It’s not every week you set two Victorian property price records within the space of just a couple of days.
But that’s exactly what Marshall White Stonnington Director Marcus Chiminello did in August this year.
A prestige property specialist with 20 years in real estate, Marcus sold the Georgian Revival Residence Blair House at 17 St Georges Rd, Toorak for almost $75 million.
Just days later, he sold an unfinished mansion on the same road for a touch over $80 million.
Mysterious cryptocurrency casino king Ed Craven, 27, is now the proud owner of 29-31 St George’s Rd, Toorak – Victoria’s most expensive home.
Marcus listed Blair House after being one of several agents a transactional adviser interviewed to find the right agent.
But he says it was his relationship with the vendor at 29-31 St George’s Rd that saw him secure that off-market listing.
“I had approached him (the owner) previously over the years about potentially selling the property because I had buyers and clients express interest in it,” Marcus says.
“Then, when he did reach out to say, “Yes, I will consider selling very discreetly,” we had the buyer in place straight away.
“It was only a phone call from the vendor to me, then me to the buyer, then that created an inspection the following day and an agreement the day after that.
“It was literally a 48 to 72-hour turnaround.”
Marcus says his ability to build a relationship with the vendor over about five years saw the sale happen.
He had previously evaluated other assets and offered advice, but Marcus had never transacted with that owner.
“He certainly observed and watched the prestige market, so he had noted that in recent years we had really taken a stranglehold on a lot of the prestige sales in our marketplace,” Marcus says.
“So he was aware we were likely to be the best-equipped agents and agency to look after his sale.”
Premium properties by design
That astute reputation in Melbourne’s prestige property market has come about with intent.
Marcus says he always wanted to either design, build or sell houses, and in 2002 he joined Belinda Anderson as a sales assistant before fellow Marshall White Director James Tostevin headhunted him to join his team as an assistant.
Just a year later, he became a fully-fledged, independent agent.
“I always wanted to get to a point where, at the pinnacle of my career, I was selling some of Melbourne’s best real estate,” Marcus notes.
“I have kept that as my focus, as well as servicing clients in the manner they expect.
“In our market, people talk about bad experiences far more than they do a good experience, so I had to make sure that when I was spoken about in the right circles of influence, it was positive.”
But Marcus zeros in on providing more than just great service to his clients; he also offers sound real estate advice to current and potential clients.
He says one error many agents make is offering self-serving advice, not advice that’s best for the client, and that’s one area that sets him apart from the competition.
“Once you genuinely put the client first, that’s when you’ll always be the agent of choice,” Marcus explains.
“If you tell someone they shouldn’t sell, that they shouldn’t accept an offer or maybe even that they should defer selling and look to a rental perspective, it’s refreshing for them.
“Then you’re more of a real estate adviser than you are a selling agent.”
Solid building blocks
Even in his early days as an agent, Marcus always took a long-term view of the relationships he built and the advice he gave.
He didn’t start selling $80 million properties in Toorak, it was more like $1 million and $2 million homes in South Yarra, Armadale and Stonnington.
But he took every chance presented to him, was prepared to knock on more doors and rolled his sleeves up, ready to work hard.
He was warned he’d never crack the big properties in Toorak, but he only saw that ‘advice’ as a challenge, not a deterrent.
“Sometimes enthusiasm, treated appropriately, can outweigh experience,” Marcus says.
Today, he is selling the big homes, and in 2021 he sold 108 homes with a total sale value of $747,458,349.
One of the keys to selling high-end homes is presenting them at an astute level that often includes maintenance, renovations, styling, staging, videography and photography.
Marcus says an average vendor would spend about $250,000 on renovating, staging and marketing a property but this is often a small percentage of the total sale price.
“Buyers at this price point will not compromise,” he explains.
“They’re looking for perfection.”
No open homes
At such high price points, there’s also no such thing as an open home. Instead, Marcus spends the bulk of each day showing his listings in private appointments.
“You’re letting people behind the doors of those that appreciate privacy and discretion,” he says.
It also means every potential buyer must be carefully qualified, such as through disclosure from their accountant, banker or solicitor, to ensure they have the capacity to purchase the home they’re viewing.
Marcus also needs to intricately understand the vendors’ sale objectives and the potential buyers’ needs.
And even for off-market listings he will have some marketing material prepared so he can share it with a buyer to ensure the property resonates with them.
“There’s no point taking a buyer through something if it suits their budget but doesn’t suit their needs,” he says.
In terms of personal branding, Marcus says he takes setting price records in his stride.
His area of speciality is property priced north of $5 million across Melbourne, and while accolades from the properties that sell for much more are nice, they can result in would-be vendors mistakenly thinking he wouldn’t list their home.
Some sound advice
Marcus’s advice to agents just starting in real estate is to remember the power of building relationships, don’t rely on technology for everything, be prepared to work hard and cope with some level of sacrifice to gain success.
“You also really need to get an understanding of the kind of agent you want to be because if you can’t recognise the agent you are, how can you expect the marketplace to?” he says.
And if you thought Marcus might be ready to rest on his laurels, you couldn’t be further from the truth.
He has some very clear and very high goals he still wants to achieve.
“I would love to get to a point where we set the Australian (price) record,” Marcus says.
“In the short-term, we would love to see a transaction occur that’s north of $100 million in Melbourne and there are currently some irons in the fire to make that happen.
“I think you have to have aspirations on what you’d like to sell, but you also have to remain grounded in what you do day-to-day.
“I just want to ensure that I keep doing what I’m doing properly and better than my competitors, then I’ll always stay ahead of the curve.
“The moment I stop that, I know there’s someone ready to take my place.”