Leading agent Kate Smith, Principal, Raine & Horne Semaphore, talks about her success
Leading Raine & Horne agent Kate Smith, Principal of Raine & Horne Semaphore/Port Adelaide has received a number of accolades for an exceptional year and was recently named amongst South Australia's best sales agents at the Real Estate Institute of South Australia's (REISA) Awards for Excellence.
Here she speaks about her success, challenges and the foreseeable future.
How did you first get into real estate? Have you always worked in the industry or did you do something else previously?
I was 19 when I officially started in real estate with my mother Helen. I played some top-level basketball, but professionally, real estate has been a life-long career.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy the customer satisfaction element in helping people make what is generally a very big move in their lives. Helping them achieve a great result and to take that next step is also enjoyable.
From a personal perspective, I enjoy the constant challenges. You're always being challenged to improve yourself as a real estate specialist. There are always things that you can improve, so it is challenging for yourself as a person as well. This is what I enjoy about real estate. There's personal growth as well as helping customers achieve their dreams.
Can you tell us about an interesting property you’ve marketed recently?
Late last year, I sold a property, built in the late 1960s. It had badly deteriorated and the vendors, four siblings who were the beneficiaries, were resigned to receiving a poor price in the current market.
Instead of auctioning it for whatever they could get, I suggested putting in a little effort to bring back the sparkle. I orchestrated painting and cleaning teams, and advised the vendors on how best to present the garden, and make minor home repairs and improvements. I secured a stylist to stage the home with décor in keeping with the home’s era, then photographed and marketed it to appeal to the first home buyer and family market, due to its great location. The property was put to market with an auction banner so I could secure my clients a cash unconditional contract and avoid building inspections, as due to its age, there were issues buyers had mentioned as concerns.
A gentleman bought the home prior to auction under auction conditions for $500,000 – exactly what the owners wanted to achieve. It was a significant sale because my strategy of suggesting low-cost improvements to the property’s presentation, marketing it to appeal to the right demographic and putting it to market as an auction got the result my clients wanted, which would have been unrealistic if they had sold it as is.
You recently won Raine & Horne’s award for Top Salesperson (Principal) Number of Sales. What do you attribute your success to?
I am fortunate to have a strong team around me at Raine & Horne Semaphore, and a strong team at home. Being a first-time mum, it’s important to have a home environment that lets me go to work. For example, my husband took paternity leave to care for our baby. This move enabled me to get back to work faster. I also have great support from my mum Helen, and there is never a problem if I bring my daughter to the office.
I worked very hard in the years before I became a mum - in 2012, I sold 17 properties compared to 162 already in 2017. I put in the hard yards to create a foundation for the business that has enabled me to balance the dual roles of mother and real estate principal.
What does the prize mean for you personally, and for your career?
Winning awards is nice, but it's not something that you rest on. I was number one the year before, and that just made me more determined to score number one again this year. So, you can't rest on your laurels. You've got to be continually trying to improve.
I don't write the types of commission that a lot of the agents from interstate can write. So to be successful, I focus on the next challenge. I am number seven for dollar value in the Raine & Horne group nationally. I want to improve on that. Winning awards are good because it gives you benchmarks that enable you to set goals.
Is real estate a good profession for equal opportunity and work-life balance?
Yes, and a there's a lot of high performers who are women. But it's predominantly still a male dominated industry, although change is on the way. In Semaphore, a north-western seaside suburb of Adelaide, there's probably more female agents than males.
There seems to be more middle-aged women making a career change into real estate in our region. It appears they have had a career prior to starting a family, and see real estate as a new challenge. However, some are finding that it’s a bigger career change than they expected. There are younger male agents entering the Adelaide market, just not in Semaphore.
If you want to be successful in real estate, any work-life balance generally goes out the window. That said, it doesn’t feel like work because I love listing and selling real estate. There are a lot of different elements to real estate success. It’s about networking, being available around the clock and meeting as many people as possible. There are also the local organisations and activities that we support to ensure we do our bit to keep the Semaphore community ticking over, and ensuring our patch is a great place to live.
If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
I wouldn’t change a thing. We live in a digital world that makes us continuously evolve as business owners anyway. Now, instead of people hoping for a reply to an email in 24 hours, the expectation is that we respond in 60 minutes.
Where do you live now, and where would you live if you could live anywhere in the world?
If I could live anywhere in the world, I would still choose Semaphore. We have a lovely coastal lifestyle, yet we are just 14 kilometres from the Adelaide CBD. There’s plenty of character homes and heritage that is unique to Semaphore. When I take a holiday, I prefer somewhere warm. Hamilton Island is nice.
What is your outlook for the Semaphore market?
We have seen a strong increase in enquiries now that the footy finals and the long weekend is behind us. That said, we've had a pretty consistent year – we don't really experience market lulls.
At the same time, we’ve seen a spike in in stock levels since the grand final weekend. Because of the balance between supply and demand, we have a very strong market. Basically, from now until Easter, we'll have a pretty strong market and a strong auction market as well.
We always stay open and available over Christmas, because we find it's a busy period. Most people are visiting from interstate, or have plenty of time on their hands, and they want to see a property.
For further media information contact:
Kate Smith, Principal Raine & Horne Semaphore on 0419 183 371