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Wealth for toil? From Afghani refugee to real estate principal

06 March 2019 Tim Neary
Rafi Younes

Director at Century 21 The Hills District Rafi Younes came to Australia as a wide-eyed 15-year-old United Nations refugee. Today, he runs one of the most successful C21 offices in the network.

Born in Afghanistan, Mr Younes couldn’t speak a word of English when he first arrived, but in the 16 years he’s been here, he’s toiled, studied, learnt the language and even helped the Australian Army prepare for conditions overseas.

Mr Younes said that, a year ago, he was given “the biggest opportunity” of his life — to take over Century 21 The Hills District office in the heart of the western Sydney suburb of Castle Hill — but it all started after just three months of being in Sydney.

“I went out shopping with my mother to a fruit market,” Mr Younes told REB.

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“While my mum was shopping, I noticed an old lady struggling to carry her shopping bags to her car. I approached her, and without saying anything, I took her bags and expressed I wanted to help.

“When I returned to the shop, the owner offered me a job on the spot, working Saturdays and Sundays. I told him in broken English that my literacy wasn’t up to scratch. He said that was okay, and that he would show me what to do.”

After finishing school, Mr Younes began working with the Australian Army, teaching young Aussie soldiers the Afghani culture and language.

After that, he read for a diploma in Property Services (Agency Management) and completed it a year later.

“Whilst studying, I started approaching local real estate offices asking for any opportunities to work and build my experience. Door by door, I contacted every office there was with my cover letter and resume.”

He landed a role at Eproperty Real Estate and worked there for seven months, with “no pay, no questioning and no complaining”.

Fast start

Mr Younes then started in a sales role at Crown 1 Realty in Parramatta. He did well quickly, showing remarkable aptitude. 

“Within three months, I sold 30 properties,” Mr Younes recalled.

“Every morning on the way to the office, I would drive street by street, stopping by construction sites introducing myself to the builder and forming relationships with as many people as I could. My main aim was to chase developers directly rather than the typical vendor selling their family home, as I had a passion for off-the-plan and new developments.”

He targeted one builder in particular.

“Every morning, I’d drop him off a coffee on the way to the office for two months straight before he gave me an opportunity of my first development listing.

“Within three months, I sold the whole complex of 24 units and my journey with development listings started from there.”

Seven years ago, Mr Younes started his own business in Merrylands, in Sydney’s west. He called it H&H Reality.

“After eight months, the struggle of building local brand awareness and property profile, I made the decision of joining Century 21.

“Then my business grew exponentially as the brand was well known, and combined with my work ethic, I started placing a foothold in the Merrylands market, breaking records and selling more off-the-plan developments than any other office in the area.

“In my first year with Century 21, I achieved centurion status writing $664,000 GCC without a team, and it would set the tone for years to come — achieving centurion status consecutively until present, and being ranked no. 2 principal in Australasia in the first quarter of 2014.”

Then last year, Mr Younes’ big break came.

“The opportunity to partner with Martin Baldacchino and own and run the Century 21 The Hills District business came about.

“After officially opening in June 2018 and being the first re-branded Century 21 in June 2018, our team has grown with the addition of Matt Wolfe and Sam Outch who both worked at the previous Century 21 office in the area for several years.”

Mr Younes said that coming from such humble beginnings and now being at the forefront of the Hills District property market, he is confident that his career in real estate will continue to grow and thrive.

Wealth for toil? From Afghani refugee to real estate principal
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