This year’s Harcourts National Awards event took place in a slightly different way, debuting a virtual online experience. Due to the current social distancing protocols in Australia, the event was taken online into a virtual platform.
Connecting almost a thousand Harcourts team members across Australia, the event celebrated the outstanding performers named across 33 categories in residential and commercial sales, property management, client experience and business achievements.
“The global pandemic revised the way we do a lot of things in the real estate industry – from online auctions to virtual inspections. Like many Australian businesses, Harcourts moved to a work-from-home model in early March,” said Harcourts Group Australia CEO Marcus Williams. “Our annual conference, HX, was postponed until 2021, meaning we would have to reconsider how to come together and celebrate the achievements of our 400-office franchise network over the past year.
“Harcourts is known for its culture and the connection we have. Regardless of whether we are in person or online, we knew that our network still found value in being together, while being apart. The response was phenomenal. We saw families together, kids dancing – all enjoying the virtual awards from wherever they were self-isolating. It was a wonderful reminder of the hard work put in over the past 12 months in providing exceptional client experience on behalf of our teams, our clients and our business partners.”
Key awards and winners who were announced include:
Top Sales Consultant – Sally O’Neill, Harcourts Coastal, Queensland
A member of the Harcourts Coastal (Gold Coast, Queensland) team since 2013, Ms O’Neill is known for her tireless work ethic that has supported her rise to the #1 position amongst 1,500 Harcourts sales consultants nationally.
“I’m very proud to be a winner of an award with Harcourts and to be recognised for my hard work,” said Ms O’Neill (shown photo right, with Dane Atherton, left).
“I certainly didn’t plan to be No1 or in the top 10. I just work hard and always do my best, although now I’m here I may pay a bit more attention next year! I hope my achievements can be inspiration to others within my organisation and within the industry. I’d like to thank Dane & Kim Atherton for the amazing company and culture they have created and for been such amazing people. To everyone at Harcourts Coastal, we reflect each other, the team is amazing.
“I also must thank my PA Jessie Burtt, who works tirelessly, my husband Sean and two boys Jack and Connor who have to put up with the hours I work. And all my clients for their continued support. My Mum for the sales skills and my Dad for his famous saying ‘if you play, play to win’.”
Since moving to the Gold Coast from the UK in 2013, Ms O’Neill has built a strong loyal client following, and is known for getting top prices in a short time frame, achieving many successful sales equalling over $130 million, covering areas, Helensvale, Hope Island, Parkwood, Arundel, Holywell & Coomera Waters prices ranging from $350,000 to $1.4 Million.
“I moved to the Gold Coast June 2014 and I didn’t know anyone. I started my first real rate job August 2014 and joined Harcourts Coastal in April 2016 the very same week was the (State) Annual Awards. I sat at the table listening to the figures thinking it would be amazing if I could get Bronze!! That’s just four years ago.”
When asked what advice she would give other sales consultants in the market who are just starting out or looking to achieve more with their career. “My advice is to follow the systems that suite your style and your market, do the work build a network, be yourself, never lie, if you had bad news deliver it quickly. If you have good news share it, and most of all be yourself, do the job your way. Work harder than ever before but try to have some time for yourself. Be gracious and be grateful.”
Her final piece of advice? “If I can get to No1 so can you. The only thing stopping you is you! Also set a goal no matter how big or small reaching your goal is the same as getting number one!”
Top Office & Top Franchise – Harcourts Coastal, Gold Coast, Queensland
One of the most successful businesses in Australian real estate with a relentless focus on professionalism and a high-performance team culture, Harcourts Coastal have broken their own sales records once again this past year as they continue to set new standards.
“I could not be prouder of Dane and Kym Atherton and their entire team on their many accolades and achievements of the past 12 months - including the coveted #1 Office in Australia award plus #1 Sales Consultant in Sally O'Neill and many more,” said Jonathan King, Harcourts Queensland CEO. “What Harcourts Coastal continues to achieve together is a testament to their collective talent, passion, incredible team culture as well as outstanding leadership. The whole Harcourts family extends their wholehearted congratulations to Dane, Kym and team Harcourts Coastal.”
Shortly after receiving the awards for Top Office and Top Franchise (multi-office group), personally delivered at a distance by Mike & Irene Green, Mr Atherton commented to those watching, “Congratulations to everyone in Harcourts for a massive year and to our amazing team, who are awesome people. I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of our team as I have over the past 6 weeks in the way they have stepped up and come together.”
Having without a doubt one of Australia’s finest auctioneers and a first-class coach at the helm in Mr Atherton, there is little wonder that the auction culture was recognised with the #1 Top Auction office award.
Top performers from the office and franchise group named to the national list include Michael Ramsey and Brent Martens, #2 Property Management Business Development Listing award; Shaun Kaddatz, #3 Top Australian Auction Lister and #12 Sales Consultant; Katrina Keegan, Top Australian Sales Consultant for Units; Tolemy Stevens, #18 Sales Consultant; James Massey, #11 Sales Consultant with its Paradise Point office collecting significant awards and named the #2 top office and #3 Auction office.
