How MTV dance sessions have kept this agent at number one

From rookie to top agent in 16 years, Harcourts’ Wanly Tsang loves her neighbourhood and her work.

Wanly Tsang hit the ground running when she started her real estate career 16 years ago. In her first year in the industry she was named Rookie of the Year, and since then has consistently been named the number one salesperson for her patch in Auckland’s North Shore, and this year she was the Shore’s top sales agent for the Harcourts brand.

You’re originally from Hong Kong — what brought you to New Zealand?

I came here twice with my family to visit friends and have a holiday and we thought it was a beautiful country and a good place to bring up our two children. When we first came here, we were driving to a motel and missed the way there, so I asked a man washing his car in front of his house if he could tell us where this motel was. He jumped in his car and led us to the motel. New Zealanders are good people.

We moved to Auckland 26 years ago. My husband’s cousin in Half Moon Bay suggested we buy a house there but there were a lot of people who spoke Mandarin and Cantonese like us and I wanted to be somewhere more diverse, where my children could adapt to the New Zealand lifestyle and meet people of lots of different nationalities. I liked the North Shore, it has a nice environment.

What kind of work did you do in Hong Kong?

I worked in banking and the financial industry. My last job was with a funds management company and I was the head of the dealing room, so there were a lot of challenges. When we came here the qualifications I had didn’t count, so I studied accounting part-time and spent the rest of the time with my son and daughter, which I loved. After a few years of studying I got a job as a financial accountant.

How did the move into real estate come about?

My husband and I had investment properties and had bought and sold a house with Harcourts. They asked me if I would join them because I had banking and language skills and was good at talking to strangers. I thought, I will give this a go. I soon realised I had found my passion in life.

There are challenges and people say it must be stressful but it is not as competitive as banking. I enjoy the excitement and meeting people. When I first started, my manager came with me to do appraisals. He was doing all the talking and I thought, I should be doing this myself. So I went to do some on my own and I got a listing in half an hour. I thought, “People trust me.” It was a good feeling.

Why do you think you’ve done so well?

Because it is a passion, not just a job. People in New Zealand were so good to me and that made me want to work harder. Marketing is one of my strengths — I did a lot of marketing in the different roles I had in Hong Kong — and I am also good at negotiating deals. Being multilingual has made my job easier.

I think it also helps that I know a lot about the property market in New Zealand and also the financial markets overseas. What I don’t know, I find out.

Plus I am also a very determined and disciplined person and I think in any profession that pays off.

You have a team of five agents working for you — is that a big responsibility?

I enjoy it. A few years ago new people coming into the office were asking me for advice and I was happy to mentor them when they needed it. When you start telling people how to do things it makes you look at how you do them yourself and think about how to improve. I have a very good team and I like to see them grow and become independent.

I can’t keep working forever, I will probably retire in about five years, and I hope to have a team to take over that is very strong and successful.

You devote a lot of time to charity work — why is that important to you?

Because you need to help people if you can. It is giving to your community and making a difference in people’s lives. And it makes you happy to do it. I support the Salvation Army — every year I hold a Chinese banquet and auction to raise money, we have a Christmas collection and we do a blanket drive to get blankets for people in shelters or sleeping in their cars, or elderly people who want to save money by not putting their heating on.

What do you do in your spare time?

I like to stay in touch with my family. My son lives in the United States and my daughter is in Hong Kong with her husband and their twin daughters — I love to chat with them on FaceTime. I like outdoor activities like cycling and swimming but it can be hard to find the time with my job. But one habit I have every morning is to turn on MTV and dance in front of the television. It is a good way to get some exercise and you start the day in a happy mood. My job requires a lot of energy, and dancing every morning helps.

Source: One Roof.

How do you show empathy when you’re social distancing?

Real estate agents need to be able to better show their empathy to Kiwis who are under financial and emotional stress, says one of the industry’s leading figures.

