Time is money. To be successful in real estate you need to be time effective. I have got much better at this, the longer I have been in the business. For example now I mainly work with referrals rather than having to find new business which is time consuming in itself and building trust over time. My 25 years experience now speaks for itself. So you know the saying “if it takes me 10 minutes to do something that I am paid thousands of dollars for then maybe it’s years of experience that has enabled this time hack”. You need to qualify buyers and sellers before you work with someone to make sure that you are both on the same page with reasonable expectations also.
As a part of my series about strong women leaders of the Real Estate industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Wendy Wilkins.
Wendy brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, professionalism and financial know how to Real Estate.
Her early adult years as a policewoman in her native city, Melbourne, instilled a strong work ethic, self determination, tenacity, and the life skills which led Wendy to flourish in the business arena.
Wendy’s next career as a Realtor saw her quickly rise to become the number one realtor in Melbourne, Australia, with sales totaling over a billion dollars and many loyal, repeat clients. Wendy worked for major developers in Australia such as Mirvac and Sunland, selling projects designed by world renowned architects, including Elenberg Fraser. Wendy has built an impressive personal property portfolio herself over the years both here in Los Angeles and Australia.
Wendy then began to follow her creative endeavors along the way, very quickly rising through the field in her acting pursuits which led her via London to settle in Hollywood, Los Angeles, where she resides.
After settling in Los Angeles, Wendy rose quickly to become a top producing Realtor and continues to be highly regarded in the real estate industry here in Los Angeles today, mainly working with client referrals in the entertainment business.
With an extensive international network of associates, Wendy has the ability to bring people together from different cultures and backgrounds and loves working with international and local clients to help them achieve their goals in real estate.
Wendy specialize in the representation of residential properties in the Hollywood Hills, West Hollywood, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and West Los Angeles neighborhoods. Through her network and her international connections,
Wendy has access to over 70,000 agents throughout the USA and abroad to assist with real estate needs and is excited to have recently joined Exp Realty, the fastest growing cloud based real estate public company in the world. It gives her low overheads, the latest technology, she is building her EXP shares portfolio and is helping other agents to build revenue share.
She has over a Billion dollars in sales & every client is important.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Real Estate industry?
Yes, I never planned to go into real estate. I joined the police force at nineteen years old and after five years on the job realized it was time to change careers for various reasons including I was too young to stand up for things I saw that I didn’t believe in, I felt I wasn’t paid enough to risk my life and I felt myself getting hardened. I will say I don’t regret being a cop though as I learnt so much and 99 percent of the cops I worked with were and are great trustworthy people that wanted to help make the world a better place and like myself, joined with a vision to help and protect people.
I was discovering what I was going to do next and so I just (in those days) looked at all the newspaper ads for jobs and found one that appealed to me, a job in radio advertising. I applied and got the job! It was there that I met my first mentor in real estate, Phil Mollard, who was one of the youngest most successful life insurance sales people and then he diversified into property developing.
I will never forget going to his office and beginning to do my sales spiel. He began laughing out loud. I was kind of offended at first and asked him “What are you laughing at?” He explained that I reminded him of himself when he was younger and then he offered me a job selling his properties. At first I was not interested at all but he convinced me to work weekends , to “try it out” and offered to mentor me.
Well after a short time I was hooked because he helped teach me how to build wealth through property and also to help others to do the same. It was exciting. My day involved appointments with top CEO”s in their field and then showing them how they could invest in real estate and how it could work for them while they were sleeping and how they could use tax deductions etc to help pay for it. It was quite amazing to me that these huge decision makers in their particular fields did not know this simple math. I didn’t know either about leveraging and negative gearing and neutral gearing until Phil taught me.
I did however buy my first property before I met him because I did know enough that real estate is a good investment if you make sure you are not too highly geared!
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
Well I was working for a major developer in a time when people were actually lining up overnight to buy into the project we were selling as it was waterfront property less than 15 minutes from the city.
