December 17, 2011

Two years on... Real Estate Excellence

This time two years ago I made one of the biggest choices of my career and life. I resigned from a great corporate role and started my own business.

I have been reflecting on these last two years recently with some sense of wonderment and fascination... what a two years it has been been and how time sure does fly!

I finished my corporate career on December 23rd 2009, registered my business trading name on 24th December, worked on my website with my brother on 25th and 26th December (yes that is Christmas Day and Boxing Day) and launched my company officially on the 4th January 2010. Everything just flowed from there and in the beginning mostly at a frenetic pace.

All of the preparation and thought process regarding the leap of faith into my own business was largely in my head until that Christmas 2009/2010.  My business plan was written during that period on yellow bits of paper where it is still sits today in my office. I have reviewed it often and tweaked, revised, re planned the journey along the way.

The last two years have almost been a blur, but in saying that a blur that is remembered vividly and with great pride. The business has progressed exceptionally well with a membership base of over 100 offices which equates to an estimated 1000 agents and property managers plus a large client base who utilise the training and consultancy aspect of my business.

They say that nothing worthwhile is easy, and I am reminded of this often. I have been most fortunate in my career of real estate; I have rarely found it to be 'work' or a 'job' - it has been a career and a hobby plus a passion since from when I started in reception all those years ago in Biloela Queensland.

Two years on, with many more successful and creative years to come; thank you those who are sharing my journey with me.

December 13, 2011

There is no secret in growing a successful real estate business and rent roll

I have for many years listened to the odd story about friends and family having ‘gripes’ regarding service in my beloved real estate industry. I have always vehemently defended the industry however sometimes have had to concede that their gripes may be founded. As with any industry, customer service can sometimes let the whole ‘team’ down.

With all the advent of technology, systems and processes of which I strongly support the industry must never forget the basics. The basics being that the Real Estate Industry is mainly a customer service industry with property being a close second. People are our business and whilst this statement is obvious to most, it is forgotten at times by some. It is also not ‘taught’ to new people entering the industry and reminders not often provided to the more experienced.

The phone calls, the emails and unannounced visits from clients and customers are not an interruption; they are a necessary part of the business. Whilst time management is a vital part of any agent’s day, there is a way to gracefully deal with the interruptions (as perceived) without letting the person feel like an intrusion and instead make them feel like they are the most important person in the world, if only for that minute.

My father has for many years struggled with agencies and had some terrible experiences regrettably. It was so refreshing to speak with him recently and he was raving about his new agent and property manager. What made him rave?

• The agency when they signed him up gave him a statement of ‘our commitment to you’
• They are delivering exactly what their commitment stated
• They are paying him his rental monies earlier than expected
• They are phoning him to advise if monies are delayed
• They phone him to survey him and asked ‘is there any way we can improve’?

The agency is sticking to the basics, and of course that is customer service. I believe there is no secret to growing a successful real estate business and rent roll. It is of course hard work (but nothing worthwhile is easy). Successful agencies with substantial growth have all the same things in common

• They have a culture of service
• They have a strong culture of training and improving services
• They have a strong culture of team work
• They have support in the background from the licensee and staff
• They have systems, procedures and policies clearly in place
• They meet regularly to review their practices and always strive to improve
• They all believe in the one goal – client satisfaction = staff satisfaction

December 6, 2011

Is this the beginning of Rent Control in Queensland?

For fear of sounding alarmist or controversial, it is media releases like this below from the Queensland Government that get me wondering where the property industry is heading. Whilst most in the Property Industry would concede that prices for rental property in most mining towns in Queensland is extraordinary and out of reach of most ordinary Queenslanders; it must be asked what about the investors? With increasing regulation imposed on today's property investor is there a possible taskforce to be created to monitor investor costs as well? Generally speaking, rental (and sales) pricing is commonly founded and based upon supply and demand. This has for many many years been the 'formula' (if there was one) for pricing property.

Whilst again the mining rents are extraordinary, the pricing has largely been driven by supply and demand. What is feared is the question - is this the beginning of rent control in Queensland? Or will this be a government reaction to a problem only in mining towns in recent times and in recent years possibly to come? One must refer to the investor as well to even up the playing field - the costs to comply with the myriad of statutory requirements imposed by Government is a costly one for most. It is called an investment for a reason... if Investors continually get hit with regulations and task forces such as below, what will happen? The very possible thing that will happen is what the Government and our society can ill afford. With Government increasingly removing itself from social housing stock with more reliance on the private rental sector, more than this task force needs to be considered.

New Rent Affordability Taskforce for Mining Communities

A plan of action is underway to help keep rents affordable in boom resource towns, with the establishment of a Rent Affordability Taskforce for Resource Communities. Housing Minister Karen Struthers today announced the taskforce, which will include representatives from the Residential Tenancies Authority, the Urban Land Development Authority, and all relevant Government Departments.

"This taskforce will assess the rental market in resource towns (including level of rent rises and impact of increases); develop strategies to provide more affordable rental; and provide additional support and advocacy to renters," Ms Struthers said.

"I'm pleased to announce new services to work specifically for low income households in resource communities: a new RentConnect service will now help locals under housing stress to find affordable rental properties in resource towns.

"I have also approved $140,000 in funding for outreach Tenancy Advice and Advocacy Serv ice for the resource towns.

"This means new workers who will specifically target help to resource community tenants - protecting their rights, including the right to challenge excessive rental increases.

Ms Struthers said there are new changes to social housing eligibility to allow greater flexibility in resource towns, particularly where there is limited demand for social housing.

"My agency has also placed an immediate hold on the sale of government housing and land in these communities, except for sale for affordable housing."

Ms Struthers said rapid growth in the resources industry has made local housing supply and affordability a major issue.

"We are taking action to provide more support and we are addressing this concern."

The action of the taskforce will build on the considerable action of the Bligh Government, including:

  1. The Major Resource Projects Housing Policy, which requires resource companies to build more housing as part of their project approval
  2. The Urban Land Development Authority's new developments in Gladstone, Moranbah, Blackstone (Real Estate Excellence note; I believe they mean Blackwater here?) and Mackay, all of which are bringing more housing to market to ease pressures on rent prices.
  3. Significant National Rental Affordability Scheme allocations in these communities to build affordable new properties for rental at 20% below market prices.
  4. Tougher tenancy laws that allow tenants to challenge excessive rent increases.

Media contact:    Minister Struthers' office    0408 620 467 Sourced from  as at 6th December 2011.

section 71 of the RTRA Act already allows tenants to dispute significant changes from one lease to another including rent increases.