Real Estate Academy

A career in real estate is so much more than just listing and selling or leasing property.  It’s about establishing and managing relationships with people first and foremost. Whether you work in sales, property management or administration, to be successful in real estate, you must be committed to delivering exceptional customer service and adding value during one of the most significant financial decision-making periods in someone’s life. 

As you consider a real estate career, you may have conjured up images of driving a fancy car, earning a high income and sitting behind a desk waiting for clients to come to you.  While the dream of financial freedom is certainly attainable in this industry (in fact real estate can be one of the highest paid professions in the world), to achieve it requires a lot of hard work, dedication and the commitment to work beyond the standard 9 to 5 working week. After all, you will be one of many agents vying for every valuable property listing. So rather than waiting for a client to come to you, it is you who will need to go to them, convincing them that you are the best agent for the job

People come into real estate from a variety of educational and professional backgrounds and at various stages of their lives.  Some choose to enter the industry straight out of high school while others opt for a career change later in life.  Many successful real estate agents have come from trades and other professions before deciding it was time for a change.  They are attracted to the industry for many reasons, including an interest in property, a desire to work with people, and the fact that the industry has the potential to offer significant monetary rewards. But unfortunately, many people join the industry for the wrong reasons, assuming that it’s an easy way to make a lot of money. While the potential is definitely there for substantial monetary rewards, the truth is, success only comes to those who are dedicated and prepared to work hard.

Real estate is focused on connecting with people and helping them achieve their property related goals. But it is important to understand that the real estate industry is a business space first and foremost.  And like any commercial enterprise, it takes strong communication, organisational and time management skills to make it a successful venture. It also takes an understanding of the systems and processes in place to help you perform your role at an optimal level.

As you work through this information you will find articles of interest from agents who have achieved success in Real Estate from those still very new in their journey, to agents that have achieved success over a long period of time.

We hope that this is valuable as you determine if Real Estate is the right direction for you.

Working as a cadet then transitioning to a leverage agent teaches the business administration process of real estate, the intricacies of customer service management and the fundamentals of lead generation.

Hitting The Ground Running

Mirroring her grandfather’s and father’s passion for sales, hitting targets flows through Maddison Woodward’s veins. The moment she left school, Maddison took up a position as a cadet.

Working in the Belmont area, for the first two months she worked on reception, mastered the Service Area of a database and assisted in marketing and open for inspection preparation. Maddison says, “Being on reception really taught me how an office worked, who had what responsibilities, where messages went, the business process of real estate.” She had to ensure that any data entered into the database was clean and she advises anyone interested in starting in real estate to get as much database training as they can.

With her strong background in sales, she then progressed onto a client service manager role, working with three agents and started to exercise some decision making power and participate in the sales process. Maddison says, “I handled all buyer enquiries, so the agents phone numbers were removed completely from and Domain and diverted straight to me." She also tracked buyer enquiry from Inspect Real Estate, Intelli Messaging, emails and ring-in enquiries.

 Understanding the importance of qualifying buyer enquiry, she made sure that no-one slipped through the cracks. Confident of her ability to deal with customers, she was then asked to make contact with potential buyers. She also conducted unconditional testimonial calls and handled aspects of the vendor relationship.

After twelve months as a cadet and client service manager, Maddison has now progressed to the leverage role of sales associate generating leads. She says, “The biggest part of my role is prospecting. I'm continually looking to identify further business opportunities by creating referrals, providing that second to none customer service, using qualifying questions when I take enquiries, asking the right questions and really listening, creating quality rapport and just getting out and meeting the community."


Watch This Space

Knowing he wanted to get serious about his real estate career, 18-year- old Michael Bacon made the move to Brisbane to learn from the best. He did his research and landed an interview with Steve Grimbas at Place’s Nundah office. He says, “Steve did $46 million worth of sales last year as opposed to $6 million for some other principals. That was a big sign for me to know that I was at the right place with the right support. It was quite scary moving in the first couple of weeks, but I knew it was definitely going to be the best move for me in the future."

