Ash Weston fell into real estate by accident after dropping out of high school and cutting his teeth on a variety of manual jobs. Now he’s one of Ray White’s top agents, winner of several awards and last year earned fees of over $1,500,000. But he has never forgotten the lessons he learned on the factory floor.
How did you get into real estate? What did you do before, and how has that helped you in your property career?
I got kicked out of school in year 10 for lack of attendance and not doing any homework for six months. I went straight out into the workforce as a factory hand at a barbecue manufacturer and worked my way up to becoming a welder.
I was only there for 18 months; however, this was when I realised that I didn’t want to work for an hourly rate. The clock-on clock-off style really didn’t appeal to me and the minutes felt like hours when I
was working there. I would look up at the clock expecting the time to have moved on an hour, only to realise it had been just 10 minutes.
I always had this desire to be great and whilst working at the barbecue manufacturer I decided to pursue my dream, which was to do animation. I enrolled in a course and took the plunge. I really enjoyed it but sitting in a computer chair for 12 hours a day made me start to lose interest towards the end of the course. I began working part-time in real estate at this stage to earn some money while studying.
Real estate seemed like a glamorous job: nice cars, nice homes, professional work. I started on reception for a few months, then moved into admin and marketing for around 12 months and then worked as a personal assistant for two years. I was really enjoying it, but I lost interest in selling after two years and felt I was too young to list, so I quit to go back to doing trade work. I spent the next 18 months welding at a vacuum manufacturer. It was an amazing place to work, but I fell straight back into the same mindset and wanted something more. After six months I had learnt everything there was to learn and started to get the itch to get back into real estate.
Working in a factory helped to teach me discipline. You have to start and finish at set times, whether you like it or not. If the boss gave you a job to do for three hours, then you had to do it for three hours whether you felt like doing that or not.
The problem with most agents is they aren’t disciplined; if they don’t feel like prospecting for three hours they will hide behind other work and not do it.
It also gave me perspective. Whenever I have tough moments or stressful moments, I look back and think about welding or animation and this helps remind me of why I came back to real estate.
For me, there really is no plan B. I think a lot of agents have an alternative in the back of their minds if it doesn’t work in real estate, so they never fully commit.
Working in a factory also helped me understand how important systems and procedures are; how they can increase productivity and help a team produce an outcome. I have a team of four and I believe our systems and procedures increase productivity and bring us together.
Tell us about the area you work in. What is special about it?
I work in the city of Frankston across three main markets: Frankston, Frankston North and Frankston South. It is a bayside city with an amazing beach and is very diverse in terms of type of homes and price ranges. I’ve lived here since I was 19 but consider myself a native as I grew up in nearby Mornington, only about 15 minutes’ away!
We are located just 45 minutes from Melbourne CBD and also on the fringe of the Mornington Peninsula, with Sorrento and Portsea about a 45-minute drive. We have major shopping areas, many beautiful parks, entertainment, restaurants and excellent freeway access. It is a fast-growing suburb and an amazing place to live.
There are homes starting from as little as $400,000 right up to beachfront homes and clifftop properties over the $2,000,000 mark. There is also acreage nearby and homes on two- to three-acre blocks. During 2017, I achieved 122 transactions with fees of approximately $1,550,000 excluding GST.
What sort of team do you work with?
There are four people in my team, including myself. I have a personal assistant who handles all new properties listed. Her role is to assist me day to day and to set up all my new listings. This includes photo shoots, building all marketing, arrange section 32s… basically every new listing task so that I can simply show up to the first open for inspection. She also prepares all documents and research for my appraisals and communicates with sellers leading up to settlement.
I then have two sales assistants who handle buyer enquiries and open home follow-up, assist with offers, follow up special conditions on sales, and then every task from sold to settlement. My sales assistants also have time dedicated to prospecting.
You do a lot of work in the community; what are your favourite projects?
We’re always looking for ways to support the community. I’m a member of the Rotary Club of Frankston Sunrise and have been involved in many different projects. One project has been our bathing box charity auctions which we commenced in 2013; there were three available spots on the Frankston Foreshore and we managed to convince the Council to allow Rotary to build three bathing boxes and auction them off, with all proceeds to go back into the local community.
We pulled together more than 15 sponsors and built the boxes from donations. The first one sold in 2013 for $114,500, the second one sold in 2015 for $115,000, and we auctioned the last one in September 2016 for $155,000 which set a record on Frankston beach. In total we have raised $384,500 for projects within the local community. It is a real honour to be able to contribute and give back.
Apart from the boatsheds are there any other memorable properties that come to mind?
When I was working as a personal assistant, I sold a clifftop property on Olivers Hill that had previously been on the market with three agents who had all been unsuccessful. I sold it for $1,840,000 – still my highest sale to this day. However, on the very same day, I sold a two bedroom cabin for $60,000 – my lowest sale to this day! It sums up how diverse my marketplace is.
What three pieces of advice would you give someone starting in real estate?
Work hard early and be rewarded later. It takes serious effort to gain momentum; however, once you have it real estate becomes easier and so much more enjoyable. Unfortunately, most agents start in cruise control and remain there for their whole career.
All it takes is two years of incredible effort and then you are off and running.
Learn to love the phone and don’t be distracted by the next gimmick. There are so many sales trainers around these days and they all come up with gimmicks to flog their next seminar. I’m not saying they don’t work, but nothing replaces picking up the phone and speaking to people. The more relationships you can maintain, the more business you will do. My team makes over 700 prospecting calls per week and over 100 buyers’ calls per week, which generate around 50-plus appraisals per month. I’m yet to see any sales trainer, product or marketing gimmick that can produce more leads than this for the same price.
Real estate is purely a numbers game: Calls generate appraisals, appraisals generate listings, listings generate sales. It really is that simple.
Be honest and genuinely look after people. If you want longevity in this industry you need honesty and integrity. If you are honest and genuinely care, people will come back to you. Also people can smell a fraud a mile away, so when you are in a listing presentation stand for something. Tell them what you really think is going to help them get a better price, not what’s going to help you. When a client asks for advice about whether to sell or not, tell them what you honestly believe is in their best interests – not what’s going to bring their property to the market faster so you can get a sale.