Stewie Martin of Smart Real Estate – Casuarina ended 2022 on a high, taking out the number one spot in our Top 20 Digital Agents of 2022 report.
We sat down with Stewie to find out his best tips for succeeding with Openn, including his advice for agents looking to grow in 2023.
1. How did it feel to take out Openn’s #1 Digital Agent for 2022?
That was a big surprise, it was really lovely. I've never been big on industry awards, but that was really nice. There were some other great agents in there as well, who are clearly doing well. I just think it’s great that people have adopted this new method of sale, because at the end of the day it’s not about us, it’s about getting great results for our client and helping buyers secure quality properties.
2. What was your first experience with Openn like?
The first property I sold through Openn was one that had quite a long days on market, which is unusual for me. It was a private treaty sale that had been potentially overpriced from the start. There had been a few recent sales around it while it was on the market, that were well below that price. So, it was very much put out to pasture and I thought I’ve got nothing to lose, let’s flip this into an Openn Negotiation. It ended up going really well and selling for well above the reserve. So that really opened my eyes to some of the benefits of Openn Negotiation.
3. You had 1175 Observers on your properties in 2022 – how did that help with vendor lead generation?
If you're looking for people to call, that observer list on Openn is great. It’s obviously people in real estate mode and it’s even stronger than getting enquiry from REA. If you know you’re on track for a good result, it’s worth getting some potential vendors to observe. It's pretty easy to list after that.
4. What are you saying at appraisals to improve your chances of winning the listing?
I usually talk about the three different methods of sale – private treaty, auction and Openn. From there you start to get a sense for what the vendor wants to do. Definitely walking through an Openn bidding timeline and explaining the process of how you achieved a recent result can be quite powerful. It's really tangible, rather than just talking about “Hey I just sold this property for this result”. By actually walking them through the timeline, it is evidence that this is what happened with the campaign, you can see when the reserve was met and then the further bids.
Also letting them know as vendors you get instantly notified if and when there's been a new bid around your property. You can see it in real time. That’s really powerful for vendors, having that sense of control and transparency around their sale, and not waiting for an update from the agent. With the old school way of real estate, vendors would wonder if the agent telling the truth of what the buyers are saying or where the offers are coming in at. With Openn its right there, it’s transparent.
5. How do you explain Openn to buyers?
Some of my dialogue is just to say: “It is a well-known method of sale around Australia. There has now been 1000’s of transactions Australia-wide. Even though for you it might feel like a new method of sale, this company has been around for years and all of the States have had a lot of transactions in them.” Certainly, I think that brings confidence to use it.
Talking about the transparency is also something I always harp on about. I’ll say: “Once you're an approved buyer you can see the bids as they happen, the vendor can see the bids and myself as the agent can see the bids. Unlike private treaty, where sadly there can be smoke and mirrors, or you can miss out on buying the property you could have paid more for, but the agent didn’t ring you (or they did and they didn’t get through to you). It's far from an ideal method of sale. With the Openn method you have that transparency, once you’re an approved bidder you can’t miss out on buying the property, especially if it's transacting at a price where you see value.”
6. Has offering buyers more transparency helped generate new seller leads?
There has been quite a few clients in the past few months that have said “Hey that was a really good buying experience, once we settle is it ok if you come around and appraise our property?.”
Even if the buyer pays a really strong price, one that’s above the reserve and the vendors are really happy with, it’s been done in a transparent fashion. The buyer has made the decision to place that bid because they saw value at that level. There's not that feeling that maybe they have been pushed into paying a price that later they feel uncomfortable with. So that transparency is one of the best things about Openn.
7. How has using Openn impacted your listing volume?
If you're looking to do a higher volume of sales, it’s definitely easier having the Openn platform to enable that. Trying to do 3 or 4 onsite auctions during the week is full on and you’re literally fried. You don’t have any time to prospect, very little time to create new business. Because Openn Negotiation is really process driven, it’s much better for time management.
I was actually running back-to-back final bidding stages. I was putting 45-60mins between them and doing them one after the other. As an agent, you're in the zone – you’ve just conducted one, you can close that deal and have 15-20 mins to decompress and then set up and go for the next one.
So if you’re doing one Openn every night of the week, it's not all-consuming like it can be with an onsite auction. Don’t get me wrong I love an onsite auction, particularly with unique properties, it’s a lot of fun – there’s that showmanship. But certainly, if you're trying to do volume, I think Openn’s a great tool for that.
8. What advice do you have for agents looking to grow in 2023?
The tip for 2023 is not letting the external market factors affect your business. Don’t get too caught up in the media articles or whether the market has dropped 3%, so that means you’re going to have a bad month. Just focus on you and your energy. I’ve always believed the market is right between your ears.
It’s also a great time to get market share, so just do what you’ve been doing. I think it's time to service buyers better, it was very transactional the last few years with buyers piling into properties. So it’s a great time to spend more time building deeper relationships with buyers and definitely vendor management is going to be key this year as well.
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