Tony’s clever use of chapel

TONY WIL­LIAMSON LIKES TO PUSH THE EN­VE­LOPE HENCE HE BOLDLY SEIZED THE CHANCE TO TRANS­FORM A WED­DING CHAPEL INTO A REAL ES­TATE OF­FICE, WRITES HAY­DEN SMITH

The Weekend Post - - News -

A minia­ture State of Ori­gin shield sits upon the grand pi­ano of a beau­ti­ful wed­ding chapel in Cairns sub­ur­bia.

The walls of the ad­join­ing of­fices are adorned with Brad­man mem­o­ra­bilia, Ma­roons jer­seys and a Rocky Bal­boa quote: “Life isn’t al­ways sun­shine and rain­bows…”.

“I love the par­al­lels be­tween real es­tate and sport,” said RE/MAX Cairns prin­ci­pal and North­ern Pride chair­man Tony Wil­liamson (above).

“Tal­ent only gets you so far in sport, you need to have ap­pli­ca­tion — which is very sim­i­lar to real es­tate.”

A MINIA­TURE State of Ori­gin shield sits upon the grand pi­ano of a beau­ti­ful wed­ding chapel in Cairns sub­ur­bia.

The walls of the ad­join­ing of­fices are adorned with Brad­man mem­o­ra­bilia, Ma­roons jer­seys and a Rocky Bal­boa quote: “Life isn’t al­ways sun­shine and rain­bows …”.

“I love the par­al­lels be­tween real es­tate and sport,” said RE/ MAX Cairns prin­ci­pal and North­ern Pride chair­man Tony Wil­liamson.

“Tal­ent only gets you so far in sport, you need to have ap­pli­ca­tion, which is very sim­i­lar to real es­tate.”

For three months now, his agency has been op­er­at­ing from the spec­tac­u­lar yet ob­scure Whit­field venue.

Built in the 1990s to ac­com­mo­date Cairns’ thriv­ing Ja­panese wed­ding in­dus­try, the prop­erty has been re­pur­posed as RE/MAX’s lo­cal head­quar­ters and auc­tion venue.

Not one to fol­low the herd, Mr Wil­liamson, 50, said mov­ing the busi­ness from a prom­i­nent site on Sheri­dan St to Heavey Cr had paid off.

“I’ve al­ways been one to not fol­low the lead of oth­ers and set my own path,” he said.

“I al­ways thought it would be ex­cep­tional to have your own auc­tion and train­ing venue – this prop­erty ticked all the boxes.

“The big thing I had to get over was that, un­like most other agen­cies, it is not on a main road or thor­ough­fare.

“But with the in­ter­net, and the way real es­tate has evolved, walk-in traf­fic is not that es­sen­tial.”

Raised in Cairns, Mr Wil­liamson’s real es­tate ca­reer is now into its third chap­ter.

His in­ter­est in the in­dus­try was piqued by his par­ents, whom he de­scribed as “the orig­i­nal house flip­pers”.

“Every 12-18 months, Mum and Dad would buy a dif­fer­ent house,” he said.

“We’d all move into it, they would fix it up a lit­tle bit, and then they’d sell it and we moved on.

“I lived in prob­a­bly 12 dif­fer­ent houses dur­ing my school years … that’s prob­a­bly where my de­sire to be­come a real es­tate agent started.”

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Cairns State High School in 1984, Mr Wil­liamson was in­spired to try his hand at real es­tate af­ter seek­ing ad­vice from a lo­cal busi­ness pi­o­neer.

“I went and had a meet­ing with Ge­orge Chap­man as a 21year-old. I ba­si­cally asked him what I should do,” he said.

“He sug­gested real es­tate and that’s what I got into.”

Af­ter a suc­cess­ful pe­riod as a young agent, Mr Wil­liamson then stud­ied com­merce in Townsville be­fore re­turn­ing to Cairns as an ac­coun­tant.

But, miss­ing the highs and lows that come with life as a real es­tate agent, he re­turned to the in­dus­try in 1999 to be­come the bro­ker of Cen­tury 21 Cairns.

“I even­tu­ally bought my part­ner out and we changed to RE/MAX,” he said.

“The mar­ket in Cairns ran from 2003-06 and we had such a good run that I was able to re­tire in 2006.”

Af­ter a hia­tus, Mr Wil­liam- son again came back to head up RE/MAX Cairns in 2010.

“The mar­ket in Cairns was de­pressed and I could sense some op­por­tu­ni­ties,” he said.

“It was just me and one other staff mem­ber, Steve Daven­port, but I was fresh and we went as hard as we could.”

Now, just seven years later, the Cairns agency has about 20 em­ploy­ees.

He said the au­ton­omy of real es­tate was one of the gig’s most ap­peal­ing traits.

“The real es­tate pro­fes­sion is full of hard knocks,” Mr Wil­liamson said.

“The wins are high and losses are very low. It’s about your abil­ity to keep go­ing for­ward.

“But in this game you can give your­self a pay rise by chang­ing your at­ti­tude – it’s re­ally up to you.”

While out­per­form­ing other re­gional cen­tres in Queens- land, Cairns’ mar­ket has re­mained flat for some time with the long-awaited growth from strong tourism and bur­geon­ing con­struc­tion yet to re­flect in real es­tate prices.

But Mr Wil­liamson said change was im­mi­nent.

“We’re hop­ing it’s the lull be­fore the storm,” he said.

“I worked in sim­i­lar mar­kets back in the early 2000s, where we had a lull be­fore it took off.

“There are a lot of fac­tors in Cairns now that are sim­i­lar to that mar­ket.

“We’ve got cranes in the city and more con­fi­dence.”

IN­NO­VA­TIVE: RE/MAX Cairns prin­ci­pal Tony Wil­liamson at his of­fice in the for­mer wed­ding chapel at Whit­field. Pic­ture: STE­WART McLEAN

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