Real estate agent charges $10K, helps you move

HAMISH MCNICOL
Last updated 05:00 31/03/2014
Tall Poppy
Fairfax NZ
TURNAROUND: David Graves, of Tall Poppy. He says his ambition is to tip the housing market ‘‘upside down’’.

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A real estate company founded in Wellington wants to tip your house, and the market, upside down.

But Tall Poppy's agents will only charge $10,000 for selling your home, even if they turn up with a moving truck on settlement day.

Managing director David Graves, who has been involved in real estate for nearly 20 years, launched Tall Poppy in Wellington in late 2012. The one-man band has since grown to about 25 agents across the country, and was expected to quadruple by the end of this year.

Graves built his experience with traditional real estate companies before establishing his own, Borders Real Estate, which he sold in late 2011.

The money from the sale has been pumped into Tall Poppy, a concept he said was a year in the making.

He said his time in real estate had taught him the market was built upside down, with a focus on the agent first, buyer second and vendor third.

"I thought that was sort of upside down, so I just wanted to tip it up the other way.

"We're very vendor-centric, everybody says they are of course, but we actually are and we've changed our model to reflect that."

The cornerstone of this philosophy was founded on Tall Poppy's flat sale fee of $10,000, regardless of a home's sale price.

Graves said it was the only nationwide company with a flat fee.

This vendor-centric approach was also found in more quirky facets of the business, he said.

A property listing would only be touched by one agent and on settlement day the same person was available to help the vendor shift out of their house.

"It can be a really stressful time, especially on settlement day, because you're trying to shift out of one house to another, there are kids around and dogs and removal men and all sorts of things going on. So if we can help we will, we just see it as part of the journey."

This in turn helped with referrals, he said, especially when sellers saw the boss there "with his sleeves rolled up".

Customers would then also provide feedback on an agent's performance, which was published on Tall Poppy's website.

"So if people mess up then they know that it's going to be a public messing up, so they don't, it's quite simple."

Tall Poppy had sold licences to operators in Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Wellington and Taranaki.

It managed to operate on a $10,000 fee model because of reduced overheads, compared to other real estate companies.

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In 2008 another flat-fee real estate agency, The Joneses, where sellers paid a flat fee of $7995, went into voluntary liquidation before its planned sharemarket listing, blaming market volatility in global capital markets.

- Fairfax Media

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