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It’s not the brand, it’s the agent

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Shannon Beavis may have only launched his own real estate business in November 2020, but three weeks in, he’d already pulled in almost $3 million worth of sales.

The former Ray White agent — who reportedly managed to write $600,000 GCI without any support staff in his last year at Ray White Maroochydore — has admitted to REB that “once you reach a certain level in a place like Ray White, the only way to really progress is just to try and make more money — but money isn’t my primary driver”.

Before kicking off his own venture, Your Property Co, Mr Beavis said he did look at other options, whether that was buying into Ray White or working elsewhere.

It led to a meeting with another franchise’s representative regarding a new Maroochydore office, with the now business owner stating that the meeting began with the opening line: “This meeting will change your life!”

“By the end of the chat, I thought, ‘it has … but not how you think!’

“That’s because I knew then and there that it was time to go out on my own.”

Now, having only been out of the big business game for several months, Mr Beavis is already of the opinion that moving away from franchises “should be a no-brainer for agents who have achieved a certain level of success”.

“Having your own business — your own baby — it’s yours and you can take it in whatever direction you want it to go.”

He said the experience has also taught him a valuable lesson about where the Australian real estate industry is headed: “It’s not about the brand, it’s the agent.

“All my clients ended up coming with me — they wanted to — which proved to me people list with you, not with the brand you work for.”

According to the business owner, sellers want to deal with someone personal and an agency that’s boutique.

“When you’re in a franchise, you really have your blinkers on and feel like the brand is what’s driving the sellers, but it’s when you get on the other side you discover it’s, in fact, the complete opposite,” he said.

Researching agency structures in preparation for going solo led Mr Beavis to the UrbanX model, which now powers Your Property Co.

Of the decision to align with Dan Argent’s model, the business owner conceded that had he tried to start a business while managing office administration, too, he would have struggled.

“Your time gets diverted and I wouldn’t be able to write the same figures or make the same levels of sales as I’d done previously,” he said.

“The transition has been really smooth, and they’ve been great support — we hit the ground running.

“We’re doing well.”

How this agent changed his life around in one year

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Just one year after striking out on his own, a Sunshine Coast agent has lauded his decision to leave a major network pre-pandemic.

Clinton Eastell, the founder of Eastell and Co., launched his own business on 1 March 2020, just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic’s onset in Australia.

According to Mr Eastell, he was motivated to make the move away from his previous employee, McGrath, when it wasn’t helping him any longer.

“In the end, about 90 per cent of my business was self-generated,” he said.

“I loved being with the company, but I wanted to leave because no one rang my phone just because I have McGrath on my business card. They rang because they knew me.”

But going it alone wasn’t all smooth-sailing, with Mr Eastell saying: “I remember we were six weeks away from launching the business and, for a variety of reasons, money was really tight. We were heading to a party and the host asked us to bring some drinks and ice which ended up being $50. Ash (Mr Eastell’s girlfriend at the time) and I checked our bank account and it only had $55 in it… and my next pay wasn’t coming through for another five days.”

Setting up his own agency has since paid off, with Mr Eastell’s sales having grown alongside his business.

For the first six months, the agent’s average sale price was a respectable $640,000.

In the second six months, it’s risen to a massive $1.045 million.

It means his CGI has also grown — from approximately $360,000 to more than $800,000.

On the topic of his recent achievements, Mr Eastell commented: “I just find it amazing how much your life can change in 12 months.

“The money has only complemented the fact that starting our own business has changed our lives. With Ash (now fiancée) and myself, we’ve grown financially, we’ve grown as human beings and I’ve grown and learnt more about this industry in the last 12 months than any time in my career.”

Over this time, he also noted he had “exponentially” grown both his client base and his knowledge.

“This is because I can now do things my way. I don’t have anyone telling me how to market clients’ properties. Also, when you work for someone else, there’s less motivation and opportunity to be creative and try different things,” he commented.

The director is also quick to laud his alignment with UrbanX as integral to the brand.

“At first, UrbanX was a platform to help us get the business up and running, but the longer we’ve been with them, the more obvious it is how critical they’ve been to our success this year,” he said.

“Dan’s [Argent, UrbanX CEO] guidance through COVID — given his experience during the GFC — was pivotal,” Mr Eastell considered.

“We probably wouldn’t have come out the other end of COVID as well as we did if it wasn’t for his advice and his support.

“We can just focus on working with our clients — listing and selling.”

He flagged that working for himself has even allowed him the opportunity to bring Ash Ebneter into his business full-time, which he called both difficult, but also the most rewarding part of the whole experience.

“To achieve this as an agent is fantastic, but your partner only really sees the numbers,” he explained.

“Now with Ash in the business, it has made it more enjoyable as we are doing this together. It has also made my job a lot easier because she runs the brand, sponsorships and community involvement which we both get to enjoy together.”

As well as achieving a number of personal milestones with his fiancée, Mr Eastell said his mammoth first year has meant he has also been able to recruit a further three agents for the Eastell and Co. brand.

