Last year, Suzanne Hibberd sold the same house for the fourth time in her career, a testament to the loyalty she has earned from her clients. She reveals her formula for success.
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The director of Sydney-based Abode Property Agents has a track record of scoring a hat-trick in the REB rankings.
Similar to last year, she secured a ranking in the REB Top 50 Agents NSW, Top 100 Agents and Top 50 Women in Real Estate 2023 rankings, after selling 153 homes during the 2022 calendar year for a total of $323.9 million.
Success has not come easily for Ms Hibberd, however, who said she has sacrificed sleep, time with family, and holidays during her career spanning over three decades to ensure that she is always available to her clients.
“You can’t succeed in this industry by giving 50 or 60 per cent,” she told REB.
“I would say my success boils down to hard work, dedication and consistently giving my job 100 per cent all day, every day. I don’t look for quick deals. I always care deeply for my clients. I won’t sleep until I sell their property.
“I also have a hands-on approach to my job as a licensee, and I’m backed by a great team, which means I’m able to control everything.”
Holding clients’ hands leads to loyalty
Ms Hibberd enjoys substantial repeat and referral business from her pool of loyal clients due to the level of service she provides, she said.
“Loyalty is not something we see a lot nowadays in many industries, but it’s lovely to see clients reach out when they’ve been looked after well and were happy with the job you did,” she said.
For example, she has sold the same properties multiple times over her career, including one last year, which she sold for the fourth time, she said.
Moreover, prospective buyers considering downsizing reach out to Ms Hibberd for assistance even if she may not be selling any suitable properties at that point in time, she explained.
“It’s really nice to have that following,” she said.
Selling diverse properties
Selling different types of properties instead of limiting herself to niche markets has also contributed to Ms Hibberd’s strong results.
Project marketing encompasses a large segment of her business and attracts a significant number of downsizers, which leads Ms Hibberd into selling their residential properties.
She also engages in development site sales, waterfront properties, one-bedroom apartments and a range of other transactions in the St George and Sutherland Shire region.
“I don’t like it when a client says they didn’t come to me because all of my current listings are over $3 million. That worries me because I’m not that kind of agent. I will give as much attention to selling a $3 million house as I do to a $500,000 apartment,” Ms Hibberd said.
“We service every client the same way.”
Keeping your head up in tough markets
Providing stellar service is going to be paramount in the current market where interest rates have risen, stock levels are relatively low, and competition is increasing.
Ms Hibberd said other agents she has spoken to in her area are experiencing similar challenges with low stock levels, and as such, could impact sales figures.
“We can’t be depressed about that because our results are still fantastic, with a lot of new business coming our way,” she asserted.
“But we are selective about which properties we take on, particularly with project marketing because we could be involved in a project for a couple of years.”
Despite these challenges, residents will continue to buy and sell properties, Ms Hibberd noted.
“As my mentor who taught me everything I know says, you just have to get out there and shake another tree, and see what you find,” she said.
Pay attention to buyer needs
Speaking to buyers about their requirements and proactively finding listings is one way to shake a tree, Ms Hibberd suggested.
“If someone enquires about a property, don’t just answer them and leave it at that. You need to talk to that person and ask about their needs. While you might not have anything listed now, you could find them something else in the future,” she said.
“I encourage my younger team members to find a property that we don’t have for sale to suit buyers. Don’t just look at what you’ve got for sale. Use buyers as lead generators to find listings. We used this method during the GFC and it served us well.”
Ms Hibberd also advised younger agents to educate vendors about the current market.
She concluded: “Young agents need to know that you can’t win them all. You have to dust yourself off. It’s a tough market but it will get better. There are highs and lows in real estate and they’ve got to go along with it”.
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