Victorian real estate agent Leo Edwards is far from your ordinary real estate agent.
For a start, his main marketing vehicle, website Inverloch3996, which covers the Bass Coast Shire and South Gippsland in Victoria, was set up years before he took the plunge into the real estate sector.
Mr Edwards was living and working in the Middle East at the time as a marketing executive but always planned to move back to the coastal Inverloch area.
“We set Inverloch3996.com up seven years ago, because we knew when we moved back to Australia (from the Middle East) …we would need an audience, although we weren’t quite sure what that audience would be for,” he said.
“We have built a database of 25,000 people that either love or would love to live in Inverloch, the region. The website focuses on the region, promoting small business, and our properties on the market.”
Inverloch3996 is Mr Edwards’ secret weapon, with rich content about the faces and places of the Inverloch region, which also includes the popular coastal towns of Cape Patterson and Venus Bay.
“The website is where a lot of our leads come from, particularly the people that end up buying, most of them are direct from that source,” he said.
“We don’t rely too heavily on the property portals – we use them – but a lot of that data and information comes from our own sources.”
Mr Edwards’ success, even while enduring multiple lockdowns in Victoria, hasn’t been achieved alone.
He said the rewards have also come from his fruitful partnership with national real estate network @realty.
Mr Edwards partnered with the group when he launched his agency two years ago.
“@realty have been great. Their support is second to none,” he said.
“I couldn’t fault that relationship in the two years we have been together.
“The support is always there when we need it. They obviously embrace technology as well, which plays a big role in what we do in terms of digital contracting and the backend support they provide.”
He said having @realty take care of trust accounts is also a weight off his mind.
“That is another part of the puzzle that we don’t have to worry about,” Mr Edwards said.
“We can focus on our clients, giving them better service without being shackled to a desk.
“I like the support network and think it’s worth every penny.”
Mr Edwards said his agency, with @realty’s support, has achieved remarkable results during COVID-19.
The average days on market in Inverloch is between 60 and 90 days but for his agency, it is down to just 24.
He said part of their success was down to its foundation as a virtual office even before the lockdowns came into effect, as well as use of online purchasing platform Openn.
“We run virtual tours within a 3D virtual environment, and these have been well received by the market,” Mr Edwards said.
“We are averaging 5000 to 6000 visits to those virtual tours – obviously during lockdown those numbers go up.
“People want out of Melbourne. What we have tried to do is give them as much information on a property as we physically can.”
Mr Edwards said that includes setting up a website for every property that hits the market, including a vendor statement, building and pest inspection certificates and other relevant information.
@realty Chief Executive Officer James Taylor said he was proud of @realty’s support for Inverloch3996 during a difficult period in Victoria and Australia.
“We think what Leo has achieved is truly exceptional,” Mr Taylor said.
“@realty takes care of everything, from handling the trust accounts to digital contracts and backend support, so our agents can do what they do best – list and sell.
“We are seeing independent agents flock to our model because they can see the benefits of partnering with @realty while preserving their own brand and gaining all the support they need to be successful.”