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Why agents should always go back to basics

By Demii Kalavritinos
19 January 2018
Marnie Seinor, McGrath Estate Agent

McGrath Estate Agent Marnie Seinor joins host Tim Neary to discuss how she stands out by turning open homes into networking parties.

Revealing the endless possibilities she sees for her future, the Coogee agent also discusses the things she has learnt from her previous mentors and how she continues to implement them today to grow her career.

Marnie also reveals how going back to basics and consistently being personable is the bedrock of her success.  

You will also find out:

  • Her one-of-a-kind open-house tactic
  • How she turns social media into revenue  
  • Why doing more homework converts into earning more dollars  

Tune in now to hear all this and much, much more in this episode of Secrets of the Top 100 Agents!

Make sure you never miss an episode by subscribing to us now on iTunes

Did you like this episode? Show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (Secrets of the Top 100 Agents) and by liking and following Real Estate Business on social media: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you'd like to lend a voice on the show, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more insight! 

Full transcript

Announcer: The top 100 agents are the best of the best, listing and selling more than any other agent in Australia. These are the 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 Tim Neary here. I'm Editor of Real Estate Business and Host of the Secrets of the Top 100 Agents podcast. Thanks for tuning in. Very pleased to welcome on the show today ranked number 19 in the top 50 women, and 78 in the top 100 overall, for 2017, from McGrath in Coogee in Sydney. It's Marnie Seinor. Hello Marnie, and welcome to the show.

Marnie Seinor: Thank you. Thank you for having me here.

Tim Neary:    You're very welcome. Now, you're a seasoned real estate agent. You've been in the business a long time. You've learned a few things and in 2016, you actually sold 62 properties to get these amazing results. Tell us a little bit, what are you working on at the moment?

Marnie Seinor: I'm working on a few amazing properties at the moment. One in particular, I have a large block of land, out at La Perouse, the suburb's Phillip Bay. It's never been offered to the market before, it's 1130 square metres of land. So, the potential there is endless. That's really exciting for me, 'cause it's something that's never been on the market before.

Tim Neary:    That's I guess something that would happen in this business. You come against things, come up with things that are new and interesting.

Marnie Seinor: Absolutely. Every day and meeting people is a different person, or a different property.

Tim Neary:    It's a competitive industry and in order to differentiate yourself from your competitors, you need to have some kind of point of difference. What is yours, Marnie, in the workplace?

Marnie Seinor: Yeah, look, I try and offer a point of difference with my approach in marketing and also more personable. I have been in the industry for a long time, however, it's also not getting to know your product. You've got to have extreme product knowledge.

Tim Neary:    It's a little bit like two cogs in the wheel, isn't it?

Marnie Seinor: Yes.

Tim Neary:    One is to understand the basics and get the fundamentals right, and know your product, and the other one is to understand your behaviours, and to have that personal approach.

Marnie Seinor: Absolutely.

Tim Neary:    And it sounds like that's what you do.

Marnie Seinor: Yeah, and listening to the client's needs.

Tim Neary:    yeah. Talking about listening to the client's needs, what do you think it is that the public wants from real estate agents?

Marnie Seinor: They want a professional. They're coming to us for advice, so they're looking for that advice, and you need to know exactly what you're doing, what you're offering, and the correct method of selling that property. They want professional advice.

Tim Neary:    This is a tough journey for people when they buy and sell property isn't it?

Marnie Seinor: Yeah.

Tim Neary:    And it doesn't really get any easier.

Marnie Seinor: No, and I think as agents, we take that for granted. I think it's something that some people only do once in their life, so you need to make clients understand the whole process and what's involved. It's not just taking names and numbers and standing at the door and hoping for the best. You really need to talk the client through the journey, what's involved, and how to achieve the best possible price.

Tim Neary:    Talking about advice, when you started out in the business, did you get a piece of advice, or pieces of advice that resonated with you then, that you're still using today?

Marnie Seinor: Absolutely. I was really grateful to start my journey in a boutique office in Woollahra and I was surrounded by the best in the business. I was a sponge to them, throughout the beginnings of my career. And everything I learned then, I'm still implementing today.

Tim Neary:    So talking about the things that you learned that you're still implementing, what are some of those things? What are the key things that you still today that you were doing then, that you learned then?

Marnie Seinor: Yeah. Absolutely is to know your product and to know what your product is offering to the market and who your target market is, and sitting and listening to your clients' needs. Just listen and then implement a strategy around your clients' needs so they feel comfortable.

Tim Neary:    Is it always the same? Any sort of patterns that you pick up that clients are, those needs? Do people want the same things?

Marnie Seinor: No, everyone's different. And everyone's selling for a different reason. They might be upgrading, they might be downsizing, there might be a death in the family, they might be separating. Some clients might be a little bit cagey and not tell you everything, so you've really got to get that wall down and get to know your client and their needs, and what they're looking for in an agent, and in the sale, and in the whole process that's involved.

