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30 year real estate journey

“Not bad for a girl from Shirley!” Alison Aitken of Harcourts Grenadier chuckles as she recalls her progress over the years from selling real estate in her own backyard to being inducted into the Harcourts’ Hall of Fame – the first real estate agent in the company to be awarded this honour by her peers.


Recognition at this level does not come without hard work, dedication and a genuine interest in both people and the real estate industry.

Rewind to 1990 and Alison enters real estate as PA to her agent husband. “I was thrown in at the deep end, but found I loved the environment.

That gave me the confidence to become an agent myself in 1991. It was a job I could do while balancing my role as a mother of two small children.”

During her journey of nearly 30 years in the business, Alison has proved she has the attributes required to win her clients’ trust.

“I’ve been lucky to have been asked to sell properties for more than one generation of families. I think perhaps I might be doing something right. I certainly do put 100 percent into my work. It is not a part-time business.”

Alison also truly loves running open homes and seeing and talking to so many people she knows.

“My experience has taught me that although every client and every property is different, everyone deserves to be treated with respect, consistency and care. My greatest joy is the people I work with.”

New Year, New Beginnings: Harcourts Merivale

Cindy-Lee Sinclair is thrilled to announce that Matt Kurtovich has joined her team.



“Some people impress from the very first meeting and Matt is one of those individuals,” Cindy-Lee says.

“He is experienced in working with people, and has those personal qualities that make him so well suited to the real estate profession. His capacity for hard work, his commitment to his clients and his ability to stop and listen to the needs, wishes and aspirations of those he works with mark him out as an exceptional person.

“Matt is the type of individual that plays the long game – he builds a meaningful understanding of his clients’ needs by listening and talking through the issues and following up.”

For Matt, it’s all about building relationships. “I’m all about commitment to ‘my people’, and staying with them as their needs and desires change and they move through different homes.”

Matt’s appointment is just one of the exciting new developments taking place at the Harcourts Merivale office, as this popular team grows and expands, so watch this space.

With Harcourts Merivale, you get a great team with the clout of the Harcourts brand; the real estate company with the biggest market share in Canterbury.

We’re quickly heading into the season for new beginnings, so pick up the phone and call now if you are thinking of buying or selling. Contact Cindy-Lee on 03 355 6677 or 0274 888 616. Email



The Seller Buyer Connection

On a daily basis in my job, I find there’s a lot of misconception when it comes to selling houses, real estate salespeople and real estate in general.


By Harcourts Gold New Brighton Licensed Sales Consultant Milena Bartlett


A lot of sellers hire an agent who has sold in the area and operates locally. While this is great, more important is an agent who has a truly consultative approach and will recognise and market the unique features of a property.

I always look at a property and try to identify its unique selling points:

• Does it have a great layout for a family?
• Is it next to a park or reserve
• If so, how can we show that in the photos?
• Is it built for the sun?
• Is it a project or ready to move into – therefore, are we appealing to The Block enthusiasts or time-poor families and busy professionals?

I don’t subscribe to the notion that a house will sell itself. I like to believe the unique selling points incorporated into my marketing plan will ensure the right buyer is identified and captured.

Vendors are our employers, but without the right care and attention given to a potential buyer, we will not have bidders in the auction room or an offer to present.

Buyers need to feel the right information is being supplied in a timely manner, with transparency and willingness to assist with viewings and additional questions. That’s where my background in teaching, retail, and sales of high-end products comes in handy. After all, as they say, ‘people buy from people’.




When it’s time to sell: Joe Butler

Joe Butler knows what he is good at and that’s selling houses. He’s been in the real estate business for some 25 years, has achieved at the highest level and still enjoys every moment of his job. “When you are doing something you like, it doesn’t feel like a job.”



Joe is not your everyday conventional real estate agent though – he offers a great deal more. That’s because he understands property from another perspective; having been involved as the owner of a building and painting company for more than 40 years. “I know about houses from the inside out. I can inspect a client’s house and advise them about any issues there may be and then help them to resolve these. Building is my forté and I know who to contact.”