One crazy night I sold fifty properties in one night! It was like a production line, as if we were selling a new release Nike sneaker, not million dollar properties. One of my clients came to see me the next day and said “Wendy can you show me what I bought?” I was kind of shocked she bought without really knowing that herself but this was her third purchase I had represented her on and when I asked her why she did this she explained that it was an investment and that she trusted it would be good.
It’s really wonderful to have clients that place that much trust in you but at the end of the day they are the decision maker so I spent a bit of time making sure she was happy and thoroughly explaining what she had purchased. By the way it was a great investment.
I have another story. After selling a multi million dollar property to a client he took me out for dinner and then said “I’ve fallen in love with you” I was flattered but I jokingly said “I hope you didn’t spend millions of dollars because of that, which of course I was 99 percent sure he didn’t but he did not answer me, just smiled!
I thought of another story… which is the lesson… I was working at a display suite and an older gentleman walked in wearing a cheap material old tracksuit. The other Realtor working with me that day I noticed was purposely avoiding him. I went over to this man and asked if I could help him? To cut a long story short he bought one of the more expensive properties in this luxury high rise building that was for sale. We ended up becoming friends and he had the most interesting stories. He lived in a tiny little apartment that was filled with expensive artwork and he told me when he took me to a famous restaurant called Lynch’s in South Yarra for lunch, his regular spot (he was friends with the owner too) that when he was younger he had been married to a top international model and she was a beautiful woman on the inside also. He was so heart broken by the marriage break up that he did not want to move from this tiny apartment for the last fifty years in case she came back. He decided that day when he walked into the display suite that maybe it was time for a change and that I had helped him get a new lease of life. One of his fun stories was that he and his friends flew to lake Como every year and landed on the water in their seaplane as they were all pilots in the war also. He attended the Australian Open tennis every year as he was a huge fan and he told me that he met Steffi Graf a couple of years ago (he was in his 70’s at the time) and said he told Steffi that he was in love with her and that he wanted to marry her and she replied jokingly “Get in line”. I thought that was hilarious on Steffi’s part. So the lesson is do not prejudge anyone and you might end up with a great sale and a fun wise old friend too!
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Well I am excited that I joined EXP and letting agents that I like and respect know all about EXP too why I changed agencies because I want to “pay it forward” as it has been done to me. I think the days of a bricks and mortar real estate office are numbered and I never thought that would be the case. If you are paying a lot of money just to have the “privilege of going into a fancy office” you might want to do the math on whether you really need to pay out that much of your income.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Well It’s a public company and the person who started it, Glenn Sanford really has a mission for every agent to win. He took what he thought was missing in the previous organization he worked in, which has great positives also and improved on the model so that it would help individual agents more. In general people don’t realize that Realtors can have good years and bad and it often has nothing to do with how hard they work but generally they still have a lot of overheads to pay, especially if you are the broker with the office. And generally once you have sold a property it’s done and there is no residual income , so basically you are forever hustling so to speak, looking for new business etc. What is wonderful about Exp is it gives you another revenue stream. If you are having a low cash flow couple of months for example with your shares and revenue share it could help pay your monthly outgoings and build up from all your hard work a residual income stream. Also it’s a “people business” and this is not about smoke and mirrors, it’s a very transparent business as far as potential earnings etc and it’s set up that each individual agent is a business owner, whereas with a lot of real estate agencies it’s always putting part of your income into the brokers pocket regardless of the support and building their brand instead of yours.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I think the story about my mentor Phil Moilard mentioned previously, I really have to thank him. Then Kevin Hunt was the CEO of Mirvac when I joined. He is known as a bit of a Cowboy. He was not threatened at all to be surrounded by really successful women, the more successful the better.
