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Cathy Baker, Playing to win

Every day, Cathy Baker goes into battle against the likes of Mat Steinwede and Trevor Hamilton on NSW’s Central Coast, and comes out swinging with a 50% market share!

Carrying 35-40 properties at any given time and with an average sale around $800,000, Cathy also specialises in million dollar listings. She says, “I’ve currently got an estate on the market that would be in the $4-5m range.”

Naturally warm and engaging, Cathy works in the exquisite coastal villages of Killcare Heights, Killcare, Macmasters Beach, Pretty Beach, Hardys Bay and Wagstaffe. “I was brought up in the North Yorkshire Moors UK, in a small community, not unlike Killcare,” says Cathy. “The thing that you learn about living within a small community is that you have to provide very good standards and service because if you don’t, everybody knows about it.”

While her office at Gittoes, East Gosford, is 40 minutes away, she has lived in Killcare for 16 years and loves all its perfections. “I can tell any buyer that comes into the area why to buy there, what makes the area different, why it’s so special, what the local school offers and anything else about that area.”

She’s been through 90 per cent of the homes in the area, “so when a property sells that’s not mine, I know the house back-to-front, I know how it compares to others, I know what results have been achieved. I have more product knowledge than anybody else.”

The area presents particular challenges as there are very few local buyers. She says, “Each village has its own demographic. For example, the people that own waterfronts in Wagstaffe are predominantly Eastern Suburbs buyers from Sydney and the people that buy in Hardys Bay are from the North Shore of Sydney. Further, no two prices in that area are the same. In Killcare there could be $500,000-$1m difference between neighbouring properties.”

Servicing this unique market has meant that Cathy has developed some highly specialised and creative marketing strategies.

Tracks buyers and vendors

“I track everybody that comes through my area by postcode to find out where the people are coming from,” says Cathy. By doing this she found that most of the people coming into the area were either from the Eastern Suburbs, the North Shore or Northern Beaches of Sydney. Also there were a lot of expats from overseas and interstate clients. She therefore targets her marketing in those areas – Palm Beach, Wahroonga and the Eastern suburbs of Sydney.

Created the Bay and Beach magazine

What started off as a suburb report has turned into a beautiful quarterly magazine that sells the idea of the idyllic life people will access if they buy in the area. It features property listings, her recent sales as well as a detailed visitors’ guide of what to do and where to eat.

Cathy says, “It goes to every café in my area. They’re on the Palm Beach ferry. They’re in the boatshed at Palm Beach, all the cafés down at Barrenjoey House and down the Northern Beaches. They’re down at Wahroonga into all the trendy cafés that my clients use down in the North Shore. And they’re also down in the Eastern Suburbs. Over Christmas we had 2,500 magazines taken over a period of a month in the Killcare area. Eighty per cent of properties in that magazine sold and a lot of those enquiries came in from the magazine.”

Targets marketing to the purchaser

For landmark properties, Cathy develops appropriate materials that will attract the calibre of buyer she needs. For example recently she marketed the Oskar Speck Estate which is the landmark property of the area. She says, “It’s the largest parcel in Killcare and it is two separate properties, on separate titles. I had a micro-site built, and created a beautiful full-colour gloss booklet appropriate for the calibre of buyer looking to spend $4 or $5m on an estate in that area.”

Keeps absentee owners in the loop

Twice a year, Cathy prepares what she calls a postcode book and sends it out to her clients. “In my area a lot of the owners are absentee owners so it’s nice to have something to mail out to them with a little complimentary invitation to have an updated market appraisal as well.”

In the book she includes her current listings at the back, and articles that may be of interest on topics such as tax depreciation and how to use self-managed super funds for house purchases.

She also highlights the sales she has made, so that they stand out. “As I hold three suburb records in four suburbs, it really did make it a little bit more prominent to highlight the results that I’d achieved in that area.”

Bids a fond farewell when local vendors sell

Every time a local sells, Cathy organises a “Say goodbye,” drinks party for the vendor. She explains, “The Fat Goose is a local café that’s well-loved and a landmark for most people and a very popular meeting spot. So we organise The Goose to do a tapas for us and we bring the wine and drinks and get a list of friends from the vendor that we’ve sold for and invite those people down to have a goodbye party in order to say goodbye.” It’s a cracker night, and has proved to be a great lead generator. Cathy says, “The last one I did for a lady called Dianne in Killcare, has brought us seven new listings and quite a lot of raving friends, just from word-of-mouth from Dianne and the party itself.


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Cathy Baker, Playing to win