REB’s 32nd-ranked agent for the Top 50 Women in Real Estate 2017, Stephanie Hearne joins Tim to discuss the turning point in her career and her memorable experience of exchanging a contract at the Long Bay Correctional Complex.
The Savills Cordeau Marshall agent reveals the obstacles she has faced over the last 16 years as an agent, moving from part to full-time, shifting the environment of her household life. Stephanie also tells us why being a real estate agent is “more of a lifestyle job”, why she made a vow to herself to be dedicated to her vendors as well as some surprisingly good advice to agents starting out.
You will also find out:
- Why rapport attracts dollars
- Why people are drawn to “black and white” attitude
- The impact social media has had on her success
Tune in now to hear all this and much, much more in this episode of Secrets of the Top 100 Agents!
Announcer: The Top 100 agents are the best of the best, listing and selling more than any other agent in Australia. These are practises, actions, and beliefs of the most successful agents in Australian Real Estate. Raw, honest, and completely uncut.
Tim Neary: G'day, everyone. It's Team Neary here. I am editor of Real Estate Business and host of the Secrets of the Top 100 Agents podcast. Thanks for tuning in!
We are pleased to welcome on the show today, ranked number 32 in the top 50 women, from suburbs in Roseville, it's Stephanie Hearne. Hello, Stephanie, and welcome to the show.
Stephanie Hearne: Hello, and thank you for having me!
Tim Neary: You're very welcome. It's great to have you on. Now, you've been in the business 16 years and in the 2016 financial year, you sold 35 properties. So obviously, you've got a good handle on what being a real estate agent is and on the market. So, in your own words, what is being real estate mean to you?
Stephanie Hearne: Well, I think being a real estate agent's more of a lifestyle job. It's 24/7. It's a service industry. And, you know, I have to serve my vessels and buyers. I don't have a business to run but I ... My focus is on my sellers, of course, and my buyers and putting transactions together. Marketing, representing the owners to get the very best price. So I take it very seriously when someone hands me over their most valuable asset to sell. And yeah, you have to work hard.
Tim Neary: I can hear that you do take it seriously. And obviously, you wouldn't get to the results-you wouldn't get to the level that you've got to if you didn't-and dedicate yourself completely to it. It is a competitive industry and we know that in any and in all of the regions, there's not just one or two real estate agents vying for the business there, there are a handful. So, in order to make a difference, you need to have a point of difference and I was just wondering what your point of difference is.
Stephanie Hearne: Real estate, when I first went into it, I made a vow to myself that I wanted to be a really good real estate agent. I was working part-time in real estate and I saw a lot of what other agents did and what other agents didn't do. And when I bit the bullet and became a full time real estate agent, I thought, "Here goes. This is ... I'm gonna be good and I'm gonna have to work hard to be good." And I think consistency in marketing, consistency in what you do every day, noticing every part of what you do, and just being on the ball, really.
Tim Neary: It sounds, Stephanie, like there was a point in your career, perhaps early on in your career, where you made a conscious decision to take it to the next level.
Stephanie Hearne: I did, yeah.
Tim Neary: Is it ... Did you ... What was the catalyst to that? Was there a turning point? Did somebody give you some advice that you took to heart? What made the change?
Stephanie Hearne: Well, my husband didn’t want to be in the corporate spot anymore, and so I thought, "Okay. Well, now it's my turn." My kids were a little bit older. So I was a stay-at-home mum when the kids were little and then got a part-time job in real estate that all very much did everything with the kids and the family and the household. But things shifted a bit when I made that decision. And now my husband does a lot of the stuff I used to do.
Tim Neary: Okay. Okay. And after you made the decision, what did you start doing more of, and what difference did that make to your business?
Stephanie Hearne: Well, one of the first houses I sold was my own house. And I ran with that. And I ... Of course, you gotta start somewhere and I was lucky enough to be selling my own house. And I got a good result and so I ran with that. And then you build from that. The first sale is always the hardest.
Tim Neary: And, what-
Stephanie Hearne: Um...
Tim Neary: Sorry, carry on.
