EPMEPM: Cover Stories

Taking the Step Up: Anthea Economos

From trailing after her father on listing appointments as a child to forming part of a family succession plan at Ray White Rockdale, Anthea Economos has carved her own path as a dedicated property manager with more than just one secret weapon.

Anthea Economos likes to stand on her own two feet.

A vivacious and dedicated property manager at Ray White Rockdale, the driven daughter of principal Con has well and truly shed the ‘boss’s daughter’ label.

That’s not to say the pair don’t gel like peas and carrots; it just means there’s the utmost respect and appreciation for what each brings to the family-oriented business.

“Especially when I first started, I worked so hard to not be the boss’s daughter,” Anthea recalls.

“I was very appreciative and I love that I had that opportunity to work with him, but I hated when people would say, ‘Oh, are you helping your dad out?’ No, I have a full-time position and I work very hard. I don’t just go to auctions and smile and register people. I work hard.”

Anthea grew up tagging along behind her father to listing appointments after school. As a teenager, she worked every Saturday on reception.

But if you ask Anthea if this early introduction to real estate immediately fostered a love of all things property-related, you get a resounding ‘no’.

“If you’d asked me if I ever wanted to get into it, I would have said flat out, ‘No, it’s not for me’,” she says. In fact, Anthea had other plans. “I was doing primary school education at university for two years.”

When a newly appointed property manager fell pregnant, Anthea spent a year working part-time with her and part-time at university. The rest, as they say, is history.

Now Anthea works alongside senior property manager Matthew Bennett, property management assistant Demi Goussis and property management associate Mandie Ma.

“Landlords are not going to get a letter in three months’ time signed by someone they’ve never heard of.”

After five years in the job, she says her secret real estate power is honesty and making her clients, both landlords and tenants, feel relaxed.

“I think my strong point is making people feel comfortable with me,” she says.

“I’m handling people’s biggest asset and that’s no light feat. That’s a huge position, which is something my dad explained quite well to me. I think some property managers don’t think of it that way. Sometimes it’s thought of as just a job.”

Anthea says she meets families, makes them feel comfortable with her and assures them that if they have questions they can call, email or text her.

In fact, she says one of her key points of difference is her view of property management as a career path in its own right. She expects to remain in the role at Ray White Rockdale long term.

“Landlords are not going to get a letter in three months’ time signed by someone they’ve never heard of,” she says. “I want you to call Ray White Rockdale and know that Anthea is always going to be there.”

While still in the early stages of her career, Anthea says she’s already noticed that landlords are becoming more savvy in their hunt for the perfect tenant, and price isn’t always the be-all and end-all.

She says many owners would prefer to accept $20 less per week in rent to secure a solid tenant.

“A lot of people don’t ask that question, though. They’re so busy working to have it leased tomorrow and at $20 above what it really might be worth – but to tenants who are below average.

“I want their property to be worth more when I’ve finished with it, not less. But if there’s a lot of wear and tear because you’ve got too many people living in a two-bedroom apartment, then I’m not adding value to their property.”

“I think my strong point is making people feel comfortable with me.”

Despite making a concerted effort to shed the ‘boss’s daughter’ tag, Anthea says working for her father has been a positive experience based on mutual respect. That doesn’t mean they always agree, but there’s an implicit trust in the other person you can only find with family.

“He’s been in the business for longer than I’ve been alive,” she says.

“You have to respect that he’s done it before; sometimes we have the same opinion on things and sometimes we don’t. You each bring different things to the table… I respect that he knows what he’s doing when it comes to sales, and he respects that I know what I’m doing when it comes to property management.”

Anthea says the Ray White Rockdale team also includes her brother Nicholas, in sales, and one thing their father has taught them is that good service is priceless.

She says you can’t expect landlords to pay more for your services unless you offer more to them. That includes connecting with your clients either in person or by phone, and not opting for the cold format of email.

“Just being an approachable human; I think that’s lost in property management. I think sometimes we become robotic and there really shouldn’t be anything robotic about it.

“My dad is really good at reminding us that good service is really important and to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.”

Con says Anthea is an asset as an employee and works well with Matthew. He affirms that she’s earned her position based on hard work and merit and, like any father, he’s proud of her.

“Anthea is a wonderful asset to the team,” he says. “She and Matthew work wonderfully together … Anthea listens and is able to execute what’s asked of her.”

Con says running a family business gives him the added comfort of having team members he trusts implicitly. The goal for the future is to hand over the reins to his children, with the possibility of involving other key staff members.

“My dad is good at reminding us that good service is really important and to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.”

“About five months ago we did a course under Brian White on how to run an effective family business so you can pass the baton on down the track,” he says.

“Everyone has to add value to the business and grow it.”

Both Con and Anthea agree that he won’t be handing over the mantle just yet – and when that time does come he won’t disappear for good.

“I don’t think Dad will be giving it up that easily; I don’t think he ever wants to not work,” Anthea says.

“I’ve kindly asked if I’d be allowed to work four days a week, then three days and so on. I don’t think I could not not do this,” Con agrees.

Currently the agency’s rent roll sits at about 450 properties, up from 200 just a few years ago. Anthea says growing the business further is definitely on the cards, and the team they have assembled to do it is running like a “well-oiled machine”.

“We all work on the portfolio together,” she says.

“Everyone knows what they’re doing. Matt deals with a lot more of the serious things, so if we have to go to the Tribunal he will deal with that. Matt handles the bond funds. I handle the (rent) raise, I handle the repairs, as does Matt … Mandie does our leasing and our routine inspections. Demi shows some property. Everyone is flexible and I think that’s why our team works.

“Everyone genuinely wants to be there and everyone wants to work hard. We are very close. We say, ‘I see them more than I see my own family,’ so you have to like each other and I think that makes it so easy.”

The role of a property manager is not without its challenges, but Anthea is the first to admit handling the tough stuff is an important part of the job.

“It’s always nice to give good news … while having discussions around duress or money owed is not my favourite part of the job. I think separating yourself from that when you go home can be difficult. Sometimes it’s made easy by an outstanding landlord, but sometimes you’re not on the same wavelength as your landlord either.”

Anthea says that, when it comes to selecting the right tenant, gut instinct combines with fact-checking. As well as following up references, she looks to see what can be unearthed via Google, calling their workplace number and checking on the national tenancy database.

She says sometimes the checks may detect a potential problem, such as an old bankruptcy, but the tenant’s references check out, their leasing history is solid, they have always paid rent on time and they presented well when looking at the property.

“I give my owners full information and I leave it in their hands,” Anthea says.

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