A step outside the square
Nicky Ramsden is a typical Wanaka business woman: tertiary educated, mother and wife, and self-employed in an industry she never contemplated when she started working in her dream job more than two decades ago.
Ramsden, a former physiotherapist, recently opened Wanaka’s first licensed buyers agency for house seekers, Buyers Agent NZ.
Buyers agencies are common overseas but most New Zealand real estate agencies offer the service within a vendor-listing agency.
Ramsden notes Wanaka is stacked with people who have been prepared to give up city careers to acquire the town’s famed outdoor lifestyle.
‘‘The one thing [about living in Wanaka] is you have to look at women with respect. They want to live in this town so they have to step outside the square. They have the balls to make it work . . . When you delve into women’s backgrounds, you are frequently surprised. Never assume anything,’’ Ramsden said.
Tertiary degrees are pouring out of Wanaka women’s ears. Degreed women outnumber degreed men in all but doctorates.
But despite 32 per cent population growth since 2006, it is still a small town of just under 6500 (9036 if you count Hawea and other small towns), so you will find economists cooking pub meals or lecturers stacking shop shelves.
According to Census 2013 data, there are more unqualified men than women in Wanaka. Of the 6690 people who stated any qualification, 3426 were women and 3261 were men.
‘‘I have friends with a past life, people who were very much the suits-around-the-board-table type of women, who are now in the grass roots, doing hands-on practical jobs now. You would never know! But even then, men here are like that too. I clicked on to some people on LinkedIn the other night and thought ‘‘Really? They used to do that?’’ No wonder people are able to think outside the square and make things work here.’’
When Ramsden and her sheep geneticist husband Andy Ramsden moved to Wanaka from Wellington in 2003, Ramsden had worked 21 years as a physio, including a stint of intensive specialist care with a spinal surgeon.
She was ready for a change of scene and has explored roles in health management and consulting, tourism and real estate.
Her job as a physio had been very real and holistic, negotiating client’s psycho-social issues alongside their injuries and physical ailments.
‘‘I felt I had been to the top of my career. I wanted a family and living in Wanaka had a different vibe,’’ she said.
With her 6-year-old son Jonty off to school, now was an ideal time to launch her new business. Ramsden became interested in setting up a buyers agency after marketing her own Mt Barker home for sale.
Although the Ramsdens decided not to sell and lease more farm instead, she carried on and obtained her real estate qualifications and licence.
She scopes listed and non-listed houses that might interest her clients but she does not list houses to sell.
In the United States or Britain buyers agents take a cut of the vendor’s agent’s commission.
Here, the buyer agent charges a fee to cover the costs of research and representation but does not take a percentage of commission from the vendor’s agent.
If the client buys a house, the buyers agent charges the client a small percentage-based fee (perhaps about 1 per cent), based on the house price.
Ramsden is keen to help her clients through the life and career changing experience of becoming a Wanaka resident.
‘‘I like introducing people to Wanaka’s social organisations as well . . . It’s about helping them into a new life. It is not just about clicking the ticket and saying ‘See you later’. Twelve years on from moving here, I still totally love it.’’
Nicky Ramsden, a former physiotherapist, now helps home buyers.