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The Incredible Di Jones

A doyenne of Australian real estate recently passed away, and we’d like to remember the one and only Di Jones.

In a notoriously ruthless industry, Di Jones was passionate, elegant and raised the standards of the industry. Mastering the art of staying small and effective, Di established her own, boutique style agency in Woollahra in 1992 and she sadly died in June. Lee interviewed Di, a number of years ago, where she revealed the key moments and approaches that defined her illustrious career.

Di and her auctioneer husband Bill, opened their first office in Glebe. Di said, “When I first went into real estate, way back in 1980, it was so male dominated that you were not taken seriously." She came to realise, however, the unique perspective she brought to the process of selling. She said, ”I saw that it was actually a huge advantage to be female. Thinking had changed and I believed that there was a real need for a different sort of agency, one that was softer, more feminine, more sensitive, more caring. And I wanted to do different marketing and take a different approach to real estate."

She realised that she had a knack for forging rapport with women because she understood and knew their needs, particularly if they had elderly parents, children or teenagers. She believed, “If you've experienced all those, it makes a big difference in being able to relate to people when they're trying to find a home that will suit all their needs and understand what their needs really are." She said, “It didn't take me long to realise that they make the decision in, everything really, because a man isn't going to buy a house that his wife doesn't like. And when choosing an agent to sell, I think it was easy for me to get across to the male the advantage I had over my male counterparts in my negotiating skills because through the woman, I could get the price lifted, if she really wanted the property."

In 1992, Di and her husband Bill, went out on their own, hung up the shingle and opened a small boutique office in the Sydney inner eastern suburb of Woollahra. Di was determined to focus on the client. She didn’t want to be the biggest in the eastern suburbs but she certainly wanted to be the most effective and caring. It was here that Di made her mark on the industry.

Marketing influencer and ultimate brand manager

With a keen eye for style, and a determination to really care for her clients, Di understood the emotional aspects of selling a home. She knew creating an atmosphere and experience would heighten a buyer’s desire to purchase. She was the first agent in Sydney to introduce soft colours and to create offices with a glamorous French provincial twist. She was the first to create attractive signboards, the first to use colour in diagrams, framed in her beloved French blue. She recalled, “I was told it wouldn't work, it wasn't aggressive enough." But clients loved her style. She was also one of the first to present a home as a lifestyle. She said, “I would add lamps and books and things to add character to a place - preserves and fresh bread rolls."

A woman who knew herself

Di saw her strength as a salesperson and left the business side to her husband Bill, her daughter Kim, who became a director and her business partner, Gary Sands. She also knew what kinds of homes she wanted to sell. Passionate about the industry, she believed that to succeed in real estate, you must work in the right area for your personality.

“If you picked me up and put me somewhere else,” she said, ”I don't believe I would have that same passion because Paddington and Woollahra are very unique area.” A lover of wood burning fires, lamps, candles and character homes, Paddington has the largest area of Victorian architecture in the world, so Di was truly invested in the homes she sold.

Don’t give up!

A saying of Tom Hopkins 'If you had to work as hard as you do the first two years in real estate, you just wouldn't stay in it', really resonated with Di. She recalled, “The first two years are extremely difficult because you haven't got a client. You have to have thick skin and which is not easy to have, particularly when you're not that type. Because I'm certainly not. But I think I was so determined and I did love it. The secret is focusing, not spreading yourself everywhere - focusing on an area and becoming, in your mind, the agent for that area and believing it and seeing it and tasting it and to looking after as many people as you possibly can, in that section."

Di Jones will always be remembered as a woman who forever changed the face and experience of Sydney real estate.

"I saw that it was actually a huge advantage to be female."

Di continued, “Bill said this is what you do - you have to just go out there and door knock and meet people. So, I just went and introduced myself to everyone around the area. It was a very difficult market They said Glebe wasn't an auction area so nobody did auctions. And it was such a difficult time in the market - even when you wanted to buy property, you couldn't. Banks wouldn't lend to you. We had to survive, I mean, we had our house on the line and we have a handicapped son and daughter who was only a year older."

Di Jones not only survived, she thrived. She will always be remembered as a woman who forever changed the face and experience of Sydney real estate.  


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Di Jones