Elite AgentFeature Interviews

Adapt or die: Peter Clements

It’s not every day you’re named the top residential salesperson in Australia. It’s even less often you receive this honour alongside your office winning small residential agency of the year.

Peter Clements received both these awards at the 2018 REIA Awards, an honour he wasn’t able to ignore, even if he had wanted to.

“The double whammy was incredible. I got a call from Tom Panos the next morning and he said, ‘Peter you do understand that no one ever wins these two next to each other, so you’ve really got to understand that you’ve done something quite special.’” says Peter.

If Tom Panos is impressed you know you’re doing something right, and that something is Mint Real Estate in the western suburbs of Perth, which Peter opened five years ago after nine years in the industry.

“I worked in a few different agencies before I started up Mint, and that’s where I got different perspectives on how different agencies around Perth work,” says Peter.

“It was good to see all the different components of real estate and what makes a bad real estate agency and what makes a good real estate agency.”

SUCCESS IN A TOUGH MARKET

Anyone can tell you that Perth is a complex market. Peter says it’s been ten years since there was security there.

“We had a couple of glimmers in the area I work in, I’m in the western suburbs of Perth, which is a good part of Perth. It had a bit of recovery towards the end of last year, but now it’s in a dip again. It’s a very volatile market” he says.

When Peter came into the industry Perth was in a boom, with the mining industry driving prices through the roof. When that all came crashing down post-GFC, Peter says it was the ability to adapt which kept good agents in the game.

“The good thing about looking nationally is while one market might be going down, another market might be going up, but if you’re able to get the understanding of what’s happening in the other market, you can be ready to pivot at any time when your market changes,” he says.

CHANGING MARKETS

“A change of market is an incredibly scary thing for an agent that doesn’t know how to deal with mean buyers,” says Peter.

“In a hot market your buyers beg you to see every property that comes up and if you’ve got anything off market they’re begging you, and they’re so nice to you.

“When the market changes, buyers turn into a totally different beast. They’re all of a sudden seeing more stock levels, properties aren’t selling in the same amount of time, and they’re mean to agents. They don’t want to talk to us at all,” he says.

Agents need to understand that pricing is the main thing that stops a property from selling. When the market is booming, buyers are less likely to check pricing, because they’re so keen to get onto the ladder. When that market slows, or worse stops entirely, buyers become tougher, and pricing is suddenly all the more important.

Peter says agents need to stop making excuses when they’re having the tough conversations with sellers.

“It’s very easy on a Saturday, when not many buyers come through a house, for an agent to say oh there wasn’t any buyers today because of the weather, or because the football or because everyone’s watching the Commonwealth Games, it’s got nothing to do with that, it all comes down to have you got the price right, is the property presented well.”

“Certainly for agents who are new in the industry and not used to buyers being tough, you need to learn how to actually sell and engage buyers into a property and not let them walk out the door. If they walk out the door they’ll find a reason not to buy,” he says.

AWARD WINNING SERVICE

When he was preparing for the REIA awards, Peter only wrote down a couple of words, because he didn’t think he had a chance against the “incredible competition”.

“I’m still so proud and honoured to have got it. It really comes down to my team and my clients. They make me look good I think,” he says.

A focus on team and clients is something very important to Peter. In the small residential agency category, a big focus is placed on innovation, and the service provided to clients, which is two of the areas Mint Real Estate excels in.

Innovation comes into the agency via the adoption of new technology, including online auction platform Openn Negotiation. The platform allows buyers to register interest, and bids, from day one of the selling campaign. It provides full transparency for the process, as all bids are public. The buyer is also able to choose their own terms and conditions.

“It also allows buyers from anywhere in the world to be able to participate, and also takes a lot of pressure off the buyers which allows them to be much more fluid,” says Peter.

FAIL OFTEN

Naturally, being quick to adopt new processes and procedures can result in failure. It’s an unfortunate byproduct of wanting to stay on top of a changing market. But it isn’t something Peter is worried about.

“The way our business has developed is making sure we continually set bigger and bolder goals every year, and not be afraid to fail. I think that’s been a big part of my success personally, because I’m not scared of having a go at things, he says.

“I think a lot of agents out there have adopted ways and aren’t able to be a little bit nimble. To be nimble you’ve got to be prepared to fall over, and we’ve done that a lot. I’ve made more mistakes than anyone and that’s allowed me to learn from those.”

THE IMPORTANCE OF TRAINING

One of the things which Peter believes sets him and his agency apart is the reliance on training. You can’t adopt, or properly utilise, new technology without being trained in it.

“I’ve been training for a very long time. I think it was year two of getting into real estate I realised that the better I could be, the better it would be for my business, but that really means having personal development as a big part of our company,” says Peter.

Over the last few months Peter has been giving back, training over 500 agents in the Openn Negotiation system. He says this time as a trainer has shown some concerning insights into other agents and their education.

“In my training over the last few months, it’s amazing how many agents have never been to a training, most of them are just out there winging it. They get paid a lot of money, but so many don’t know their trade,” he says.

ON THE HORIZON

Up next for Peter and Mint Real Estate is more of the same, more great service, more innovation and more training. As Openn Negotiation rolls out across the country, Peter plans to keep working with the platform. Over 150 agents are currently using it in WA, a number Peter is sure will rise.

“The trick when you do well in a year is to not take your foot off the gas. We’re now planning to make sure that we’re performing better and smarter in the coming years and to not bask in the glory, but to get down and see how many more people we can help this year.

“Make sure we do as good a job this year as we did last year.”

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Hannah Blackiston

Hannah Blackiston is the Deputy Editor of Elite Agent and real estate obsessive who splits her time between stalking auctions and lusting over luxury listings. She fell into property journalism 5 years ago and never looked back.

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