Chuck Keller in the more recent years. I was having a year where I almost gave up real estate not so long ago. I was doing the work but not getting results and dealing with some really difficult clients that I did not want to work with to be frank. I almost gave up real estate and Chuck talked me off the ledge so to speak. He said to me “You are doing all the right things and you will turn the corner any minute.” Within a week suddenly things turned around and I was on track. It was a really good lesson though that if you do the work you WILL get the results eventually, so hang in there. It is the one thing about real estate, unlike any other business I know that you truly do get back what you put in. All the work does pay off. Incidentally Chuck is also the main reason I made the move to EXP and am very grateful he persevered with checking in with me and finally I made the move less than a year ago.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. The Real Estate industry, like the Veterinarian, Nursing and Public Relations fields, is a women dominated industry. Yet despite this, less than 20 percent of senior positions in Real Estate companies are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what do you think is the cause of this imbalance?
Well I think a number of women leave the work force to concentrate on raising a family and the same occurs in real estate and then re entering the workforce they are always playing catch up.
What 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and/or c) society to support greater gender balance going forward?
Well I think companies could concentrate on not promoting someone just because they have been there for a long time, but look at a combination of factors for promotion. If a woman has been raising a family and running a household it could bring some valuable assets along with the real estate experience.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts? Well one of them I mentioned is playing catch up if they take time out to start/ raise a family. I also think most successful men in any industry have a partner that fully supports them behind the scenes. Running their private lives and supporting all that comes with this, whereas this is less the norm for women.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Real Estate industry?
As mentioned I believe it is one of the few industries that what you put in you will get out. I also think it doesn’t matter what your education is , your background, gender, you can rise up and become successful in a relatively short amount of time. You can learn on the job with experienced mentors.
With new companies like EXP, a cloud based real estate business, it gives so much more flexibility and potential earnings for the Realtor and opportunities to build a long term sustainable career and business that gives you residuals.
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry?
1. I think there should be more training and checking in for new real estate agents because I have seen some newbies that have been left to their own devices and representing things that are far from fact. It should be harder to get your license , for example a probationary period where you are mentored.
2. I also think if an agent takes a listing they need to be more responsible to potential buyers and their agents. I have been to several listings recently that are on supra keys which means the agent puts a supra lock on that buyers agents can use to gain access and show without the listing agent attending. If the listing agent doesn’t even answer the phone sometimes when there are relevant questions that need answering and in fact sometimes in the notes it even says Do not contact the agent just submit the offer! This is absolutely no service and really just an order taker and not necessarily doing the best by the seller. The seller hardly ever finds out because the property is still sold etc but they may have got a better deal or smoother escrow if the listing agent actually spoke to the buyers agent.
3. I had an experience recently where a sleazy agent that had very little experience ( 2 transactions in four years) attempted to steal my clients that I had been working with closely for over three years happily. If a buyer tells an agent they are working with an agent then the agent as part of real estate ethics is not supposed to pursue that person. My buyers certainly did not want to be represented by him but this agent misrepresented himself purporting himself to be working with the listing agent and then sued for some of the buyers commission. His office supported this and he actually won, despite my clients being adamant and there being evidence that they did not want to be represented by him and that this agent had less than twenty minutes engagement with my buyers through the whole process. He opened the door for them at an open house and somehow he was able to actually get part of the commission. This is a detriment to the industry. This is unacceptable and this agent should not even be in the business but somehow he was even rewarded for his actions. My buyers are still very upset about this and disappointed in the real estate industry as a whole that this behavior was rewarded.
If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?
- A minimum amount of transactions per year to keep your license. This means that there will be more mentorship and will ensure that there is enough experience behind the licensed agents. And if you have two successful lawsuits against you in one year you cannot practice real estate for a period of time and you must be mentored by a reputable agent for a time. A new agent must have a probation period and work with more experienced agents for a longer period.
- There should be more checking on advertising for false advertising, I have seen Realtor signs and advertising that say things like “your local realtor expert ” and they are not local, and haven’t sold more than 1 or 2 properties in the area and a Realtor saying he is the No1 Realtor in an area and I know for a fact he is not.
- An agent must attend a showing if he /she is the listing agent and it has been requested by the buyers agent even if there is a Supra box. Also this Supra Box system is great when it works but this technology is flawed so there should also be a back up way if it’s not working to view the property.
What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive?
