Blog

Welcome to some of my more informal insights into the world of Real Estate. Here I’ll introduce some of the hot topics within the industry and add some of my tips to help you make the most of your career in this business.

Andrew Drane's Real Estate Q&A - with special guest Mike Green

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Andrew Drane:

Well I'm here today and it's an absolute pleasure to introduce Mike Green, the Managing Director of Harcourts International.

I just want to say at the outside it's an absolute pleasure and it just goes to the culture of Harcourts to have our head honcho, number one man come out to the office and deliver a powerful one hour presentation to the sales and property management admin team here.

Mike, thanks very much.

Mike Green:

Thanks, Andrew.

Andrew Drane:

I just want to put out there of course as well that we've got a vision to be number one office international by 2020, and part of Mike's discussion today was to talk about how we're going to get there and what some of the amazing offices are doing.

Mike, in a nutshell, for all those people out there wanting to be the best in the industry, what do we need to do?

Mike Green:

It was a really good session, Andrew, and I thank you for thanking me but it was great to be here. Because as I said to your team, I spend a lot of time in board meetings and doing other things, and to spend time with people like yourself that are actually doing it and doing such a great job, that's great for me.

What do you need to do? It's a whole host of things, obviously. It's never one thing. I think a lot of it is to continue what you're already doing, because you've clearly created an environment where there's energy, there's enthusiasm, there's passion. Your people clearly are proud to be here. If you're going to be the number one you've got to look the number one, and your people do. The office does, which is great.

You know, the basics are the basics. You've got to be fearless in being persistent and consistent at delivering the highest service. Creating clients and experiences clients have that they just go, "Wow that was amazing," that's the key.

Having the auction process in place, and doing as well as you do; using social media; making sure that the profile's out there being heavily involved in the community. Our business is so driven and the foundation for it is the people that we work with and the environment, the community, that we're in. Making sure that we support that community and are very visible in it, not just from a commercial perspective but with sponsorships, and community events, and what have you, doing that.

Business plans; we've talked about that. One of the challenges for our industry is a lot of us get into it because we want the freedom and we want the time to do what we want to do, but of course that's our biggest weakness as well, because it doesn't matter how disciplined you are, we have times where we're not as focused as we should be.

Having the why, having the plan, and sticking to the plan, and being held accountable. The most successful people, that's what they do. Continue to do that.

The basics in real estate are the basics; talk to more people, make more calls, grow the momentum. More people, more marketshare. You create an energy, you become an attraction business. That's what you're doing, which is fantastic.

Andrew Drane:

We talked about disruptors in an era where we've got digital technologies exponential. We talked about Purplebricks, we touched on that. There's a lot of concern out there about businesses like that and disrupting industry.

We talked about value, but what do we need to do? Should we worried to start with? Those offices that are trying to get more marketshare, what do we have to do to make sure that those businesses coming in don't effect us?

Mike Green:

Yeah, it's a really good question that's why we talked about it. There's a lot of talk at the moment about Purplebricks for instance, but I think let's make no mistake, Purplebricks is just a discount, that's all they are. There's spruiking TIC and all that sort of stuff, but at the end of the day they're just a discount fee operator.

We've seen plenty of those in the past, we'll see more in the future. I don't think they're going to disrupt our industry at all, but I think forgetting Purplebricks or anyone else for that matter, it's just delivering the best value to our clients by doing what we know we need to do unusually well. I mean, that's the bottom line.

The top people in our industry, they do an incredibly good job. They genuinely care; they focus on the objectives of the client. What does the client want to achieve? They work hugely hard to achieve those objectives. They have clear strategies in terms of marketing; they have the highest standards in terms of how they present the property and present themselves and their communication with the seller right through the process; their ability to negotiate; they're in the main hugely experienced and focused negotiators. Which is what we do. Then their after-sales and their follow up and their relationship building is colossal.

Provided we keep doing our job exceptionally well, then no one is going to disrupt the core business-

Andrew Drane:

Like the old saying, in the absence of value people always question commission, won't they?

Mike Green:

Exactly. The people that go out there basing their business on price are the ones that can't base it on value.

Andrew Drane:

Yeah.

Mike Green:

That's the bottom line. I'm not worried about Purplebricks. We've seen lots of them in the past and there'll be more in the future.

