In the Real Estate business I get asked a lot of questions – some of them tough and direct! – and I believe in being totally open and transparent when I answer them. To help out potential buyers and sellers, I’ve compiled a list of the most frequent questions I receive and my thoughts on them below.

If you’ve got a question that isn’t answered here, feel free to contact me and I’ll be more than happy to chat about buying and selling a property.

Q: What do you think is the key to negotiation?

Creating a solution where both parties feel their underlying needs have been met.
In my business the ability to close gaps between buyer and seller has led to records for the highest price in almost every street, building, and suburb that I have sold.

Q: What makes you different?

A combination of skill set and values.

I feel the strategy behind how I market properties is definitely different to how many other agents approach it. Before entering real estate sales I completed a Master of Business majoring in Advertising and consumer psychology. I then worked in the advertising industry and was very fortunate to pitch for, and win, business from large multinational companies to small and medium size enterprises. Essentially, I have applied these specialized skills to my role as a professional real estate advisor. They work very well. My sellers achieve a 99% success rate from listing to sale and on a budget that is often substantially less then what my competitors charge.

I think the other thing that separates me is my values. My mum raised me on her own and worked very hard to put me in a good school and help me through university. I am extremely grateful to her for instilling in me the valuesintegrity to yourself and others, of hard work, of giving everything you have, of being fair, of doing what you say you will do, and many more values that I am now instilling in my two children.

I also work for the client and not for the deal and this comes through when I am negotiating.If a client hires me they get an agent and a team behind him with enormous work ethic. Near enough is not good enough. We won’t stop until we get the absolute best possible outcome. Typically clients will be telling me that they want to take a fabulous offer that I am presenting to them, and I am asking them not to take it because I feel I can get more from buyers. Just recently for example, I sold a property were we had an offer of $720,000 and the seller wanted to take the offer. I said hold on, I think theres more. I came back later with $750,000 then a day later with $760,000. The owner was ecstatic and said he would take it. I asked him not to despite the fact we had a cash unconditional contract. I then spent the whole day and night calling every single buyer and negotiating with two parties. 8 hours of further calls later and a negotiation that went for three days got us up to $830,000. My clients who are using this money to retire, were in tears. It’s a huge responsibility, a lot of fun and very fulfilling to be a part of someones life during what could be a major event of their life.

Finally, I am extremely driven and disciplined with my work. What motivates me is results and continual refinement of myself and my business. Even though we break sales records more often than not and have an almost 100% success rate from listing to sale, there are still times were we could have done things better. I am fairly obsessed with continuing to sharpen the saw and therefore invest in a real estate coach and several mentors. They are a tremendous asset to my clients, my staff and to me personally.

Q: How do you get the results you get?

I think a lot of agents put an ad online or in the paper and then sit back and wait for the enquiry to come to them. I don’t rely just on the ads. We generate just as much enquiry, usually more, behind the scenes by making calls to our database , by sending direct mail invitations, and getting out on the streets and promoting our clients properties to potential buyers.

Our office has the market share for sales in in West End, Highgate Hill, and South Brisbane which means we have relationships with more current buyers on our database then anyone else in the area. I regularly sell homes to buyers that don’t look online or in the paper as they just don’t have the time. I know what the buyers are ooking for and they wait for my call when a suitable home comes up. I think having more buyers than the competition is definitely a competitive advantage for my clients.

I think hyper local specialist knowledge is also a reason behind getting great results for all our clients .There are certain streets in Highgate Hill and South Brisbane where I have sold 7 of the last 9 homes or 8 of the last 10. I have had the highest price for the street and often the suburb year after year so am very grateful to have earned the trust to be called back again and again.
Every time another agent has sold in one of these streets or buildings they have under sold by anywhere between $50,000 to $200,000 less than I confidentially would have sold the property for. Every single time this has happened I get between 5-10 calls from people in the building or street telling me of their disillusionment at what’s just happened to the value of the street. I find it really upsetting when this happens as I care about the people in my area and want to see them prosper.