It’s about time you started your own agency

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By partnering with UrbanX, we get the marketing power to reach all the buyers, plus the opportunity to personalize our service to meet each individual client’s needs, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach” says Agent Alan Reilly of Reilly Real Estate.

Alan Reilly is a down-to-earth bloke who simply wants to help the people in his community get the best result from selling their property.

In fact, community support is the foundational value of his new agency, Reilly Real Estate in the regional Queensland city of Toowoomba.

Alan launched the new venture in January this year with wife Emma, and it’s already winning over locals who know Alan well from his decades-long work as a local agent.

“We’re three weeks in and we’ve had a really good response from the public with listings on board and one sale away already.

“Also, people I’ve known for years have called to say, ‘It’s about time you started your own agency,’ which is really great to hear.”

Since age 10, Alan has lived in the area, and selling property was in his blood, with his mum running a real estate agency in Gatton.

“I bugged mum when she was running the office to give me a start there. She relented in 2006 and took the time to teach me the business.”

Alan relocated to Toowoomba in 2010 to be closer to extended family and take on a role at a local agency.

Image: Alan Reilly.

Alan was with LJ Hooker Toowoomba until 2018. He then moved to Coronis where, in 2019, he was invited to buy the local franchise. He and Emma had advanced well along that path when the pandemic suddenly delivered it’s blow.

“We were going to settle on the office at the start of 2020 when COVID hit. There was so much uncertainty about what was going to happen in the property market and rentals. The government was talking about some pretty drastic things at the time in rental legislation.”

They decided not to proceed with the franchise, but the seeds of business ownership had been sown. The big challenge for Alan and Emma was the logistics of backend administration.

“Doing trust accounting and things like that are really hard if you do it by yourself, so that’s when I found UrbanX. Their services matched our skills. It’s been a really good combination.

“UrbanX’s marketing assistance is also exceptional. It allows us to be our own business and personalise things to suit our clients, but with UrbanX we’ve got marketing support which lets us compete on an equal footing with larger franchise agencies.”

And Alan said the ability of the UrbanX team to get the new business up and running was extraordinary.

“It was during Christmas too. They’ve got an excellent team there. They did a really good job – even when there were little things along the way that we wanted to change, nothing was a drama, and still isn’t.”

After launching, Alan was also pleased to see the respect his name carried among sellers in Toowoomba.

“I’ve had a lot of experience working here and found that people knew me as Alan Reilly, as opposed to whatever agency I was working for. Obviously, at this early stage, sellers don’t necessarily know the name ‘Reilly Real Estate’, but they know my name and are putting two and two together.

“Over the next 12 months we’ll continue establishing the business in the community and reinforce the values we have, which is being there to help as many local families as we can. We want to set the groundwork for success for decades to come.

“The gap we fill in the market is offering clients the services of an experienced, second-generation agent with over 10 years in the local community. And by partnering with UrbanX, we get the marketing power to reach all the buyers, plus the opportunity to personalize our service to meet each individual client’s needs, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach that you get sometimes with the bigger name agencies.

“We’re able to come in and say, ‘These are the options. What do you think is going to best suit you?’’ and then tailor a plan that suits the client and gets the best result.”

People list with people

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There are a lot of great things about being a real estate agent. It’s an adrenalized profession where every day is different.

Extroverts thrive because they’re always meeting new people, while becoming enmeshed in their lives during one of their most important decisions – whether to buy or sell a house.

Agents also love the buzz of bringing a property to the market, designing a selling strategy, and finding the perfect balance of price and presentation.

And don’t get me started on the rush brought on by negotiations or selling a property under the hammer at auction.

It’s also a field where you get to build a personal profile and become engaged with your community. As agents, we are well remembered by residents in our area, often given a hello on our walk to the local cafés or when volunteering at the school fete.

Yes, there’s plenty to love about this job, however there’s one task that’s essential to success that most agents hate, and that’s getting more listings.

Hunting listings can be tough, but they’re the lifeblood of an agency. Without listings, there’s no sales, and without sales, there’s no commission.

I would say this is the number one fear stopping high-performing agents from striking out on their own, away from big franchise operations. They’ve convinced themselves that without a major brand name on their business card, the listings will dry up.

Well… they’re dead wrong. Here’s why.

People list with people

If there’s one key lesson I’ve learned in my years as a top agent and business owner, it’s this: people list with people, not agencies!

In the modern era, it doesn’t matter who you work for. From big franchise to bespoke local offices, when it comes to sellers selecting a representative, they’re seeking the right agent for the job regardless of the banner they work under.

Successful agents have a high profile in their niche – price point, property type and location of speciality.

They become their own brand and generate their own leads. The agency they work for plays little to no part in feeding them listings.

Ironically, many agents don’t know they’ve become their own attraction business. They just continue working for the big office unaware they no longer need them to get listings.

This sort of personal brand comes through building trust and delivering exceptional service consistently over time.

And you know what follows? Word-of-mouth marketing builds a valuable brand, and that’s brand YOU.

Building an attraction brand

There will still be established agents reading this who are wondering whether they can start their own business and generate enough listings to keep themselves profitable.