That's not to say that we shouldn't always be mindful of disruption in our business, because as it's a huge business then there will be disruption. But at the end of the day, if we continue to set the high standards and do the best job in the business, we create real value for clients and we're changing people's lives.

I think that, in the end, is an enormously powerful position.

Andrew Drane:

One last question, Mike, is on culture. Just to have you here shows the culture of Harcourts, and one of the reasons I love the brand is because I know that we make a call, you fly down from Brisbane for an hour, you come down and you train the team.

You're looking after over ... How many offices internationally?

Mike Green:

830-odd.

Andrew Drane:

830-odd offices. To make the effort to come out here just to me is just cultural.

How important is it that the offices that are going to be the best, how important is their culture overall?

Mike Green:

I think culture is the number one thing. Harcourts in over 20 years has grown from 80 offices to 800-odd, and so I often get asked, "What's the difference? How has that happened?"

Hey, I think we've got great training, and I think we've got great tech and all the various things. But in the end I think the difference is culture. I think it is the fact that people are proud. Our people are genuinely proud of the business.

I appreciate you saying that, but to come and spend time with you and your team and Mel, it's the best thing in the world for me. I just love it. People say, "Oh you're the Managing Director," and all this. I'm Mike Green. I went into real estate when I was 19. I've sold houses, worked in real estate offices. I love this business. I love our industry.

I love the fact that we're growing something that people like yourself, Andrew, and I can go to see Martin Cooper in Auckland, or I can see Dane in Brisbane, or Lee Perry in Mandurah, or Steve Caradoc-Davies in South Africa. We're a like minded group. We're values driven, we really genuinely care about what we're doing, and we're proud of what we're doing. When you get a whole bunch of people together that share a common sense of purpose and values, it's a pretty special place to be.

I'm going to start to sound a bit philosophical now, but-

Andrew Drane:

I'm getting misty eyed here.

Mike Green:

I know! We'll be hugging in a moment.

As you get a bit older too, you realize that you spend so much time at work and when you look at your life and think what are you doing? What does it mean? What does it matter? There's something special about being involved in a group like this with a whole bunch of people that genuinely care, that you sort of think, yeah, this is worthwhile. This is a worthwhile endeavor.

I played a video this morning and Steve Jobs was on that video. One of the things you said was, "You've got to love what you do," and I think in the end that's the difference. If you love what you're doing, coming and doing this and talking to the guys and catching up with Jamie and new baby and those things ... You just love it. It's just a special thing to do.

Andrew Drane:

You can tell you love it. I think that's what I love about you Mike, is you're actually ground roots. You enjoyed coming here and speaking to the team. That comes from your real estate base; you love getting in front of people-

Mike Green:

Yeah.

Andrew Drane:

And imparting knowledge.

Mate, thank you very much-

Mike Green:

Welcome.

Andrew Drane:

I appreciate you taking the time to train us and put this video together. On behalf of the team, thanks a lot.

Mike Green:

You're welcome.

Andrew Drane:

Good to see you, Mike.


How often should you do a routine property inspection?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


A routine property inspection during a tenancy is crucial to ensure that a home is being cared for and that there are no maintenance or pressing health and safety issues.  Read more


A routine property inspection during a tenancy is crucial to ensure that a home is being cared for and that there are no maintenance or pressing health and safety issues.

As a letting agent or property manager you need to look after your clients investment while respecting their tenants privacy and rights. This is also an opportunity for the tenant to point out any maintenance required at the property.

Scheduling a routine property inspection

You can legally inspect a property up to four times a year and under the Residential Tenancies Act you have to give the tenant at least 7 days written notice. This letter will specify the date and a timeframe during for the inspection to take place.

The first routine inspection should be carried out after 6 to 8 weeks of a new tenancy, and then every 3 to 6 months. The first inspection is important as it gives you a good sense of how the tenants are treating the property.

The tenants need to be present for the inspection, but they must be aware when you plan to visit the property. Always be polite and courteous when dealing with tenants, and record any issues which they raise to forward to the owner.

