A former champion kickboxer, Rohullah Paykari is no stranger to a tough fight. While opening his agency in the middle of a global pandemic presented just that, the LJ Hooker Dandenong director has shown discipline and commitment can defeat any opposition. Here, Rohullah tells Kylie Dulhunty what he loves about real estate and why his team inspires him every day.
Rohullah Paykari isn’t scared of a challenge.
A former three-time Australian kickboxing middleweight champion, the LJ Hooker Dandenong director, decided to open his new office in the middle of a worldwide pandemic and become a father at the same time.
Yes, it’s safe to say that 2020 and 2021 have been hectic for Rohullah, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
While some family and friends tried to deter him from opening his office in June last year, Rohullah knew the timing was right.
“A lot of my friends told me, ‘It’s probably not a great idea to open up now, wait a few more months, and it will be better’,” he explains.
“But I was like, ‘No. Whatever happens, people still need to buy, people still need to sell’.
“Whether the market goes down or whether the market goes up, people that need to sell will sell, and people that need to buy will buy.
“I believed in my abilities. So I did it – we actually opened up the office just before the lockdown.”
Self-belief pays off
That self-belief paid dividends with the new agency selling 205 properties worth $150 million in its first year.
Of those sales, Rohullah sold 127 homes valued at about $100 million.
Rohullah says the secret to his success is a disciplined approach and dedication to doing the “one-percenters”.
He says the dedication he needed to succeed in kickboxing has also served him well during his 11-year real estate career.
“Discipline is very important in my life,” Rohullah explains.
“In kickboxing, in order to be a good fighter, you have to last five or six rounds in the ring. You need to be fit, you need to train at least twice a day, and you need to eat the right food and be very disciplined.
“It’s the same with real estate. It doesn’t matter how much you know about the industry, as long as you do everything right – the follow-ups, the letterbox dropping, the door-knocking, all of the prospecting – the listings will come.
“When you have the right listings, the buyers will come, and you will sell.”
In the beginning
Rohullah started in real estate 11 years ago after spotting a real estate course while studying building and construction at TAFE.
He started work at an agency in Hampton Park as a 19-year-old, and while some vendors were concerned about his age, Rohullah soon proved it’s no barrier to success.
“I never took no for an answer, and I pushed and pushed and pushed,” Rohullah says.
“My goal is always to be better today than I was yesterday.”
Rohullah says his profile as a kickboxer helped him create a profile in his farm area, which has always been in south-eastern Melbourne around Dandenong, Hampton Park and Narre Warren.
And while social media was far less established in 2011, he also used it to promote his personal brand.
“I made myself really famous in that particular area, where I’m working,” he says.
“I was in the newspaper when I won the Australian title, and I was able to use that to promote myself.”
The first sale
Rohullah says he sold a property in his first week in the industry, but one of his most memorable sales occurred last year when he was able to achieve about $70,000 more than expected for the home of an older lady who had coped with a lot of hardship in life and was moving to a retirement village.
“That was her biggest asset in life, and being able to get that result for her was just amazing,” he says.
On the other end of the scale, Rohullah says he loves being able to help first-home buyers get on the property ladder.
“I love leading them through the process, educating them about the market and helping them find their dream home.
“That just makes me really happy.”
Rohullah joined LJ Hooker in 2014 and had aspirations to open his own agency for two to three years before deciding June 2020 was the perfect time to do that despite the pandemic.
He says Melbourne went into a strict 111-day lockdown in July and he had to get creative with ways to promote the properties he had listed for sale.
One innovative method was to get his vendors to pick up the camera.
“We couldn’t operate from the office space and we couldn’t do any inspections,” Rohullah says.
“So during those times, I used to get my vendors to take a video of the property, and I would send those out to the buyers.
“It was much harder than normal, but we did sell quite a few properties even during those times.”
As well as continuing to post just listed and just sold properties, Rohullah and his team maintained an active social media presence by posting about their lives in lockdown.
“I was really working on my personal fitness, and I was working on the team’s fitness,” he notes.
“As a team, we made it that whoever trained the most or whoever walked the most would win an award.
“We posted stuff like that on social media just to keep everyone busy and tell people that we are in real estate and this is what we’re doing currently.”
Strong growth period
When the agency opened, Rohullah had a team of seven, but that has now grown to 16 across sales, property management, marketing and administration and support staff.
He says most of the team are new to the industry, with some having 12 months experience and others about six months.
“I’ve trained most myself from day one,” Rohullah says.
“Month-to-month, I am looking at the numbers and looking at the results and seeing the improvements.
“I’m very happy. We have worked on building a culture where everyone trusts each other, and everyone is helpful towards each other.
The other milestone Rohullah achieved this year is becoming a father for the first time. His son is now seven months old and keeping him on his toes.
“He’s very energetic and tires me out sometimes,” he says.
“My wife and I, it is our first (baby) and we’re so glad it happened.”
Along with continuing to grow the team and the business, Rohullah says their ethos and clear goal is resolute but simple:
“To get better and better every day,” he says.