Elite AgentFeature Interviews

People First: Nathan Najib

Christchurch NZ agent Nathan Najib had a vision: to create the most customer-focused real estate company on the planet. Now Managing Director of Najib Real Estate, he talks to Elite Agent about building an agency that cares about its people and empowers each to perform at their best, while contributing rich value to those they serve.

What was your first job and what did it teach you?
At 13 I worked at an internet café, cleaning and tidying up after the customers and occasionally standing by the door greeting people. I learned three profound lessons that have shaped my working life: hard work, attention to detail and customer service. This shows in everything we do at Najib; everything must be done to the highest possible level, a world-class benchmark.

How did you get your start in real estate?
My older sister advised me to get into real estate. When I started, it wasn’t very common for a 19-year-old to sell property. I remember during my first interview I was told, ‘Nathan, you talk too fast and your hair’s too long; you aren’t a good fit for real estate’. I didn’t give up and eventually got a job as junior salesperson.

The company I was with had a vision that their agents worked for the company. I believed the company works for the agents; if the agents were built up, trained and treated right, they would build the company bigger and better than they had ever imagined. Eventually we reached an impasse and I left to build an organisation around values that put people first.

Tell us about yourself and your business now.
I’ve been selling for almost 12 years and I’ve seen a lot of different business models. When we started Najib, I wanted to shake up the real estate industry by building an organisation that puts their customers first, treats their people right and empowers each team member to perform at their best. We are doing this and we will continue to do it better every day.

During my first interview i was told, ‘Nathan, you talk too fast and your hair’s too long; you aren’t a good fit for real estate.

What is the market like in Christchurch?
Christchurch is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Canterbury itself is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. Sitting between beaches, mountain ranges, gardens, rivers and plains, there is truly an amazing lifestyle here. The housing affordability compared to other New Zealand centres, along with the lowest unemployment rate ever, makes Christchurch the best place to live and raise a family.

The devastating earthquakes of September 2010 and February 2011 have given us an enviable opportunity to reshape Christchurch with an eye on how we want it to work for the people living, working and visiting the area. With billions of dollars allocated to new infrastructure and developments, it has the brightest future imaginable.

Here in New Zealand, especially Christchurch, we’re at least six years behind the rest of the world when it comes to technology and innovation. Real estate is no different. The majority of agents work part-time and a lot of old-fashioned agents believe the way real estate was sold many years ago is still relevant. They don’t discuss the price of a property at all or don’t have enough information online.

The market has also changed. Properties don’t just sell as soon as you place them on the market. The new generation of agents knows how much the world has progressed. They are obsessed with improvement, work full-time, are easy to deal with, genuinely nice people, and most importantly they turn up to work each day and look for ways to serve their communities.

We’re more interested in the number of satisfied clients and raving fans we create than the number of transactions we do.

What is the best advice you’ve received?
Coming from a very humble and loving family I owe my parents a lot. They taught me the foundation for a balanced success: honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty. They never told me what to do but I observed the way they live their lives.

The best advice I ever received was, ‘Stay humble’. We have a saying at Najib, “Leave your ego at the door and always put the interests of the client first.”

What prospecting method works best for you?
I find keeping in touch with past clients works best for us through two to three hours of prospecting most mornings. The majority of our business is repeat and referrals, although as a young agent I used to chase private sellers, do deliveries, door knocking and cold calling.

What are some of your personal rituals that you think have contributed to your success?
Most of the things I do are rituals adopted over time, which have become habits. One of the most important is rising early so I can work on myself for a few hours. Each day I study for an hour, exercise for an hour and spend time in silence, solitude and stillness before I head to work. You can’t be great in one arena and mediocre in another; you have to be fit mentally, physically and emotionally.

I have the best team, and they enable me to concentrate on the things that are important to me at work. When I’m supposed to be working, I work, and when I’m supposed to be with my family and friends, I’m totally with them.

What advice would you give someone who is starting out in real estate?
Find a company and an office with good values, support and leadership. A company that is innovative and provides frequent training, with a leader who has done what you’re doing and is in the trenches with you, who can make clear judgements and decisions.

Ask yourself what it would take to be the best real estate agent that has ever lived and then become a student for at least six months before you start selling. Attend every conference you can, research the best agents and reach out to them. Everything you want to do has been done before. No one is self-made; no one succeeds alone.

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Shantelle Isaaks

Shantelle Isaaks is the marketing assistant for Elite Agent and Elite Property Manager Magazines.

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