Meet a CEO: Geoff Grist

We spoke to Real Estate maven Geoff Grist about the changes he’s seen in the last decade, and his tips for selling above market.




Geoff, can you please tell The Big Smoke a bit about your background and how you came to be the go-to real estate agent for Mosman/Neutral Bay?

My wife and I have bought and sold nine family homes, starting with a block of land and upgrading and renovating every few years, and we are still renovating now after 32 years of marriage! Our personal experience is that owning property is a good long-term wealth vehicle. Yes it’s cyclical but generally property goes up in value and anyone can do well buying and selling the right property.

My first apartment purchase was a two bed unit in Neutral Bay and we have bought and sold four homes in Mosman since, so we know the area very well, which means I have a pretty good idea of which properties will do well and the ins and outs of buying, renovating and selling. Over the years I enjoyed the real estate side of life so much that 15 years ago I gave up my career in film and TV to be a licensed real estate agent and help my clients profit from my experience.


What is it about real estate and working with buyers and sellers that excites you?

Unlike the share market, property is tangible, you can touch and feel it. When you love the whole property experience you get a sixth sense about the potential of a property, you start to see what others can’t see. I love to help others to understand that what looks like an ugly duckling now may actually have great bones and be well located so that with the right renovation it could be the home of their dreams. Owning property is an emotional experience for me, I just love it. I simply can’t buy every great opportunity that comes along but I do get excited to help my clients see the potential and own their dream.


 You have been in the industry a long time. What does 2017 in property look like as opposed to 2007?

Looking back 10 years, prices were half or even a third of what they are now. The capital growth has been amazing but not without its ups and downs. As you might remember we went through a GFC for several years and it was a time of consolidation rather than growth. The exciting thing about being a real estate agent is that the market is constantly evolving and while it’s not always smooth sailing, I have clients for one reason or another who are always trading property. My reward is to be there to help them achieve the best result no matter the timing. The last two years have been particularly strong and results often even amaze me. As an example, I sold a two bed unit in Neutral Bay to a client in July 2014 for $850,000 and resold it for her in September 2016 for $1,200,000. That one transaction has allowed her to move out of Sydney and change her life.

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What do you think is the biggest mistake sellers make when looking to sell their property?

Rushing to market. I have seen it go wrong so many times. Selling a property needs a plan and while it can be an emotional rollercoaster for the vendor, it is a business decision so it should be planned and executed with a strategy to maximise your upside. Most people will only sell a few properties in their lifetime; I sell property every other day so I have a six-step plan to ensure nothing is left to chance, and my clients profit from my years of experience.


 A core part of your philosophy is around philanthropy. How has this focus impacted your business?

Real estate agents are in the business of helping people move. Our clients are fortunate enough to be able to buy and sell a home but there are a lot of people who are not so lucky, who frankly are homeless. I believe that everyone should do whatever they can to help one another and that means different things to different people. Spending time with others is often more valuable than simply donating money. There are thousands of Australians sleeping rough for many reasons so I have adopted them as my focus for my real estate business. Every time I appraise a property or sell a property I donate a Backpack Bed to the homeless through a Melbourne based charity, Swags For the Homeless. I know I can’t single handedly solve this problem but I also know that together when each of us does what we can, we can make a real difference to the quality of people’s lives, and to me that sits well with a real estate focused business. This is also my third year participating in the CEO Sleepout. It’s such a meaningful event and reminds you how lucky you are.


What do you think is the biggest misunderstanding sellers have around what your role is in the buying/selling process?

A great real estate agent is a great project manager and a great negotiator. They are the two key roles. Sellers are making an investment in the outcome of the sale by engaging an experienced real estate agent to set the property on the right course. The agent is responsible for your profits and should not simply be seen as a cost. The cheapest agent is the one who puts the most money in your hand at the end of the transaction, not the one who offers the lowest fee and marketing. Every property sale is different and buyers and sellers have different wants and needs, and anything can and may go wrong. Sellers need to invest in a real estate agent who is skilled at negotiation and is able to put the sale together even when it looks like it has fallen apart.


 What are your top tips to ensure their home is sold above market, and quickly!

Achieving a premium price quickly does not happen without a plan. There are six key elements that when combined create the opportunity for a home to be sold above market.

  1. Presentation – every home deserves the opportunity to wow buyers, so it’s about presenting your home so that buyers feel excited and connected as they see it for the first time.
  2. Price – The only reason a property has not sold is if the asking price is too high. The highest price is achieved when multiple buyers are competing to won the property.
  3. Method – Auction or For Sale. Auction will get you the very best price on the day but many homes are sold prior because buyers offer a premium based on the fear of missing out.
  4. Marketing – Not just advertising but it’s the whole promotional package that makes your home stand out – and remember, you can’t sell a secret.
  5. Your Agent – Not all agents are the same, you need a skilled negotiator not an order taker.
  6. The Buyers – Buyers start logically and finish emotionally, so it’s important to create the opportunity for that emotional connection to overtake as many buyers as possible to create competition.


What advice do you have for those seeking to enter the property game in Sydney?

The Sydney property market is tough. We have more buyers than sellers which means prices are pushed up by buyers desperate to secure a home or an investment property. Buyers are in different stages of the buying cycle; those who have just started looking for a home will pay less than those who have missed out on buying several homes. That’s the emotional side of property where prices don’t always make sense. If you intend to hold the property for the long term then you may need to pay a premium now to secure it but that may be a better outcome than not buying at all. It all depends on your current situation, there is no one rule for everyone.


You can contact Geoff Grist today!


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