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McGrath: Big-city agents opting for regional change, and still earning big

By Tim Neary
13 March 2019 | 1 minute read
McGrath appointments

A trend is emerging of big-city agents opting for a regional change, where they leverage their city buyer databases to market regional listings to sea changers, downsizers and investors, according to McGrath Estate Agents.

Christopher Mourd, head of franchise network for McGrath, said that the trend is being driven by lifestyle factors.

“An interesting dynamic is that of agents moving to regional areas for similar reasons to that of their clients motivated by lifestyle, affordability, escaping from city stress, traffic and cost of living pressures,” he told REB.


“When you consider that agents have a six-day work week, often they have to wait for holidays to experience and enjoy lifestyle opportunities, and many are fast realising that this can be in their backyard.”

Pointing to a recent CoreLogic report, Mr Mourd said that the 10-year gains in regional capital growth were impressive. The report found that from 2009 to 2019, regional markets grew by 150.3 per cent, against 212.4 per cent in capital cities.

“Regional areas, as expected, did not have as much growth as capital cities, which have continually strong population growth and a growing undersupply; however, the gains were still impressive,” he said.

“Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen some of our great agents that have made the move.”


Braden Walters took his business from Newtown, Sydney, to Ballina, Northern Rivers NSW.

Mr Walters said that he and his wife wanted to bring their daughter up in an area that offered a better lifestyle.

“Our life has changed dramatically. We have more time to spend with each other, we have better priorities and we are just happier people,” he said.

“The regional area has forced us to not work as hard, but work smarter. The culture within our office now is to work hard during business hours but make sure that you have the right balance in family and home life. Our clients now are happy to come into the office during business hours for meetings, whereas in Sydney we had to see them sometimes at 10pm. 

“People are generally just less stressed. They actually do care for your wellbeing and the community spirit is better than I have every experienced before. We have a much higher selling fee regionally than what we were fighting over in Sydney.”

Mr Walters said that it has been worth it.

“We are down approximately 35 per cent of what we were earning in Sydney, but the potential to increase those earnings is there, and more. But the cost of living is dramatically less than in Sydney. It took me six months to get used to the way things are done here and I am still learning. But it was worth it for my amazing daughter, who gets to grow up in one of the best parts of the world.”


Ambre Perry relocated to the Sunshine Coast from Balmain in Sydney.

Ms Perry said that she and her husband saw it as an opportunity to start and raise a family.

“It was just the two of us in Sydney and now we have two small kids, so our life has changed a lot. I think the lifestyle is much more relaxed on the coast and still has fantastic schools close by for the kids,” she said.

“I now make sure I only do a few late nights a week and also take every Thursday off with my kids, which is very nice while they are still little. I feel like everyone is less stressed on the coast and both my husband and I are very happy we made the move.”

Ms Perry said that her income has increased since she moved.

“My average sale price is $842,000, so although less than Sydney, it works out about the same due to the higher commission rates. Average on the coast is about 2.75 per cent, whereas Sydney was about 2 per cent.

“But that’s also due to the fact I’m now an agent on my own and also the cost of living is much cheaper. We have a beautiful four-bedroom family home with a pool in a great location, and for the same price we would have been lucky to purchase a one-bedroom unit in Balmain.”

First child

Brendan Mayles upped sticks and moved from Paddington in Brisbane to Toowoomba in regional Queensland.

Mr Mayles said that the move was linked to the birth of their first child.

“This was certainly part of the reasoning with the renowned schooling system available in Toowoomba,” he said.

“We have fallen in love with the spectacular seasonal changes, country lifestyle and there is no doubting the affordability to buy a home was enticing. We managed to buy a Queenslander cottage but on a larger block of land for a third of what we could in Paddington, Brisbane.”

Mr Mayles said that he and his wife made the move 14 months ago, and haven’t looked back.

“In my first year, I have certainly put in the hours establishing myself, but life balance is the priority for us. The move has changed both our perspectives, with an emphasis on time as a young family.

“I have certainly had to make an adjustment in my business, from shifting from an area where the median house price was above $1 million for a house, to my current area where there is a median house price of $450,000 — and in some surrounding areas, significantly lower. The volume, however, is available to sell, it’s just getting out and meeting new people. In the long term, I don’t envisage there to be a sacrifice on income.”


Founder John McGrath said that the opportunity is excellent.

“I call it the 90-minute arc,” he said.

“Lifestyle areas within 90 minutes of metro cities such as Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne have been most popular in this metro-regional switch as they allow easy access to family as well as other business and cultural activities.

“Areas like the Central Coast, Hunter Valley and Southern Highlands in NSW; Geelong and Ballarat in Victoria; and Toowoomba and the Sunshine Coast in Queensland have been some of the most in-demand areas.”

McGrath: Big-city agents opting for regional change, and still earning big
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