How did you get your start in the real estate business?
The story goes, I was fairly new to Western Australia from Melbourne and settled down in Fremantle. I was working in hospitality running a couple of hotels and running a café in 1998. I’d noticed that I was working 70 hours a week, early starts and late finishes, and my best customer group was always real estate agents, just in the café seemingly drinking coffee and just talking on the phone having a lovely time, so I thought that looked like it might be for me. At the same time, my wife and I needed to sell our first home as it was getting too small, and I had a couple of real estate agents come over and talk to me and I thought they were pretty hopeless, so I sold my own house and then an agent offered me a job so I was working for John Dethridge before I knew it. I was a sales rep here and then a few years later I bought the business in 2004.
What do you love about your job?
The thing I really love about it is the variety; each day is very different because there are different stories. It’s a human job; it’s a job that relates to dealing with people. I think overall the most compelling part of it for me is being able to work with people who entrust you with their largest asset, and it can be sometimes given to you, that trust, after two one hour meetings, it’s extraordinary if you think about it. I find that a really lovely human interaction and I love working with my staff and seeing them develop and grow and get joy in their own right from what they do.
What would you say are the biggest issues facing the Australian real estate industry at the moment?
I think the monopolistic attitude and the monopolistic situation that we have with a major web portal is a major issue. We’re a bit cornered there. The sheer volume of information available now, whether buyers or sellers, now everyone’s the expert and agents have to work harder to be relevant to the transaction by offering a more varied and comprehensive service. Putting a sign out the front and standing there, that doesn’t cut it anymore.
What would you like to see done differently in the industry?
I’d like to see greater training, particularly for sales people. I know it varies from state to state but the training for entry level is very low and seems to be diminishing. There’s a necessity to ensure consumers are protected. I don’t think it’s satisfactory to have somebody do a sales course for a week and then be granted a salesperson’s license and be able to transact at that level. It’s just not appropriate in my view. It used to be harder to get your license, when I did mine it was a two-year program to get your license and the board interviewed you. Education is a real worry. We need to get better at increasing the standard of entry in the profession.
What was your first home?
My first home was in Willagee, in 1996.
Where do you live now?
I now live in East Fremantle. That first house cost me $92, 500 and my current home cost me $1.7 million. Bit of a difference. I was born in Nunawading, Nunawading to east Freo!
If money were no object, what would your dream property be?
I think I’d be very happy to live on the river in east Fremantle, or north Fremantle, that would be fine with me. Right on the river though!