Joe says that buyers today are very well informed about the value of various properties. “I am totally honest with my clients about what they can expect a buyer to pay. Being realistic is the approach most likely to result in a sale. If my clients have any hesitation about what their home is worth, I will even pay for a registered valuer to take a look.”

Joe says that spending quality time with clients and listening to them is very important. “As a former Royal Marine sniper I learned patience and time management and I bring those attributes, as well as a great deal of energy to each vendor.”

To take advantage of the Joe Butler difference, phone him on 021 328 193 or email



A passion for real estate: Ray White Rangiora

Just as no two homes are identical, real estate agents also come in their own unique package.



Now a team of three, Marijke Sheppard and PA Nicola Stokes have welcomed Amy Sheppard to the team. Amy joins Marijke as a salesperson for Ray White Rangiora after six years as a website designer and developer, bringing with her a degree in Visual Communication, which Marijke says is ideal in this ever-changing world.

Although new to the industry, Amy has a serious passion for the North Canterbury area and her strong work ethic, coupled with her social media and marketing skills, make her a valuable member of this dynamic real estate team, adding another dimension to the group.

The team endeavours to provide the very best service they can. With Marijke’s experience, the team’s attention to detail, plus the diverse collective skillset they offer, this team provides a professional 10/10 experience for all clients, from the very first point of contact to the final sign off.

“It is important that we, as sales professionals, are knowledgeable, up to date, well-informed and can be trusted to communicate effectively to our clients,” Marijke says. “Our goal is to ensure that all of our clients get the very best,” she adds.

For more information, phone Marijke (pronounced Ma-rye-ka) for a chat on 027 461 6127, email or visit

Morris and Co Real Estate Ltd Licensed (REAA 2008).




The season for selling

It’s the beginning of August already, and spring house-selling season is just around the corner. So if you have been toying with the idea of putting your house on the market either to upgrade or downsize, why not be smart and get a jump on other sellers. “Contact a real estate specialist now,” says Cindy-Lee Sinclair of Harcourts Merivale.



“Early spring is a really good time to sell because the market isn’t loaded with available properties and there are plenty of buyers looking.”

With Cindy-Lee working on your behalf you will have the benefit of her stellar record in real estate and her years of practical experience. For Cindy and her team of consultants, achieving exceptional results is the minimum standard. They know how to make things happen for their clients.

They are always keeping at the forefront of developments in marketing and communication techniques. “We’ve recently invested in the latest information technology to help us bring sellers and buyers together. It will truly revolutionise the way we market properties, as well as being environment-friendly by cutting down on paper. I’m all for a paperless office!”

But remember too, with Cindy-Lee as your agent you get even more – the clout of the Harcourts brand, the real estate company with the biggest market share in Canterbury. So make that smart decision to sell as soon as you can. It will pay off.
You can contact Cindy-Lee on 03 355 6677 or 0274 888 616. Email


The smarter way to sell: Tall Poppy Real Estate

Robyn Hallett has joined the Tall Poppy Real Estate team – bringing fairer fees to homeowners in Christchurch.



Robyn has been delighting clients in real estate since 2010. With a strong sales and marketing background spanning 25 years, she has a wealth of experience, giving her a clear understanding of how to market properties to their maximum effect. “When you’ve put the effort into marketing, you achieve the best result,” she says.

This wealth of experience means she puts the clients’ interests first, communicates clearly with regular follow-ups, and negotiates strongly and effectively. Her professionalism inspires trust and confidence, ensuring the process of selling or buying a property is kept easy and straightforward, leaving all parties delighted.

Her passion for real estate is plain to see, enabling her to go that extra mile, to obtain the best possible price, at the least cost, with minimum stress. Hard work is at the heart of her real estate philosophy. Working to high standards of business ethics, she understands the responsibility involved in managing the sale of what is usually her clients’ most valuable financial asset.

This from a recent seller: “Robyn gave us a detailed plan of how she was going to market the property, follow-up and feedback was excellent. We felt well-informed throughout the whole process. We particularly appreciated her effort and patience to understand our needs, helping us weigh up what was right for us, and gave sound advice.”