Tim Neary:    In your business, is there anything that you're doing less of today that you were doing when you first started out?

Marnie Seinor: No. Honestly, I think I'm doing ... It's always going back to basics with me, and even with my staff, it's going back to basics. Everything I was doing when I started real estate, I am still doing today. I think agents that don't continue and be persistent with the basics, that's when you lose your momentum.

Tim Neary: Now, I wanted to talk a little bit about the specifics of what you do, and you mentioned that you just recently sold a penthouse in Little Bay, was it?

Marnie Seinor: Yes.

Tim Neary:    And you did quite an interesting tactic on the marketing programme there. Tell us a little bit about that.

Marnie Seinor: Yeah, so we're always open to change and open to see how we can engage our clients more, and bring something to different to what we offer to our clients. So, I listed an amazing penthouse in Little Bay and it was something different in the area. We had a shortlist of buyers, so we sent a VIP open invitation out to those shortlisted clients. We had buyer's agents, and we also invited the neighbours.

            So, we had a nighttime opening. We had caterers and champagne, and it actually turned into a party. We had all our potential buyers on the balcony, all the neighbours that are absolutely in love with the area talking about the area, so it actually helped us with the sale.

            And on auction day, two of the buyers that were on the balcony that night were two of the parties that were actually bidding on that property, so it does work.

Tim Neary:    Was that a specific tactic to bring the neighbours in to show off more than just the home? To show off the neighbourhood as well?

Marnie Seinor: Absolutely. Absolutely. The neighbours that live in the area always love where they live, so if they're talking about positive about the area, it helps with buyers, definitely.

Tim Neary:    And you got a good result out of that. Are you going to do it again?

Marnie Seinor: Yeah, absolutely. We got 300 over the reserve, and I'm actually doing it again tonight. We do it on special properties and yeah, we're doing it again tonight.

Tim Neary:    I mean, that's a good point that you raise. You do it on special properties, so it won't work on every property. What are the things that you look for and say, "This is a property that it will work on?"

Marnie Seinor: I think your standard just two bedroom unit without a view or just your basic properties, I don't believe it will work with the catering and the champagne and that market. We still do VIP opens on all those properties, but we just don't cater for them. We just invite neighbours and a shortlist of hot buyers.

            But for special properties with a view, or they're unique to the market, or there's something that we know buyers are going to be really keen to come and look, and also the neighbours. Then, we will do that. Tonight, I've got a block of units that has been built by a really good client of mine, and it's just a boutique block of six.

            And I know all the neighbours are desperate to get inside that, so I'll invite all the neighbours and my shortlist of hot buyers as well, and we will have an opening night. Yeah, and it works. You get neighbours' contact details and telephone numbers and email address, and they're also talking amongst potential buyers.

Tim Neary:    And they probably all know each other as well.

Marnie Seinor: They know each other.

Tim Neary:    So it leads to the party atmosphere. Now, that could go pretty wrong I would imagine if the neighbours are fighting with each other.

Marnie Seinor: Absolutely.

Tim Neary:    So you need to do a bit of background checking. Do you do that?

Marnie Seinor: Yeah, definitely. Absolutely. Yeah, yeah. You get to know the neighbours if you keep going back to properties and you chat to them out the front, and yeah.

Tim Neary:    And I suppose that also comes with the territory of being, working in that area for a long time, and being part of it, which is probably key to being a good real estate agent.

Marnie Seinor: Definitely, definitely.

Tim Neary:    Yeah. For those that aren't on that VIP list, what's your thought process around marketing to the ... I don't want to say the lesser ones, but those that don't quite make it onto that list?

Marnie Seinor: Anyone is on the VIP list. For me, it's more people that we know that that property would suit them, that we know that they're definitely a hot buyer for that property. They don't have to be anyone special. They're just a hot buyer that have missed out on several other properties with us, and we're helping them find a property.

            So, that's who our VIPs are. They're hot buyers, and we know that that property would definitely meet their criteria.

Tim Neary:    Right, so you would know them on your database?

Marnie Seinor: Yes.

Tim Neary:    You just flag them as a hot buyer?

Marnie Seinor: Absolutely.

Tim Neary:    How do you know that? Just from talking-

Marnie Seinor: From open home inspections. Yeah, from follow-up, from other similar properties we've sold. I continue to stay in touch. I obviously have a shortlist of hot buyers that I call on a weekly basis, and then Elizabeth that works with me, she has her shortlist as well. So, from other open home inspections, and yeah.

Tim Neary:    Okay. How many people have you got in your database?

Marnie Seinor: My database is about, well, I've got two databases. I've got a really short, strong, clean data, about 6000. I've got about 12,000 on a bigger database, but that's not as clean data, and it's just email addresses that we market to.

