Helene Ravlich: Hot property

Over the past year the property market has been in the news more than ever with the pandemic buying boom a hot topic in the press and around dinner tables.

I spoke to some of the neighbourhood’s most well-known agents about everything from what spurs on a sale to their favourite place to eat.

Blair Haddow, Bayley’s Real Estate, Ponsonby
The past year has been crazy in the property market, with Blair saying that for him it’s the team work between a vendor/s and agent that secures a successful sale through hard work, constant communication and building great rapport with purchasers.

The hardworking agent says that in a year of highs, every sale is “a memorable moment helping vendors and purchasers in their property journeys”.

When he’s off the clock, travel is his favourite way to unwind; “but with no international travel on the cards I love to get to Queenstown often. It’s a beautiful spot that we are blessed to have in our backyard." You will always find him enjoying what Ponsonby has to offer however. “Ponsonby is just so full of wonderful cafes, bars and restaurants I love to frequent my favourites often. If I had to pick one? I absolutely love SPQR - you just can’t go past it. I have been going here for 28 years.”

Matt O’Brien, Jervois & Co
Matt O’Brien is passionate about the neighbourhood he works and plays in, and about the industry he plays a part in. “Selling real estate is as much about people as it is property,” he says. “You have to be able to really connect with people, read people, and communicate with different types of people on their level. People need to really trust you, and for that to happen you need to be authentic.”

For Matt, a successful sale is “when both my vendor and purchaser are really happy with the result, through my honesty and hard work”. When asked if he has had any particularly memorable moments over the past twelve months, the busy agent says: “My sale of 5 and 5a Northland Street, Grey Lynn was a real feelgood moment for me. A family had owned both houses for years, and shared the backyards, no fence. I ended up selling both to another family who's going to keep the properties combined, with kids and grandkids in one house and grandparents in the other. It’s so nice that an extended family will carry on that special fused family living.”

Matt says that despite the nature of his work, he’s pretty good at switching off these days, adding, “you really have to, otherwise you burnout. I love spending time with my kids Bella and Bobby, wherever that takes us. We're usually big Asia explorers but not at the moment, obviously. We enjoy skiing and getting out around New Zealand as much as possible.”

Closer to home, Matt calls himself a true creature of habit, “and Dizengoff has been my staple cafe for years - always great coffee, and I love a good sausages and eggs, or a Stevie Scram from there. And when I'm in Grey Lynn and craving a bit of Asian, the Vietnamese omelette from Josy cafe is insane, so good!”

Keith Dowdle, Ray White Grey Lynn
The affable Keith Dowdle from Ray White Grey Lynn is another agent that believes in the power of connection, saying “the most successful sales are based on a great partnership between the owner and us. I guess that is the same with any service industry.

“Much of our business is based on repeat clients and referrals, so this already establishes a level of trust, which is critical.”

He recognises that selling a home is always a stressful time, “and good advice, clear communication and a robust process helps ease uncertainty and creates the environment for informed decisions”. Every successful sale is a memorable moment for the popular agent, “not specifically the actual sale, but the fact it is usually a step along a new journey for our client and it’s such a privilege to be involved in people’s lives at that personal level”.

Anyone who follows Keith on Instagram and Facebook will have met him and his partner Sandy’s two 'leisure mates', in the form of adorable pups, Theo and Olive. “They are our home crew and compulsory ‘time-out’ enforcers,” he says; “both are rescue dogs who definitely have their own quirks and much of our home-time is spent with these two. They’re great therapists and have a brilliant understanding of confidentiality when it comes to our unloading chats at the end of the day!”

Like Matt, Keith is a big fan of Dizengoff, where “every morning has started for about the last eight years or so and where there is always good coffee and excellent service from Anita and her crew”. Across the road from his office in Great North Road, Better Me has become a quick new caffeine stop, “and our regular weekend dinner is down the road at Nishiki – cheap and cheerful, and fiercely supported by the Freemans Bay locals”. For something special, he loves Lillius at the top of Khyber Pass, “which is hard to beat for imaginative and brilliant Kiwi cuisine".

Will Gluestein, Barfoot & Thompson Ponsonby & Wynyard

Barfoot & Thompson agent, Will Gluestein says that key to a successful sale is being prepared, with a comprehensive marketing program that covers all bases, including a good mix of print and extensive online advertising.

"You also need to choose the right company and an agent that you are comfortable with and that you think is the right fit.” He adds the beauty of Barfoot & Thompson is their un-franchised network - “we have over 1500 salespeople across Auckland over 75 branches - giving us greater reach and selling power!”

His most memorable moment of this year would have to be the sale of a beautiful villa he sold in Mount Eden. “Not only was the home one of a kind, I was lucky enough to have the dream vendors,” he says; “the home had a large, impeccably landscaped garden which the vendors had done themselves over a number of years, and we held the auction on site in the back garden on a beautiful sunny afternoon. Holding the auction onsite in such a beautiful setting made it very special.”

When asked if agents are ever off-the-clock, he says, “technically we are never really off- the-clock as our phone will ring at all times of the day and night. But when I do get a chance to relax, I just like to hang out with my nine month old daughter Tilly, and my partner Georgia."

For nights out he loves Hotel Ponsonby for its “great food and great vibe no matter what day or night of the week you are there”. Prego is another long-time favourite, with Will saying, “I've been going there for so many years and it never disappoints; the food, the service and the atmosphere is always exceptional time after time and after having a young baby, I have found them so accommodating, which means we spend most of our family dinner nights there.”

(HELENE RAVLICH)

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