New challenge awaits property veteran
There will always be real estate agents, according to industry veteran Phil Smith, because buyers and sellers can never agree.
After 35 years selling real estate in Timaru, Mr Smith is off to Auckland. He has sold his business to Michelle Greer, who works at the firm.
"My name is still on the door until the end of the year, until Michelle's licensing is complete. I have been thinking about moving on for a while. It's time. I needed another challenge."
He was 27 when he started at Reid and Wilson in 1978, having previously been a technician at the telephone exchange.
"Bruce Wilson said to me that he didn't think it was a good time to start in real estate. I stayed there 10 years. Back then, it was retired farmers who sold real estate and there were only two women selling."
Houses were not listed exclusively, each firm having access to all listings.
"It was cut-throat and there were a few cowboys out there.
"It was great. I had empty pockets and was young and keen. It was scary going from a government job, and I had a wife and mortgage, so I was driven. I had a supportive family and my success was largely due to that."
Agents would take clients around in their cars to different listings. There were no open homes.
"You either sold them a house or they died. You didn't let them out of your car."
He went out on his own in 1989, and listings moved towards being exclusive to one firm.
Agents started using radio-telephones to keep in touch with the office.
"In 1989, I invested in a mobile phone. It was the size of a concrete block. It cost $4000. Technology has been really important. Now, everything has gone online."
For Mr Smith, it has always been about people. "There will always be real estate agents because vendors and buyers can never agree and it is up to the agents to do the work in-between.
"Success is endurance. I have seen a lot of people come and go. Ninety per cent of real estate agents come and go in 12 months."
He still loves the industry and will work in real estate in Auckland. "I enjoy the buzz up there. It will be a challenge. I'm not sure if I will be selling or managing or auctioneering. I will just see what happens."
- © Fairfax NZ News