Sebastian Gutierrez may be hot property now after winning the Allhomes Rising Star Award for sales agents but this self-confessed former bad boy isn’t about to get complacent.
Only three years ago the 28-year-old Ray White Belconnen sales agent was in a dark place, hanging out with the wrong crowd and watching life pass him by. He’d spent six years working with the family commercial painting business, supervising teams, dealing with other tradies on sites and haggling over payments.
Sebastian didn’t know it at the time but he was in training.
“I used to love being able to pull all that together, managing a crew and being part of team, and knowing that at the end of a job it happened with my input,” he said.
But what he calls his make or break time had arrived and he had no option but to find his own way, and fast.
He knew he had no real experience, that with his chequered background and rough looks it would be tough but he knew he had the drive and that he could sell anything to anybody.
“I felt that I could sell anything that I believed in,” he said. “I felt that the family home impacted people so hugely, that real estate would give me that same sense of fulfillment that I’d had in the painting business.
“What better way to get into a high-paying salary role where I would wake up every morning and love my job.”
Easier said than done. He doorknocked every shopfront in Belconnen and was quickly shown the door until he met Ray White principal Ben Faulks who at least spoke to him, even it was only to say his wife was having a baby and he had to go.
That was all the encouragement Sebastian needed.
“I rolled the dice on it. I thought successful real estate agents must need to be persistent so I found his number on the website and kept calling,” he said.
Two weeks later Ben finally got back to arrange a meeting with him and fellow director Scott Jackson.
“I went in the same way and didn’t change my appearance. It was full disclosure. I told them I had nothing really to offer except drive. ‘Mould me to what the ideal real estate agent is, and if it works it works, if not we both walk away’,” he said.
“They took a gamble on me and credit to them, because if they didn’t give me a chance and put up with my inexperience I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Not that it’s been all smooth sailing. “I nearly got fired three times and had to beg to keep my job at one time,” he said.
“I said, ‘Give me a half a chance and I’ll prove you wrong’ and that’s when they put me into Kaleen.”
Kaleen is now his patch, but it was a tough market to crack and a bit overwhelming at the time.
But he backed himself, doorknocking rather than letterboxing and cold calling so he could build relationships face to face.
It’s a quality along with being upfront with clients and buyers that he believes sets him apart.
“The feedback from buyers and vendors is that I’m genuine. ‘You’re never too shy to give us the hard facts if that house isn’t worth what we think it’s worth, you’re just real about it’ they say,” he said.
And his grit.
“I’m not stopping until I win the listing or the vendor tells me that I’ve lost on my own merits,” he said. “That go-hard attitude is what separates me from a lot of other agents.”
Sebastian knows he is only on the rise and has a long way to go in the industry but he wants to be a mentor and coach to people like him who may come from different backgrounds yet have a will to succeed.
He also has no plans to move on from the people who gave him his start, and wants to cement himself as a significant member of the Ray White team.
“They coached me from that basic instinct of fight or flight to be articulate and become more than what I was,” he said.
“They pulled me from such a dark place to being able to wear a suit and tie and be invited into people’s homes, that alone blows my mind.”
It’s been a big 12 months – from a sales associate to flying solo on commission in Kaleen, winning the Allan White Premier Member award recognising agents who have achieved $300,000 gross commission in a year, and being named the Allhomes Rising Star, not to mention buying a house with his partner and only recently becoming a father to son Elijah .
So much has changed for the better, but Sebastian insists his heart is still the same as when he walked into the Ray White Belconnen agency, and that heart is what will keep him striving to be the best he can be.
Thomas has a longer history in the industry than Sebastian but it’s only been five months since he went out on his own to establish Thomas Hathaway Real Estate, focusing on property management but looking ahead to moving into sales as well.
A former property manager with Peter Blackshaw, Thomas spent a few years brainstorming before making his move.
He said it was great to be recognised in his first year of business for “my out of the box thinking” such as direct online chats with clients, extended opening hours and attending body corporate meetings on behalf of owners and tenants.
But essentially it’s about people and ensuring mutual outcomes for tenants and clients.
“Sometimes being a property manager isn’t always about property it’s about people and managing their expectations and relationships,” he said.
Thomas said he would focus on building his portfolio but keeping it at lower than industry average so that he can continue to offer a personal service and maintain his business model.
“Traditionally, small businesses promise clients a lot and then lose that connection when they get bigger,” he said.
The Allhomes Rising Star Awards recognise agents and property managers who are 30 years old or younger or who have been in the industry for two years or less.