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Nice Guys Finish First


With Maurice Butler

Maurice Butler is one of the nice guys in real estate who is reaping rewards from his passionate approach to business. Warm and engaging, for over 11 years Maurice has ranked in the top two percent of agents nationally within the Professionals group in New Zealand and has a whopping fifty per cent market share. Working in the lush rural surrounds in the small coastal town in the Bay of Plenty called Whakatane, he sells, “rural subdivisions. Lifestyle blocks, which are anything from three to 20 acres maybe with the home right up to dairy farms, kiwi fruit blocks, commercial and rural properties. A small block of land could be anything from $100,000 - 150,000. Probably the most expensive property I've sold was a couple years ago, a dairy farm that was a $12 million sale”.

Maurice has a true understanding and love of rural industries. He says, “I think you need to have a knowledge of the business, and the product and where it goes. I did milk dairy cows for a while. I come from a rural background, so I certainly have a good general knowledge of it. You also draw on the expertise of the advisors. There's usually a farm advisor involved. An accountant, a lawyer. There's plenty of intelligence around to draw together. My job is basically to market the property. I gather the information and the detail and prepare it in a good, readable form. I usually produce a book with a detailed description of the property and set it all out. The thing that for me is if you give an information memorandum to a prospective purchaser, if you get no questions back, then I feel that the book has actually been informative and done the job it's meant to do”.

Knowing that quality contacts, planning and data drives real estate, Maurice has always been an early adopter of technology. He started with a card index system to separate buyers from vendor and built up a list of around 6000 contacts and established a core client base with whom he keeps in regular contact. On his Christmas card list are, “people that have either bought or sold through me that I keep in touch with at least four times a year.” Every year he produces a high quality calendar at Christmas time, “that I know is going to be put up in the kitchen somewhere, not a little one that's going to be on their desk or thrown in the rubbish. A lot of my clients delight in telling me that they look at me every time they go and use the small room because the calendar's on the wall behind the toilet door, which I think is fantastic because I know they're going to be seeing it every day. If you get on my A-list, my Christmas card list, you're going to hear from me until you die, pretty much”.

He’s looking at how he can use the internet and web-based, technologies to try and keep in touch in a low key way. He says, “I think people don't want to become annoyed with contact, but they certainly do appreciate getting a quality, subtle contact every now and then just so they don't forget about you”.

Maurice doesn’t see himself as a high tech guru, but he does like to try and keep up the best he can. He says, “I've always been a bit nervous and guarded with Facebook and LinkedIn. The trainers say you've got to be on it, but I am beginning to see that definitely is a big part of what's going on in the world. I mean, I'm of an age that a lot of my peers poo poo the whole thing. You've got to, I think, just embrace it and understand that it's the way now. The younger people certainly are very good at it and that's where the world is right now. It's not where we think it is”. His Facebook page therefore is peppered with posts that are on interest to his clients, such as getting the veggie patch ready for Spring and how to best prepare land for sale.

Maurice has also learned clients in his market prefer a property to sell with a price. He explains that in conjunction with working with the vendor's wishes and the speed of the market, “You try to look at it from the buyer's point of view and buyers don't like playing the guessing game. They want to know what the property is listed for, where it is, what it is, and all the details. We’re no longer the holders of the information anymore as real estate agents. We're more facilitators and people can go and get the information pretty easily with the internet. I think what they like to know is the price. You've got to try and adapt all the time”.

Working with his wife, Lee-Anne and long time associate, Kevin Richardson, and now Kevin’s daughter, Maurice had found a working solution to the high demands of life in real estate. He explains, “To try and cope with real estate, I've made it my lifestyle rather than my job. My kids have grown up with me being away most Sundays doing open homes. While I feel that that's not been a great thing in some regards from a family point of view, but in other regards obviously it's provided us with the income and lifestyle that they've certainly enjoyed and we're able to give them everything they need to get them on their way. I think that's a great thing that real estate's done. You've got to try and keep a bit of a balance and not lose sight of the fact that you've got to obviously keep your family together, but once I realised that was my lifestyle, not my job, I felt a lot more comfortable with it”.



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