TAK­ING THE STEP UP

ANTHEA ECONOMOS

Elite Property Manager - - FRONT PAGE - IN­TER­VIEW: SA­MAN­THA MCLEAN WORDS: KYLIE DUL­HUNTY

ANTHEA ECONOMOS likes to stand on her own two feet.

A vi­va­cious and ded­i­cated prop­erty man­ager at Ray White Rock­dale, the driven daugh­ter of prin­ci­pal Con has well and truly shed the ‘boss’s daugh­ter’ la­bel.

That’s not to say the pair don’t gel like peas and car­rots; it just means there’s the ut­most re­spect and ap­pre­ci­a­tion for what each brings to the fam­ily-ori­ented busi­ness.

“Es­pe­cially when I first started, I worked so hard to not be the boss’s daugh­ter,” Anthea re­calls.

“I was very ap­pre­cia­tive and I love that I had that op­por­tu­nity to work with him, but I hated when peo­ple would say, ‘Oh, are you help­ing your dad out?’ No, I have a full­time po­si­tion and I work very hard. I don’t just go to auc­tions and smile and reg­is­ter peo­ple. I work hard.”

Anthea grew up tag­ging along be­hind her fa­ther to list­ing ap­point­ments af­ter school. As a teenager, she worked ev­ery Satur­day on re­cep­tion.

But if you ask Anthea if this early in­tro­duc­tion to real es­tate im­me­di­ately fos­tered a love of all things prop­er­tyre­lated, you get a re­sound­ing ‘no’.

“If you’d asked me if I ever wanted to get into it, I would have said flat out, ‘No, it’s not for me’,” she says. In fact, Anthea had other plans. “I was do­ing pri­mary school ed­u­ca­tion at uni­ver­sity for two years.”

When a newly ap­pointed prop­erty man­ager fell preg­nant, Anthea spent a year work­ing part-time with her and part-time at uni­ver­sity. The rest, as they say, is history.

Now Anthea works along­side se­nior prop­erty man­ager Matthew Ben­nett, prop­erty man­age­ment as­sis­tant Demi Gous­sis and prop­erty man­age­ment as­so­ciate Mandie Ma.

Af­ter five years in the job, she says her se­cret real es­tate power is hon­esty and mak­ing her clients, both land­lords and ten­ants, feel re­laxed.

“I think my strong point is mak­ing peo­ple feel com­fort­able with me,” she says.

“I’m han­dling peo­ple’s big­gest as­set and that’s no light feat. That’s a huge po­si­tion, which is some­thing my dad ex­plained quite well to me. I think some prop­erty man­agers don’t think of it that way. Some­times it’s thought of as just a job.”

Anthea says she meets fam­i­lies,

makes them feel com­fort­able with her and as­sures them that if they have ques­tions they can call, email or text her.

In fact, she says one of her key points of dif­fer­ence is her view of prop­erty man­age­ment as a ca­reer path in its own right. She ex­pects to re­main in the role at Ray White Rock­dale long term.

“Land­lords are not go­ing to get a let­ter in three months’ time signed by some­one they’ve never heard of,” she says. “I want you to call Ray White Rock­dale and know that Anthea is al­ways go­ing to be there.”

While still in the early stages of her ca­reer, Anthea says she’s al­ready no­ticed that land­lords are be­com­ing more savvy in their hunt for the per­fect ten­ant, and price isn’t al­ways the be-all and end-all.

She says many own­ers would pre­fer to ac­cept $20 less per week in rent to se­cure a solid ten­ant.

“A lot of peo­ple don’t ask that ques­tion, though. They’re so busy work­ing to have it

"LAND­LORDS ARE NOT GO­ING TO GET A LET­TER IN THREE MONTHS' TIME SIGNED BY SOME­ONE THEY'VE NEVER HEARD OF."

leased to­mor­row and at $20 above what it re­ally might be worth – but to ten­ants who are be­low av­er­age.

“I want their prop­erty to be worth more when I’ve fin­ished with it, not less. But if there’s a lot of wear and tear be­cause you’ve got too many peo­ple liv­ing in a twobed­room apart­ment, then I’m not adding value to their prop­erty.”

De­spite mak­ing a con­certed ef­fort

to shed the ‘boss’s daugh­ter’ tag, Anthea says work­ing for her fa­ther has been a pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence based on mu­tual re­spect. That doesn’t mean they al­ways agree, but there’s an im­plicit trust in the other per­son you can only find with fam­ily.

“He’s been in the busi­ness for longer than I’ve been alive,” she says.

