REAL help for the city’s sellers and buyers
by Neil Jenman
READING TIME: 8 mins apx
If you want to sell a home in Melbourne now, don’t despair. There is good news for you. At least one real estate agent is creating a boom in the gloom.
The agent is Jim Grigoriou. With 39 years experience, Jim is the proud owner of one of the longest-established agencies in Australia, TG Newton which opened in 1875.
If you want to check the worth of any agent, ask their clients, or see their Google reviews (not ‘Rate My Agent’ where thousands of unhappy owners are unable to leave comments).
Most importantly, ask this question: “If I give you my home to sell and, for whatever reason, it does not sell, how much money do I lose?”
With most agents, the answer is: “If your home doesn’t sell, you lose thousands of dollars.”
With TG Newton, the answer is: “You pay nothing until your home is sold and you are happy.”
That’s a powerful commitment that most agents don’t have the character or the business sense to offer home sellers.
It’s hard to find clients as happy as those who’ve dealt with Newtons.
Especially during the ‘STATE OF DISASTER’ where the people in Melbourne are suffering under the harshest lock-down conditions in the world.
For six weeks from August 2 until September 13, if you live in Melbourne, then, with few exceptions, you MUST STAY HOME. A curfew prohibits citizens from being outdoors from eight at night until five in the morning.
Thousands of businesses have closed for the duration. Heartbreakingly, many will struggle to re-open. The financial damage is tipped to be as bad, if not worse, than the Great Depression more than 90 years ago.
TG Newton Real Estate traded through the 1930s Depression. They even traded through the great Melbourne property boom from 1883 to 1889 followed by the crash in the 1890s when property prices fell more than 50 per cent. A hundred years later, in late 1980 and the early 1990s, they traded with interest rates near 20 per cent. They traded through the GFC more than ten years ago.
And now they are trading in the 2020 pandemic. Not only are they trading, they are achieving results more akin to boom times than the gloom that’s struck what many regard as Australia’s best city.
It’s fair to label TG Newton a “SURVIVOR”.
But never in their 145-year history has TG Newton faced anything like today’s conditions. Never have they been “ordered” by law to stay home. Never have they been forbidden from going to their office, never have they been banned from showing houses to buyers. They can’t even visit owners in homes that need to be sold.
From the start of August to the middle of September – and maybe even longer – Lock-down means shut-down for Melbourne’s agents.
Many agents have placed notices on their web sites such as:
“Our office is closed during the declared 6 week state of disaster
and will reopen on Monday, 14th September 2020.”
Except Jim Grigoriou and his team at TG Newton.
In August they have listed and sold a near-record number of properties.
One team member, Scott Kim, has personally listed 17 properties and sold five homes. And he’s just getting warmed up. He expects to hit double-figure sales results in September.
On his desk, Jim Grigoriou has a plaque with some powerful words. These words have helped him become one of the country’s best agents.
Right now, in winter and early spring 2020, these words have also saved TG Newton from the income drought ravaging many real estate offices.
The plaque reads: “There is a SOLUTION for every problem. All it takes is someone with the INTELLIGENCE to find it and the COURAGE to pursue it.”
These words are now helping many sellers and buyers who are contacting TG Newton during the lockdown period.
So, what’s the secret?
Jim Grigoriou, and his partner, Kathy Richer, have the qualities on the plaque that adorns his desk: INTELLIGENCE to find solutions and COURAGE to follow the solutions.
They are also fanatical about everything being legal as well as ethical. They are abiding by the current lockdown laws.
Unlike the real estate agent who rode a motorbike from Victoria to Queensland and breached quarantine conditions and put a whole state in danger. This man then yelled four-letter words at a camera. He broke moral laws and legal laws.
That’s not Jim Grigoriou’s style. He obeys the law. Strictly. Diligently. Completely. As he said last week, “Nothing is more important than the safety of people.” Even his competitors grudgingly admire Jim for his caring nature.
When it came to clients, Jim felt uncomfortable closing his office for six weeks. Sure, the virus crisis is frightening, but some people still need to buy and sell homes.
“Kathy and I just didn’t feel right turning our backs on our existing customers, nor slamming the door on new customers,” he said.
Some people really need to sell, no matter what. Some home sellers were near begging Jim and Kathy for a solution to sell their homes – and without slashing the price.
So, they found a solution.
As directors of the business, they know they must ‘direct’ what happens. Walking away, going home, and hanging out the ‘CLOSED’ sign was the easy way.
The hard way was to figure out how to serve sellers and buyers who still need to sell and buy.
They have certainly succeeded – on what is shaping up to be a massive scale.
And now, homeowners across Melbourne are selling their homes with this one agent.
So, how is one man able to do what no other agent seems to be doing?
And how is one young man able to list and sell more homes in this lockdown month than ever sold in his mere two-and-a-half short years in real estate?
The answer can be found in one word: LEADERSHIP.
Years ago, Jim Grigoriou was fed up with typical real estate ways. The selfishness of common real estate systems, the greed of salespeople who focus on a sale at any price instead of the right price for the owners.
Worse, Jim couldn’t believe how salespeople are trained. “Most real estate training focuses on what’s best for agents,” Jim said, “whereas we focus on what’s best for the sellers and buyers.”
Jim trains his team to think: CLIENT FIRST, AGENT SECOND.
For example, Jim Grigoriou gave up auctions years ago when he realised how badly so many homes were being short-sold. And despite his former boss saying, “That’s the way the system works,” Jim changed the system.
No auctions, no upfront advertising money, highly trained salespeople with a can-do attitude and an obsession to take care of clients. That’s the Jim Grigoriou formula.