Stephanie Hearne: No. And I realised that the top agents worked a farm area. And so my farm area was where my kids went to school and where I lived. And just getting it out there that I was the specialist in that area and you had to call me. So my point of difference is, I guess, a lot of agents take on any property, anywhere, but I focus on my main core area.
Tim Neary: And then, as you ... What you said a little earlier, sort of, falls in quite nicely around just being dedicated to your vendors. So you choose the area, you farm the area, it's where you are, it's where you live, and where you are involved in the community. And then you dedicate yourself to the vendors that put their trust and faith in you.
Stephanie Hearne: That's right. And it makes it easy too when you're one of the three agents called in. So I guess, if you do work your area well, you have an advantage over other agents that don't have to work a bit harder to get called in to doors.
Tim Neary: You've been in the business 16 years. You've obviously evolved and developed as an agent. Is there anything that you're doing less of now? Is there anything that you've put down today that you were doing back then? Because it wasn't productive? And I'm interested to know what those things are and what impact it's had.
Stephanie Hearne: Well, when you start out, I guess you don't ... Not many people start out with a PA. So now I try and do all the dollar productive stuff and any non-dollar productive stuff I pass on to my team. So for example, I don't do a lot of the admin. I focus on lifting and selling. I do a lot of the call backs myself because that's what I like to do. And getting out there and doing appraisals and ... So it free up my time. I mean there's a lot of stuff that goes on in the background in real estate that's very time consuming. So my advice to anybody starting out, don't wait too long to get a PA.
Tim Neary: It's made a real difference to you it sounds like. And you used a word that comes up, or a phrase that comes up so often, "Dollar Productive stuff," as the lead agent that's the business end of the transaction. So that's where you want to be focusing all of your time and not get bogged down or side-tracked by any of the other stuff that goes on.
Stephanie Hearne: That's exactly right.
Tim Neary: When you put together a marketing programme, how do you do it? Do you have a sort of check list that you go through? A one-size fits all? Or do you take each property that you've listed and put together a tailored approach to that marketing programme?
Stephanie Hearne: I always look at, when I appraise a property and put together a marketing programme, I think, "If this were my house, how would I market it?"
Tim Neary: Okay.
Stephanie Hearne: "If it were my parents' house, how would I market it?" If I go into an olden ... I also ask the owners, "Do you believe in marketing?" Because some don't. And I tailor it to suit my owners, the budget. And if I really feel strongly about something, then I will push my point that that's something you really need to do.
Tim Neary: And is there ... Does every property have something that stands out? And is it a good idea to put those, sort of, the "stand out" features at the front and focus all the attention on those? Or what is your approach to it?
Stephanie Hearne: Well, I'm a big fan of videos. So certain properties, I think, really ... It's important to do a video. Other properties, I don't. The Internet is our main source of inquiries at the moment, of course.
Tim Neary: Is there anything that you stay away from when you put a marketing programme together?
Stephanie Hearne: I do believe in prints advertising but it is very expensive so I don't do a lot of it.
Tim Neary: Okay. And you mentioned social media a little earlier. In the last couple of years, social media has become more and more and more important and more prevalent and being used more and more. What do you think the impact of that has been? And what impact of social media have you seen in your experience?
Stephanie Hearne: I think social media a really important and I've had business Facebook page as well as a personal Facebook page for many years now. Rate my agency is big, can I do ... I promote happy testimonials on social media and have a budget for that each year. And I'm doing more and more on social media. And perhaps moving away from print; moving a little more away from print and focusing more on social media.
Tim Neary: Is there a reason for that or are you seeing that you just get a bigger touch-a bigger reach-and more engagement?
Stephanie Hearne: Absolutely.
Tim Neary: Now the other, obviously, the other side of the business is getting listings. I'd be interested to get some head of a tattoo about your approach to a listing presentation. Are there certain things that you, again, take off? Or do you take each one at its merits?
