Young Guns 2009 – Where are they now?

We caught up with 2009 ‘Young Guns’ Christie Smith and Andrew Lutze, who have gone from strength to strength in their careers.

Where are you working now?
Andrew Lutze: I will have been with Cunninghams (Balgowlah, NSW) for 10 years in August, I am now a senior sales consultant and chief auctioneer.

Christie Smith: At the beginning of 2011, I moved to an independent agency but after a year, I moved again to Raine & Horne (Pacific Pines, QLD) where I am really enjoying the structure and strength of a franchise again.

Can you give us some of the highlights of your past three years in real estate?
AL: Despite 2011 being a tough year, I managed to grow my business in 2011, with a higher market share and an increased gross commission to the agency. I’ve seen growth in the areas of
listing appointments, listing to sales ratio and office commission.

CS: The past three years have been some of the toughest so far. The real estate industry is notorious for being demanding of time, and in addition, I have had to manage the demands of being a mum. Adjusting to these changes has been difficult, but with the help of a great support network – family, friends and colleagues – I believe I have been able to find a balance in my personal and professional life. This has been my greatest highlight.

What are the most significant changes to the Industry you have seen in the past three years, and why?
AL: The accreditation programs now introduced by the REI NSW have added a new dimension to the professionalism and standards set for agents in this industry. There has been a massive focus around education and higher skills based training, allowing agents to have a competitive edge.

CS: The adoption of technology and social media has had a revolutionary impact on the way we do business. Buyers and sellers have so much information at their fingertips, and our role as real estate agents must evolve in response, focusing on the human experience by educating and guiding vendors and buyers through the sale process.

What are your goals for the next three to five years?
AL: I would still like to become the number one sales agent within Cunninghams and achieve a partnership with the company.

CS: My goal is to bring my annual gross commission back to the level it was prior to having a family, without giving up my family time. I’m getting involved with some exciting new developments that will provide great opportunities for me to move forward. I plan to build a name for myself within the Raine & Horne network, as I did within L J Hooker.

Is there any advice you might have given your ‘younger self’, if you’d had the opportunity?
AL: Yes – don’t stop training and role playing each week. This is one of the most critical reasons why some agents succeed and others fail. The minute you stop learning, you are letting your competition get the edge on you. Surround yourself with positive people. This business is all about having the right attitude, rolling up your sleeves, and getting the job done. Set your goals earlier and plan the next day today!

CS: One of the biggest things that I learned over the last couple of years is that I thrive a lot more within the structure and systems of a franchise, so advice to myself would be to stick with a franchise.

What advice would you give to young real estate agents entering the industry?
AL: Start small; so many young agents want to sell expensive properties and crack the big market early on, which is only going to lead to frustration and eventually deflation. Focus on volume, rather than price. The dollars will come once you become focused on the client and helping them move. Build strong relationships – latch onto a good solicitor who works your area, accountant, builder, handy man, landscaper, architect and developer – do the lunches and give them business – make sure they know you are their agent. The only way to get ahead when you’re young is to be professional and know your product.

CS: Never stop training. There are always opportunities for you to improve what you do. Keep up with technology. It will make you a more effective agent with better time management. Get involved in the community. Be their agent before they need an agent. Building a good network and referral base will pay dividends in creating new business opportunities.

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Samantha McLean

Samantha McLean is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Elite Agent and Host of the Elevate Podcast.