I have been amazed over the years at how some leaders would rather continue to replace and recruit new people at the expense of letting go of good employees/ sales people. Keep good support staff by rewarding them with bonuses and higher wages and not overworking them as the years go on. Instead of letting them go for a few dollars saving initially, and in the long run costing more by the training of new staff and the disruption.
Also give support to Realtors that are doing well to help grow their business more, perhaps match them with a good trainee who can do some of the “grunt work” while learning from an experienced agent.
Ok, here is the main question of our interview. You are a “Real Estate Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non intuitive things one should know to succeed in the Real Estate industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?
- Time is money. To be successful in real estate you need to be time effective. I have got much better at this, the longer I have been in the business. For example now I mainly work with referrals rather than having to find new business which is time consuming in itself and building trust over time. My 25 years experience now speaks for itself. So you know the saying “if it takes me 10 minutes to do something that I am paid thousands of dollars for then maybe it’s years of experience that has enabled this time hack”. You need to qualify buyers and sellers before you work with someone to make sure that you are both on the same page with reasonable expectations also.
There is no point showing someone 10 properties if they are not in a position to buy, that is that they are prequalified with a lender for example and then also make sure you show the buyers within the range and specifics of what they are looking for or you will be spinning your wheels. If you are wasting the clients time also that is not good for your business either. Make sure your client has realistic expectations for what they can achieve in the price range for example.
2. Work for a reputable company/ person. Ensure you have the same overall ideals. This is self explanatory. You want to sleep well at night. There are some agents that get pleasure out of selling homes from under people and that has never sat well with me. I know a Realtor like this. (And of course won’t mention the name because that’s another lesson, never talk badly about another Realtor, even if it’s fact, it’s just not good business to do this.) Make sure you choose careful who you learn from and who you partner up with because you may learn bad habits. A Realtor who might sell a lot of property but get sued all the time is not the best Mentor.
3. Know that it is a lot of work, especially initially but what you put in you will get out, this is what I love about real estate. When you are new don’t be entitled, offer to do “grunt work” in exchange for learning from a Mentor, it will be invaluable training.
4. Be kind. This is a relationship business and not just with your client but with other realtors also so be professional and kind. You do not need to be a shark to be successful. It takes the same amount of time to be nice and you can still win. You have to be a good negotiator and knowledge is power. The more you know about your area you are selling the better.
An example of this just recently I had a listing where an agent brought a potential buyer through and all the agent did was point out negatives and was quite rude and also not knowledgeable at all about the area or to give me a chance to let the buyers know a couple of important pieces of information that the buyers had intimated was important to them, this agent was doing a disservice to their buyers and if they did happen to put an offer in that was of equal merit to another offer I may receive I would certainly want to let my sellers know that the offer with the kind/professional and knowledgeable agent representing the buyers would be probably the better way to go. Sellers and buyers don’t even realize sometimes what a disservice their agent may be doing on their behalf.
Because of your position, you are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Well I have mentioned this a few times but this is the idea and it is real estate related. My sister passed away a year ago and she was passionate about the inhumane treatment of refugees, we had many conversations about this. Traveling through Spain with my close friend a couple of years ago, we came across a beautiful little town that was crumbling and almost deserted… so much wasted real estate. If it were up to me I would help set up all over the world, in towns like this, a refugee centre, a place for displaced people, where they can live and learn trades, basically create a whole community. Teachers, painters, plumbers, language teachers, carpenters, bankers, organic farming. People with these skills would teach these trades to displaced people and help rebuild these towns. They could end up creating a community and bringing deserted towns back to life. Building up the real estate value also. Then if, at some stage, it was safe to return to their country they could decide to stay in their new community or bring back a trade that would be useful to help rebuild their original home towns. This would help with local unemployed, housing shortages, empower people, build community and help to treat people with dignity and respect.
How can our readers follow you online?
They can message me on my website https://www.facebook.com/wendywilkinsrealestate/about/?ref=page_internal or DM me https://www.instagram.com/wendywilkinsoz/?hl=en
Thank you for your time, and your excellent insights!