Making a positive difference

15 April 2021

By TINA LIPTAI

Driven by her passion for the industry and dedication to nurturing lifelong client relationships, Maria Eveleigh has thrived as a property manager and built a rewarding career based on service excellence.

Being thrown in the deep end in your first job isn’t for everyone. But for Maria Eveleigh, Senior Property Manager at Richardson & Wrench Hurlstone Park, it’s how she discovered that her passion for real estate would inevitably turn into a rewarding, long-term career.

“I fell into it easily and it felt like it was meant to be,” Maria said of choosing real estate as her career path. “I’ve always had a passion for real estate and property. Even as a kid, I loved looking at houses and seeing inside properties.”

Maria landed her first real estate job as a receptionist shortly after finishing high school and has worked in the industry ever since.

“Within four months, I was running the office,” she explained. “I was thrown into the deep end, for sure. But it was a great learning curve for me and I thrived on the opportunity. I just loved it. In those first few months, I realised that I loved working with people. I know that’s been what’s kept me going throughout my career, in particular, the long-term relationships I’ve built.”

“I genuinely care about every landlord and I take the time to listen to their concerns, answer their questions and work towards providing the best outcome in every situation.”

Relationships lasting decades

Over the last 30 years, Maria has built expertise across many aspects of the industry, but it’s been in rising to the daily challenges of property management that Maria has found herself to be in her element.

“In property management, no two days are ever the same,” she said. “When you’re overseeing hundreds of properties, there’s always something new to learn or something unexpected that happens and needs your attention.

“I take a lot of pride in my work and treat every property as if it were my own. Attending to an issue immediately and efficiently to resolve it is always my priority – and that keeps me very busy!”

Over the years, Maria has built strong professional relationships with her clients, providing them with assistance for all their day-to-day property needs and giving expert advice when they need it.

“I genuinely care about every landlord and I take the time to listen to their concerns, answer their questions and work towards providing the best outcome in every situation,” she said. “I also know how important it is to look after tenants. Open communication and being attentive to their needs by promptly responding to any concerns is the best way to ensure a harmonious tenancy. Both landlords and tenants appreciate this.

“It’s not always easy to build and maintain these relationships, but when you manage to do it right, it’s very rewarding.

“I have some clients who have been with me throughout my entire career and that’s an achievement I’m very proud of.”

A game-changing year

Like most agents across the real estate industry, Maria and her team had to adapt quickly to the changes that the COVID-19 pandemic brought about in relation to almost every aspect of daily life in 2020. But, looking back, Maria said she’s proud of how her team worked together and the resilience they all showed in the face of many challenging situations.

“COVID-19 was certainly a game changer,” Maria said. “I like to plan and, last year, I learnt very quickly that I couldn’t plan too far ahead anymore.

“We still needed to make sure everyone in the team was on the same page, because it was more important than ever to ensure we were doing things safely and correctly. Having our usual structure and processes in place was important, but we also had to be ready to adjust at a moment’s notice, as regulations and guidelines were updated regularly.

“Property management can be challenging at the best of times, but 2020 was more challenging than ever before. It was important to me that we all worked together to make things as easy as possible for each other and to ensure everyone in the team had the support they needed.

“There’s no doubt 2020 was difficult. There were tenants asking for rent reductions and we had to work through the new COVID-19 rent relief provisions with both them and their landlords. Everyone was stressed, because no one really knew what was going to happen in the long-term. As property managers, we found ourselves in the midst of many challenging conversations and negotiations, always focused on trying to find the best way forward for everyone involved.

“In addition, I was focused on caring for my team’s mental health. One of the ways I did this was by keeping the lines of communication open, so we could talk through any challenges together.”

“Even on the hard days, I can honestly say I love it. I know I can do other things, but I choose property management and my love for the industry is what makes the difference.”

Passion, commitment and motivation

With a family and busy work life, the one thing Maria knows for sure is that many of her proudest achievements wouldn’t have been possible without passion, commitment and motivation.