If you are looking for someone honest and caring, then contact Robyn on 027 762 9644. #WithYouAllTheWay



The Christchurch Housing Market – Time to Sell or Buy?: Mark O’Loughlin

As a real estate specialist, I am aware every day of fluctuations in house prices and how this affects vendors and purchasers of real estate. Following the earthquakes and subsequent demand for new properties, Christchurch was something of an anomaly in the market, not following the trends of the country’s other large cities.



Currently, eight years on from our seismic events, the market here is rebalancing itself. The average sale time for a property is now 56 days – that’s the longest time for more than seven years. Why is that? There has definitely been uncertainty over the introduction or otherwise of a Capital Gains Tax (CGT) and about immigration law changes. In addition, insurance and EQC money has pretty much dried up.

House prices, however, have remained flat – the fluctuations are merely ripples, rather than waves. The median price has slipped by only one percent over the past 12 months and there is also stock available. That means choice and opportunity for buyers. I believe it is a strong time to buy right now with purchasers less likely to drown in competition.

There’s no CGT but there are lower bank interest rates and, in some parts of the city, vendors have adjusted their price expectations to better reflect the market – over 70 percent of the houses sold in the city have been under $750,000. Only 10 percent are over $1 million.

This makes it a good time to sell if you are looking to upgrade. So call me on 021 339 078 or email to have your property appraised at no cost and with no ongoing commitment.


By Harcourts Gold Consultant Mark O’Loughlin



Golden sheen of success: Cameron Bailey

The honours shelf at Harcourts Gold Papanui just got more crowded with stunningly successful agent Cameron Bailey achieving 2019 awards for Number One Agent in New Zealand (for the third time), Number One International Agent (for the third time), Number One Agent in Canterbury (for a staggering seventh year), and Harcourts Gold Papanui is Number One Harcourts Office for New Zealand – and internationally out of 900 offices.



At Cameron’s level of achievement, real estate is a lifestyle, not a job. But while he truly is the top agent, Cameron is still driven by working with a great team every single day, and meeting clients and helping them realise their goals.

Cameron works all over Canterbury and is as satisfied in closing a sale on a $300,000 home as on a $3 million home. “In the current market, skilled agents are getting homes sold – there is a big difference in what a great agent can achieve.”

Cameron says that while prices have softened, the current market is “a fairer market and buyers are very prepared to pay what a property is worth”.  He has taken over many listings from agents and companies that have stalled, and achieved a very successful sale.

Cameron and his ‘A team’ completed 1850 open homes last year. “Our market reach ensures we have more buyers and opportunities at our fingertips; business happens constantly and our network buzzes.”

Repeat business is key “you reach this level and maintain it for seven years only if you’ve got excellence and consistency – clients who want to work with you again and again”.


A New Chapter: Harcourts Holmwood Merivale

Cindy-Lee Sinclair likes to say, “I put the real in real estate,” and her actions and record of success back up her words.


Cindy is a dedicated agent, the centre of a team that works extremely hard for every client. Their satisfaction is illustrated by the repeat business that is a significant part of her portfolio. “I have several clients for whom I have completed multiple sales,” Cindy says. Cindy has always been passionate about real estate. She finds the industry exciting and thrives on the changes that come with an evolving market. “In today’s real estate climate, presentation and marketing are key,” she says.
Presenting the home in its best light brings as many people into the home as possible, and marketing has to be cost effective too – “It’s about making sure you have the edge”.

Cindy is delighted to be working with Jamin Marshall, as Harcourts Holmwood Merivale cements its place on the map of top achievers. Jamin is the new business owner of Harcourts Holmwood Merivale and sees his role very much as assisting the agents. Jamin brings a successful career as a Harcourts agent to his new role saying, “I am really looking forward to growing the Merivale office and assisting Cindy in her fantastic business. She has continued to be a leader, a top performer and a top marketer over her nine-plus years with Harcourts. She is a real asset to our team.”

Contact Cindy-Lee Sinclair at Harcourts Holmwood Merivale on 027 4888 616 or 03 355 6677.