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
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