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Breaking new ground with Matthew Dawson

With Matthew Dawson Sales Agent, McGrath Central Coast

Matthew Dawson specialises in the suburbs of Woy Woy, Ettalong, Blackwall and Booker Bay. New to real estate when he joined the McGrath Central Coast team in September 2011, Matt grew his business from scratch. How did he do it? Essentially he built momentum by hitting the pavement and working hard to create a point of difference for himself in a competitive market.

Building momentum by hitting the pavement

Matt explains, “I was up early every morning and dropped at least 1,000 brochures every week and a letter a month to my core area. I would ride my bike to distribute my brochures and found I could deliver a thousand brochures before 10:00 in the morning. Basically I was combing the streets for market appraisals. To prospect day in, day out is a long hard slog. But it definitely pays off.”

Finding a point of difference

Being young and new to the game, Matt knew he had to create a point of difference from the competition. He says, “From an owner's point of view I was probably offering pretty much the same as what other agents were promising. It always came down to fee and marketing and whether or not they liked you."

The turning point for Matt came when he decided to focus on the auction process, which created his point of difference.

He explains, "I just felt that the auction process was a lot more dynamic than a private treaty sale. It’s also more consistent and structured."

Auctions have since proved to be a winning approach for Matt. It’s nothing for him to have around seven auctions running simultaneously, which is manageable as it’s generally only the last week of the campaign when auctions become really intense.

Matt says, “My main priority is to stay in close contact with the buyers that are bidding on the upcoming weekend while softly being there for the buyers for the following weekend. It’s about keeping them interested and letting them know they're still in running, and asking if they need anything or have any questions? It’s also about ensuring they’ve done everything they need to at their end. ‘Has your solicitor gone through the contract? How's your finance going? Do you want another inspection?’."

Matt’s success rate is such that he can now afford to be more selective with his appraisals. He says, “I used to conduct a lot of appraisals every week. But these days I spend more time trying to find people who are selling now. If I can do two listing appraisals a week, I’m pretty happy because my strike rate is quite high now. I know I’ll probably win them. Three would be awesome, but two's okay."

Make the buyer feel comfortable

If Matt feels an auction campaign is not going as well as expected he spends whatever time it takes to contact all potential buyers. He says the key to auction success is to ensure all buyers feel comfortable to come on the day. Sometimes this means calling at the eleventh hour - the Friday before the auction - if it means there is a chance to get even one more buyer to come to the auction. Matt says, "I would call and say something like, ‘Hi Peter, I just wanted to let you know I've only got two people bidding at tomorrow morning’s auction right now. So if you really like the home, all it would take is for you to be there on the day. I don't care if you don't bid, but just come and register and see what happens. If no one shows up or if no one's bidding, then you're in the box seat and you can have a crack at it. I just don't want you to wait until Monday only to find out it sold for an amount you would have been happy to pay’."

Matt says another key benefit of auctions is that it’s not the be all and end all if it fails to sell on the day. He says, “I ask my owners, ‘What’s the worst thing that could happen?' The worst thing that could happen is that it doesn't sell. It really doesn't matter. The upside is if it doesn't sell by the end of the four weeks, you would at least know what it's worth. Then all we would do is put a fixed price on it and sell it by private treaty."

Don't over communicate in an industry that lacks communication

Matt says while you must be consistent with your vendor communication, don’t overcomplicate things and don’t make the mistake of over-communicating. Too much information can be both unnecessary and unwelcome.

The following is Matt’s suggestion for vendor contact:

  • Weekly face-to-face meeting
  • Weekly detailed written vendor report
  • Feedback following every inspection
  • Open for inspection update (usually directly after the open home)


Set expectations for price

Matt says clients know a lot more than many agents give them credit for. He believes most people today understand how infrastructure and the market influence price.

He says, “Particularly in my area on the peninsula there’s such a broad mix of properties, from properties on the main road and housing commission to waterfronts and properties close to the train line. Properties close to the water are the ones that generally achieve the really good dollars. They're the ones that Sydney buyers are attracted to as they know very well that they could never hope to find anything similar in Sydney for the same price.”

Key Lessons

Looking back on his journey, Matt believes the two most important things he has learned are:

1. All Data is not equal

He says, “I found that when I first started, I focused far too heavily on data collection. I put everyone into my database. I was spending so much time inputting data and keeping in touch with people that I probably didn't really need to.”

Once Matt learnt that all data is not equal, he prioritised and sifted the data ensuring he focused on the people looking to sell. Whenever he found he wasn’t getting called in enough, he activated the Chase List, a Hot List and a Pipeline. He now has about 50 people on his Chase List (people looking to sell within the next 90 days), 150 on his Hot List (people who may sell in one to two years) and 300 in his Pipeline (people who may sell within the next five years).

2. Relax

Matt says he used to be a real worrier and found his habit of negative thinking was counterproductive. He says, “It was interesting, but the moment I stopped worrying, everything fell into place. If you don’t get that listing, know that it’s not the end of the world. You're still alive. You're still healthy. You're still breathing. It's still awesome where we're living and working. As soon as I stopped worrying about everything, I started to be more relaxed in a potential client’s lounge room as well. I know this one lesson has helped me enormously.”



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