Earlier this month, the franchise owned by Dane & Kim Atherton has also been named the #3 Harcourts office in the global network of over 900 offices in nine countries, at the Harcourts International Awards.
Top Client Experience Office - Harcourts East Tamar, George Town, Tasmania
Harcourts’ key value is ‘People First’ and that is expressed in the focus on client experience. One of the original Harcourts offices in Tasmania, Harcourts East Tamar is an office that simply does not accept anything but the best in service for their clients.
“Winning this award demonstrates to us that our team is focusing on what we value the most, our clients!” said Maureen Lacey, business owner (photo). “We are very proud of our little team and thank them so much for all their hard work and understanding of what makes a great business. I am thankful for their consistent commitment to our clients and going above and beyond on so many occasions. Keep up the great work team!”
The office celebrated its 15th year with Harcourts and Ms Lacey noted that it is their “commitment to providing the finest service to our clients” that sets them apart. “We always set out to do the right thing by our team, our community and our clients. This award demonstrates to us that we have achieved our objective.”
Top NAI Harcourts Commercial Sales Consultant – Phil Grant, NAI Harcourts Pinnacle - Aspley, Queensland
Dedicated to results, Mr Grant delivers for his client’s time and again. This reputation has also earned him a reputation as a go-to commercial specialist across the residential Harcourts group and many have enjoyed the shared expertise. A popular winner, and a regular one at that, his hard-working ethic has brought him success again this year in the top spot.
Mr Grant is the most-awarded commercial sales consultant in Harcourts history, however winning the top award once again is meaningful. “It’s a token of our efforts for the year and the result of the hard work we have put in for our clients.” Quick to credit his team of Ryan Chesney, Zac Stephenson and Jo Qubrosi, along with his business partners Johnny Lin, Dave McCall and Ivan Bertie, he pointed out that his “amazing clients” share this award as he sees the long-term relationships as a credit to his success. “I was told a long time ago the harder you work the luckier you get! So, work hard!”
Jason Luckhardt, National Manager, NAI Harcourts said, “Phil's success comes from a relentless work ethic, not just on his own business, but in giving commitment to any and all leads generated from his huge referral network. Other offices (particularly Harcourts residential ones) relish the opportunity to send him their commercial clients knowing they will be looked after, and often resulting in generous, long-term relationships.”
Property Manager of the Year – Travis Whelan, Harcourts Rata & Co, Victoria
With an intense focus on property management, the team at Harcourts Rata & Co, in Melbourne, is also home to the country’s top property manager, Travis Whelan.
“Winning #1 Property Manager Nationally really demonstrates to me that going above and beyond day after day does in fact make a difference. Real Estate is not just a Job to me, it is a lifestyle,” said Mr Whelan.
“I would like to thank my family, support staff and directors for all their support and guidance throughout this crazy journey. I could not possibly put in the volume of hours and dedication leading to this sort of success without their support.”
Managing a large volume of investment properties can be challenging, but Mr Whelan added his advice for achieving excellence. “All I can say is relate to people,” he said. “The relationship and how I relate to one client may be very different to another client however it is about finding and adapting to their needs and wants. Putting in those extra 1% really creates a point of difference.”
Business Development Manager of the Year – Natalie South, Harcourts Solutions – Mitchelton Rentals, Queensland
Perhaps achieving one of the greatest streaks in Harcourts awards history, Natalie South was once again named as the top Business Development Manager in Australia.
“Winning this award is reinforcement that focusing on the client experience rather than the numbers works” said Ms South of her success.
As part of a large office team, that is part of a larger group of offices, Ms South recognised the team upon accepting her award. “The whole Harcourts Solutions family supports my craziness day in and day out,” she said. “With this year being my last year before taking maternity leave it was very rewarding to go out with a bang.”
Top Administrator of the Year – Lynda Van Rhoda, Harcourts Wine Coast, South Australia
Across Australia, each State nominated its Annual Award winner in this category. Always an eagerly anticipated category, this year’s winner was truly surprised to have received the nod.
“As nice as it is to be recognised, I am only as good as the team I work with who have been a fantastic support and are all unique individuals,” said Ms Van Rhoda (photo left). “I wholeheartedly thank our principal, Sandy Mount for being an amazing role model and mentor and I am grateful that he has brought me along on his journey.
“As a team we have laughed, cried, dug deep, supported each other, celebrated success, and worked hard to keep everyone moving onward and upward. I can honestly say that I am very lucky to work with a diverse and amazing team of individuals that look after each other and love what they do – we are like family.
“I also have to thank the fantastic team at our South Australia corporate office, who have been so supportive and helpful, each of them an asset to the Harcourts brand.”
Having been with her office since 2007, which joined the Harcourts network in 2015, Ms Van Rhoda pointed to technology offerings that stand above in the industry. “The systems and support with Harcourts blows me away and as does the incredible efficiency of Harcourts One and Campaign Track.”
