The next in our expert ‘real estate real talk’ interview series is Persa Kapsali – Department Head of the bustling Ray White Southbank office. A client of hastings + co, Persa offers some great insights into her passion for property management, changing client expectations in the face of new technology and why Southbank is the place to do big business with international investors.
h+c: What brought you to real estate? Is it a career you’d always aspired to, or one that you discovered after time in another profession?
Persa: My Aunt was in real estate. I saw her passion for it and knew that was what I wanted to do. I got my first job in real estate when I was still at high school working Saturdays doing admin. Well, over a decade later I’m still in love with real estate.
h+c: In a sentence, describe what Ray White Southbank stands for as a business.
P: Ray White Southbank stands for quality customer service, innovation, expert industry knowledge, integrity and providing value added service above and beyond core real estate services.
h+c: Melbourne’s Southbank is a diverse area with a huge catchment of varied kinds of property – residential and commercial. With such a wide-ranging client demographic, what is your approach to building business and marketing?
P: Southbank is still a very new suburb. In fact, our office being the designated Ray White Projects office in Victoria, we specialise in new supply markets across inner city Melbourne. We deal with a large network of developers to sell their residential and commercial developments off the plan to local and offshore markets. As many of the projects we sell are off the plan, we have a fantastic opportunity to develop strong relationships with developers and investors from sale and throughout the construction process. We are therefore the first choice for property management and secondary sales. We believe that our strong focus on customer service over an extended period of time, whether it be a developer, a ‘mum and dad investor’ or a first home buyer creates incredible word of mouth opportunities for us. We are not transactional, we foster relationships.
h+c: If you were to give advice to an estate agency ‘just starting out’, what key essential areas of focus should they invest their time and resources into?
P: Principals and Directors need a hands-on approach to quickly build the client base, whilst also placing a strong focus on procedures to ensure that service delivery is paramount. The foundations of the business are critical and an incredible amount of hard work and dedication is required in the initial stages to ensure that a platform for growth is created. Investment into training and people development is also important to ensure that customer service and accuracy is assured. People are everything in this business and a strong training and learning environment is required.
h+c: Ray White Southbank uses hastings + co to assist with trust accounting. What made you decide to outsource this aspect of your property management department, and how does your business and clientele benefit from hastings + co’s expertise?
P: We decided to use hastings +co for their reliable expert service. They always follow best practice and are efficient with our software. We also had space issues in our office. Now we have an additional space that can be used for a revenue producing position to accelerate growth. Our clients highly benefit from the daily disbursements – they get their funds disbursed as soon as they clear. No one wants to wait for their money.
h+c: Who are two business leaders that you are inspired by? How does their attitude inspire you?
P: I don’t really have any specific people who inspire me. For me, it has always been the little things that I take away. For example, someone’s passion about a specific topic, or an old bosses’ ability to keep each phone call under 3 minutes so she could get a certain amount done in the day
h+c: What do you think has changed most about the property management industry in the past five years?
P: I would say that technology has been the biggest change. We now have owner and tenant portals available where clients can log in and get their monthly statements, copy of their lease, etc. Information is in general easily available for everyone to access online, which has brought on a change in expectations from owners and tenants. This makes it so much more important that we as the professionals stay on top of our game with our own knowledge.
h+c: Importantly – what do you like best about working in Southbank?
P: We have a strong focus on project sales, and the settlement management and property management of those assets literally all over Melbourne. Southbank just seems to be the perfect central location which makes it easy to get to everywhere – walking distance to the CBD and all of our Southbank properties, Richmond & Abbotsford (where we also have a large amount of our properties) is only a few minutes down the road.