High value and high heels: How Natalie Tonks redefined real estate


When vendors sign Natalie Tonks to sell their home she promises them four things – high energy, high value, high numbers and high heels.

She also delivers exceptional service, infectious enthusiasm for her craft and an empathetic nature second to none.

A multi-award winning sales agent for Presence in Newcastle, Natalie has made a big impact in just a little over five years in the industry.

“I have to say, I’m pretty proud of what I’ve achieved in such a short period of time,” Natalie notes.

“I just love real estate and I just love people, which is what it’s all about.

“You’re only as good as your last sale and, while that might sound harsh, it’s true. 

“You can’t afford to get too caught up with yourself, because that’s not how it should be. It’s really not about me, it’s about the clients.”

From hairdressing to real estate

And there’s been plenty of clients from her very first day as a sales associate on Presence Founder Mark Kentwell’s team and since becoming a standalone agent two years ago.

Before real estate, Natalie says she was a hairdresser for more than 30 years, including running her own business for 26 years. 

Then, one Friday night, she says she “just knew” it was the right time to hang up her scissors and pick up a for sale sign. 

“I loved that period of my life, and I created lots of beautiful friendships, and nurtured and fostered relationships, but I was sick of hairdressing,” Natalie recalls. 

“So, I put my mind to it, I did the certificate of registration and I just cold called Mark.”

After coming in for what was supposed to be a 30-minute meeting with Mark, she left 80 minutes later and phoned her husband to say she had a good feeling about how things had gone. 

Sure enough, the next day she was offered a job. 

A job with Presence

Natalie says she was attracted to the way Presence did things, the brand’s results and its standing in the community.

“I also really loved Mark’s enthusiasm, his brain and the way he thinks,” Natalie says. 

While it may seem as though hairdressing and real estate are entirely different professions, Natalie says her ability to connect with people and the long-term relationships she had already established stood her in good stead.

“That first week I actually brought a couple of listings in,” she says.

“I had no idea what to do with them after that, I didn’t know anything about a contract of sale or what to do on the back end, but fortunately I do now.

“I ran alongside Mark for three years and I knew a lot of people so I opened a lot of doors.

“I didn’t have all of the expertise initially, but I’m a great communicator and I think people warm to that.”

Going it alone

Natalie describes her relationship with Mark as a “winning combination”, so when he suggested two years ago that she run her own team, she was both flattered and scared. 

But she’s also not one to back down from a challenge, preferring to turn them into opportunities she can grasp onto with both hands.

With a solid knowledge bank on the ‘nuts and bolts’ of real estate now under her belt, Natalie set out to foster a career on her own two feet.

Her philosophy for doing so was simple, but highly effective.

“It’s about being wholesome, being a good person, telling the truth and being trustworthy,” Natalie says.

“It’s not just about the transaction, it’s about the whole journey.

“The majority of the time I’m dealing with people that I know or someone has recommended me.”

The million-dollar mark

Natalie sells properties at all price points and treats every property and every vendor the same.

She does, however, sell quite a lot of properties in the high end of the market and last year sold five properties above $5 million.

Natalie’s already reached a milestone of writing $1.5 million in GCI, yet she emphasises she prefers not to focus on the dollars but what that figure enables her to achieve.

“It’s a useful scoreboard for seeing that you are doing things right and it allows me to keep investing in people, process and market positioning to help serve more consumers,” she notes.

The Presence process

Natalie puts such solid, consistent results down to “following the process” Mark taught her, with a couple of her own tweaks here and there.

Along with training from the best coaches and lots of touchpoints with clients and buyers, Natalie says Presence pre-market process is one set of steps that help set her apart from the competition.

“Leading coaches consistently tell us that the quality and size of our database is outstanding,” she says.

“When you have a whole tribe of Presence team members nurturing contacts properly over a long period of time, the buyers feel that service. 

“Given the market share that we have in our region, particularly in the upper end of the market, we are exposing our clients properties to a wider and more qualified audience than they will get from a typical marketing campaign. 

“It’s a clear point of value for homeowners in selecting us and it’s great to be able to demonstrate that value in practice.“

Natalie also notes that she prides herself on expert negotiation.

“I never leave a cent on the table,” Natalie says. 

“I say to the buyers, ‘I work for the owner, and when you see how I work, you’ll be able to see that I’ll do exactly the same for you when I sell for you’.

“Of course I’m nice and treat the buyers well but, ultimately, I work for the vendor.”

Natalie says her goals for the coming 12 months are for her and her team, including Paula Ashcroft and Alexandra Sager, to keep learning, growing and achieving more sales at the best prices.

“Actually, it’s more than that, I want to keep seeing the smiles on more clients’ faces,” she says.



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