With some experience in a country Queensland office, Michael started as a leverage agent. He explains, “A lot of my business is based off prospecting. I wound up getting 14 appraisals in two weeks. I’ve got 53 appraisals since I started about four months ago."

Michael works the phone hard. He says, “It's all about the follow up. Just the way you speak to people on the phone."

He says every time he picks up the phone, he thinks, “that’s where the money comes from. That's the difference between good or bad agents. The good ones always prospect a lot and that's something you can't really forget to do. You've always got to prospect. Otherwise business won't come in."

Michael drops out letters and then in a connected marketing moment, performs the phone call. He is keen to learn and eager to become an agent. He says, “The only thing I worry about is someone asking me, 'How old are you?' But he knows the winning argument. He’s fresh. Hungry. He says, “I'm young, I'm modern, I keep up with technology. I don't have a wife. I don't have kids. Don't have a mortgage to pay - all I have to worry about is my career."


A Few Years In

Entering the industry straight from school and now at 20 years of age, Danielle is the leverage agent to Allison Mifsud from Epping First National. Allison regularly hits well over a million in performance fees.

Danielle is an extension of Allison: making the important phone calls, escalating clients and attending opens.

Part of Danielle’s role is to manage the buyer workflow. She says, “I work alongside Allison. I'll be there at the open homes meeting and greeting all of the buyers coming through, which then allows me to create more of a relationship with those buyers. I introduce myself, let them have a look around at the property. I follow-up with a phone call on Monday/Tuesday, seeing what their situation is; if they're interested in buying; if they're open to receiving a free market appraisal on their current property. I will then take notes on those buyers, let Allison know what everyone's situation is and we'll go from there - whether she would like to then personally call certain buyers, if she would like to make an appointment for her to come and have a look at their property herself."

Danielle is also a key part of the selling process and formally introduces herself to vendors which builds her own profile and starts to lay the groundwork for her to one day go solo. A letter goes out to a vendor with her details, so it, as Danielle explains “allows the vendors to have another person who is contactable at all times, as Allison does get quite busy with her appraisals and presentations, listings, et cetera. It allows the vendors to have somebody else alongside who is always contactable, ensuring everything gets done, meeting their needs."

Like Maddison, Danielle is keen to one-day move into sales. She says of the future, “I see myself listing just like Allison, selling properties, and going as far as Allison has." She’s certainly in a pole position to take the leap.

A surgeon learns how to be a surgeon over a period of many years, working alongside someone far more skilled and wise than them. The same is true in real estate. Working alongside a master agent for a number of years can empower a less experienced agent to have a long and successful career.

At 21 years of age, Todd Lucas got serious and realised that if he was going to be a success in the industry, he needed to work alongside one of the best. So he did just that. He talked himself into a job as a leverage agent for one of Melbourne’s most outstanding agents. In 2015, the years, time and effort he put into his apprenticeship paid off when the sales consultant and auctioneer with Fletchers won REIV Outstanding Young Agent of the Year.

Todd’s transition to exceptional solo agent started about six years ago. Working in a small office in the Manningham area, in Melbourne’s northeastern suburbs, Todd simply wasn’t cutting through. He realised there was an art to selling property and he needed to learn from a master practitioner. He says, “I started to study the marketplace that I worked in and Traci Stella was one that stood out. I started to follow her listings and follow the marketplace that she was in.”

Everywhere he went, in a highly competitive market with lots of real estate legends, Todd heard the name Traci Stella. He says, “When I was doing open for inspections or when I had an appraisal, I'd seem to always hear, ‘Traci Stella'd been in’ or ‘Traci Stella's been here’ or ‘We're going to go with Traci Stella’. I thought, jeez, that competitor's obviously doing something right.” He knew she was the one he could learn from.

