The Young Guns of Real Estate 2009

In years gone by, when you started a job in real estate, the old saying was, “You get a desk, a phone and a month…” Unless you were lucky, there wasn’t much more help to keep you afloat in the deep end. In most cases these days, it’s just the opposite, so it’s little wonder that new agents are becoming super successful, super fast!

The new breed of real estate agent is a product of dedicated training and mentoring mixed with a passion for technology and a serious thirst for success. Generation Y may well have produced the industry’s “Super Agent” and a group of savvy business people who become millionaires in their twenties.

According to the 2006 Census findings, 9% (or 148,170) of small businesses in Australia were run by Generation Yers (being people under 30 years) indicating this demographic group’s keen interest in business and perhaps, a natural ability for management.

Adam Penberthy, CEO of Fresh, an advertising and marketing agency that specialises in campaigns directed at Generation Y, commented on some of the attributes of Gen Yers that are helping them become successful business people so early in life. He said, “I think Gen Y’s preparedness to consider alternative angles and approaches to business is one of the key reasons they succeed in their field. Typically, we find Gen Y has a greater affinity towards risk taking, which I think in many ways also aids their ability to develop fluid businesses that can mould and adapt to the market they’re entering. Similarly, from a marketing and communications perspective, Gen Y’s have grown into a world that embraces digital media and new modes of communications. I believe their ability and understanding of how they can utilise these new approaches into the marketing of their ventures is another attribute that adds to their success.”

Sold Magazine spoke to some young achievers who have turned the media’s negative Gen Y stereotype on its head and are injecting some fresh perspectives and a focus on ethics into the industry. Their discussion about their careers and their clever use of technology in marketing is continued at

Andrew Lutze is a Licensed Real Estate Agent and Accredited Auctioneer with Cunninghams Property, Sydney. At 26, he has won a string of impressive industry sales awards and has recently been selected in the Australasian Real Estate Results Network top 1% of excellence in Auctioneering. He is the recipient of numerous Auctioneer awards from NSW to Australasian levels.

Christie Smith is a Licensed Real Estate Agent with LJ Hooker Pacific Pines, Queensland. At 28, she has achieved a long list of LJ Hooker Gold Coast cell and annual awards including numerous Top Income Producer, Top Number of Sales and Highest Value of Settlement awards. She is also a member of LJ Hooker’s prestigious Multi Million Dollar Chapter of the Captains Club.

Lachlan Bate, Principal of Century 21 On The Peninsula, Redcliffe is achieving what many spend a life time striving for. At just 20 years of age, the young Queenslander is fast making a name for himself in the Real Estate industry, becoming the youngest Century 21 principal, and possibly the youngest franchise owner in Australia.

Sold: How did you get started in real estate?

Andrew: I returned home from a gap year overseas in Europe where I played and coached rugby for 12 months, at the time I was enrolled in the TAFE course for real estate and was working in an insurance company just doing an administrative role. Rugby was the only reason I hadn’t started in real estate straight away, however, I knew I would eventually have to give this away if I wanted to work in the industry (Saturday open houses). Further to this, I had deferred my nursing degree from university to go overseas. When I came back I realised that I wanted to talk to people and knew some sort of sales role would be the best fit to my personality so I left the nursing behind.

I started off working at Cunningham’s in August 2002 as a cadet role learning all facets of the industry. I was primarily a property officer helping out the leasing department, but would also help out all the sales people when they needed me, learning more about the sales process as my confidence increased in the business. After 12 months, I moved into a mentor PA sales role to the director John Cunningham for a period of two years. This was where I shadowed John in everything he did and learnt the inner workings of negotiations, marketing and all of the “invisible” aspects others don’t notice when selling property. It was a great platform to build my business skills and learn some of the ethics, in addition to what it takes to become a successful real estate agent.

Christie: I was looking for a career change and just started looking for things that interested me and real estate was one of them so I applied for a couple of jobs on the net. From that I interviewed with a few different companies and accepted a job at L J Hooker Pacific Pines and have been there ever since.

Real estate just seemed to feel right for me for me from when I started.

Lachlan: From a young age I was surrounded by real estate agents and property. With my grandfather and father both being large property developers in Yamba, Northern NSW. During the end of high school I decided that real estate was the career path I wanted to take. I guess property was just in my blood! I completed my full real estate agent’s licence with the REIQ at the age of 18, and in February 2008 at just 19 years of age, purchased the multi award winning office, Century 21 On The Peninsula.

Sold: What are some of the challenges you have faced as a young person starting out in the real estate industry?

Andrew: Apart from the age barrier, I faced what I like to call “foot in mouth disease” – where I would open my mouth and start talking about a situation or negotiation without listening to the client and what is important to them. The problem with many young agents is that they tend to talk too much and not listen. Another challenge is training, if an agent doesn’t have the right training to overcome the objections from a potential client, they will never present a convincing argument/point of difference as to why they are better. The hardest part is learning how to sell yourself and your services back to the client without verbal diarrhea and sounding egotistical – you need to show the clients how your qualities will bring them more money than any other agent. Role play training is the best for this, practice on your colleagues first before you practice on your clients.

