Michael Gibson is of Kay & Burton and has worked within the real estate industry for nearly 40 years. Real estate is one of those industries where you can find people who boast many years of experience. It is always rewarding and insightful to speak with those who have accrued so much knowledge and experience, which can be passed on to both current and future real estate agents. We had a chat with Michael and asked him about his work and background and what it’s like to sell homes in one of Melbourne’s most sought-after pockets.
How did you get started in the industry?
It was a while ago! I was having a gap year before gap years were invented. My brother actually got me an interview at Kay & Burton and I ended up, fortuitously, taking the job and I won’t say the rest is history but it’s been a great journey.
Was this all in Melbourne?
Yes, all in Melbourne. I started, like a lot of people, in property management and then did a little bit of commercial leasing and then the last 30 years principally in the premium housing market.
Have things changed much since your brother got you that first interview?
You’d have to say the technology, in terms of digital technologies and the internet, has been the most significant change. But what has stayed the same is the fact that it is a relationship-based industry, it’s something that just works well in the industry. If you look after and serve people well, they’ll continue to come back to you. It’s pretty simple.
What do you think is the biggest challenge when working in the real estate industry?
I think the greatest challenge for people coming into the industry is the loss of weekend time. When a lot of people are enjoying their Saturdays, we’re working. So, I think people who have drive and ambition and who are prepared to make sacrifices, because that is a pretty big sacrifice in itself, usually do pretty well.
Do you have a philosophy you try to live by?
Personally, and one I try to convey to my kids, is the pursuit of health and happiness. From a work perspective, I say to my staff that if you’re on time in our business then you’re ten minutes late. I think people get it. I think what you’ve got to understand is that you’re dealing with, in the main, the greatest asset that people are going to own and you have to treat it accordingly. It’s hard to find the right word but I guess you just can’t compromise. You can’t compromise in terms of what standards are being expected of you and what clients are asking you to do. Another philosophy I would mention would be to definitely not take on too much as an agent and as an agency. Individually, don’t take on ten or fifteen properties at the one time if that is going to affect the value you can provide. You just can’t do justice to the vendor.
Do you think vendors have different expectations of agents today than in previous years?
Yeah, I would say in terms of tech – how it is used and its potential in the industry – you have to have it at your disposal either as an individual or as a team and you need to be able to provide that expertise to your clients.
How do you think Kay & Burton is different from other agencies?
I guess our business model is that we are vendor’s agents, so service to the vendor is paramount. As a result, we don’t take on too much and what goes with that is great service.
Following the property market’s peak in recent years and subsequent cooling, are you currently seeing an increase in buyer interest in your areas?
In terms of Toorak and South Yarra there are always homes that are so incredible that you don’t have to worry too much about market conditions. It’s clear that when you get a property such as one we have recently listed on the market, 9 Yar Orrong Road in Toorak, interest levels are solid regardless of the economic climate. With that home, we have a fabulously designed house that has been in the one family for nearly a quarter of a century, which is a testament to the quality of the property, and it’s a generational home. So, we expect to find a buyer that will own it for another 25 years.
In terms of the market, yes it’s clear that the bottom has come and gone and I think there is a nice base in the market again. The Royal Commission into financial services was definitely the biggest issue in recent times for many home buyers, and walking into the bank and borrowing money has become more difficult for some. So changes like those that APRA recently made to loosen home lending rules, and anything like that which can help buyers is welcomed and certainly on the minds of buyers at the moment. One thing I would say is that it wouldn’t surprise me to see an increase in international investment and activity in the near future from markets in Asia, especially from places like Hong Kong.
Keen to check out 9 Yar Orrong Road in Toorak? We can’t blame you. There are inspections for this luxurious 6-bedroom home scheduled across August.