As COVID-19 shifted the property market, one sales agent emerged triumphant, thanks to his focus on bespoke customer service.
According to Pittwater Property director and REB Awards 2020 winner of the Sales Campaign of the Year award, Sasha de Bilde, New South Wales’ Pittwater, located 40 kilometres from the Sydney CBD, conceded he may have got lucky with strong results over the past year despite the onslaught of COVID-19.
“We’re very lucky in the market of Pittwater because it has been exceptionally strong since COVID. We’ve seen significant price increases, probably driven by lack of stock, low interest rates and the fact that we are very much a lifestyle-orientated area,” Mr Bilde said.
“One thing that COVID highlighted for a lot of people was the importance of lifestyle.”
But regardless of the positive market trajectory within his area, Mr Bilde said that 2020 was definitely a rough patch for the real estate sector.
While he had to learn how to navigate an exponentially changing environment, the director revealed that what ultimately got him standing strong amid a turbulent year was a basic but critical skill: understanding the needs of both vendor and buyer.
“The whole world changed. So, for us, [it was all about] understanding the client’s needs. Different people were in different situations,” he said.
“We obviously had people in the last 12 months that had to sell for financial reasons. For example, we’ve got pilot clients right now who are driving trucks… So, I think the most important thing for us was just really being empathetic to the clients and their needs, and really understanding how we could help them get the best result.
“We’re navigating whatever we need to do for their personal circumstances, but then still maximising the sale price from a buyer’s point of view.”
In order to do a successful sales campaign, Mr Bilde and his team use a “reverse engineering” approach — starting from pinpointing the best buyer for a particular listing as opposed to listing the property on different platforms at once.
According to him: “When we list a property or we pitch for a property with a client, what we do is we try to think about who the best possible buyer is for that particular property and who will pay the best possible price.
“Then we reverse engineer as to how we get that property in front of that particular buyer. We utilise different skills, different tactics, different systems as to how we do that.”
For example, he said, waterfront homes attract people looking for a lifestyle change — those who want to get out of the CBD or those who are looking to buy a holiday home.
To secure these kinds of buyers, Mr Bilde takes them across the water.
He explained: “We take them out on the boat. We show them some waterfronts from the boat first because you can’t see really waterfronts from the street, but you can see them from the water. We take them through a series of properties, get them interested, see which ones would suit and which ones won’t suit.
“Then we take them through a particular property, most times off-market. We’ve already qualified that the house is along the lines of what they’re looking for. So, it just takes the qualification process up a notch in terms of what we’re doing.”
On one of the recent properties he sold, Mr Bilde shared: “It was over half an acre on the water, but it wasn’t a deep waterfront where you can keep a boat, but still a beautiful property on the water. I said to my clients, ‘I believe that the type of buyer that would purchase it is someone from the east, it’s probably a holiday home. They’re probably someone that has something in the Southern Highlands and they wouldn’t want something similar, but up on the water at Pittwater.’
“So, we reverse engineered that. We did a targeted campaign and that’s exactly who we sold it to, someone that lives in the east. They’ve got an acreage in the Southern Highlands. They bought this one as a holiday house. They paid a really good price. It set a record.
“It was a win-win on both sides of the fence.”
While property listing websites help the director reach a multitude of people, he often prefers to offer a bespoke experience as opposed to a “one size fits all” strategy.
“That’s one thing we do for the waterfront properties. There’s obviously different things we do for different properties, and that’s what we discuss with our vendors. A $2 million house… [will have] a different campaign to a $15 million waterfront,” he continued.
Ultimately, it’s all about knowing the exact market to target and “marrying a property to a buyer”, Mr Bilde said.
“I think all the best agents in the country would have that one thing in common — that someone can walk through an open house or they can meet a vendor and they can adapt or they can understand their personality type. That would get them automatically ahead of their competition in their market,” he said.
To conclude, the director acknowledged “reading people is our job”.
“We just need to be flexible and do the right thing by their campaign.”