Tim Neary:    I mean, 6000's still quite a big number to be in touch with all the time, and I guess it gives an idea of what is required to be a top end real estate in terms of knowing not just the properties in your area, but also the buyers and the sellers, and the people in the area.

Marnie Seinor: Absolutely. Yeah, most open home inspection, I'll know most of the buyers that come through, at least half, from just working continuously in that same area.

Tim Neary:    Now Marnie, the market has changed over the years, and today there's a lot more social media stuff that comes into the game, and we know that there's a lot more Facebook stuff, and Instagram is ramping up. How's your business changed, and how much more do you use social media now than what you used to?

Marnie Seinor: Yeah. Look, I use social media as one of my main means of marketing. So, besides your internet, your Domain.com and RealEstate.com, et cetera, my next platform is social media. Every listing of mine is obviously marketed through social media, through all means of social media. How I differentiate myself to my competitors is I do an auction video on the property for nearly every property. That's launched through social media.

Tim Neary:    And you run it out through there, and I know this is a bit of a tough question to ask, but is there a way, 'cause it's difficult to quantify it, but is there a way to quantify the world before social media versus the world of real estate after social media? Is it better or worse, or is it a percentage better or worse?

Marnie Seinor: It's better for me as a business, because the cost is low. Print media marketing, as we know, is very expensive, so for me, you can touch people immediately by click of a button. You can get it out there to the world by a click of a button, so for me, as an agent, it's fantastic. It works. Every night before I go to bed, I'm clearing out my Messenger, or my Instagram messages. People asks me questions of price guides, can I add them to my database, et cetera.

            It's working for me. I could actually sell a property by posting on social media. For me, and it's cheap. It's easy. It's a push of a button. I'm just, for me, on my social media pages, it's being consistent, so when I list a property, it's listed as a new listing, followed by a video. Then, it's followed by a couple of posts throughout the campaign, same sold. It's consistent with every property.

Tim Neary:    So, it's a cheaper version, it gets immediate reach, it gets a bigger reach, and all you really need to do is be consistent in putting your stuff up there?

Marnie Seinor: Absolutely, absolutely.

Tim Neary:    It sounds like a win, it sounds like something everybody should be doing, and I think everybody is doing it.

Marnie Seinor: Yeah, definitely.

Tim Neary:    Marnie, we've come to the end of the show just about, there's one last question I wanted to ask you is just obviously the cornerstone of real estate is listing and selling properties. When you go into a listings presentation, what's your mindset? What are you thinking about?

Marnie Seinor: I'm thinking as I drive to the property, I've already done my homework. As in, what they've purchased it for, how long they've been there for, any recent sales in that area. So, on the way there, I'm just focusing on that property. I'm always arriving early, try to be at least 10 to 15 minutes early. I don't go in too early, but I'm there on time, when I walk into that door.

            It's just knowing a little bit about your clients, so on the phone, I try and ask as many questions as I can about the client, when they're hoping to achieve a result, and hoping to move. When we go ... When I walk, sorry, when I walk into that appointment, I've already got the knowledge around the client as much as I can, and also around the property and how long they've been there for.

            Then, I just listen. It's really important to just walk through the home and just listen to your client and what they've got to tell you about their home.

Tim Neary:    And as you said earlier, there's no one size fits all here, and everybody's got a different story.

Marnie Seinor: Yes, and everybody's selling for their own reasons.

Tim Neary:    Yeah. I quite like what you said earlier about arriving early, being early, but not necessarily going in early, 'cause that always catches people out when you're early.

Marnie Seinor: Catches people out, yeah.

Tim Neary:    But being early, you take a lot of the stress of getting there on time out of the equation, by just being early. Is that why you do it?

Marnie Seinor: That's right. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, and just make sure I've got everything ready. My business is really structured, so that I know that before I've turned up, my staff have already dropped off a pre-list kit, so they've got information about me as well, before I actually arrive.

            When I turn up, I've got more information, I know all about the property, so when we walk in, it's all positive. I'm not running late, I'm not stressed, I'm not knowing how long they've been there for. Because then I find if I look at the property and I get there and it's renovated, then I'll know that they've actually done their renovation, and then that's a point of interest that I can talk about with the client.

Tim Neary:    And that'll start a rapport building exercise.

Marnie Seinor: Absolutely, yeah.

Tim Neary:    Yeah. Marnie, it's been a pleasure having you in. Thank you very much for coming in and look forward to chatting to you again.

Marnie Seinor: Thank you. Thank you very much.

Tim Neary:    You're welcome. Thanks, Marnie.

Marnie Seinor: Thank you.

Tim Neary:    Cheers. Remember to follow us on 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 rating on iTunes. It's the best way for new listeners to find us and for them to hear the great content that we're 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, Marnie Seinor. Thank you for tuning in, and we'll see you next week. Goodbye.


Why agents should always go back to basics
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