When Lisa Totaro first started in real estate fresh out of high school, she knew sales was the place she wanted to be. Now, just eight years after becoming an agent, Lisa is at the top of her game.
Last year she was the only female to rank amongst SQM’s top 10 agents Australia-wide.
This year she’ll share the stage with the industry’s elite at AREC 2019, a culmination of hard work, a dedication to “world-class service” and a relentless hunger to achieve.
From her vantage point behind a real estate reception desk at age 18, Lisa Totaro quietly observed the sales agents at work.
Between operating the phones and handling customer inquiries, she watched as they prospected, set appointments, won listings and rejoiced in sales.
“I admired them,” she reflects.
“I felt they had a level of importance dealing with someone’s greatest financial asset. I always knew sales was where I wanted to be.”
Lisa spent three years working in reception and administration before she finally got her break in sales, but in the interim she set about learning all facets of the real estate game – from property management to sales.
“It was in reception that I got to see the makings of a real estate agency,” she notes.
From the ground up
In 2011, Lisa decided to follow her dream, applying to the young, dynamic agency Your Property Agent (YPA), which was actively seeking salespeople.
She landed a role as PA to the Director of YPA Sunbury.
The position would allow her to learn the ropes while kick-starting her career, and it came with a commitment to hard work.
“My first day was one of the first times I had ever been to the suburb of Sunbury,” Lisa says.
“I had to learn from ground zero with no contacts, no friends and no family in the region.
“But I had one simple theory; I was going to make every effort to know as many people as I could and know every single house in the area.”
Armed with leads from her boss, Lisa started compiling what she describes as a “lethal database” that she continues to build to this day.
It is the key tool she credits for her success, and it was the head start she needed when it was time to go it alone as a fully-fledged property consultant for YPA.
“The thought of being on a retainer and commission-only scared me. I made the decision I had to be better than ever. I knew I needed to buckle down.
“I did everything that you’re told to. I letterbox dropped, cold called and door knocked like a crazy person.
“Once I found out who was in a house, I registered it in the database. From the database, I’d get appraisals. An appraisal would become a listing, then a sale, which converted into a referral and the database built from there.
“Everyone in that database hears from me one to four times a year. Now I’m at the point where people know who I am and when they think of selling, my name is high on their list.”
The most out of every day
Lisa notes her drive to achieve quickly became an obsession and the taste of success only fuelled her hunger further.
“When I won a few listings on my own, it gave me new confidence. I started to find my feet and feel that I could do this.
“I have a very strict work ethic. I believe we all have the same amount of time in the day, but it’s what you do with it that separates you from the rest.
“As agents, we know what we have to do to get results, but often we don’t do it. Every day I aim to smash it. I start the day with the same firm goals. I want to get two appraisals at least; if not then I want to add 20 people to the database. Alternatively I aim to list a property.
“It is the agent who gets the most out of the day who gets the best results.”
I believe we all have the same amount of time in the day, but it’s what you do with it that separates you from the rest.
Lisa’s commitment to results is even more evident in her approach to her clients.
She is an advocate for “world-class service,” where each seller is given 100 per cent.
“I pride myself on being honest and down-to-earth rather than a salesperson.
“My role is to find out what my client’s needs are or ask them questions about themselves. The client has employed me as a professional to get them from A to B. I’m here to help them get where they want to go. Understanding and honesty gets them there a whole lot faster.”
Lisa also understands and acknowledges customer satisfaction and great service are key to building her reputation.
“At the end of the day, the client will help the business in more ways than we understand.
“We are a service-based industry where I aim to give each client 100 per cent because it all comes down to the power of word of mouth.
“The truth is, you can do all the prospecting in the world, but when a client refers you to a friend that always trumps prospecting.”
This tireless work ethic and commitment to world-class service last year saw Lisa ranked eighth in the SQM Research Top 100 agents list.
The prestigious accolade spans the criteria of service, market share and conversion, and it’s not the only recognition she has received.
As a PA, she was acknowledged with the YPA network’s PA of the Year Award.
She has also notched up numerous further titles within the YPA brand, including back-to-back wins as Salesperson of the Year.
The rewards have not come without their challenges. Lisa says one of her greatest obstacles, particularly early in her career, was her youth.
“I started as a sales agent at 23. When you’re going up against older men and women, youth can be mistaken as inexperience.
“I had to talk big talk to camouflage the fact I was young. When I walked through a front door people would often remark they were surprised at how young I was. I overcame that by being sharp and ensuring I really knew my stuff.”
Now, eight years later, Lisa is relishing the career she has established.
“I enjoy my position immensely at the moment. I’m mentally in a very happy place. It is not my intention to open my own business in the foreseeable future, but rather enjoy the job that I’ve built.”
By no means will that contentedness see Lisa become idle in the years to come. She notes real estate has ignited a continued drive to be the best.
“Real estate has grown me as a person. I didn’t know I had this fire in me, but once I discovered a passion for the job, that’s when I got competitive.
“When you’re good at what you love then you just want to be the best you can be.”
Lisa at AREC 2019
This year Lisa will speak at AREC, taking to the stage with Kylie Charlton on Sunday, 2 June.
The session will see her share her approach to fanatical prospecting, her tips on building a “lethal” database and her insight into becoming an epicentre of the community.
Lisa says she’s thrilled and humbled to be taking part.
“I’ve always looked up to the speakers at AREC. It’s an absolute privilege to be invited and I’m so grateful for the opportunity. I guess it means you’re recognised for doing something right.”