Made the call and advocated for himself

Hearing that she was looking for a personal assistant, Todd called Traci and created his first sale – convincing her to take him on. He recalls, “I called her and said, ‘I'm Todd Lucas. I work at another agency close by to you. I hear you're looking for another assistant coming up in the next couple of months’.” He added, "’Can I just come in and have a chat to you? Just give me a go’. Traci did and we had a good chat in the office and thankfully she offered me the job and we went from there. I served nearly a fouryear apprenticeship with Traci Stella as her assistant and buyer's agent.”

In that time, Todd learned to anticipate what Traci needed that day, week and for the month and gave Traci the assurance that she could trust him completely.

He recalls, “Traci said, ‘I want to trust you. I just want to know that you're doing the job. You let me know when you need me’. We effectively would try to transform two agents into one. We both wanted to be agents under the one banner, the Traci Stella banner. That's where we got to.”

As part of her team, Todd prioritised and diarised calls, allowing Traci to focus on the ones that needed her attention to make sales in the next few weeks and to follow up clients further down the pipeline. After a year of working with Traci, he realised he wanted to be a solo agent but that he needed to build his profile so had to master buyer management, hot buyers, call backs and be a stand out at opens before going it alone. He knew he had to give really great buyer service because, as he says, “Eventually your buyers are going to become sellers.”

Working the buyers

While still working with Traci, Todd listened to his clients and his open for inspection questions got better and his call backs got better which built his profile.

"Eventually your buyers are going to become sellers."

He says, “I started getting more information from people coming through. It wasn't just, ‘Are you interested in the property, yes or no?’ It was, ‘Where are you coming from today? How long have you been looking for? What are you looking for specifically?’ Getting more information and then asking the questions, ‘If you purchased this property, what would you do with yours?’ You just start to get more and more information.”

Todd and Traci then focused on their hot buyers list and found out what they were looking for and categorised them. Todd says, “I wanted to make sure that I knew about every single property that came on in that marketplace and I wanted to be ringing my potential owner-sellers and telling them about it. Even if it was listed with the other agent, I wanted to make sure that I got in first and if I didn't get in first, at least they knew that I was on to it and it gave me a reason to ring them back the next week. I still do this today.”

He adds, “It gave me a good profile to then ring other buyers or other people in the area and be like, ‘Oh, you've got that one around the corner. It's not listed with us, but a couple of my buyers have been through it’."

After two years of focusing on buyersellers and being a standout in the open and the call backs, Todd found he had a hot buyer list of over 50 very quickly. He recalls, “People were calling me for appraisals and people were ringing in and saying, ‘Todd, can you come out and appraise our home?’ I was taking Traci, but I already had that bit of profile.” Gradually Traci trusted him so they would list the property and Todd would do some of the vendor management whilst under the traineeship.

The apprentice was almost ready to go out on his own. Trusting in time and appreciating the wisdom and science in selling has paid off for Todd – big time. 

Property Management is all about strong systems, good communication and robust checks and balances according to Sue Tilden, one of Australia’s leading property managers from Raine and Horne Gosford.

Having systems as well as checks and balances enable Sue and her staff to provide a consistently high level of service. She can relax knowing that all her team members are delivering the same quality standard of service, every single day.

It’s really important says Sue, “… that every client who comes our way - owners, tenants and anyone that walks through the door - get exactly what we’ve set out to prepare and offer.” She adds, “We don’t want to deal with stress in a way that creates more stress. Service is actually about the interaction with the client and how they feel throughout the process, this is where our choice of words and delivery of communication is so important.”

Sue firmly believes being systematic minimises stress and facilitates quality service delivery. Sue says, “One of the things I do know is that I love a system and when I interview a new job applicant, they’ll tend to say, ‘Yes, I love systems too’. My experience is however, that they don’t necessarily love anyone’s systems but their own. A big challenge is to work to somebody else’s system which, in this case obviously is mine. Systems for having a systems sake can also be detrimental to being productive. It's not beneficial in having 50,000 systems in place if nobody takes any notice of them or if they’re completely irrelevant and people are bypassing them. Systems will work if they are needed and if they’re relevant to what you’re doing. You’ve got to be careful, I think about the concept of systems all the time, it has got to be applicable to what you’re trying to achieve at the end result.”