Martin Cooper, who runs Harcourts Cooper & Co on Auckland’s North Shore, says housing market headlines since the start of the Covid-19 crisis have been dramatic, and many Kiwis will be fearful for their employment and their financial position.

Real estate agents typically thrive in one-to-one meetings with buyers and sellers, so how do they connect with people when social distancing is still required, and may be the norm for quite some time?

Cooper says his team used the four-and-a-half week lockdown that ended earlier this week to find ways to bridge the gap.

“The old cliché is ‘better never stops’ and better is required right now. We’re going to have to work harder than we have for a long time to help people,” he says, adding that his agents have been doing a lot of preparation for life at Alert Level 3.

The easing of lockdown restrictions has allowed the real estate industry to start work again. While open homes are still banned, viewings by appointment are permitted, with agents allowed to hold two private viewings a day for properties that are for sale or for rent.

Cooper says Kiwis are all in this together, and the job of his agents is to help people find solutions.

“If we can help sell some of their real estate to relieve a financial burden then we’ll do it to the best and in the most gracious manner that we can,” he says.

Other clients may not be in financial hardship but looking at upgrading and when the market is uncertain customers need the best real estate service available, Cooper says.

Harcourts agents Jordan Selwyn and Brooke Barrass say they have looked at ways to limit in-person contact with clients – which is challenging for a job that typically involves a lot of driving around at 10.30pm with contracts and sitting down with people.

“That’s obviously a bit dated and we’ve got technology that can do better than that, but it’s hard as well because there’s so much information you learn by sitting down across from somebody face to face,” Selwyn says.

He says using tech solutions like FlexiSign for documents when negotiating contracts “will make a big difference rather than sitting down with our vendors face to face every couple of days”.

“And now everyone’s au fait with Zoom, whereas previously it was only a handful of people. Everybody knows about it so our clients are more comfortable using technology.”

He and Barrass spent time making sure their listings were comprehensive with excellent floorplans available and with good walkthrough 3D technology – something which vendors may find they need to invest in as part of their marketing from now on.

He hopes mortgage relief measures will limit the amount of pressured sales, and he advises people who are thinking of selling to try to resolve unconsented works on their properties.

“Now that we are in an environment where banks are going to be more cautious with their lending vendors should consider working a little bit harder to remove those obstacles prior to listing.”

Phil Mitchell, a senior agent also on the North Shore, says his team is proactive about keeping in touch as vendors “need a bit of love at the moment. They need to know you’re thinking about them and caring about what happens and not pushing them into something.

“I don’t worry about what the market’s going to do, I just know that day to day we deal with the market. You have to be proactive, not reactive, so you just deal with the day to day.”

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New Zealanders award Harcourts Most Trusted Real Estate brand for the eighth year in a row

Reader’s Digest has announced its Most Trusted brands for 2020, and Harcourts, New Zealand’s largest and most enduring real estate brand, is honoured to be acknowledged once again for its commitment to serving its clients. For the eighth consecutive year, New Zealanders have voted Harcourts the Most Trusted real estate brand.

Harcourts Managing Director Bryan Thomson says that the Harcourts team right across the country is particularly humbled to receive this honour as the country continues to battle COVID-19.

“Harcourts has been committed to helping New Zealanders with their property needs for 132 years”, says Thomson. “We’ve been through good times and we’ve been through some extremely difficult times with our clients. This would be one of the most challenging times they’ve ever faced, and now, more than ever, we need to trust and support one another.”

“We will continue to earn the trust of New Zealanders in the coming months,” says Thomson, “by maintaining the highest level of service to our clients, landlords and tenants. Technology will play a big part in how we continue to deliver exceptional service and maintain the life-long relationships we’ve built with our clients and communities around the country.”

“Being voted the Most Trusted real estate brand for eight years in a row is hugely important to our team and we don’t take that trust for granted. Thank you, New Zealand, we remain committed to you.”

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