Rising Star of the Year Sarah Elphinstone, Harcourts Burnie, Tasmania
In the last three years Ms Elphinstone has also been rewarded for her dedication and hard work by winning consecutive Harcourts Tasmania State Awards for Business Development Manager for 2016-17 and 2017-18, all while juggling the challenges of a young family, at times even covering other roles while in a part time capacity.
Recently, Ms Elphinstone stepped into a role as Sales Consultant in the Burnie area. With over 12 years of real estate experience behind her, she is certain to make waves as she continues to progress her passion for property.
“Winning the Rising Star for the State felt like an enormous achievement in my first year, but to be recognised nationally for this was completely unexpected,” said Ms Elphinstone. “This award makes me feel proud of all the long hours and hard work I have put in over the last 12 months and has given me the confidence that what I am doing is working and I am looking forward to what I can achieve over the next 12 months.”
She pointed to her network for their support. “Firstly, I would like to thank my directors David & Allison, without their support and encouragement I don’t think I would have ever taken the leap into sales. I would like to thank my colleagues for their help, always being happy to answer questions and point me in the right direction and also my family, for supporting the late night, weekends always re-assuring me that I could do this. Lastly but not least, the Harcourts Group – The training that is provided and culture which Harcourts is built on is an enormous part of why I have been so successful over the last 12 months.”
Lastly, Ms Elphinstone shared what working with Harcourts over the past nine years has meant to her. “I started with Harcourts 9 years ago in the Property Management department,” she said. “Whilst I had worked with several of the staff here previously, I had no idea what working for a ‘Franchise’ would be like. Being a part of the Harcourts Group is like being a part of a family. I know I can call any member of the team whether they are here in Tassie or on the Gold Coast, and every time they are more than happy to help. The core values is one of the main keys to my success. I live by these in my day to day working life and if you were to ask me what the best part of my job was it would be seeing the look on a first home buyers face when you hand them the keys to their new home.”
Harcourts Australia Auctioneering Competition
The competition culminated with announcement of the Auctioneer of the Year and Novice Auctioneer of the Year. State heats, run virtually with a panel of judges, took place in the lead-up to the national awards. Mark Sheppard (photo below), Harcourts Sheppard (South Australia), was named Auctioneer of the Year, while Conall Cassidy, Harcourts Launceston (Tasmania) was named Novice Auctioneer.
“Tassie does not have a very big auction culture sadly, so it’s great to show that we have the ability to do them,” said Mr Cassidy (photo left). “I think our low number of auction listings can be attributed to a lack of confidence and understanding from us agents – this then flows onto our vendors who are misinformed about the auction process. I hope this award can act as a boost of confidence within my office that auction is a viable method of sale.”
Mr Cassidy paid tribute to those who supported his dream of competing and thanked, “my mentor, David Jackson (retired), who put many hours into my development in auctioneering and my boss, Jeremy Wilkinson, who always gives me time to work on the craft.
“I got into real estate through the Australasian School’s Auctioneering Competition so it’s great to continue competition auctioneering through Harcourts. It’s also great to connect with and learn from some of the best in the business around the country.”
Harcourts Foundation Award - Chris Janzon, Harcourts Sergeant and Kim & Trent Shorland and the team, Harcourts Adelaide Hills, both South Australia
The start to 2020 was a trying time due to the bushfires, the worst in our country’s history. There were many unsung heroes who stepped up and helped neighbours, communities and raised awareness, funds, and critical supplies. This award is shared by two shining examples of The Harcourts Foundation’s motto of providing support that helps, grows, and enriches our communities.
While holidaying on Kangaroo Island, the first-hand devastation made such an impact, that our first award winner, Chris Janzon (photo left), used his extensive business and personal connections to gather a large truck full of much-needed supplies and was the first delivery allowed onto the island in the midst of first responders fighting the blazes.
Our second award winner, Kim & Trent Shorland and the Harcourts Adelaide Hills team, organised a working bee for a family farm that had been nearly destroyed, with the owners remarking the day’s work was equivalent to weeks’ worth of restoring fences, buildings and livestock care. Seeing that devastation, a ‘tool drive’ was organised in the community to get farming tools back into the hands of those who lost everything.
“We have an arsenal of specialists in our team who bring their expertise in a whole range of related services such as commercial, rural and regional, auctions, property management, mortgages, and the services of a multitude of our business partners. As a group we are uniquely placed to support our clients at every stage of their property journey and provide our clients with a fully comprehensive range of services to meet their needs,” said Mr Williams. He went on to thank the Harcourts Group Australia corporate team who have “gone above and beyond in delivering world-class virtual events.”
Hosted by Harcourts Queensland Chief Auctioneer Christian Hamilton and supported by Harcourts Connect and the family of Harcourts Business Partners, the evening encouraged a “bow ties and bubbles” dress theme, which was enthusiastically embraced. Guests enjoyed a special performance from long-time friend of Harcourts, Australian-born New Zealand recording artist and actor Stan Walker, who sang his hits Take it Easy and Black Box.