By PHILIP CHANDLER
If living and breathing real estate makes you a successful agent, you couldn’t find better examples than Queenstowners Gerard Bligh and Hadley van Schaik.
The duo have worked together for New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty’s local branch for two-and-a-half years, selling more than 110 properties and being the NZ company’s top team two years running.
Christchurch-raised Bligh, 31, dreamed of selling real estate when growing up and did a degree in it, while Invercargill-raised Van Schaik’s a third-generation agent who did a double degree in law and commerce before joining Sotheby’s.
Bligh joined five years ago, landing on his feet by selling Ladies Mile land for the Queenstown Country Club retirement village for about $10 million.
However, selling by himself was very hard, he says, with no one to bounce ideas off.
“I was working crazy hours and getting unwell.
“I went on holiday and I couldn’t relax because I was thinking about work all the time.”
Teaming up with Van Schaik has made a huge difference, he says, meaning one of them will seamlessly take over when the other’s away.
Bligh: “When we teamed up we covered more ground, we could meet more vendors and sell more properties.”
There’s also “the sheer enjoyment” of working with a friend.
“We chatter away during the day and share little news stories and discuss things.”
Living and breathing real estate includes keeping track of all local sales and even knowing how many auction bidders a property attracts.
Bligh: “You have to be patient, respectful, kind, you have to listen.”
Van Schaik adds: “It’s just about building relationships with people.
“I wouldn’t say we’re typical salesmen.”
He says most of their business nowadays comes from referrals – “past clients recommending us to colleagues and friends”.
More than a quarter of their sales have been in high-priced Kelvin Heights, where Bligh lives and Van Schaik’s parents have a home.
However, they don’t just sell at the luxury end.
Van Schaik: “We sell across the board, we’ll sell from units in Goldfields right up to high-end in Dalefield.”
Their lowest-price sale was a $570,000 entry-level townhouse in Kelvin Heights and their dearest an $8m-plus property on Domain Road.
Bligh says the buzz isn’t the commissions they earn.
“It’s the thrill of matching a buyer with a seller, getting a buyer into a new home and the seller being able to move onto something else.
“The most rewarding time for us is when we can put a
Asked how they celebrate, Bligh says it’s sometimes with fudge from The Remarkable Sweet Shop – “we probably should do something more exciting”.
After lockdown, they thought they’d be quiet for weeks.
“Then, the first week out we were meeting lots of buyers and doing deals.”
Remarkably, they sold eight properties last month.
As to the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the local market, Bligh says it might be six to 12 months before they know.
But Van Schaik can’t see much changing right now with the market not flooded with listings and lots of buyers around.
Bligh pays tribute to the support they get from their office, fellow colleagues and their PA, Leah Fitzpatrick.
“The Sotheby’s brand is so well known around the world and so well respected.
“We’ve always been focused on presenting properties to the best of our ability and that goes really well with the brand.”