Stephanie Hearne: Well, in a listing presentation, I generally ask for a tour of the house. While I'm doing that I ask the owners where they're off to, what their next plans are, and trying and find out as much information as I can in that casual walk around the house. So that when we sit down and present myself present what I can do for them, I've tapped into a little bit of where they're at and how they're feeling and why they're selling and where they're going to and how they're feeling about different things. So I think that initial casual chat walking around the house is very important.
Tim Neary: It also builds rapport with the vendor, isn't it? And that's ...
Stephanie Hearne: Absolutely.
Tim Neary: Yeah?
Stephanie Hearne: So I think, likability is the main thing, I think nobody's going to live with someone they don't like. So, I think, trying to build that rapport ... You've got five or ten minutes to build that rapport. So certainly that's very important.
Tim Neary: And that sort of ties back quite nicely to what you were saying at the beginning of the show about this being a people business and the dedication that you show to your vendors. And they would pick that up, wouldn't they?
Stephanie Hearne: Yes. You have to be very ... I mean, I'm very black and white. I say it as it is. And I think people are attracted to that. I'm not one of those ... I mean, I think the industry ... A lot of people think that real estate agents are very flashy and "talk the talk" but really it's an emotional journey of our own, from the moment we meant to the moment of the sale. It’s a very intense relationship that you have with your owners. And a lot of owners become my friend afterwards. And then that referral business comes.
Tim Neary: And just in terms of that referral business, do you find that it works in circles? That you would sell to the same person in a cycle and also the people that they are, I guess, associated with?
Stephanie Hearne: Well, I do ... Yeah. I get a lot of referral business and it's interesting I get a lot of ... So when I sell a house to a buyer they often then ring me. Now that I've been in the industry a long time, I'm selling houses to three, and I think four times, I've sold one house. So that's really nice. So obviously they had a good buying experience with me and therefore remember me for when they sell five, many years later.
Tim Neary: I mean that's such an important point around doing the right thing by the vendor. And again, this being a people business, that if you do... If you are getting it right and if you are authentic and if they do trust you, that they will come back to you. And they will come back to you time and time again. You said there was, on some occasions, you selling four times.
Stephanie Hearne: Absolutely. Being true. Being real.
Tim Neary: Yeah. And Stephanie, we're sort of getting to the end of the podcast now, and I just wanted to ask you one final question around you being in the business a long time. Some unusual experiences? Has anything stand ... Does anything come to mind around the most, sort of, or an unusual thing that's happened? And when it happened you went, "Well, now I really am a real estate agent"?
Stephanie Hearne: I did an exchange at Long Bay Jail once.
Tim Neary: Oh, wow. Yeah? Tell us about that.
Stephanie Hearne: Probably my ... Yeah. That's probably my strangest and ... Yeah. That was interesting.
Tim Neary: I bet there are not many real estate agents that have done that. How did that come about?
Stephanie Hearne: Mr Rona was in Jail. I had a contract to sign to sign and of course had to get Mr Rona's signature. And so the conveyancer and I, off we went to Long Bay Jail and got it done. So, it's something that I don't want to do again. But you do what you do. You do what you have to do.
Tim Neary: But being the consummate professional that you are, you just went in there, you did the business, and you left again.
Stephanie Hearne: And got out of there quickly.
Tim Neary: Fantastic. Hey, Stephanie. Thank you very much for your time this morning. It's been a real pleasure having you on the show. And congratulations.
Stephanie Hearne: Lovely to talk to you. Thank you very much.
Tim Neary: You're very welcome. Congratulations on a very successful ... Yeah. And I hope the one ahead is just as good.
Stephanie Hearne: Thanks so much.
Tim Neary: Thanks, Stephanie.
Stephanie Hearne: Enjoyed talking to you.
Tim Neary: Thank you so much. Remember to follow us on the all the social media stuff: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. You can follow me too on Twitter @timothyjneary, if you'd like to do that. If you've enjoyed today's show, please leave us a five star review on iTunes. It's the best way for new listeners to find us and for them to hear the great content that we are putting out. As always, RealEstateBusiness.com.au is where you'll find us. There's plenty of stories there on the business of real estate across the whole of Australia and on my guest today, Stephanie Hearne. Thanks again for tuning in. We'll see you next week. Goodbye.