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The power of teamwork: Harcourts Alison Aitken

American author Ken Blanchard wrote, “None of us is as smart as all of us”. Certainly, success flows from people working together in a team.

Combining the complementary skills and experience of each team member creates more effective solutions to problems. Real estate consultant Alison Aitken definitely believes in the power of teamwork and has built up her own team of superb sales consultants and administrators.

“When vendors choose me to sell their homes, they receive the benefit of our whole team’s knowledge,” Alison explains.

“But the team members themselves benefit too, from the opportunity to grow and develop and to learn from each other.

“Each of them has also embraced my passion for delivering exceptional results.”

Sales consultants Pauline Wilson, Gemma Aitken, Glen Ford and Sarah Fidow echo Alison’s views. They’ve each worked in various aspects of the real estate industry over the years from sales and management to valuation and banking.

They place particular emphasis on developing and maintaining the very best relationship with their clients, both vendors and buyers, no matter where their property may be.

“We’re proud to sell every property, everywhere.”

Essential to the team is smooth, organised administration and that is the role of Office Manager Angela Pye.

Attention to detail is her forté and completing tasks to the highest possible standard is her focus. And no marketing campaign would be complete without Nicky Cocks’ styling expertise for home staging.
Alison sums up her team’s success in these words. “When you hand good people possibility, they do great things.”

Making success happen: Harcourts Gold Kathryn Picton-Warlow

Synonymous with multi-million-dollar listings, Kathryn Picton-Warlow forged her successful real estate
career while bringing up two sons as a single mother – and wants other women to know they can do the same.


One of the top performing real estate agents at the number one Harcourts internationally for revenue, Harcourts Gold Papanui, Kathryn believes listening, paying attention to detail, and nurturing relationships is the key to succeeding in business.

“I always try to go above and beyond for my clients because I genuinely want to help people achieve their dream result,” she says.

“Being able to listen is sometimes all you need to do.”

It also helps that she has a deep passion for the industry.

“If I am passionate about a product, I have always been able to sell it. With real estate, I am passionate about the people and the product is their homes.”

The home buying process can be an emotional one and Kathryn supports her vendors every step of the way.

“It’s the little things that matter to me; the service, the follow-up, the level of care to my clients is very important to me.

“Clients become friends and I get to see some unbelievable homes and lifestyle properties.”

Kathryn grew up on a family farm, her family instilled good manners and a great work ethic from an early age.

“This is a big part of why I am so successful today.”

Those values are reflected not only in her business philosophy, but in her parenting of her two teenage sons, too. |

“I am incredibly proud of my boys, William has flown solo at age 16 while training for his PPL and Tom has represented New Zealand with his ski racing from an early age.

“The boys see their mother working long hours and striving for excellence and I hope I have instilled the same values and ethics as my parents have.”

While she’s known for her aspirational multi-million-dollar listings, Kathryn says she treats all her listings with the same fastidious care.

“I have sold all types of properties across every price point; however, my business has always had more of a lifestyle component to it.

“Currently, my listings include an estate in Darfield, a château on Pound Road, and a resort-like mansion at Clearwater.”

Competitive industries like real estate may seem intimidating, so Kathryn hopes by sharing her story other women will feel inspired to achieve their dreams. Her advice?

“Stay true to yourself, trust your gut, and be the very best version of yourself. Always remember if you look after your clients and do the right thing, your business will flourish.”


Getting real estate results: Harcourts Gold Milena Bartlett

Their individual skills and experience are very impressive. Harcourts Gold sales consultant Milena Bartlett has brought to her real estate role a wealth of experience in sales to the most discerning of customers, while her colleague Andrew Swift has served real estate with passion and drive for more than 20 years. Put these two powerhouses together and you have created a really formidable team.



“We decided to form a partnership because we really are like-minded in the way we think and act. The client gets double the attention and double the service. The primary focus for both of us is on meeting our customers’ needs. We know that every vendor’s or buyer’s circumstances will be different and so we work with them to achieve the best result possible.”

Milena and Andrew say that while they bring complementary strengths and abilities to the partnership their combined experience, skill, knowledge and accessibility are what sets them apart from most other sales consultants.

They love a challenge and will persevere until they get a result or find a solution to a problem.

Their passion for outstanding customer service has earned Andrew and Milena an enviable reputation for success in the industry. In the last financial year they were recognised amongst the top 20 consultants for Harcourts Gold.

“Of course accolades are nice to receive, but it’s helping people that’s the greatest accolade for us. Our clients appreciate our promptness of service and our availability and that is not going to change.”


The go-to for real estate advice: Mike Pero Fendalton

Mike Pero Fendalton is your local go-to for real estate questions. “It’s great when people come in with their queries. We love that they know they won’t be ‘pounced on’ and that there is no expectation they are here to list,” Co-Owner Jacqui McBride says.



Established in Fendalton Village for four years, the five agents at Mike Pero Fendalton offer a combined 50 plus years of experience.