Christie: When I started it was harder as Pacific Pines is a developing area and it was really hard for me being a 24 year old female trying to list houses for middle aged males and builders in the area. I did find as my successes grew I started to attract more business and have repeat business with a number of my clients and builders in the area that liked to work with me.

Lachlan: Obviously moving to a new area and trying to create a profile for myself has been a challenge, likewise with any new agent starting out. One of the biggest challenges for myself as a business owner would be creating a point of difference in the marketplace, and helping develop and encourage the people within my business. I see my staff as my most import resource of all. It has been challenging collecting a team that works together productively and it’s because we work well together, we stand apart from our competitors.

Sold: If you manage other staff, how do you motivate those older than you or who have been in real estate longer than you?

Andrew: I have a PA who works along side me. Amy is four years older than me, however, we do work as a team rather than an agent/PA role and I involve her in all the negotiations, marketing and almost every aspect of the campaign so that we are on the same level and again we are working as a team – targets are calculated as a team environment, not agent/PA. The motivation comes from having a fun working environment, energetic and lots of new ideas – we constantly brain storm new ideas and run with them.

Christie: I have not had to really mange staff in real estate, I did have a PA for a couple of years and she was great, only a couple of years older than me and we worked together well. I think a lot of the success for us was that we worked as a team more than her working for me, we respected each other and we each knew what was expected and what our responsibilities were. I also believe in bonuses or successes; people should be rewarded for their successes so my PA was also on a bonus scheme and the more business I wrote per quarter, the higher her bonus, which meant that my success was also her success.

Lachlan: When my staff are happy and look forward to coming to work, they will be more productive and get exceptional results. I strive to create a positive environment and help my staff, regardless of age, achieve their goals.

Sold: What are some of the things you do differently in your everyday role to give you/your agency a competitive advantage?

Andrew: Our three tiered marketing programs with property videos. Correct use of the database and “sneak preview” opens to create the correct atmosphere before starting the marketing campaign. Communication between the team, my team and of course the clients (daily). Monitoring the competition regularly and coming with new hard facts about their marketing and particular sales.

Christie: It may sound very cliché but providing good service is one of the standout comments I get from buyers and sellers. It may sound simple but having the guts to tell someone something they don’t want to hear can be really hard, but it is part of the job. It is easy to call someone and give them the good news but to call them and give them bad news or hard feedback is something that a lot of agents just avoid doing so their clients just don’t hear from them and don’t know why. If you are honest with someone from the beginning and let them know that not everything you will be telling them will be good news they will expect it and respect you for your honesty.

The other thing is real estate is not about houses it is about getting someone where they want to be, whether it be into a bigger house and out of a smaller one, out of an area, into an area or out of financial difficulty – buying and selling houses is not easy for anyone and there is generally a good reason someone is moving. An agent needs to be compassionate and understanding and realise that you will most likely end up knowing more about these people than a lot of their family do and that is something you need to respect and be careful with.

Lachlan: Most of our business is repeat and referral. Word of mouth is by far our best method of advertising and this is because we offer people fantastic service and upfront honest advice. Being part of the Century 21 organisation is a bonus, due to its global strength and solid reputation.

Sold: What changes would you like to see in the real estate industry in future years?

Andrew: The industry (as a whole) raise the bar in terms of compulsory training and professionalism.

A clear cut five and ten year plan working towards cleaning out the dinosaurs of real estate that give it a bad name and recognition of leading agents who are promoting good practice and business.

Christie: The biggest dark cloud over the real estate industry would be the reputation of agents and how they are perceived in society. I would really like to see this improve dramatically, I often make jokes with my clients about it but I would really like it if I didn’t have too. I think that most people go into the industry with great intentions but it is not as easy as a lot of people think and they end up being one of the agents that comes across as doing the wrong thing because they just don’t understand what to do.

I think one thing that would make a big difference in the industry would be more compulsory training or apprenticeships for new agents. I was really lucky when I came into the industry as I had a couple of agents in the office I work at, Brendan McGill and Nancy Pavlovshi that I would like to thank as they really helped me get started and walked me through everything step by step and let me tag along with them. Without this I think I would have been lost, in turn I try to help the other people that start in my office to get up and running. If the whole industry was more about people and less about property I think that it would change a lot.

Sold: Where would you like to be in ten years time?

Andrew: Associate Director of Cunningham’s Property. Have a strong team of five working with me, with Amy as the client manager, two selling agents, a supporting agent/marketing/generation role and admin support agent. Top 1% of high performing agents in NSW. Top 1% of auctioneers nationally; leading auctioneer on the Northern Beaches of Sydney.

Christie: I am currently pregnant with my first baby and everyone keeps telling me how it will change my life and how your views on things change. I know that I love real estate and when it is really in your blood you will never get it out but I think I am going to wait and see what happens after I have the baby, but one thing I do know, it will be in real estate just maybe not as many hours.

Lachlan: I would like to see the business become the leading real estate agency in the area. By this time I also wouldn’t mind also having a few other offices from the Gold to Sunshine Coasts.

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