Conversations: Bernadette Hayes, Harbourline Real Estate

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Real estate entrepreneur Bernadette Hayes switched gears from the hospitality sector to establish a leading agency focused on strong customer relationships.

Just over seven years ago, Bernadette Hayes moved to the ever-dynamic real estate industry – by accident. Today, as Principal at Harbourline Real Estate which specialises in residential sales and property management, she and her team are committed to building lasting relationships through a high standard of personal service at an affordable price.

Their focus on achieving the right outcome for every client has earned them prestigious nods, including ‘Best Outstanding Real Estate Agency’ on the North Shore, in 2016 and 2017.

You’ve moved from a career in hotel management and your own catering business to start a venture in real estate. What attracted you to the industry?

I was never attracted to the industry, but found myself trip and land in it! I had a property manager looking after my investment property, but over time I felt that I could do a better job – so I started managing it myself. Not long after, one of my friends also found herself in a similar position and handed me the management of her property. My accountant noticed the extra income from managing the two properties and suggested I get a real estate licence. That was when I took the plunge.

I’ve always been in charge of what I do. Having found success in my previous ventures, I wasn’t prepared to compromise and join an agency. This meant starting from scratch and never having worked in real estate before it was a steep learning curve. The main challenges were not to be swayed by making quick turnarounds, but to look at the long-term goals and establish a reputation in the market.

What would you advise those venturing real estate?

It’s a fast-moving industry, and one can never be complacent. You have to be in the vanguard of the business. The service side of the industry will continue to be a growth area and an agile business approach offered by a small business will meet the market. With a boutique rent roll, you will never compromise on the quality of service. Keep up to date with the latest laws and legislation.

The market is in an adjustment phase, and the biggest challenge is to know when to adjust and what needs adjusting. You need to be in touch with your customer base and listen to buyers and sellers. Pick up on the market sentiment.

How do you balance between “making the sale” and nurturing long-term relationships with your clients?

My business has been built on building long-term relationships. Most of my business comes from recommendations so I will never put this before a quick turnover mentality.

I get great satisfaction securing the desired result for clients. I love building a strong business. I love the opportunity I can give to my staff to grow their careers and be part of the journey with me and to be a mentor.

What is the toughest decision you’ve made and how did you handle it?

The toughest decision was to bring my partner and husband on board into the business. We have a great marriage but working together was going to be a huge risk as we are both different thinkers. We received some valuable independent advice on how to manage working together and we have been able to do this successfully. So far, it has worked!

Bernadette and her team at Harbourline Real Estate have received prestigious nods, including ‘Best Outstanding Real Estate Agency’ on the North Shore, in 2016 and 2017.

BERNADETTE’S TIPS FOR REAL ESTATE SUCCESS: Always have excellence in mind: From day one, do things professionally. Seek advice from people and organisations who know what they are doing, such as the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales (REINSW).Live your brand: Have a clear direction, know what your brand stands for and live that in everything you do from the very beginning.Build long-lasting relationships: Building and maintaining strong relationships is important to business success. Word of mouth is vital.See the big picture: If you want to be successful in the long run, see the big picture and build your success organically. There will be ups and downs as nothing worthwhile comes easily, so you need to be very motivated and be prepared to work hard.Teamwork: Surround yourself with a great team. Find people with talents you don’t have, and once you find good people, look after them.Get a mentor: Find a good mentor and be prepared to work hard. Be realistic about what you want to achieve and be 100% committed.Introduce the best systems: Be efficient and profitable by introducing the best systems in Customer Resource Management, property management, and of course, your website.


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