• Michelle Meehan | Features Writer intouch magazine

BRINGING NEW SKILLS To Shake up the Property Industry

Andrew Pritchard has spent most of his life climbing the corporate ladder at some of the largest companies in Australia. Now he hopes to use the sales and management expertise gained during the past two decades to help other people find their footing on the property ladder.

After four years of planning, Andrew officially launched Hart Property in September 2017, a boutique real estate agency committed to changing the way properties are bought and sold.

With a focus on transparency and the promise of a fair fixed price fee, the Merewether man is now forging ahead on his new career path, with the aim of making his mark in the industry.

“I’ve had a long-held interest in real estate, my father was involved in property development over the years, and I’ve got long-term friends in the industry,” Andrew said.

“While Hart Property has been in the planning for almost four years now; we actively began trading in the middle of last year.

“I saw a definite need for change in the way real estate is sold and managed. The current players have been doing it the same way for 30 years, and whilst technology has changed, the management practices haven’t.

“The marketplace was, and still is, screaming out for agents to listen to their clients and change their practices.

“I hope to change the industry and change the perspective people have of real estate agents.”

Born and bred in Newcastle, Andrew got his grounding in business at major logistics company Brambles, before making his way through the ranks at a number of large Australian companies, holding everything from state sales manager positions to general manager roles.

Andrew said he is now approaching the real estate industry wearing his “corporate” glasses to give him an outsider’s perspective on how he can do things differently.

“After almost 20 years in the corporate world, I had developed some very strong skill sets in sales and marketing,” he said.

“The world of real estate sees agents start young and work from the bottom up.

“Rarely do you see someone come in with a strong corporate background and as broad a set of business skills as I have, that can come in and go, hang on a second, this can be done better. Or this can be done different, or we can offer the market something else, and that’s basically what I’m looking to do.

“I’ve come into the industry with a set of corporate glasses on so to speak, and looked at the industry and said well ok, this is how it currently works. If this was a corporate business in a business or a division that I’ve managed previously, how would we do it?

“One of the things I’ve always said to myself is a person should pay what the service is worth, so I fix my fees, I don’t have sliding commissions, my fees are all upfront, and they include the marketing, as well as conveyancing as part of an add-on service.

“I like to offer what is effectively a “turn-key package.” Our fees are based on what it actually costs to sell a home; we stand by our abilities and our responsibilities to our clients.”

Unlike most agents, Hart Property does not have a bricks and mortar base, with Andrew opting for a more flexible mobile approach that allows him to service clients from the Central Coast through to the Lower Hunter.

Andrew said while he is making the most of technology – and buyers’ shift towards searching online rather than browsing agents’ window boards – his biggest challenge is disrupting the long-held belief that to sell your home you need to list it with the agent who has a physical presence in your suburb.

“I think the biggest challenge, particularly for new real estate entrants these days, is we’re still combatting what would be seen as the old orthodox real estate model of a franchise name with a given location in a given suburb,” he said.

"People believe that to sell in that suburb you’ve got to go and use the agent that has the office in that suburb, and back in the 80's before the advent of the technology we have these days, I think that was a fair statement. However, in this day and age, with the advent of the internet and the speed and flow of information, it’s not necessary."

“What it lends itself to is that you don’t have buyers off the street now necessarily come in and window shop looking for the next great buy, they’re all home on their computer doing it at night after work.

“We don’t run a traditional office, being mobile and being flexible is a definite advantage.

“I’m not tied geographically to any one particular suburb; I sell property from the Central Coast to the Lower Hunter. Our model helps us keep our fees low and our customer service high.

“Our flexibility and desire to think outside the box will give the market what it's looking for… change!”

Andrew knows all about change, of course, having embarked on this new career, and said the best part of establishing Hart Property was the flexibility it offered.

“The transition has been excellent, I love it,” he said.

“I get driven by an opportunity, but what I like about the industry is its flexibility. The industry isn’t quite as fast-paced as what the corporate world is. But there’s also room there for flexibility to try new things. There’s a lot of opportunities to try new tactics and strategies, and do it at a faster pace than I could if I was back in the corporate world where we’re a little more conservative, a little more planned in what approach we take.

“I can do something now within a matter of days that in the previous world would probably take you a matter of months to get ticked off at the appropriate levels.

“But the best thing so far to me is to be in the position where I’ve got the freedom of working for myself and I get that mix of work/lifestyle balance that in the corporate world is very hard to get.”

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