Agency’s ‘fairer cut’ pledge

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A new Wakatipu real estate agency promises to halve normal commission rates which they say are unfair due to spiraling property prices.

Trilogy Real Estate, owned by returning Queenstowers Lesley and Michael Morel, launches today.

The couple, who’ve spent the past seven years selling for Harcourts on Auckland’s North Shore, are charging their vendors only one-and-a-half per cent commission, plus GST.

“That’s around half the price of traditional real estate companies,” says Michael, who notes low-commission-fee companies are becoming a worldwide trend.

Given local property’s roughly doubled in price over the past 10 years, commission rates have increased about 70 per cent, due to the sliding scale, he calculates.

That’s unfair, Michael says, considering agents aren’t working any harder for their commissions.

He and Lesley have named their company Trilogy as they adopt three steps which they believe, if all are implemented, enable vendors to achieve the highest possible price.

The first is property presentation.

Lesley, who manages this process, uses experienced Queenstown home-staging company Peak Interiors to “declutter, refresh and dress” vendors’ homes.

The second step is marketing.

Michael says they differ from most agencies by putting people in marketing photos to appeal to buyers’ “emotional connection”.

“If they’ve got a nice backyard there’ll be kids playing cricket, for example.”

The third plank is ‘expert negotiation skills’. Lesley’s sold more than $90 million worth of property since 2012.

In addition to his real estate career, Michael’s managed a high-end building company and in 2007 co-developed Queenstown’s Highview Apartments which he says increased the Southern Lakes district’s median property values at the time.

“I use my construction background, too, in terms of presentation of a property.

“Quite often there’s maintenance work that needs to be done, and we’ve put together a team of tradesmen, gardeners, cleaners, etc.”

The Morels say they also differ from most agencies in allowing other agents to bring in buyers from the start.

Michael: “Traditionally, what happens if you’re running an auction or deadline sale, you wait until you can’t sell the property then, after four to six weeks, you’ll go to other companies and say, ‘hey, you can bring your buyers through’, but we’re doing that from day one.

“The seller’s employed us to get the best price so why put up barriers that exclude buyers?”

Asked whether a small agency doesn’t suffer by not having the buyer database that large agencies do, Michael says more than 80 per cent of prospective buyers search properties online via Trade Me and realestate.co.nz.

“In the industry, we say they ‘follow the listing’.”

The couple, who are running their agency from home to save overheads, intend employing, at most, four other agents who’ll each specialise in a different local area, be it Jack’s Point, central Queenstown or Fernhill. Any more, they say, and “what we found is most of the time you’re competing against other agents in the same company”.

For auctions they’ll bring in top Auckland auctioneer Mark Sumich, who’s called more than 12,000 auctions.

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