Agents are evenly split over whether door-knocking is an effective prospecting tool, but for Maree Lawrence, that simple knock on the door from the new agency in town made all the difference.
Lawrence and husband David had loose plans to sell their three-bedroom townhome in Camberwell in about 12 months. Almost ready to downsize, the couple had bought a smaller townhouse and installed a tenant whose 12-month lease had just expired. The tenant didn’t want to renew the lease and moved on to a month-to-month tenancy.
Meanwhile, Shelter Real Estate agent Victoria Wolk was keen to help some buyers who had just missed out on a property in the same estate: a four-bedroom townhome that had sold for $1.428 million in January.
Wolk says door-knocking has always been part and parcel of her prospecting tool belt and it made sense to her to knock on a few neighbouring doors and see if any of the homeowners were looking to sell.
“When Victoria knocked on the door I was really interested because I’ve not had that before,” Lawrence says. “Usually, agents leave something in your letterbox saying if you want a free valuation give us a call, or letting us know they’ve sold a property nearby. She was very bright and bubbly.”
For Lawrence, Shelter’s proactive approach was key to building a relationship that led to a sale. She told Wolk she wasn’t quite ready to sell, but allowed Wolk to give her an appraisal.
Given the recent sale in the estate, it wasn’t difficult for Wolk to do her valuation.
“There were quite a few comparable sales, and we added a premium because there were some emotional buyers,” says Wolk. “I do think it’s always better going to market because then you open up to the broader public, but sometimes you can go with off market if you have the right buyer.”
Wolk asked Lawrence if it would be okay to bring her buyers through and see what they would offer for the property.
“I thought it would be interesting to see what they said, because their [price point] can be quite different to the agent’s,” says Lawrence. “It’s an intuitive agent who matches their buyer to their house, I think it’s a really important skill. They’re the ones who are authentic and not afraid to doorknock.”
Wolk says she knows there are agents who will invent buyers as a strategy to sign a new listing.
“I don’t do that because you’ll always come unstuck,” she says. “If you have a genuine buyer then I think it’s right to have that conversation with a vendor, but if you’re doing it just to get in the door then I don’t think it will work out long-term.”
Wolk’s buyers did two inspections but didn’t end up making an offer, however the agent had reached out to another family and Lawrence again agreed to an inspection.
“At no time was she pushy,” Lawrence says of Wolk. “I have a counselling background so I can pick the slick, practiced agent. She was just really authentic. She kept telling us there’s no pressure, just think about it.”
Because of the low-key nature of the business relationship, the Lawrences hadn’t signed the usual agency agreement with Shelter but when the new buyers were ready to negotiate on price it was time to bring out the paperwork.
“They were so proactive, we really didn’t need that contract,” Lawrence says. “They had ready buyers there from their pool of clients. But once it started to get serious we thrashed out details with Victoria on commission.”
Wolk says it took a couple of weeks to get buyer and seller on the same page with an agreed price of $1,433,000 and a long settlement, but Lawrence was delighted with the process.
“We were so impressed with the way the sale went through,” she says. “It was just the most seamless transaction with no stress whatsoever apart from keeping the place clean.”
The Lawrences did not need to pay for marketing or styling — their existing decor presented well — and sold their home with minimal disruption to their daily routines. Lawrence says there were only two tricky conversations she had to have. One was with her tenant, letting her know they wanted to move in, and the other was with good friend and Melbourne agent Bryan Cain, of JA Cain.
Lawrence says if Wolk hadn’t knocked on her door, she would likely have listed with Cain, having trusted the agency with two previous sales.
Lawrence says Wolk and Cain had two “very different” approaches, but the common factor was trust.
“It’s your life savings [on offer] and it’s really important you trust the person selling it for you,” she says. “The most important thing is to shop around for an agent that you are comfortable with and that you trust.”
Wolk knows she was fortunate to sell Monde Street.
“I was really lucky with Maree because she had a really good friend who was an agent in the area and she still gave me the opportunity to sell her home,” she says. “I always think the better relationship you have with a buyer or seller the easier it is to put a transaction together.”
Wolk has also found that “nice vendors” attract “nice buyers”.
“When nice vendors give me the opportunity to do my thing within boundaries and with respect towards them they usually attract the right buyers,” she says.
This is part of a series looking at how Australians sold their homes. For more advice, read Domain’s ultimate guide to selling your home.