Kate Smith is an inspiration to real estate agents everywhere. The award-winning mother and Principal of Raine & Horne Semaphore in South Australia has been in the industry since the age of 19, and is always looking to improve her performance.
We had a chat to Kate about her career in real estate and what it takes to make it as a woman in a competitive and male-dominated industry.
A family affair
Kate’s mother Helen started Raine & Horne Semaphore back in 1983. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Kate began working for the family business in an administration role when she was 19. After that, she went on to achieve her sales license and gain a Diploma of Property Services that led to her becoming a principal.
Since she started out in real estate, Kate acknowledges that a lot of changes have occurred.
“When I began, online marketing was not prominent. There has been big huge turn in online marketing, buyer relations, CRM systems and email marketing.”
However, they’re challenges she has risen to, incorporating advances in tech into her strategies with ease.
Success is about good relationships
Kate doesn’t have a single standout sale because she tries to make every sale successful.
“For me, the best sales are when we pair the right buyer with the right property without having to market or open the home. Having a close relationship with our purchasers allows me to pair the right property to them when it comes up which is minimum fuss for our vendors and always a happy outcome.”
Balancing motherhood and career
Kate’s proudest career moment to date has been winning the 2015/16 REISA residential salesperson award. But it wasn’t just that she won it; it was the fact that she was able to do this while she was pregnant.
“Being able to achieve this whilst being pregnant and to be recognised within what is a very competitive industry especially being up against a very male-dominated category was a great achievement for me,” she says.
Keeping it personal
One of the most important things for any real estate agent is strong communication skills – and Kate knows better than most how to make this work.
“It’s all about how you make people feel.“
“It’s all about how you make people feel – they have to be happy and comfortable talking about the big decisions with you. For a lot of people I work with, emails and texts just don’t cut it – no amount of technology is better than a simple phone call.”
Telephone and face to face interaction is “the cornerstone of every successful agent, really. Real estate is stressful – you have to be able to communicate clearly, and often handle difficult conversations. You’re often telling people what they need to hear, and that’s not always what they want to hear. Real estate favours the bold.”
Staying on top of the competition
As a top ranked agent, Kate is aware of the competitive nature of the real estate industry, However, it’s not something that fazes her.
“I’m so proud of my efforts so far, but I don’t ever feel 100 per cent satisfied with where I am, or with my performance. There always has to be room to improve, and I am constantly striving to find ways to provide a better service to the people I work with.”
“There’s no time to rest on your laurels, you always need to be on your A game.”
“After all, real estate is incredibly competitive – there’s no time to rest on your laurels, you always need to be on your A game.”
“For me, that’s achieved by focusing on daily communication and knowing everything there is to know about the local market. I also try and be actively involved in the community, giving back as much as possible.”
“Another key element of being my best is prospecting. As an established agent, it means calling people on purchase anniversaries and seeing how they are doing; generally contacting as many past, present and future buyers as possible. Maintaining those relationships well beyond the transaction is key.”
The future of real estate
Kate believes that as the wider industries continue to evolve, agencies will need to restructure the way they do business.
“I think we’ll soon see a big focus on bilingual agents that can build relationships with foreign buyers. There will also be a lot of expansion into the online world, with web-based marketing becoming a cornerstone of most campaigns.
A helping hand for the future
Kate has one word of advice for agents that are just starting out – persist, persist, persist.
“You have to be prepared for a lot of setbacks and heartbreak. But if you keep going, stay consistent and professional, and always make the client your top priority, you can succeed. You’ll be working hard, working a lot, and never making it about yourself – but those sacrifices make the successes all the more rewarding.”
To get in touch with Kate, or for any questions about real estate in South Australia, contact the team at Raine & Horne Semaphore.