What to look for during a property inspection

During a property inspection you need to look for any signs of disrepair and anything that could pose a risk to the tenant’s health and safety. Things to look for include:

  • Major structural issues such as cracks in walls or ceilings
  • Mould on walls and ceilings
  • Smoke detectors with flat batteries
  • Unsound balcony, stair railings or decking
  • Dry rot in timber structures
  • Swimming pools that do not comply with current safety regulations
  • Any potentially hazardous plumbing, gas or electrical issues

Use a checklist template to make this task easier and take photos as a record to share with the owner and to monitor any potential problems that could be developing.

After the property inspection

After you have completed the inspection you need to notify the owner of your findings, including if you have found any issues they are responsible for rectifying. You also need to notify the tenant if they are abusing the property, preferably in writing. This should be followed by another inspection to ensure they are complying. If any work needs to be done to the property the owner's approval must be obtained. A work order can then be forwarded directly to the tradie, who will liaise with you to arrange access.

Are you a Property Manager looking for a change of office and culture? We’re always on the lookout give me 0430119601 or the office a call (02) 9686 3999

18 Chianti Court, Glenwood - with Andrew & Celeste from Harcourts Hills Living

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Hi, I'm Andrew Drane from Harcourts Hills Living. Today do I have a treat for you.

18 Chianti Court in Glenwood, it was built as a master built home three levels in design, and I want to let you know, this house has its own soul, its own character. It comes with much of the furniture that suits the house particularly. This one would go to a buyer looking for a very special type of home. I'm very excited.

Celeste is inside. She's going to take you on a tour of the property right now and I'll see you at the other side.

Taking your first steps in the tile entry foyer, this palatial home opens up into three stunning levels. The living spaces bountiful and glistened with a natural light beaming in from many large windows. Your family's covered for formal entertaining as well as everyday meals with distinctly separate zones.

To serve all these zones is this master built oversize kitchen with breakfast bar and gas cooktop. For additional family space or extended families, there's an enormous downstairs rumpus which sits accompanied by a handy extra bedroom complete with en suite.

From my belief this house has its own heart and soul. What I mean by that is that the owner has generously decided to leave much of the furniture in the house here. Why? Because it forms part of the character of the home and without it, it just wouldn't be the same property.

For the remainder of the family, the top level houses four bedrooms with built ins all generously proportioned and two sharing a walkthrough ensuite.

This opulent home is also complemented by the stunning library. This incredible piece of architecture will astound with its combination of functionality and design.

To the rear of the property sits an easy care Roman inspired garden. Paved for entertaining, grass for the green thumb and style to impress.

As I said, this is the sort of home that's going to go to a special type of buyer. It has heart, it has soul, it has its own unique character. This home's going to suit the buyer that has refined tastes and is looking for something a little bit above the norm.

I'm Andrew Drane from Harcourts Hills Living. I hope to see you soon.

Auction works yet again! At Harcourts Hills Living

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Let me give you one very simple tip before the auction gets underway. The highest bidder today will always have the best chance at any auction of buying the properties. Andrew Drane is my name. I'll be your auctioneer today looking after proceedings. First of all, thank you must go to our vendors for entrusting Harcourts with the auction sale of their property. A number of people have come through, a number of contracts issued today, that has translated into you, as the bidders vying to buy this wonderful home. Ladies and gentlemen, make sure you're the highest bidder here today, 45 Mulgrave Avenue in Baulkham Hills, I'm in your hands, ladies and gentlemen. I'll ask you now for an opening bid offer to get me started where we need to be.

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm in your hands now. Where do we start? At $1,100,000. Number 7 in front. I should see paddles in the air at that level. Thank you. We open the bidding now at $1,110,000 the bid. I'll take 10 or higher if you like. Anyone can come in. 150. Thank you. $1,150,000 madam, and sir, it's back to you now. 60. Thank you very much. By 10, I'll take it. 170. 95, I've got it. $1,195,000. We're at 1.2 now. Where do we go? $1,202,000. $1,215,000 it is. Come straight back, make it strong, make it bold. 25. Thank you sir. We're at 1.23 on the first call. 40, good bidding. We are selling. Make no mistake. $1,253,000. Are we done? We're selling. Big round of applause. Sold. Congratulations. Well done.

On behalf of the team, congratulations to our new owners of this beautiful property. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Thank you.

