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How the other half lives

9 Oct 13

One of our CEO’s favourite lines, along with “moving forward” and “kicking goals” is “getting out of our ivory tower”.

So with those oft-quoted pearls of wisdom in mind, a new project was launched which would involve every REISA staff member.

Mission:  To spend a day with a REISA member to witness – at first hand - life in the trenches.

Objective:  To find out if REISA is delivering to its members and if not, how REISA could improve its practices.

Now to be honest, I had enormous apprehension about this project.  Having spent the last 3 years at Consumer and Business Services working on the real estate reforms, all I heard day in and day out were the words “underquoting”, “unscrupulous practices”, “transparency” and “accountability”.

Little wonder then that my view of the industry was perhaps a little jaded.

My four months working at REISA has certainly tempered this view somewhat.

Witnessing the enthusiasm of members, particularly at training sessions, has given me some pause to think that maybe agents weren’t that bad.

So I chose Vella Real Estate for my baptism of fire.

I wanted to pick a small agency with sales and property management personnel and to hear what they had to say about the industry, about their working lives and importantly what they thought about REISA and the benefits of being a member.

I was very pleased that Vella accepted my request and seemed to be looking forward to my visit.

And the outcome of the mission?  In short, I could not have enjoyed a better day.  And the team at Vella could not have been more welcoming and passionate about their lives as real estate professionals.

The principal and owner, Anthony, greeted me warmly and then peppered me with questions about the upcoming legislation – smart move.  Just from these questions, I learned a lot about what the agency does on a daily basis and where they fit into the overall market.  We also discussed a whole suite of hypotheticals. I found this very educational as it gave me a fantastic insight into what agencies are thinking about in terms of future directions of the industry.

Then it was off to speak with the property management team.  We discussed the upcoming legislation at great length.  I was extremely impressed at their questions.  While I was able to answer the great majority, I did indeed take the 5th on half a dozen of them.  The fact that they had done their homework and came prepared with questions was excellent.  Hearing their first hand experiences (and nightmares) about being property managers was invaluable and it provided me with a solid foundation on which to approach the residential tenancies regulations – if and when we receive them.

Back to Anthony and his sales representative, Don for an in depth discussion on sales, legislation and business practices.  Lots of scenarios were tossed around, experiences discussed and lessons learned.

After all this, we ventured across the road to the Grind, a coffee shop on the Parade which despite living in Norwood, I had never heard of.  It was a great little coffee place and Tony and Kezia obviously know the Vella team well – so well that I saw no money change hands.

Settling back, I sensed that this was the perfect time for the Vella team to dish the dirt – what is wrong with REISA?, what don’t they get from REISA?, did REISA actually care about them?.  I told them – no holds barred.

I was very pleased that Anthony and Don only had positive things to say about REISA.  In particular Anthony pointed out that it was great to belong to a professional organisation where you could ring up and get advice at any time.  He also stated how he appreciated receiving the frequent legislative updates and the newsletters.  I was also delighted to learn that Anthony actively promoted his membership of REISA.

I asked them both about the perception that REISA only caters to the top end of town. This was an issue that I had occasionally heard while delivering the legislative sessions across the State.  While they both acknowledged that the perception did exist, both Anthony and Don did not share that view.  They thought that REISA helped all its members as much as it could and it was up to the smaller agencies to seek REISA’s help if they needed it and not just to assume that they were too small to warrant it.

Anthony and the team then decided that it was time to get back to work and so I was ushered onto the street with friendships forged and a real sense that this project had actually achieved its objective.

All in all, it was a great day – with a talented and professional group of people.  I will be returning in the next few weeks to finish my training of the Vella staff, to hopefully attend some appraisals, answer the questions I took the 5th on and - most importantly - to visit my new favourite coffee shop.

Paul Edwards
Policy Project Manager