How do people get into real estate? Very rarely do they fall into it. Often it comes after a journey in other vocations . The people behind real estate in this region town are not new to journeying with people through significant life stages. In this issue we feature two residents who decided to go out ‘on their own.’ In any business that is not easy. Meet Rob Ball and John Hunt.
I met John Hunt early in my time here in Whitianga. He came to say ‘Hi’ and introduce himself – much appreciated. The lead into this interview was simply, tell me how you entered the world of real estate and what is your philosophy.
I decided to join Real Estate as a vocation, after being ten years in the police. But first, let me go back to the years before the police force. I was for ten years a pastor in a church. My journey was teaching, sharing faith, leading and walking with people of all ages and stages, through significant milestones, hardships, tragedy, and also often celebrating the seasons of life with them. That prepared me well for the police force. This change was something that I felt called to just as I had been to pastoring.
Returning to the ten years in policing, it was towards the end of those years that I felt that the job had changed for me, so much so that it was less about justice and more about process. It got to the point that policing wasn’t good for me and I wasn’t good for policing. I needed a change of direction and when I left leaving the police, I had not yet decided what to do.
We had just had out first child and felt that it was a good time to head towards family. Helen’s family were born and bred on the Coromandel, so it was a natural step to move a little north. Her family name is Morcom and the Morcoms bought a very large land holding in Cooks Beach about 60 years ago. It was a run down drystock farm at the time. We were able to buy some of the family land in 1997. For a short while, after those 10 years of policing, I worked in the local hardware store. This was the perfect wind-down job for me and became a great way to get into the local community. I met everybody. I was asked a few times by the lady who owned the local Ray White franchise, to come and join the team. I thought after a time, why not, and finally agreed to make this move in the year 2000.
I found that I love selling. The more I did, the more I loved it and felt that perhaps one day I might be able to go out on my own. That thought stayed with me and one day a friend asked me to help out at another Real Estate company. I did and enjoyed it, but changes in that company structure meant some of the sales people approached me to see if they could join me if I intended to start out on my own.
The very next day, without any knowledge of this, my wife also asked me the same question. I saw that as confirmation and took the step of faith – ‘North’ was born.
Building North has meant some very hard work; getting it off the ground and finding the right commercial property were significant hurdles. Funding the business in the early stages was another challenge. My team made it easier, and that still applies. We work on these principles – we share all commissions, we share all clients, and we share all information. I am very mindful of the team I have put together and the trust we have in each other. It might not always be easy in terms of having enough business; in Real Estate, there are lean times, but the trust stays.
This emanates through to our buyers and sellers. People need trust and that can be a tough commodity in meagre supply. I was ten years a pastor and ten years a policeman; both vocations have given me experience of people and an empathy with them. Like pastoring, real estate relies on relationships. I have found there is fear sometimes in people.There is also a hardness and anger in some situations because of what has led people to sell or needing to change location.
People are dealing with their most valuable asset. We can’t do all things for that person, but we can build trust through our conversations and reliability. When someone asks you on to their property; what follows has to be a genuine interchange with the person. We have two ears and one mouth and in real estate, it’s essential to keep them in that order.
I like to know from a person “Why did he/she buy this house in the first place. What’s the story? What’s the emotional level? You can tell when someone has to leave a house that is greatly loved. We are not just selling a house, but we are helping them leave what they have loved and lived in for what could have been a very long time. It sometimes means talking on their behalf and at their request with other family members or their lawyer. It’s our job to enable a person to feel safe in their decisions. I believe in the team I have.
My dream is to start up another North in Whangerei and another one in Whakatane. But Whitianga is my first priority. I have always promoted Whitianga as the North Island Queenstown, or the Queenstown of the north. I want our company to symbolise this kind of ‘North’. My daughter Georgia did the Logo of which I feel very proud. I give credit to Hoppers for what they have done for this town. We are two hours to Hamilton, Auckland and Tauranga. I want to say to people, come North.I have not missed anything being in Mercury Bay. I have travelled a lot; I love fishing and free diving. I do all of our own processing of what we catch. Our whole family would know the process from hunt to eating and we have learned to value what nature provides us. I learned most of this here on the Coromandel, our home.