67 Jasper Road, Baulkham Hills - with Andrew Drane & Celeste Kopps from Harcourts Hills Living

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

What I love about this area is that many people have chosen to build their dream home here, and the reason being is it is quite a substantial area for block size. Lynn's house here for instance is a 923 meter block of land. It's ideal for the first home owner, it's perfect for the knock down re-build renovator, but at the end of the day you're still going to be on a block of land just shy of a quarter of an acre. That's where the real value is.

What Lynn's going to miss the most about this home, having brought family up here, and what she wants the buyer of this home to appreciate is the warmth. It's the kids playing and laughing in the background, and simply having a cup of tea with good friends, family, and neighbors alike. It's a solid home constructed when things were meant to last but if you buy this house I've got to warn you, you're going to be subject to the following. Kids laughing in the background, family gatherings, entertaining the neighbors, and people dropping in for a cup of tea.

I'm not going to tell you anything about the area that you don't already know. Jasper Road Primary School's literally a five minute walk from this location. Ample bike tracks and recreational facilities just around the corner, and look at this, sitting in the middle of this backyard in a beautiful spring day I can hear nothing but the birds chirping. I remember growing up in a backyard this big. When I was a child we had family gatherings, there was ample space to run around because the backyard is just that big. It's hard to find that in modern day properties and I think you lose that connection with the family when you don't have a block of land of this proportion.

As you can see I leave Celeste alone for five minutes, she can't help herself, they've made a cup of tea, they've settled in and this home really does lend itself to that sort of activity. I'm Andrew Drane, sitting with Lynn is Celeste Cox. We'll see you at the open home.

Selling your home: An 8 step survival checklist

Thursday, September 08, 2016


Selling your property can be a convoluted process, especially if it is your first time. Use this checklist to help you navigate all the steps and track your progress. Read more


Selling your property can be a convoluted process, especially if it is your first time. Use this checklist to help you navigate all the steps and track your progress.

1. How much is your property worth?
You need to have a realistic expectation of what your property is worth. Get your property appraised by estate agents and keep track of what similar sized homes in your street or suburb sell for.

2. Find an estate agent
Choose an agent who has a successful sales record and experience in your local market. They need to have an effective marketing strategy so your home sale gets exposed to the most possible people. In this step you also need to negotiate their commission and any marketing fees applicable before signing an agreement with them.

3. Offer or auction?
Your estate agent can help you decide what sales method is best - either via an auction or to take offers. They will be able to advise you which sale method is best for your property.

4. Choose a legal eagle
A solicitor or conveyancer is essential to prepare your contract of sale and Section 32 statement (vendor's statement) and help you understand the finer legal points of your sale.

5. Your home goes on the market
Together with you agent you now need to decide your advertised selling price, and what offers you are prepared to accept. After photographing your property your agent will now begin to market your home for sale - online, in print, on billboards and via open home viewings.

6. Offers or auction
Prospective buyers will channel their offers via your agent, who will negotiate with them on your behalf. If you are selling at auction buyers need to have exceeded your reserve price. Once you have accepted an offer your legal rep can begin preparing final contract documents. This is the point where the buyer also pays a deposit.

7. Pre-settlement
Before you exchange your keys for your cash your legal rep and bank will liaise with the buyer's reps and bank to finalise all the legal and financial requirements.

8. Settlement
This is the big day when the sale legally occurs. The buyer takes possession of your property and you receive the balance of payment from them.

Harcourts Hills Living is Now Hiring

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Andrew Drane:

Guys what you're here today for is to find out whether you've got what it takes in real estate. The drive. The passion. The determination.

Well I've put my heart and soul in to Harcourts Hills Living as I've been for the last 9 or so years. It's been a hard journey, but a very interesting one. I've developed a really good team around me, and that's been the absolute priority for me, and moving forward and trying to achieve my goal of number one office by 2020 in the Harcourts network Internationally. It's very important I have the right people around me.

We have some of the best people in the industry working here right now.

In this very room, we've had some of the best trainers. Josh Phegan, Dr. Fred Gross, Chris Helder, Niik Stewart have stood here right where I am now and delivered the same sort of message to people in this office. We've got some of the most high performing sales people in the state working here.

