“..it is transformational being able to sail your own ship.”
Succeeding in a softer market
New Zealand has had a similar experience to Australia of late, with tighter lending restrictions making it difficult to borrow. This has led to a softer market in Barry and Nicole’s area but the pair stick to their strategy to have sales wins.
“It is all about the conversations you have with the client,” explains Barry. “The numbers in the media are conflicting and six months out of date. We share with our clients the current statistics and have real heart-to-heart conversations with them from the beginning.”
Barry explains that you have to deliver information honestly and not beat yourself up if it is not always well received because that’s on them.
“Recently, we were referred to a homeowner who had been on the market for three months trying to sell for $480k plus. During conversations, when we explained why his home’s realistic value in the current market would be closer to $450k, we were shown the door.
The homeowner then went with another agent who told him what he wanted to hear and promised the higher sales figures. It just so happened that they also charged more commission. It was no surprise two-and-a-half weeks later when the only offer that came in on the property was where we said: $450k.
I know the homeowner was not happy, not only with the offer, which they now realised was the truth and had to accept or miss out on the property they had offered on, but also with the agent who refused to renegotiate their fee to reflect the misrepresentation of the price.
For Barry and Nicole, the long-term outcome of that situation was favourable. “When people regret not listening to the truth and later voice this regret it can be great for word-of-mouth advertising and, more importantly, your self worth,” Nicole laughs.
“Although it’s always a bit of a shame that the other agent is getting paid and not you... in our experience your integrity is all you have at the end of the day to really set you apart,” explains Barry.
A testimonial received from previous clients sums up Barry and Nicole’s approach. They describe the two as ‘down-to-earth, relatable Kiwis’. “We’re not A types wearing a suit and tie. Instead, there is a genuine passion to help our clients, rather than just helping our own back pockets, that comes from doing the job well” says Barry.
Joining One Agency
After building their experience as real estate agents, Barry and Nicole decided they wanted to start operating for themselves. The strong branding was one thing that inspired them to get in touch with One Agency.
“The branding is one of the first things people talk to us about,” shares Nicole, “This is great, especially when you’re up against some of the bigger companies.”
It took a short while for the pair to be contacted after enquiring with One Agency; however, they soon came to realise this was because the business was doing its own background research before offering them a licence. “The selection process must be good because every other One Agency owner we meet is brilliant,” says Barry.
Since they joined the network, One Agency Waimakariri has let Barry and Nicole become their own bosses, while still providing the support they need as business owners.
“Other OAG owners have been amazing at helping,” says Nicole, “They have taken calls, answered emails and been great at sharing the way they have done things such as hiring staff. Everyone is out to grow their business together.”
Business owner advice
Barry’s business owner advice is to figure out which clients to walk away from. “Trust your gut and your instinct. Sometimes you get a sense things aren’t right and it doesn’t make the job fun, plus the ones who want to screw you down on price are often the ones who will be the most work!”
Another tip from Barry is to avoid giving appraisals or an opinion off the top of your head without seeing the property. “Homes can’t be appraised just on a statistical analysis. There are plenty of websites doing just that, badly. You need to inspect the property so you as the agent can give an informed opinion,” he says.
Nicole’s advice for those thinking of going it alone as an agent is to, “Just go for it. Get over your fears and worries, and give it a go because it is transformational being able to sail your own ship.”
Barry adds that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. “Look for software and systems that are there to help. They might take time to learn but you can become confident and run with them.”
Next stop: growth
The Waimakariri District is transitioning from being predominantly a farming area to an extension of Christchurch and there are plenty of excellent chances to buy at more than $100k less than similar properties in inner city areas.
This has provided a growth opportunity for Barry and Nicole, starting with brand-new premises that are currently being built in a prominent location in the heart of their territory.
The pair are also formulating what they hope will be a revolution in remuneration for extra sales people, which is based on the One Agency model of keeping more of what you earn. This hopefully will give incoming agents more incentive to be part of the team.
Eventually, the plan is to expand from their local area to other territories. This is part of a ten-year strategy that should lead to a comfortable retirement for Barry and Nicole.