New boys on the block making an impact

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Hamilton real estate company Ray White’s sales division is under new ownership and a youthful, energetic culture is creating waves in the city’s real estate scene.

Fraser Coombes and Mark Keesom took over the Ray White Hamilton sales office in April and have wasted no time putting their stamp on the business. 

The southern Victoria Street site has had a major overhaul, boosting its profile, the company has embraced the latest technology and its upbeat culture is attracting a number of young agents. 

Keesom – at Ray White since 2011 – is one of the Ray White group’s elite salespeople receiving national honours, while Coombes already part owns Ray White’s Hamilton’s award-winning property management business. This business was recently awarded Top Large Office of the Year by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand for 2018. Coombes’s father Dennis and business partner Carl Glasgow were previous owners of the sales division for 14 years. The three of them still own the property management business together which is managed by Fraser Coombes. 

Buying the business is a big step for two men in their thirties with families but Keesom and Coombes wasted very little time on it – a quick discussion in the office one day and a handshake and the deal was done. It’s how they roll. 

Ray White Hamilton is a fast growing and ambitious office.

“We’ve been using the words recharge and refresh a lot,” says Coombes.

“We want to recharge the Ray White brand in Waikato and leverage off the success of the property management company. Ray White is absolutely huge in Auckland and for us this is about recharging the business, using Ray White’s resources, ideas and technology to hit the Hamilton market and provide a fresh progressive real estate experience for Hamiltonians – that’s certainly starting to happen.”

Ray White Hamilton has just had its biggest November in terms of sales in 10 years, while in recent months they’ve attracted seven agents from other local realtors.  There are now 32 salespeople in the sales division.

“Culture is the big one that we want to focus on,” says Keesom. 

“We want this to be an enjoyable, satisfying place to work. Real estate is very hard work but it’s a job where what you put in is what you get out. It’s a results business. If you put in the hard yards you get it back but for us, we’re also trying to make it a little bit more fun. It’s always going to be a hard slog this business. But we want it to be worth it, we want our agents to have some downtime, some nights off.”

Keesom and Coombes encourage social outings where staff can “take the work hat off and have a laugh”.

Ray White’s physical presence on its site on the corner of Victoria Street and Knox Street is now far more impressive following a makeover which included new signs and lighting. The interior of the building has also had a transformation and makes for a fresh and welcoming customer experience.  

Another big focus for the business is the use of the latest technology to make the process of buying and selling easier for vendors and purchasers.

Keesom points out that Ray White is the largest real estate brand in Australasia with 171 offices in New Zealand alone. He says Ray White in Australia has more than 40 full time staff dedicated to advancing technology and making it available to all offices. 

“There is so much becoming available that helps give buyers and sellers real-time information that is easily accessible at their fingertips. It makes our job easier and the whole process of buying or selling easier. Our salespeople and customers are already noticing the difference and it will just get better. Ray White is at the cutting edge of this technology.”

Coombes and Keesom say they are always looking for more agents. 

“Ideally we want someone who is energetic, motivated and who wants to make good money and understands what hard work looks like. Someone with a work ethic, self-driven but someone who wants to join a great culture, have some fun too and be part of a progressive brand.” 

The pair is active in community sponsorships around Waikato and plan to continue growing Ray White’s profile in Hamilton. But it won’t be through a whole lot of glitzy advertising. 

“It will be all about results. We are a go-ahead, sustainable, business here for the long term.”

And while the market isn’t as buoyant as it was a few years ago, it’s still serving Ray White well. 

“The market is good at the moment,” says Keesom. 

“If you are a good real estate salesperson then the market is fine. There was a time when you could sell a house standing on your head – that’s gone. You actually have to do the job well now – the craft is starting to come through. And that’s what we’re all about.”

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Geoff Taylor

Waikato Business News editor Geoff Taylor. Email: geoff@wbn.co.nz