Jamie Benjamin:

I started doing all of the menial stuff that you do as an entry level for the real estate industry. Really, there was that progression for me with Harcourts Hills Living. I always saw that long term future, that this could be the place where I actually made my mark.

Harcourts Hills Living has got such a great infrastructure these days. You've got the leadership from Andrew, and you've got the support of Leng and the administration team. There's just everything there that's going to make you succeed in real estate.

Andrew Drane:

What I have, is I have people in key positions to make it as easy as possible for you to achieve your goals and become successful. People and Culture Manager, Senior Sales Administrator, Creative Director, Social Media Manager. All of those people are here to make sure we are building an audience, so that you can go out there and do what you do best.

Lang Rubelj:

At Harcourts Hills Living, we're looking to push the envelope with real estate. We are on a mission to evolve and learn, and constantly be the best and be the most innovative. The best way to achieve that is through our people. As the People and Culture Manager here, it's my responsibility to ensure that everybody is treated fairy, appreciated, and personal lives are respected, and that we offer the opportunity to learn, develop, and build an opportunity to kick start your career to success.

Andrew Drane:

One of the things I've done here is develop my own marketing agency called Estate of the Art Multimedia. I've got some of the best photographers, the best videographers in the industry, and we've got them in-house. When it comes to out-marketing our competition, I've found the best and I've connected them to Harcourts Hills Living.

As a Managing Director of this organization, it's to help everyone achieve their goals. In doing so, it'll help us get to that number one office. That's the prime focus of what I do.

When you come and work for me, you're going to get a career roadmap. We're going to ask you, "What are your goals? What are your dreams? What is your vision? What is your purpose?"

I want someone who has a strong attitude that's willing to learn how to be successful. We can show you the journey to get there, but you've got to have the work ethic, and you've got to have the commitment and the discipline to get there.

A wise man once said to me, "Thoughts determine what you want, but actions determine what you get." It's time for you to take action. If you have a desire. If you have the passion, the work ethic, the willingness to create habits that successful people have and be surrounded by some of the best in the industry, you belong at Harcourts Hills Living. Your agreement's here. Are you ready to sign with us?

What can real estate agents learn from Olympians?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016



With the Rio Olympics drawing to a close, it has been a real roller coaster ride watching the finest athletes in the world doing their thing. And among those proudly representing Australia some have also been flying the flag for the Hills District. Did you know we can count high jumper Brandon Starc, hurdler Michelle Jenneke and sailor Tom Burton - who won a gold medal - as our own? Read more



With the Rio Olympics drawing to a close, it has been a real roller coaster ride watching the finest athletes in the world doing their thing. And among those proudly representing Australia some have also been flying the flag for the Hills District. Did you know we can count high jumper Brandon Starc, hurdler Michelle Jenneke and sailor Tom Burton - who won a gold medal - as our own?







It got me thinking what it took for them to make it onto the world stage? Sure they have talent, but it takes many years of grit, determination and good old fashioned hard work to compete at that level. Values that we, as real estate agents, can certainly learn from and apply to our field of endeavour.

So what exactly can our Olympians teach us?

Dedication and passion

Olympians literally eat breathe and sleep their sport. Swimmer Michael Phelps - yes, the guy with 23 gold medals - trains on average for six hours a day. And the majority of that time he is alone in the pool with no fans in sight. That daily grind requires dedication and passion - the same sort that you need to succeed as a Real Estate Professional in our highly competitive market. If you don’t want it 100% and have a passion for it you are not going to be successful.

Always have goals

Olympians have a single minded focus - to be the best in the world. Their whole life is based around getting to a single destination: Rio 2016 or Tokyo 2020. Thankfully as Real Estate Professionals we compete on a local, not global, stage; but the lesson here is setting goals and never forgetting what they are. Ever. That could mean setting yourself a sales target for the year, and tracking your progress every quarter.

Improve, improve, improve

Olympians are always looking to improve; it’s how they win and break records. If you aren’t improving you are either standing still or going backwards. For us Real Estate Professionals it could mean educating yourself, refining your marketing strategy or learning a new skill. Whatever aspect of your skillset you choose to focus on, it should help you shine and ultimately help get you onto that (real estate) podium. Winning is a great feeling, especially when it is a team effort!

And if you see Brandon, Michelle or Tom around, don’t forget to say hi or give them thumbs up for inspiration and effort.