“…if you don’t have a disciplined mind, I think you would find property management quite stressful…”

With regard to property management, Sue believes that good systems must go hand in hand with good time management, a strong code of ethics and a commitment to detail. Sue says, “Property managers come unstuck if they lack time management skills. Running around in circles, not prioritising their day and being what I call ‘reactive’ property managers - they only move when there’s a problem - if you do it that way, you will constantly be putting out fire after fire in some way or another. I am a great believer in being systemised, in every moment of the working day, I believe if you’re accounting for your time wisely, you’ll find it's a very easy job and one that gives you a great deal of pleasure.” Sue adds, “I actually think most people with a logical mind can learn property management and be very good at it. If you don’t have an eye for systems or if you don’t have a disciplined mind, I think you would find property management quite stressful.”

Sue oversees all aspects of her property management division to guarantee continued quality; “I will go through the agency agreement to make sure that everything is signed and dotted in accordance with what we do. Sometimes we notice owners want to alter things on the agency agreement, that are required by law, so there are certain times when we need to turn that agency agreement around and go back to our owner and say, ‘I’m sorry, but you can’t alter that as the law does not permit us to do so. We have to honour that’.”

“…any time they like, seven days a week. If they can’t get satisfaction then they can call me.”

Once the agreement is completed Sue explains, “It comes to me. I go through it to make sure it's okay. I follow up with a letter to the owner thanking them for their business and welcoming them to our company and I also send them some information on our company that they haven’t had prior. They receive my card, my after-hours number, our communication guarantee and a few other things that we offer and I write to them again to let them know that not only do they have their assigned property manager to look after them but they also have my service at any time they like, seven days a week. If they can’t get satisfaction with their property manager then they can call me.”

Further, once a tenant has been approved, the tenant will come in to sign the tenancy agreement and be briefed on their rights and responsibilities. Sue says, “We have identified the areas that cause the most grief - arrears, routine inspections, pets in property and parking. These are areas that consistently cause problems. What we do here is, sit down with the tenant to discuss the issues. They are then asked to sign off to say they understand it, and we can normally reach an amicable solution to these problems.”

She continues, “We always explain the, ‘You need to be up to date with payments at all times’ rule – but also inform them that they should let us know straight away if there’s a problem with making a rental payment due any problems such as them losing their income etc.’ These awful things do happen to people from time to time and it is our job as property managers to ensure we do our best to help where possible as this situation will affect not only the tenant but the landlord as well who is our client at the end of the day, and of course ultimately this will negatively impact the business also.”

“The other thing of course is routine inspections. We have to conduct routine inspections at a time that does not negatively affect agency operations. Tenants generally like to be in attendance for when inspections take place but we cannot always accommodate what the tenant would like from us here. For instance, we can’t arrange inspections for after-hours or Sundays as this won’t fit in with the systems we have in place at the agency. We do ensure however that our obligations regarding informing the tenant of these inspections that are required are met. At this point we let them know that of course we would love them to be present but we understand if they will not be available. Keeping the relationship healthy between the business and the tenant is very important. We can always be flexible, however the inspection must still go ahead to ensure our clients (the landlord) needs are met first and foremost.”

With good systems and the right approach, Sue believes a property manager can provide the consistency and mindfulness needed to create productive and harmonious long term, working relationships with both owners and tenants.

Lee Woodward with Mat Steinwede

How do you go from Zero Real Estate experience to becoming the Number One Sales Agent in the McGrath national network?

Join Lee Woodward; CEO of Real Estate Academy in his exclusive interview with Mat Steinwede of McGrath Central Coast to find out how Mat transformed himself from a person with no experience in the industry, to becoming one of the best in the business.

Listen to Mat’s inspiring story by clicking above.