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Victorian agent tops ranking despite facing tough market

By Malavika Santhebennur
01 July 2024 | 13 minute read
Helen Yan reb

Helen Yan said she used one mantra to become the state’s number one agent in this year’s REB state-based ranking: work much harder.

The achievements of the Ray White Balwyn principal and director are no mean feat, as she clinched the top spot in the REB Top 50 Agents Victoria 2024 ranking after selling 138 properties for $370.4 million during the 2023 calendar year.

Yan – whose clientele includes domestic and international Chinese buyers – was also only one of two women to become one of the top 10 agents in Australia after climbing from 16th in the REB Top 100 Agents 2023 ranking to seventh this year. Furthermore, she placed second in the Top 50 Women in Real Estate 2024 ranking.

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Yan’s accomplishments come amid a tumultuous period in Victoria (particularly Melbourne), as residents continue to feel the impacts of the extended COVID-19 lockdowns and higher interest rates.

The CoreLogic Home Value Index not only revealed that Melbourne dwelling values rose by only 1.8 per cent annually as at 31 May 2024, it also showed that Brisbane median house values are now higher than Melbourne’s for the first time since 2008.

While Melbourne’s median dwelling value held around a 37 per cent premium over Brisbane’s value leading into the pandemic, Brisbane’s values have increased at more than five times the pace (59.8 per cent) of Melbourne values (11.2 per cent) since the onset of COVID.

Moreover, the Victorian government took steps to expand the vacant residential land tax (VRLT) to properties across the entire state, not just inner Melbourne. The expansion commences from 1 January 2025, and applies the VRLT based on the status of the property during the 2024 calendar year.

The tax impacts property owners who own a home in the state that has remained unoccupied for more than six months of the calendar year (in aggregate).

On top of this, the state’s decision to target landowners and large businesses to fund its COVID-19 debt repayment plan has led to hesitancy among investors, which experts cautioned could lead to fewer rentals over the next 12 months.

Yan said these measures made overseas buyers more reluctant to purchase investment property in her area, leading her to shift her focus to local buyers with permanent residency.

This, coupled with hard work and long hours, contributed to her rankings’ success in this challenging market, she added.

“I work 15 to 16 hours a day, seven days a week,” she told REB.

“With fewer buyers around, we’ve had to work extra hard over the last couple of years. Dealing with local buyers is more challenging because they have plenty of time and choice, and they know the market.

“My team and I have put in more effort and spent more time with the buyer. We’ve shown them properties multiple times.”

Yan added that she imparts knowledge about her area and listed properties to buyers that she has accumulated over 14 years in the real estate industry.

“Because of my experience and time in the industry, I know my buyers very well. I know their preferences. I prepare them beforehand so that when a property comes on to the market, I can immediately inform them,” Yan said.

“Having knowledge about your product and the benefits it could deliver to your buyers is very important for every agent.”

Yan underscored that her core values such as honesty, transparency, and being fair to vendors and buyers have been instrumental to her success. She advised other agents to adopt a similar work ethic.

Yan primarily sold detached dwellings to local buyers in 2023 for between $2 million and $6 million, with around 10 per cent of her sales occurring off-market. According to 2024 REB figures, her average sale price decreased from $2.72 million to $2.68 million between the 2022 and 2023 calendar year.

“We sold properties via auctions but sometimes we sold them before going to auction or after an auction, too,” she concluded.

To view this year’s REB rankings and reports, click here:

REB Top 100 Agents 2024
REB Top 50 Agents NSW 2024
REB Top 50 Women in Real Estate 2024

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