Written by John Williams
Congratulations, Robyn – #9 salesperson for Ray White International and #7 in NZ. What does it mean to you to be recognised at such a high level amongst your peers?
It’s an awesome feeling to get to this level – and it was a huge surprise to me – I didn’t expect that I would be recognised at the International Conference this year. When you start on this real estate journey, you take a huge leap of faith. For me, I spent years, scared, thinking I wasn’t going to get another listing. This award is recognition of all those years running and racing around, and just how hard I worked to build my career.
Why did you choose to become a real estate salesperson?
It all started when I was over in London and I got addicted to the TV shows over there, Location Location and Property Ladder. That’s where the seed was planted – that’s when I decided that I wanted to get into property. However, it wasn’t until I came to Auckland that the idea of becoming a real estate agent started to firm up. At the time, as a 30-year-old woman, I was finding it difficult to get more than a contract role in Auckland. I thought to myself ‘this is the time’ and threw myself into it. I did the REINZ course in the evenings, and by January 2011 I was a qualified agent and ready to go.
When you look back to when you started out, can you remember how it felt making the first few sales?
I remember getting my first listings and thinking, can I actually do this? Can I sell these houses? It was pretty scary. But they went well, and that gave me the confidence to go for the next listing. In the May of that first year, I remember being at AREC (Australian Real Estate Conference), and my phone was ringing like mad. It was people wanting to list their property with me, and that was an awesome feeling. I was lucky. I felt like I got the momentum that everyone craves in real estate pretty quickly.
Can you remember how it felt to receive the REINZ Residential Rookie of the Year award?
By the end of 2011 things had gone pretty well, so the award was certainly on my radar, but I was told I didn’t really have a chance because there were teams of people competing and all the big brands were involved. But low and behold I won it.
What are the attributes you need to be a good real estate agent?
You’ve got to be motivated and you need to be dynamic. I also think you’ve got to be physically fit, because there’s a lot of stress, and you’ve got to able to manage that – physically and mentally. You also undeniably need to be a people person and a fantastic communicator. You need to be able to connect with and understand people, but also have the market knowledge to advise. You also need to know how to negotiate, and you must remain hungry to learn and continually refine your craft.
What is the thing you’re most proud of in your career?
For me, it’s always been about my vendors and really looking after them. I’m really proud of the work that I do, and it’s their validation and appreciation that means the most.
How has being successful changed you for the better… and worse?
I definitely dream a bit bigger these days, so that’s quite nice. But I also have a passion for the environment and human rights, and making a difference. Although I don’t have very much time, I do contribute to key organisations that are making a difference, like the Sustainable Business Network in NZ, and the Human Rights Law Centre in Australia. This is really important to me. For the worse, I am definitely a workaholic, which can put strain on the people who are closest to you.
Most of your sales are sold by auction. Why do you prefer this method to other sales methods?
Auction night is the high of the week. It’s the build-up, the moment, the tension. I still get butterflies. Having a fantastic auctioneer, as we do at Ray White Damerell Group, is one crucial aspect to your auction being a success. You also need to know how to read the room, and you need to know how to negotiate – and that’s not something everyone can do or has the confidence to do.
From early on in my career I was always obsessed with being really, really good at what I do, and auction is a showcase of that. Auction is the safest and most effective strategy for the vast majority of homes and vendors, but you do still need to have other options available to those people and properties for which it is not suitable.
What’s the one bit of advice you’d give to homeowners who are thinking about selling their home in the current market?
Talk to me! Seriously though, talk to an agent early on. Get their views on how far you should take your property and who your target market is. Ask them about timing – when’s ideal time to sell. And definitely get more than one opinion, particularly on the price of your home. Analyse the comparable sales provided and really school yourself on the likely value of your home. It’s very important to be realistic. Being real helps you to get the best result possible, because if you’re unreal in your expectations starting off, then you run the risk of losing your best buyer.
How do you choose an agent?
I think the agent appears for you, most of the time. We have a knack for that, don’t we? [laughs]. A lot of people I work with I’ve been chatting with for years, and you build those relationships up. Having said that, I do get a lot of calls from people who haven’t met me but can see the social proof out there on sites like homes.co.nz which show who the successful agents are in your area. And, of course, talk you your friends and colleagues for their recommendations.
What would you say to anyone who has been thinking about giving real estate sales a go?
My first piece of advice – only do it if you’re prepared to go all in. The first few years in real estate is all about real estate, and there’s very little time or energy for anything else. That is honestly the level of dedication you need to make it as an agent on your own. The other pathway is to work with a top agent. Busy, top agents do need support, and I think that’s a really good way to get into the business for someone starting out. The top agent essentially becomes your mentor.
How much influence has working at Ray White Damerell Group had on your career?
The camaraderie is massive at Ray White Damerell Group – and that cannot be understated. There’s such a good team here who support you and look after you. Sure, we’re competitive, but when anyone gets stuck, there are some phenomenal agents that we work alongside that we can talk to, who will give great advice and help – and that’s huge.
I think Damerell Group is a remarkable branch of Ray White in terms of the effort and the resources they put into the team. There’s a full-time legal and compliance person to turn to if you need advice, and also a team manger you can talk to – someone who will help you manage and grow your business. Seeing these key people being brought into the business, particularly over the past two years, to make sure that the sales team are being looked after is huge. And that means, as a group, we will continue to have phenomenal success.
Damerell Group is a brand within a brand. They are a powerful arm of a very successful company. They also have a way of making it feeling like a family, like a boutique agency, but with the backing and security of being part of a very large and successful brand. They are definitely steering the ship in the right direction, and I certainly don’t think I would be where I am today, in terms of the service I can deliver to my clients, without the help they’ve given me. They have absolutely taken my career to the next level.
What influenced you to join the team at Ray White Damerell Group?
Funnily enough, initially, they weren’t on my radar at all. Ray White was my direct competitor in my key market. I saw a brand conflict and thought there’s no way I can be Ray White, that’s just not possible. But what can I say… I got a call from Gower [Buchanan] and he really impressed me. I can remember I was pushing my toddler in his buggy round and round the back garden with Gower on the phone to me coming up with an answer to my every objection to joining Ray White Damerell Group. I liked his spirit and his understanding of my situation, and his determination to provide a solution for me. He built trust quickly, and I could tell that he was genuinely excited about having me join the team. It just felt right.