I would encourage them to do this exercise.

Look back over your past 12 months of sales and ask, “Where did each of these listings come from?”

I guarantee, the vast majority knew you by name and reputation. Almost none will have called your business and asked for whoever was available to sell their home.

If you have the skills to generate this sort of business off the back of your own name, why do you need to give away half your commission to a business that isn’t helping you generate listings? It’s your work – you should be reaping the rewards!

How to get more listings in a tight market

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To state the bloody obvious, it’s pretty great to be an agent when buyer demand ramps up and the market runs hot.

High performance agents know this is the time to ‘make hay while the sun shines’. You want to just get out there and “Sell! Sell! Sell!”, because this industry can quickly turn from feast to famine.

Yep – rocketing markets are great, except in one crucially important area… getting enough listings!

Unfortunately, the yin to high demand is the yang of listings drying up. So how do you build your listing numbers when they’re needed most?

How to get more listings

Before we kick-off on my tried-and-true process for attracting more stock, you must understand and adopt two crucial mindsets.

Firstly, you are not just looking for more listings, you are striving to build an attraction business that will have potential clients chasing you, not you chasing them.

This is the essence of ‘Brand U’.

The reason behind building a personal attraction business is it allows you to secure the largest possible market share of properties for sale within your specialty area, property type and price point (also known as your niche).

If you control at least 20 per cent of the properties hitting the market in your area, then you are always ahead of the competition. If the market is running hot, and listings are hard to come by, guess what – you are still getting 20 per cent (or more) of them because your name is synonymous in sellers minds with successful sales. No matter what, they’ll reach out to you for a chat before they list.

The second crucial mindset – you should be actively building your attraction business at all times, regardless of market conditions.

In a slow market, you still apply the process because you’re playing the long game. Don’t wait for a ‘hot market’ to get your attraction business underway. Lay the foundations for increasing your market share as soon as possible, because the rewards will flow for years to come.

The three stages of listing growth

With your mindset now in place, here’s my three-step process for growing your listings.

Grind

Experienced hands will remember the grind from when they first learned the ropes in real estate, but it still applies to those looking to generate more listings in a new business.

During the grind, you devote time each day toward making a certain number of meaningful connections. These connections work toward the goal of locking in at least one future face-to-face meeting every day.

Be disciplined and determined, and the results will come.

As an agent, my aim was to make 20 connections each workday that would result in booking at least one face-to-face meeting. That equalled 20 personal meetings per month which would result in around two to three new listings every month. That was a solid foundation to build upon.

So, I would set aside time on the phone (about 2 hours per day) and make as many calls as it took to generate those meaningful connections and lock in that meeting.

Momentum

Momentum follows on from the grind. Through securing two-to-three listings each month and providing excellent servicing to these sellers, I would invariably attract referrals via client recommendations, past business and through reputation alone.

It’s not that you can stop the grind entirely when you gain momentum. It’s the same with relationships, fitness and business – great results require consistency. But momentum is the first inkling of the attraction business you’re set to become.

Attraction

By concentrating on your niche, and promoting your expertise and sales success in that speciality field, you become the go-to agent for any seller that falls within your category.

For example, I chose to be THE specialist for $1 million-plus houses in Paddington (QLD). By sticking to my guns and putting in the effort, I reached the point where every owner there would contact me first when they were considering a sale. I might not have won every listing, but I was in with a shot, and that’s all that matters.

So, there it is, my secret to getting more listings in any market, but remember – success takes ongoing commitment. Even experienced agents need to get on the grind sometimes.

By getting your mindset right and putting in the effort, your personal brand and attraction business will flourish.

How a change of pace led to $4.5m of sales in one week

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For this Shellharbour and Kiama-based agent, a move towards a more specialised agency is paying off in spades.

 

Mark Spinelli first began his own name-branded agency back in 2013, but by 2019 felt it was time to evolve.

Acknowledging his growing passion for marketing development sites, off-the-plan sales and prestige homes, Mr Spinelli decided to develop his own specialist agency in which he could focus that energy.

In a bid to better capitalise on his chosen niche, Mr Spinelli came up with Innovate Property Group, with the agent hopeful that the venture will enable him to become the number one agent in his field.

Within a week of trading, Mr Spinelli has already ticked over $4.5 million in sales — well on his way to fulfil his agency goals.

It was during the planning stage that the agent aligned himself with UrbanX.

According to Mr Spinelli, with UrbanX’s help ​and by concentrating on his niche of luxury homes and project marketing and sales, “Innovate Property Group are on track to be the standout local-area agency in their specialty field”.

He said: “It’s like you get five employees for the price of one — someone looks after marketing, someone looks after listings, someone looks after invoices, someone looks after the contracts and then you get an assistant you can talk to any time.

“It’s only early days, but I can already see how much easier and smoother life’s going to be.

“With UrbanX, we could easily do double the business we we’re doing before… and that’s after me working for seven years in my own business.”

Conceding that “you can’t do everything”, the owner of Innovate Property Group said that in his new venture, he can “just focus on looking after clients, finding projects and helping people who are selling beautiful homes”.