How did you start in the real estate business?
When I was living in New York my part time job was managing dinner parties and exclusive events for very wealthy clients. A regular gig was open houses for multimillion dollar penthouses and townhouses being sold by high end real estate firms such as Town and Corcoran. I was very impressed with the top agents – they were high energy while being professional and personable. Most importantly they seemed to love their job. I decided to take my New York real estate license then and there. I moved back to Melbourne shortly after and was fortunate to be picked up by Jellis Craig Armadale where I work today.
Why did you decide to enter this industry?
I’ve always been interested in residential property. I remember going to open houses with my dad as a kid and being fascinated by the floor plans. My Mum used to sketch real estate facades as a part time job in the 1980s and she’d bring me along to work. I am intrigued by the market and also the emotion involved in making such big financial decisions – what motivates people to buy and sell and how does this influence prices? I studied marketing and finance at Melbourne Uni which is somewhat relevant to real estate but this isn’t why I entered this industry. I chose real estate because it is relationship driven and merit based. It is a service industry and your success is determined by your ability to provide excellent service and optimum outcomes for your clients and customers.
What do you love about your job?
Residential real estate is a positive energy environment for the most part. Buyers are excited to buy their first or next home, vendors are elated and relieved when they achieve a great result, and most agents are optimistic and outgoing by nature. It’s a great culture and work environment here at Jellis Craig. I get to interact with different people every day, sometimes with a hundred or more buyers on a busy Saturday. I have the privilege of being invited into people’s homes and to help them with important and often stressful decisions. If you genuinely like people and find them interesting, it’s a great job. If you also like houses and doing deals - that’s a bonus!
What would you say are the biggest issues facing the Australian real estate industry at the moment?
I can’t speak for all of Australia but certainly in inner city Melbourne and Sydney housing is becoming increasingly unaffordable, causing a rift between home owners and non-owners. Our tolerance for debt is higher than ever, backed by ever increasing house prices and historically low interest rates. At risk of offending an entire generation, Baby Boomers are the ones that seem to be pushing up prices in our very competitive Stonnington market. Understandably, downsizers are paying huge premiums for smart inner city homes and making it hard for young professionals or first home buyers to compete. Many of my Gen-Y friends feel priced out of the market and see themselves going backwards in wealth compared to home owners even while saving diligently for a deposit. The price growth has been staggering recently. We’re seeing the same two bedroom home sell today for half a million dollars more than it transacted for two years ago, with no further improvements. It’s scary for a non-homeowner like myself.
What was your first home?
I grew up in a quirky three bedroom Californian Bungalow in Canterbury. My parents bought it in 1974 for $30,500 and sold it some three decades later for 50 times that price. They were able to pay off their mortgage in three years both working as public school teachers under Gough Whitlam. How our real estate market has changed since then!
Where do you live now?
I rent an apartment in Elwood and my wife and I love it. Compared to our 33m2 apartment in Chelsea, New York, this is a palace.
If money were no object, what would your dream property be?
One of those beachfront mansions in Brighton with uninterrupted views of Port Phillip and the city skyline would do me just fine.
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Get to know Leonard Teplin