After an uncertain year of lockdowns, virus variants, alert and traffic light levels, Aucklanders are looking forward to a well earned break. For many, the summer holidays offer time to reflect on their career goals, personal growth, development and financial aspirations for the future. The New Year is also when many people decide that it is time for a career change. Long gone are the days when workers would stay with the same company for 40 years. It turns out that the average person has 12 jobs between the ages of 18 and 50. This number may be higher than imagined, but switching jobs due to better pay, benefits, company culture, and location is extremely common.
For many, a career in real estate offers the chance to take charge of their future rather than waiting on the sidelines and following someone else’s rule book. You can take charge of your own clients and manage your own daily work flow, enabling you to achieve the work-life balance that suits you. Whether you gravitate towards residential sales, commercial property or property management, the sky’s the limit in terms of financial and personal reward.
Natasha Wiseman and Jon Clark are two of Damerell Group’s high performing salespeople who successfully transitioned to a rewarding career in real estate. We asked them both what advice they had for people looking to make the move into a real estate career.
What was your career path before becoming a real estate sales professional?
Jon – Growing up in Scotland my dad had his own specialised business doing shop fit-outs. I spent some time working for him and learned a lot of the trades. I have tried my hand at flooring, joinery, plastering and painting. From there I moved into sales based roles. I worked for 3 years doing door-to-door and call centre sales for gas and electricity as well as broadband services. From there I trained as a chef as I wanted to travel the world and this offered me good job opportunities wherever I went.
I was working in a high end restaurant in New Zealand when my wife fell pregnant. Working long hours and often late at night wasn’t conducive to a new baby on the way and I really wanted a better work life balance. I moved back to a more sales based role with a property investment company looking after the marketing and lead generation for the business.
Natasha – When I was growing up I had a friend whose mum was a real estate agent and I idolised her! I always knew that one day I wanted to do what she did, she was polite, friendly and had this strong aura about her whilst wearing her power suit. They had a swimming pool and tennis court and I was sold with the career choice, but I thought I would do it when I was a lot “older”.
I always knew I wanted to work in the media industry along with a strong desire to travel around the world. So I went to Auckland University where I achieved a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Film, TV & Media Studies. Whilst trying to secure a media job with my BA under my belt, I decided to work with Emirates where I could achieve my dream of travelling. Let me tell you, being a flight attendant is not as glamorous as it looks, just like Real Estate! When I got back to NZ After flying, I worked in the advertising and media industry for 4 years before starting my career in real estate. I have never looked back.
What was the moment that made you decide you wanted to change careers to Real Estate?
Jon – Working for a property investment company I was generating a lot of leads for the salespeople who worked there. They were making far more money than I was so I decided to make the leap into becoming a salesperson myself and I have never looked back
Natasha – Working in media for a salary meant that I wasn’t rewarded for the hours and effort that I put in, I could work twice as hard as someone else on the same salary and not be rewarded for it. So I jumped head first into Real Estate, a lot earlier in life than I had planned.
How have the skills you developed in your previous careers translated into real estate?
Jon – My knowledge of trades from working with my dad has definitely come in useful when assessing and appraising properties. Working door to door sales is always tough. So much of real estate is built around building up networks and relationships. Door-to-door sales gave me confidence and helped perfect my sales pitch. It also really helped to build my resilience – something that you need a lot of in the real estate industry. Having worked in property investment marketing and generating leads it was a natural progression to transition to the sales side of things.
Natasha – Flying with Emirates was an incredible experience. You are stuck on a plane with all sorts of different people, personalities and cultures and you learn patience, both things that are so often required in the Real Estate industry. My advertising agency background and skills in social media and digital marketing have been invaluable. Marketing properties to a really high standard is a big part of the job, as well as allowing strangers to get to know you a little bit better.
What would be your advice to anyone thinking of a career in real estate?
Jon – Start out in real estate the right way. Don’t go out straight away looking for sales. Build a database and network of people to keep in contact with. It’s all about relationships. You need to build up the trust over time by providing a really good service. Providing people with local market information consistently, like sales prices is key. By doing this, hopefully, when they come to sell, you will be in the picture to pitch for the listing.
However long you think it is going to take you to get up and running – quadruple it! Give yourself enough time to build up relationships and time to build up listings. Having some savings in reserve is a good idea until you start winning listings. It definitely helps if you have a partner to support you.
Ideally work with another salesperson while you are starting out. Having someone knowledgeable who can train you in all aspects of the business is invaluable. I was really lucky to have Joe Hurn, Sales Director from our Mt Albert office. Joe gave me the blueprint for success. I consistently followed his advice which has helped me grow and develop a really successful career and business.
Natasha – I started my Real Estate career in an apprenticeship where I helped other agents and learned along the way with a small salary for the first year. Starting out on my own was tough after that. In hindsight it could have been easier by teaming up with another salesperson, to secure some regular income. I was really lucky that I started with Ray White as the training and support is like nothing else. It really set me up to succeed and having an incredible manager makes your life easier, so pick wisely.
Save as much money as you can beforehand. Having some savings to help get you through the first couple of years would be my advice. You could even look at a part time job in the evenings to get you through
Don’t get into real estate for the wrong reasons. Doing it because it looks glamorous or for the money will disappoint you. I spent the first 6 months knocking on strangers doors in sun, rain and hail. with very little income.
The biggest thing to being successful is committing yourself 100% and not giving up!
What do you think are the attributes required to have a successful career in real estate?
Jon – Resilience. You definitely have to be resilient. Starting out you will be competing for listings against very experienced salespeople. When you are going into property appraisals you can get knocked back 5 or 6 times when you are new. It’s even harder when you have worked really hard to build a good relationship with a client but they choose another salesperson. You need to treat each lost listing as a learning and then focus on winning the next one.
It goes without saying that you need to be a hard worker and self starter. It requires a mindset shift to go from being an employee to being your own boss. Routine is really important. You need to hold yourself accountable and follow through on tasks.
Natasha – hard, hard work – you have to put in a lot of effort in the beginning. It’s not easy. Sometimes you work for a month straight and a property you are selling may not even sell. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family and as long as you put in consistent effort, you will be rewarded.
Don’t have an ego! You will need to be confident and approach complete strangers. There is plenty of rejection with this job and you need to take everything that comes at you like water off a duck’s back.
What is the best part about working in real estate?
Jon – When you sell a property there is a real feeling of achievement especially when you exceed the clients expectations. I started real estate with no connections. This year I will have achieved 20 sales so that gives me a huge sense of achievement.
Flexibility. I have a young family so having the flexibility to pick the kids up from daycare is fantastic.
Financial freedom. I am making more than I used to make in my previous careers and I have an unlimited earning potential. I definitely have Joe Hurn to thank for being my business mentor. The team at Mt Albert are amazing and it is a real culture of working together. I am passionate about helping new members of the team (rookies) to lay the foundation for good quality real estate.
Natasha – I love having the flexibility in my job hours. Having complete accountability and ownership over my business. Every success is due to my efforts and every mistake is so important to becoming a better agent.
Being part of someone’s biggest life decision and helping them on that journey is a really fulfilling experience. You feel honoured and privileged to have been a part of it.
Find out more
Whether you are just starting out on your career journey or if you’re approaching middle age and thinking about a late career change, the team at Damerell Group can support you to make the move. If your current career feels somewhat stalled, you’ll already hold transferable skills from existing work experience, which could sent you right to the top of your game. The first step is getting your licence. Check out our article for everything you need to know about getting your real estate licence.