This ‘can-do’ attitude now permeates TG Newton. Thanks to the ideas put forth by Jim and Kathy, salespeople such as Scott can offer service that few agents can match.
“It’s not a hard sell to say to home-owners: Give me your home to sell and I guarantee you the best price and you won’t pay a cent unless we do what we promise,” Jim said.
In addition to listing and selling a record number of homes during the lockdown period, what’s more impressive about TG Newton is the sale prices they are getting.
“We refuse to use the COVID crisis to bully sellers into lowering prices,” Jim said. “This pandemic is temporary but dropping prices is permanent.” True to his word, Jim’s salesperson, Scott, recently listed a home that had been for sale with other agents who couldn’t sell it. All the agents told the owner the price was too high.
But what did TG Newton do? They increased the price. From $1.6 million to over $2 million.
“These people were almost giving their home away,” said Scott Kim. It was being sold well below replacement cost. Scott loved the home and couldn’t understand why it hadn’t sold fast.
As Jim Grigoriou has trained his team, “Selling is a transference of enthusiasm.”
If salespeople don’t love a home, how can buyers love it? Jim teaches his people that happiness is more important to buyers than money. “When buyers find a home they love, they pay a great price,” he says.
With so many agents now closed, more buyers are coming to TG Newton. Not in person because that’s against the law.
Everything is being done the way Jim Grigoriou and Kathy Richer have directed: Scott and other team members work from home. They use phones. They are using video conferencing. They show owners how to photograph and video their own homes. They are sending documents and agreements by email. They are showing buyers “through” homes on video.
And now, as the pandemic continues, Jim has designed a method of negotiating a sale where buyers can buy safely on video. In essence, sellers will warrant to buyers that the home they see on video will be the same or better than in reality. If not, subject to contractual conditions, the sale can be cancelled.
“Years ago, I discovered one of the most powerful things to offer your sellers and buyers – a GUARANTEE.
With sellers, we guarantee no charges until sold.
And now, with buyers, we have designed a guarantee to give buyers peace of mind.”
It seems to be working. With so many real estate offices closed and with word spreading about this one office making boom time sales in these gloom times, it’s a story worth telling.
And for sellers who think their homes are too far from the TG Newton office, don’t worry.
Jim and his team at TG Newton now cover most of Melbourne.
And, just as they did with the home whose price they increased, they are proving something else: Many local agents are price prejudiced; they do not appreciate their areas.
This week, Scott listed a home way out at Sunbury, nearly an hour from his office. A local agent quoted the owners $480,000. Scott was astonished. He feels the home should sell nearer $600,000. He might be wrong, but he will try hard to get what he feels the home is worth.
For many years, TG Newton has been delighting sellers and annoying local area agents by selling homes in “far away” areas for better prices than local agents quoted.
TG Newton recently sold a home in Mooroolbark, almost 45 minutes from their office. Local agents said the home was worth $650,000 – maximum $700,000. Another agent tried hard but failed to sell it. She had the integrity, however, to admit that, due to the coronavirus, the mood in her office was not good. She agreed to hand over to TG Newton. It was sold a few weeks later for the astonishing figure of $740,000.
When asked at a conference how far his team members will travel around Melbourne to sell a home, Jim Grigoriou once told the admiring audience, “A tank of petrol.”
In all my years in real estate, I have seldom been as impressed with a real estate leader and his team as I am with Jim Grigoriou and Kathy Richer and their team at TG Newton.
If this article sounds like something of a commercial, that’s good. I should have released it earlier. So many sellers in Melbourne are frustrated with agents.
If other agents had half the character of Jim Grigoriou and if they focused on hiring and training good people to use methods that delight clients, they too would be having a boom in a gloom.
FOOTNOTE: Exactly one week before the State of Disaster Lockdown, a young lady called Megan Sprunt started her career with TG Newton. Not yet 20, Megan had always wanted to work in real estate. She comes from a family where honesty, respect and decency are highly valued. But friends who had worked in real estate said she would not be suited to the “toxic” ways rife in the real estate world. She realised that “agents have a reputation of doing the most appalling things”.
Then she saw an ad for a career at TG Newton. “I loved everything I heard,” said Megan. “Everything felt like it was meant to be”.
What a challenge, however, to start a real estate career a week before the toughest time in Melbourne.
Megan’s role is to help Scott find homes for sale. In August, of the 17 homes Scott listed, eight are from the efforts of Megan Sprunt. Enthusiasm and hard work beat those experienced agents who are home on their sofa. Way to go, Megan. We are proud of you.
For agents who may be thinking of approaching Megan and offering her a job, don’t bother. Unlike typical agents, Megan is smart and decent. There is no way this beautiful young lady will ever cross to the dark side of real estate. If she continues her current trajectory, Megan Sprunt will be one of the best real estate people in the country. “Best” meaning placing the interests of the clients ahead of the interests of the agent. Just as Jim Grigoriou has taught all his staff over many years.
DISCLOSURE from Neil Jenman: Jim Grigoriou is my friend. I have known him 28 years. I have never written a public article about him before now. I should have done so because any home seller in Melbourne who contacts Jim Grigoriou will get three advantages denied to most sellers: They will be treated ethically. They will pay no money until their homes are sold. And, finally, they will get a better price than with most agents. GUARANTEED.
PLEASE NOTE: Our focus is upon helping consumers. Abuse from agents on our web site or Facebook page will be deleted, ignored or well publicised – it depends on our mood.
But one thing will never vary: We will never stop doing what we love most – helping polite and honest consumers get the best deal possible in real estate. And, of course, if any agents are serious about taking care of consumers, we’ll help you too. Thank you.