Phil Kouvelis well remembers his first property sale as a 20-year-old real estate agent in the early 1970s.
It was 1974 and the house, in the-then outer suburb of Curtin, sold for the princely sum of $24,000.
Almost 50 years later, Phil sold a property in Yarralumla for $2.15 million along with an apartment on the Kingston foreshore for $2 million.
As he points out, in the 1970s, units were going for $30,000.
“The biggest change I have noticed over the past 50 years is the impact of the internet,” says Phil.
“In the 1970s, the only way buyers would know a property was for sale was either a sign out the front of the house or through a listing in The Canberra Times. Potential buyers would line up early on Saturday morning to get The Times to see what was for sale. In those days we physically took people through properties. We didn’t have ‘open homes’. It was all done by appointment.”
Fifty years down the track, Phil reflects on his early days as a 19-year-old and his decision to become a real estate agent.
“I left school and went overseas. Initially, I wanted to be a policeman. I got my papers together to join the police and was ready to submit them, but I opted to go into real estate after getting a job with John Tanner Real Estate in 1973.”
Phil had applied for five jobs as a real estate seller but was told by four that he was too young.
“The breakthrough came when John Tanner believed I had potential, and he took a punt.
“John was the President of the Real Estate Institute at the time and he taught me plenty about people, while I think the selling side comes from within.”
Phil was more a property manager in the early stages of his career before being let loose on potential sellers and buyers, culminating in that first sale.
Six years later he started his own business, Kouvelis and Stefanou. It was above the fruit shop on Bunda Street in Civic, which later became John Hanna Menswear.
Phil would later move to an office in Deakin for 20 years then Garran for another 20.
He is now working for Maloney’s Property as a salesman.
“The transition from being an owner to a salesman wasn’t easy but I’m still passionate about the industry with listing and selling. I’ve still got more left in me. The selling technique is still the same,” he says.
“I don’t know of anybody else still actively listing and selling properties in Canberra who has been in the business for 50 years.
“I’ve even got one client who I have listed and sold properties for five times over a 30-year period.”
For Phil, it has been more than a job. It has allowed him to expand beyond selling homes, using his considerable talents as an auctioneer to raise millions of dollars at charity fundraisers, and community causes ranging from preschools to the Red Cross.
And with 50 years of real estate to his name, his passion for selling continues to shine through.