The Challenges and Opportunities in Regional Real Estate
From the bush to the beaches, to the densely populated cities, Queensland is an incredibly diverse state. Covering over 1.8 million square kilometres, our state’s real estate agents face varying challenges depending on where they practice.
If you’ve only ever worked in the metropolitan areas, you may be unaware of the opportunities and challenges that come with working in regional Queensland.
To better understand the life of a regional real estate agent, The REIQ spoke to three real estate professionals who work in different locations throughout Queensland – Townsville, Mount Isa and the Sunshine Coast.
Commission is a hot topic for sales agents. A usual rule of thumb is the higher the sales price, the higher the commission, which is why many agents compete to sell the most expensive properties.
The property prices in regional areas are typically lower when compared to Brisbane and other highly populated areas. REIQ life member and former Townsville zone chair, Wayne Nicholson, says an agent in regional Queensland will earn a lower commission than an agent in a capital city purely based on listing price.
“If we sell 10 houses a month and someone in Brisbane sells 10 houses a month, there’ll be a fair difference in gross commission,” he says.
However, for those who call regional Queensland home, this is not a deterrent.
“When I went into business, I was a born and bred ‘Townsvillian’ and I never thought past setting up business in my home town,” says Nicholson.
He added that most of the agents who he has worked with are local to Townsville and have the advantage of being accustomed to the market and its conditions.
“The agents who have worked for me over 40 years are Townsville people, they own a house here and they know how much they cost, everybody knows what it is,” he says. “For me, Townsville is my home and we love it up here… From where I live, if we want to go to the beach, we’re there in 13 minutes.”
Similarly to Nicholson, Mark McGill, founder and director of the McGill Group, says he started doing business in the Sunshine Coast because it’s his home and he is passionate about the area. For those who work in regional Queensland and want to take home a similar commission to City agents, McGill put it simply – “you have to sell more and you have to learn how to be more efficient”.
Less Stock but More Listing Opportunities
The number of properties in regional Queensland is much fewer than in built-up areas, but the number of listings in any given location is usually relative to the population. Stock is a challenge all real estate agents face as you can only list a property if there are owners who are willing to sell. Regional real estate is no different and although there are fewer properties, there is the advantage of fewer agents to compete with.
“There are 200,000 people in Townsville and a couple of million Brisbane, so one or two suburbs is more than enough to keep an agent busy down there in [Brisbane],” says Nicholson. “We can sell all over Townsville… We have the whole city at our disposal.”
Additionally, Nicholson says for most regional towns, a real estate agent will be able to successfully manage a property portfolio of the same size as an agent in a capital city. The core difference is listings in regional areas are just more spread out
However, with the popularity of open listings in smaller towns, there is a greater opportunity for regional agents to gain more listings than a city agent.
The principal of 4825 Realty in Mt Isa, Stephanie Uppman, says Brisbane agents would tend to have a smaller portfolio but would choose to have exclusive listings.
“[Brisbane agents] would only have between six to 10 listings at a time whereas we would have 30 listings at a time but they may not all be exclusive, so they’d be open listings with other agents,” she says. “That differs greatly from listing in Brisbane as most agents would have a listing database that is closer to home compared to us in Mount Isa.”
Regional Queensland is a Market for Opportunity
With the property market on the rise in Queensland, there are opportunities to succeed as a real estate professional anywhere in the state.
McGill, who’s agency practices primarily in the Sunshine Coast region, says there have been many more opportunities to sell with the current market conditions.
“A busy open home here would usually be 4 to 6 people and that’s changed in the last few months so we’re now getting to 20 to 25,” says McGill.
The current opportunities extend to even more regional areas and different facets of real-estate. Uppman says there has been an uptake in sales in recent times due to the competitive market, but her business still mainly thrives on the rental market in Mount Isa.
“We are selling more properties and there’s a lot more competition happening and this is great, but pretty much rent roll and property management are still the main portfolios of our business.”
For real estate agents in Queensland, the challenges may differ depending on where you practice but according to Nicholson, the job remains the same. He is confident that you can still succeed wherever you are in the state.
“It’s more relevant to the [market conditions] rather than being in a regional centre or a capital city,” he says. “You have to be committed and you have to be prepared to put in the time.
“This is relevant for anyone, not just regional agents… If you’re not willing to put in the work, you’re in the wrong industry.”