“We’re happy to chat about everything from buying an investment property to the layout of a home,” Jacqui says.

“It’s about building relationships within our community, so we hope people never feel awkward popping in.”

They are commonly asked for advice on the top three things someone should do before bringing their home to the market. Jacqui says it is simple… “declutter, clean, clean, clean, and check that your garden and front entrance are looking good. Staging a property also impresses prospective buyers and the team is happy to help make that happen.”

Co-owner and Jacqui’s partner, Kelvin Howell, has been in real estate for 20 years, having managed several offices along the way.

“Our point of difference is that we are friendlier and we are smaller. We will give you a detailed response, plenty of our time, and a personal touch. Mike Pero is known for a lower sales commission, but we certainly don’t offer a lower level of service – it is quite the opposite,” Kelvin says.

Marketing at Mike Pero is innovative. “We led the charge in modern home marketing, always following the principle of ‘do it once and do it right’.

Others have followed but we still have the edge with our presence in the country’s living rooms through our television marketing,” Jacqui says.

“We understand how much of your wealth your home represents to you and we believe that value should be reflected in the extent of our marketing.”

The last six months have been busy. “Our open homes are extremely well attended. Since Covid presented itself, it is business as usual but with a change in the way we conduct our open homes and business in general. Keeping our clients’ health and safety foremost in our minds.”


All about Alison

Alison Aitken has been in the real estate game for three decades, so to say she is at the top of her league is an understatement. The Harcourts Grenadier agent is greatly recognised by both her peers and the community – she was inducted into the prestigious Harcourts’ Hall of Fame in 2011 and in 2019 became the first (and only) Harcourts salesperson to achieve $1 billion in settled sales. Often you read all about properties and what distinguishes them from the rest. We thought we’d take the time to do the same for Alison.



How was lockdown for your bubble?
Extremely comfortable, we got back to the basics of cooking, gardening, exercise, reading (no TV) and plenty of relaxation. I did very little work except talking to my great client base simply to see if they were ok.

Was your heart always set on real estate?
No, an interesting journey through farm cadetship, banking, hospitality and small business ownership – they all helped shape and form me.

What distinguishes you from the competition?
I work for a great company, part of a superb global network. I have a fantastic team of different ages and different skills which complement each other. We work hard and love what we do.

What advice would you give to someone who is wanting to start in Real Estate?
Get a good platform, a company with good management, training, and resources. The best start is to become part of a high performing team. Be prepared for the sacrifices you need to make, without them there are no rewards.


New ‘normal’ for real estate: Ray White

The face of real estate is undergoing a considerable change due to Covid-19 restrictions. Marijke Sheppard of Ray White Rangiora says, “It’s more important than ever before that buyers and sellers do their homework well in advance”.



“They should build a good relationship with their mortgage broker or bank, seek out an agent who is innovative, tech savvy and works for a company that has a vast range of technological features to draw from, is innovative in the platforms they use and leads from the front.”

With face-to-face restrictions, spatial distancing, the demand for digitalising of documents and the ‘new norm’ of private viewings with no open homes, people need to do their homework thoroughly before they even step onto the property.

Strict protocols are in place to ensure the safety of all. Gone will be the ability to open doors and cupboards freely, stay as long as you like or attend multiple open homes.

This is the time for a comprehensive checklist. “Without the luxury of that half hour or more to wander around a house, a checklist is imperative!” Marijke says.

“Buyers need to look at their own homes, note what makes it work, what doesn’t, what is a must in their new home and what they can compromise on.

“The buyer that is prepared will be in a strong position to take advantage of this challenging period in our history and secure their future with a solid investment in a property.”

For more information, phone 027 461 6127 or email


Getting your home noticed online: Mike Pero

COVID-19 has changed the way we buy and sell real estate. With social distancing and more people viewing and transacting property online, it has never been so important for your real estate agent to arrange exceptional virtual property presentations.


Now more than ever, professional video and quality still photography will help your home stand out from other properties for sale.

Compiling online audio-visual begins with still photography taken with a specialised lens and a video walk-through to showcase the property in more detail.

A drone-mounted camera provides the best angles and aerial shots, while dusk lighting and virtual staging provides the finishing touches to the presentation.

Preparation of the property for photo and video begins well before the day the photographer arrives.

It starts by considering your street appeal and building maintenance issues, decluttering and freshening up your decor and perhaps some professional staging.

How a property presents on a website as well as television needs to be kept in mind, as every listing with Mike Pero Real Estate gets a free television commercial, reaching thousands across New Zealand.

As your appointed agent, Annette Pendergast will advise you on the best way to market your property, including an overall online marketing campaign to ensure your home sells quickly and for the best price possible.

“I can provide objective advice on the presentation of your property, and help you prepare in advance and also on the day.”

Annette is an experienced real estate salesperson with Mike Pero Real Estate in Christchurch and delivers strategic, successful marketing campaigns.


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’.