“You have to re­spect that he’s done it be­fore; some­times we have the same opin­ion on things and some­times we don’t. You each bring dif­fer­ent things to the ta­ble… I re­spect that he knows what he’s do­ing when it comes to sales, and he re­spects that I know what I’m do­ing when it comes to prop­erty man­age­ment.”

Anthea says the Ray White Rock­dale team also in­cludes her brother Ni­cholas, in sales, and one thing their fa­ther has taught them is that good ser­vice is price­less.

She says you can’t ex­pect land­lords to pay more for your ser­vices un­less you of­fer more to them. That in­cludes con­nect­ing with your clients ei­ther in per­son or by phone, and not opt­ing for the cold for­mat of email.

“Just be­ing an ap­proach­able hu­man; I think that’s lost in prop­erty man­age­ment. I think some­times we be­come ro­botic and there re­ally shouldn’t be any­thing ro­botic about it.

“My dad is re­ally good at re­mind­ing us that good ser­vice is re­ally im­por­tant and to put your­self in some­one else’s shoes.”

Con says Anthea is an as­set

as an em­ployee and works well with Matthew. He af­firms that she’s earned her po­si­tion based on hard work and merit and, like any fa­ther, he’s proud of her.

“Anthea is a won­der­ful as­set to the team,” he says. “She and Matthew work won­der­fully to­gether … Anthea lis­tens and is able to ex­e­cute what’s asked of her.”

Con says run­ning a fam­ily busi­ness gives him the added com­fort of hav­ing team mem­bers he trusts im­plic­itly. The goal for the fu­ture is to hand over the reins to his chil­dren, with the pos­si­bil­ity of in­volv­ing other key staff mem­bers.

“About five months ago we did a course un­der Brian White on how to run an ef­fec­tive fam­ily busi­ness so you can pass

“MY DAD IS GOOD AT RE­MIND­ING US THAT GOOD SER­VICE IS RE­ALLY IM­POR­TANT AND TO PUT YOUR­SELF IN SOME­ONE ELSE'S SHOES.”

the ba­ton on down the track,” he says. “Ev­ery­one has to add value to the busi­ness and grow it.”

Both Con and Anthea agree

that he won’t be hand­ing over the man­tle just yet – and when that time does come he won’t dis­ap­pear for good.

“I don’t think Dad will be giv­ing it up that eas­ily; I don’t think he ever wants to not work,” Anthea says.

“I’ve kindly asked if I’d be al­lowed to work four days a week, then three days and so on. I don’t think I could not not do this,” Con agrees.

Cur­rently the agency’s rent roll sits at about 450 prop­er­ties, up from 200 just a few years ago. Anthea says grow­ing the busi­ness fur­ther is def­i­nitely on the cards, and the team they have as­sem­bled to do it is run­ning like a “well-oiled ma­chine”.

“We all work on the port­fo­lio to­gether,” she says.

“Ev­ery­one knows what they’re do­ing. Matt deals with a lot more of the se­ri­ous things, so if we have to go to the Tri­bunal he will deal with that. Matt han­dles the bond funds. I han­dle the (rent) raise, I han­dle the re­pairs, as does Matt … Mandie does our leas­ing and our rou­tine in­spec­tions. Demi shows some prop­erty. Ev­ery­one is flex­i­ble and I think that’s why our team works.

“Ev­ery­one gen­uinely wants to be there and ev­ery­one wants to work hard. We are very close. We say, ‘I see them more than I see my own fam­ily,’ so you have to like each other and I think that makes it so easy.”

The role of a prop­erty man­ager is not with­out its chal­lenges, but Anthea is the first to ad­mit han­dling the tough stuff is an im­por­tant part of the job.

“It’s al­ways nice to give good news … while hav­ing dis­cus­sions around duress or money owed is not my favourite part of the job. I think sep­a­rat­ing your­self from that when you go home can be dif­fi­cult. Some­times it’s made easy by an out­stand­ing land­lord, but some­times you’re not on the same wave­length as your land­lord ei­ther.”

Anthea says that,

when it comes to se­lect­ing the right ten­ant, gut in­stinct com­bines with fact-check­ing. As well as fol­low­ing up ref­er­ences, she looks to see what can be un­earthed via Google, call­ing their work­place num­ber and check­ing on the na­tional te­nancy data­base.

She says some­times the checks may de­tect a po­ten­tial prob­lem, such as an old bank­ruptcy, but the ten­ant’s ref­er­ences check out, their leas­ing history is solid, they have al­ways paid rent on time and they pre­sented well when look­ing at the prop­erty.

“I give my own­ers full in­for­ma­tion and I leave it in their hands,” Anthea says.

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