I can demonstrate many cases where after another agent spoor sale I have then come back in and not only recovered values in the street or suburb but broken a new record for the street or building. How does this occur? I consistently can do this is because I can tell a buyer the exact fixtures and fittings of every room of every property that I have sold and I understand the value that each home has and how they differ. I can then demonstrate with confidence why a buyer should pay more.
When Your local area knowledge is this specialized you can get an extra $100,000 to $200,000 in a tight negotiation because a buyer can then justify in his own mind that he should pay it, and not only that but he will miss out, big time, if he doesn’t. If you don’t have the product knowledge then chances are you are leaving money on the table.

I also believe that “the harder I work, the luckier I get”. Pulling up my sleeves and doing the hours and work my competitors won’t do is a massive contributor. My team and I follow a strict process right to the end, and I have the support of a highly talented team around me.

Q: It seems that great agents make it look easy. Do you agree?

Yes and No. I am a big believer in process. When I methodically follow my own sales process and don’t miss a single step, I get the results that my clients want 99% of the time. The many steps of the selling processes aren’t all hard; it’s just easier for most agents not do them. It’s also probable that many agents have not yet discovered what those steps are.

I think when we sell a property under the hammer with 8 bidders what they don’t see is the 29 tasks we have completed just in week 1; they don’t see the inspections we do day and night;  the one on one buyer meetings that I have with every potential bidder; they don’t see how much work goes in to getting people confident and able to bid; or the letter box dropping we do up and down steep hills.  They don’t see the six days per week we work or the nights where we are still negotiating at 10pm for the third night in a row. So yes, it can look effortless but unless you have completed every single task of the process then you can’t really look your client in the eyes and say you have done everything. 90% of my business is repeat and referral business and I think one of the reasons I have earned the trust of my clients is because we are very disciplined in following through with each step of the process and delivering on what we have said we would do.

Q: What are some great questions to ask an agent when considering appointing one to sell my home?

I recommend never to pick an agent based on fees or marketing investment. The cheapest agent is the one that delivers you the greatest net return. Here are some good questions to ask that will allow an agent to demonstrate their skills:

  1. How many listings do you have right now? How many do you usually carry?
  2. Do you work alone or as part of a team? If part of a team, what tasks do you do?
  3. How often will you communicate with me, and in what forms?
  4. What is your listing to sale success rate?
  5. What is your inspection to offer ratio?
  6. Can I call two people who have recently sold with you?
  7. What guarantees do you provide?
  8. How do you create competition among buyers?
  9. How often do you get multiple bidders or multiple offers on a property?
  10. What evidence can you provide to show me what price I could achieve?
  11. Who do you feel is the target market for my home and what marketing strategy will you implement to reach them?
  12. Can you demonstrate how you negotiate to get the price up?

Q: What can buyers do to stand out in a multiple offer situation?

I recommend being friendly and a positive communicator is a good place to start. You definitely can be firm without offending the seller. For example, which buyer do you think a seller would prefer to deal with? One who points out their perception of the negatives of the house and says “it’s not worth more than $1.2 million so that’s all I am paying”. Or the buyer who says “We love the home, it’s where we want to raise our family. We will need to keep aside a bit of money to make it even more suited to us. The most we are able to offer is $1.2 million. We understand if the seller wants to wait for a better offer, but we really hope they sell us the home”.

I recommend buyers always get full pre-approval before they make any offers so that they can make a cash offer or an offer which gives the seller and her/his agent confidence in them as buyers.

Put a deadline on your offer and make it a special condition: E.G. ‘This offer is only valid until 5pm on [next business day]’.

Insist that your offer is on paper and presented to the seller. Ask for the seller’s feedback.

Be a smart negotiator, not a tough one. It’s important the seller likes you.

Ask questions that can help you make your offer stand out from the other buyers:

  • What price will the owners sell for today?
  • What settlement time do the sellers want?
  • Will they accept a conditional contract?

Q: Do you have any other tips for buyers?

Sellers like unconditional offers. The less conditions they have, the more confidence they have.

They also like 5% to 10% deposit. The bigger the better, as again, this shows a genuine commitment from the buyer. If you give sellers security then some sellers are prepared to give a buyer a better price.

Establish a relationship with an agent so that you can find out about properties coming onto the market before they hit the greater market. This way you have the opportunity to view and make an offer on your own without the increased competition of other buyers.