Looking back on 2020, Northern Territory sales agent Sam Linn notes it was a watershed year professionally and personally.
Not only was 2020 the year that saw COVID-19 shift the real estate landscape, it was the year he became principal of LJ Hooker Alice Springs, and the year he and his partner welcomed their first child into the world.
Ultimately, it was one of his most successful years to date with Sam named the top residential salesperson in the Northern Territory at the Annual REA Excellence Awards.
EXPECTING THE WORST
As COVID-19 became a daily headline, Sam concedes he was expecting the worst.
Coming off the back of a quiet time, the market was sluggish, and there was no telling the impact a pandemic would have.
“We worked harder and smarter as best we could,” he says of his team’s approach.
Despite his concern, the number of transactions in Alice Springs almost doubled as a direct result of COVID-19.
“Alice Springs is a great place to work with a very easy lifestyle, and I think people just thought, ‘Well, if we don’t know what we can do over the next two, three, four years with COVID, we’ll invest in Alice Springs and have a home sweet home for a while’.”
The increased activity, combined with working harder and smarter, saw Sam sell 62 properties in 2020, valued at $28 million in total.
BUILDING A LOCAL PROFILE
Alice Springs might be immortalised in movies, but it remains a small community with a population of just over 25,000.
For a local lad who was born and raised there, Sam notes a town like Alice offers both benefits and challenges when it comes to building a real estate career.
Benefits include the connection he has with people and the fact it’s a community that rallies behind its members.
“People want to help each other out and introduce people to pleasurable experiences they’ve had – that goes from real estate to buying a pushbike, or a car,” he says.
On the flip side, Sam notes there’s the potential to become stale.
“You have to keep reinventing yourself as an agent,” he says.
For Sam, that reinvention comes down to networking and authenticity, and it’s something he has been committed to throughout a 16-year career.
His advice to agents starting out, is to “get over the fear factor”, knock on doors and talk to people.
“For every 99 no’s there’s one yes, and that’s a very lucrative yes. But the only way to get that yes is to get out there and be known,” he says.
THE ROAD TO REAL ESTATE
Sam entered real estate shortly after completing high school, but it wasn’t necessarily his first career choice.
“Originally I wanted to get into the police force, but I had quite a serious motor vehicle accident probably about six months out of high school,” he explains.
“That sort of changed my life where I couldn’t do those high impact activities anymore and I needed to get into something new.
“I already had a couple of properties under my belt and I was desperate. So, I looked into something that I was quite passionate about and here we are today.”
Sam notes every agent has memorable buyers and sellers, and some are characters who will stick with him forever.
His role encompasses residential sales and commercial/industrial, and he explains the difference comes down to the emotion involved.
“In residential you’re often selling to a family or a first-home buyer, so there’s a lot more emotion tied up in it,” he explains.
“When you’re selling commercial or industrial, a lot of it is around the business side of it and the numbers. They’ve got a stack up, otherwise it doesn’t work.”
PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
LJ Hooker Alice Springs currently comprises a team of about 20 handling all facets of real estate.
Sam explains it was an honour to be invited to step into the role of principal last year when former principal Doug Fraser retired from the position after more than 40 years in the industry.
The new role motivated Sam to improve as an agent, but he says he was fortunate to have a strong staff base with team leaders who excel at what they do.
Now he’s looking to the future and what the group will achieve, and his business goals include increasing LJ Hooker’s local market share.
“As a company, we’ve held 40 to 55 per cent of the Alice Springs market, month-on-month for a long period of time,” he says.
“I’d like that to consistently be over 50 per cent every month over the next 12 months.”
As for his advice for other agents, Sam says it’s important to appreciate success isn’t about the money.
“Try and take the money side out of what you’re doing and just focus on helping people achieve what they’re trying to do. Help more people, and you’ll be all right,” he says.