… My bosses at the time came and showed me the piece of paper, and just said, ‘You did it.’ And it was like, ‘Wow. Okay. That’s good’.

This year she also realised that she had reached number two for transaction sides in the RE/MAX franchise awards, and she is still keen for more.

RE/MAX director Joel Davoren said of Melita, “Melita’s rise in the RE/MAX group, and the industry as a whole, has obviously captured the attention of a large number of people and rightfully so. We are so proud of her achievements and she is an amazing ambassador for the RE/MAX brand. To see her fulfil a dream of speaking at AREC is just awesome and truly deserved.”

Melita says,“Sky’s the limit, now. Nothing’s going to stop me.”

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Sarah Bell

With a background in research and investigations, Sarah Bell married into the real estate industry in 2009 and has found a passion for both the business and its people.