BY BOB IRVINE
Kate Bradley gives her RE/MAX Elite agents a lot of rope. “I don’t expect people to be here at half-past 8 and leave at half-past 5. This is not that kind of job. Salespeople work hard and are self-motivated.”
Companies do not usually become a global giant in a little over 50 years by adopting such a flexible culture, but that’s exactly what attracted Kate to pick up the Nelson franchise six years ago. RE/MAX does things differently.
“Nobody babysits you – unless you want it.” Since her eight sales agents are self-employed, the result is a remarkable mix of highly personal service within the collective knowledge, marketing expertise and reach of a vast network – 100,000 agents in nearly 100 countries.
Kate can sum up the culture she instils in a word: respect. “That applies to salespeople as well as our clients. With vendors, you are asking people to give you their confidence for at least three months. You need to work as a team with them. The vendor needs to know what’s going to happen from day to day.”
Properties are selling much faster than this at present, and Kate makes no secret that, like other companies, she would love to have “more listings, more agents and more rental properties – then my life would be perfect”.
The Nelson RE/MAX property management division opened in Bridge St in 2014. After a big renovation and expansion of the main sales office at 7 Haven Rd, the rental division has now joined them. This provides a one-stop property shop. Rental owners can have their asset managed efficiently, and when the time comes, sold just as efficiently.
Kate says having the two divisions side by side gives a wider perspective. If a rental house sale is in the offing, the property management team can liaise with the sales team to make the transaction as smooth as possible.
Real estate is a dynamic industry. When Kate signed on 24 years ago, “we were only just starting to use the fax machine! Now we receive emails from Italy, Spain, Turkey and Britain, among a host of other countries. If an overseas buyer logs on to the global.re/max.com website, the currency and language used can be converted for the viewer.”
Branches are sprinkled throughout New Zealand, and Kate says co-operation within the total group is excellent. If she is making national or overseas inquiries on behalf of a client who is relocating, she deals with an agent who knows the local territory well. The same applies with incoming queries. Nelson properties now commonly sell to overseas clients who are attracted by the website photos, so a trusted agent on the ground becomes crucial.
With access to DIY internet sales options, why use an agent at all? Protection, says Kate, who can cite plenty of sobering evidence to back that argument. Firstly, the Real Estate Agents Authority is a watchdog to “make sure people do the job properly, and that’s a good thing”.
Secondly, “I have to tell clients everything I know about a property, by law. It’s all about disclosure. A private seller doesn’t have to tell you squat.” In extreme cases, former ‘meth houses’ have been sold – after a fresh coat of paint – with no hint of their shady past for the buyer. “If the property is listed with a licensed agent, then such facts have to be passed on to the buyer. There is no hiding the shonky stuff.
“When you use an agent you have some protection. There is no more ‘Let the buyer beware’.”
As owner-manager of the Nelson franchise, Kate spends most of her time supporting the team. Her specialist area, section sales, remains where her heart lies, and she still gets a buzz driving past an established subdivision and thinking, “Wow, look at this. I helped to do this.” She laughs when conceding that the developer did have the major role.
“The thrill of the chase” – gaining the listing first, and then completing the sale to the benefit of all concerned – has kept her in the job. Referrals from past clients are a bit part of her business. “It’s a special thing to now be selling houses to the grown-up children of former clients.” In nearly a quarter-century in the trade, through the highs and lows of the property market, her passion remains undimmed.
7 Haven Road, Nelson
03 548 7705