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Moving Out Of The Comfort Zone


With Ruth Roberts

With her sleek suits, nerves of steel and winning smile, Ruth Roberts blasted onto the national stage when she auctioned Josh and Jenna’s house, in the first series of The Block last year.

Ruth was the only female auctioneer in the series, and she managed to persuade a buyer to spend fifty thousand dollars over the reserve, making Josh and Jenna the winners of series one. Even though, it took her out of her comfort zone, and many of her peers counselled against it, Ruth says, “It was a fantastic experience. It was a great opportunity for me, a personal challenge. And that’s probably why I took it on.”

Moving out of her comfort zone and trusting herself have been the hallmarks of Ruth’s career. Director of Woodards Carnegie in Melbourne’s south eastern suburbs, Ruth has been in the real estate game for 17 years and works in the leafy surrounds of Carnegie, Glen Huntly, Murrumbeena, South Caulfield and Ormond. But it was not always this.

When she started in the industry, Ruth was a single mother, about to hit 40, with three young children to support. Working two other jobs, she thought real estate would simply be a part time job that she could fit around her commitments. How wrong was she? Real estate became her life.

She recalls, “I was fortunate enough to stumble across an independent operator who supported me. He would even go and pick my children up from their dancing classes while I went out to do a sale. I was fortunate to meet up with the right person at the right time and it took off. I was working another two jobs at the time and slowly I could drop those jobs off and real estate became full-time.”

Ruth worked in a small office and took on more responsibilities, “I did the advertising; I helped out with account sales; I could do trust accounting. I even filled in at reception.”
Then ten years ago, the opportunity came up to buy the business with its rent roll of 225 properties. “I basically bought myself a job,” she says. “I just never thought that I could take it to this level. If I could do four sales a month, I knew I could keep my head above water.”

Ruth realised that independent real estate agents would struggle in the future so decided to go with a trusted brand. She says, “I needed to be a part of an organisation that could do all the things that I don’t like for me, so I could still do my own thing.” She spoke with a few different franchises and eventually went with Woodards.
As one of the premier franchises in Victoria, Ruth believed that being part of the Woodards brand would still allow her to run her own show, but Woodards would be able to give her the support she needed. It’s proved to be a perfect cultural fit.

Fast forward to the present and Ruth is now the director of the business, employs 16 staff and has a rent roll of 955 properties. She is also one of Melbourne’s leading auctioneers and she is cracking the million. She says, “I try to do ten appraisals a week and list two. We do everything, Units or flats. We sell more million dollar plus properties in the area than anyone else but I’m really mindful that one-bedroom flat vendors are just as important as the million-dollar houses.”

Ruth is living proof that taking a punt on yourself and moving out of your comfort zone can be a recipe for unimaginable success. Even in the current uncertain economic climate, Ruth is achieving great numbers.

Some of her hot tips for success are:

Working with Buyers

Ruth is committed to providing outstanding customer service and genuinely wants to help people. “I never, ever worry about the money - the money will always follow if you do the right thing.”

She works hard at every inspection, open house and auction, and sees all buyers as potential sellers. She listens carefully, remains calm, and has an uncanny ability to remember a face, names and stories which clients appreciate. She says, “I can still remember people I met 15 years ago and it helps win business. I now get phone calls from people who say, ‘We saw you at an auction, met you at an open for inspection. We’re thinking of selling - can you come in?’.”

Ruth puts all buyers on newsletter trails so she keeps in touch and is tough when required. “I put my vendors before anyone else,” she says. She’s fair but will go into battle with buyers, if necessary.

How does she win Listings?

Ruth is choosy. She will only work with like-minded people who value her honest and caring approach. She will not tell vendors what they want to hear. “I will reject business if I think it’s the wrong business. It’s not worth anyone’s time for me to take on the wrong type of business.”

It’s an approach that works because even in the present tough market, Ruth and her team are performing well. She thinks it is because she has built ‘trust with vendors who are prepared to take her advice’. If they don’t want to listen to her advice when it comes to securing a sale and meeting the market, she is happy to let go of the outcome. “As I often say to them, there is more on the line for them, than there is for me. I’m not going to retire on this sale and I’m not going to go bankrupt if I don’t make it.”

Seeing her role as giving people options, rather than trying to win an impossible outcome, Ruth says, “I’ve got to give them an option. I can’t solve the problem, but I can give them an opportunity to move on.”

On presentation

Ruth says, “You need to look like a real estate agent, number one. I’d like to think I am always conscious of how I present; I think you have to. If I was selling my home, I believe that whoever is standing on the front door is a reflection of me. First impressions are so important. It’s not good if you walk into a house and someone says, ‘Are you the real estate agent?’.”



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