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Fancy a gig in real estate? How to make the property ladder your career ladder

With property listings continuing to surge, there’s an increased demand for people to sell them. In the last year Bayleys introduced 53 new agents into our line up, and across the whole industry 1680 new agents became registered. But while most assume a career in property stems from a pivot, Bayleys National Director of Residential Johnny Sinclair says many people are now making a deliberate move into real estate.

“In the last three to five years there’s been a real shift in people going straight into real estate from school or university. But historically what has happened is that they’ve had their own businesses beforehand.”

So if you are making the switch, what does it take to be successful?

“The biggest thing is self-motivation. That’s the ability to pick up the phone and talk to someone you’ve never spoken to before. It’s also crucial to enjoy being around people. If you’ve got that, and you’ve got the drive, we can teach you everything else.”

Sinclair says there’s a few career types that offer a great foundation to build on.

“Firstly, there’s police officers. That’s because they’ve got the willingness to listen, they need to analyse people and they’re very process driven.”

“School teachers are another. They’re able to adapt and actually take someone through a journey, whether it's a nine-year-old kid, or someone who's 90. Nurses also make great real estate agents too.”

He says, anyone in a people facing industry tends to succeed in pursuing a career in real estate.

“Service industry experience is great too, areas like recruitment, and insurance because you’re engaging with people and you’re not selling something tangible, you’re selling a service.”


While many real estate agents start out as a famous face with a big following, Sinclair says you don’t need a huge or recognisable profile to make a big impact.

“Your sphere of influence is really important, but it doesn't matter whether you're a mum or a dad, or you’ve only immersed yourself into your local community, school or church.”

“It doesn’t have to be a big profile; you just need a high profile within that community.”

Sinclair says don’t worry if you’re not an ex All Black or you weren’t on TV, that your profile can come from anywhere.


Having amassed more than one billion dollars in sales Bayleys agent Gary Wallace used to work as a salesperson in the fashion industry.

“He got into real estate because of his wife Vicki. She’d been in real estate for nearly 18 months, and he saw exactly what she was doing and thought he wanted to give it a crack.” says Sinclair.

“So he used all his attributes, experience and network to make his mark.”

Gary has now secured himself as Bayleys top residential salesperson for the last 11 years running.

Ponsonby agent Blair Haddow spent 13 years as long-haul cabin crew for Air New Zealand before he made the jump into real estate.

Sinclair says his role gave him the perfect foundations for a pivot into property.

“He would’ve had to be a bit of a chameleon while he was flying and dealing with a range of different personalities, whether that’s in economy or first class.”

It clearly helped, because Blair has since cemented himself as one of the top 5% of Bayleys salespeople, amassing more than $600 million dollars in sales.

“We’ve had some great former stockbrokers that have done really well for themselves too. Alan Haydock, who's a top commercial salesperson, was an ex-teacher.”


As a starting point, Johnny Sinclair says it pays to spread your wings and do your research.

“I wouldn't be choosing just one agency, I'd actually be finding the area that you want to be working in first, and then go to a couple of brands and talk to them.”

Because just like any good relationship, you want to make sure that you’re both compatible.

“The thing that I'd be looking for within a brand is who's going to fast track me to success over the next two years. Can the manager of that office take you there, and is it someone you can resonate and connect with?”

Sinclair says it’s also important that the brand aligns with your personality and how you want to be perceived in the marketplace.

“That includes the office culture. You want to make sure it’s collaborative between your peers so you can turn up on a Monday and work cohesively for both your vendors and clients.”


The great thing about real estate is that it can be learned.

“It’s actually not that complicated, we can teach you everything.”

But what Sinclair says can’t be learned is the level of commitment and hard work needed to make an impact, especially if you’ve come from a different industry.

“Don't think for a second it's about listing a high-end property, getting a big commission and then moving on to the next thing. There's a lot of groundwork that goes into it.”

“However, if you listen and align with the right brand, they can streamline and structure the process so you can move through relatively seamlessly.”

“It’s all about your attitude.”

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