Andrew Drane's Recap of the Harcourts Quarterly Awards 2016

Friday, August 12, 2016


I'm Andrew Drane from Harcourts Hills Living, and last night we had our quarterly New South Wales Awards. First of all, I must just thank head office for putting on such a great award, Mark Morrison, our CEO, great night. Paul Casarotto for MC’ing a good night there, it was really a lot of fun, and I just want to say also thank you to some of those other offices that provide us with a lot of competition. Duff Makowski out there at Campbelltown, Andrew Chrysanthou at Blacktown, Shad McMillan at Rouse Hill, and Chris De Celis at Castle Hill. We're a part of a wonderful network, you guys rock, you're doing really well and it's great to have that level of healthy competition out there. Congratulations to all those offices and their staff that won awards.  Read more


I'm Andrew Drane from Harcourts Hills Living, and last night we had our quarterly New South Wales Awards. First of all, I must just thank head office for putting on such a great award, Mark Morrison, our CEO, great night. Paul Casarotto for MC’ing a good night there, it was really a lot of fun, and I just want to say also thank you to some of those other offices that provide us with a lot of competition. Duff Makowski out there at Campbelltown, Andrew Chrysanthou at Blacktown, Shad McMillan at Rouse Hill, and Chris De Celis at Castle Hill. We're a part of a wonderful network, you guys rock, you're doing really well and it's great to have that level of healthy competition out there. Congratulations to all those offices and their staff that won awards.

While I'm here I just wanted to take the opportunity to congratulate some of my own team for outstanding awards. Of course, first of all Tarym Coghlan-Hardy, number one business development manager in New South Wales. Jamie Benjamin, number one salesperson, New South Wales. The property management department did really well with the excellence award, we had some great salespeople getting some awards, Nick Menzies, Sam Di Giuseppe, Peter Pokorny, well done last night, guys. And of course, Celeste Kopps, one of the best assistants you'll ever find with an unbelievable knowledge of the real estate market and real estate generally. We've got some really strong staff now in sales, administration, and property management. I'm very, very excited.

I just want to say congratulations to my team, the ones that have worked really hard to get themselves out there and win some awards. They're tireless in their approach to real estate, they know their stuff, they train hard, and congratulations, it's well deserved.

Now, if you're out there and you want some advice on real estate, come and see my team. They're well trained, they work hard, and they know their stuff. I'm Andrew Drane from Harcourts Hills Living, hope I can talk to you soon.

Harcourts Australia Bucks Market Trend and Grows Sales

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


I love data. Why? Because it lets you track (and celebrate) your successes. And that is what I want to share with you today. Read more


I love data. Why? Because it lets you track (and celebrate) your successes. And that is what I want to share with you today.

The latest data from Corelogic, Australia’s leading property information and analytics source, confirms that Harcourts Australia has bucked the overall market trend with property sales up 6% over the last 12 months.

This is a fantastic achievement given that most capital cities have seen a softening in home sales and transaction volumes, while the overall Australian market is down 8% over the same period. Our market share is also up in terms of the number of sales (+.4%) and value (+.2%). That puts us 3rd overall nationally on sales volume - up from 4th; and one of only two real estate companies in the top ten to increase sales over the last year.

Overall we should be very proud of our track record, especially in light of conditions in the broader market.

How did we achieve this fantastic performance?

By providing our teams with the support, systems, training and technology to provide our clients with an exceptional level of service. We also expanded, with 113 more sales consultants nationally than we had this time last year.  And let's not forget the hard work, professionalism and passion that all the Harcourts teams around the country put in. The results speak for themselves.

It's what made Harcourts Hills Living Business of the Year 2016 at the recent Sydney Hills Local Business Awards.

I am genuinely excited to work with an enthusiastic, motivated team who are committed to setting the benchmark for real estate in the Hills. Get in touch today to talk to any of our team - we are here to get the best result possible for you.

Let's Start with What Your Property is Worth

Would you like to know what your property is worth? Our agents know the market, know your suburb and can give you a realistic, honest price guide. Let's start with a Free Property Appraisal. We'll have one of our agents get in contact with you and help you understand, what your property is worth in todays market. If you want to sell your home before Christmas, we had better get a move on.

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