“My family is number one,” she said. “I love my family life and being involved with my children’s school and sport. Time management is challenging when you have to juggle both family and work – but you can do it, especially if you’re working for a business that has a great workplace culture and support. That makes all the difference.”

Maria’s years of hard work and commitment certainly paid off when she was announced as the winner of the Tim Anderson OAM Residential Property Manager category at the 2020 REINSW Awards for Excellence.

“It really was a wonderful moment and a great recognition of the work I’ve put in over the years,” she said.

“I think perhaps the main reason that I’ve been successful in my career is because I have a passion for it. That passion has helped me work really hard and remain focused over the years, and I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved.

“That’s what I’d say to anyone who is starting out in the industry. You need to have passion and commitment; you have to love it. If you don’t, it simply won’t work for you long term and every moment will be an uphill battle.

“I’d also say it’s important to be able to build good, strong relationships with clients and your team to consistently deliver positive results.

“Even on the hard days, I can honestly say I love it. I know I can do other things, but I choose property management and my love for the industry is what makes the difference.”

Leadership insights

For Maria, one of the most rewarding parts of her role is sharing her experience with her team and helping each of them develop into the best property manager they can be.

“My love of helping people extends to my team and anyone in the industry who is looking for advice,” she explained. “I enjoy sharing my knowledge and insights that come with experience, because I know it helps people to become better property managers.”

Maria leads her team of six with a transparent, open and collaborative leadership style.

“We definitely work as a team,” Maria said. “I check in with everyone daily and I’m always available to help.

“It’s important to me that my team feel comfortable to approach me at any time about anything, so I always make sure the lines of communication are open.

“One of the things I love about my role is that I’ve been able to build and train the team I work with. It’s really wonderful to see them all grow and achieve their goals. I celebrate that success with them and it’s a rewarding part of being a leader in the business.”

Maria said that providing regular opportunities to update skills and knowledge is essential to building a strong team of property managers who are committed to excellence.

“We have regular team-building activities away from the office,” she said. “This has been more challenging with COVID-19 restrictions, though in the past we’ve done Hunter Valley trips, spa days and dinners.

“It’s good for the team to see each other outside of work and in a social context. You learn so much about people when they’re more relaxed. You create deeper connections that help you understand each other better and this, in turn, helps you to work together better.

“It’s a great way to remember that we’re all human and have things going on outside of work –and it’s also a lot of fun, which we all need in our lives.”

Career tips

Maria shares her tips about how to build a strong and thriving career as a property manager.

1. Communication

Clear and consistent communication with both landlords and tenants is essential if you want to be a successful property manager. It’s how you build trust and strong working relationships. Proactive communication is reassuring for all parties, and keeps everyone updated and informed. This is especially important if you’re working through a negotiation or trying to resolve a problem.

2. Time management

Planning your day and working in a methodical way is important. Good time management helps you to prioritise your work and is key to ensuring that you’re giving the right amount of attention to the tasks that need it. This, in turn, means you’ll be delivering a high standard of service to your clients.

3. Manage your workload

Unexpected things that you need to deal with will pop up every day. Therefore, it’s essential to have the discipline to work consistently and diligently across all your daily tasks. This will ensure you are delivering an excellent service to your clients.

4. Be a people person

If you are going to be in this industry, you need to genuinely care about people. If landlords know that you truly care about them, it builds their confidence and trust in you – and when you have this with a client, your job is much easier.

Why I love real estate

“I genuinely care about helping people and working as a property manager gives you so many opportunities, every day, to do things that really make a positive difference,” Maria said. “This is people’s lives and homes, and you’re in a trusted position to give them expert advice and help achieve the best outcome.

“Being a landlord is a huge investment – not only in terms of money, but also time and emotion. It’s never ‘just a transaction’. And that’s what I love about property management: you’re part of that investment over the long-term.

“I have had one landlord that’s been with me for 30 years, throughout my entire career. They’ve stayed with me because I genuinely care. They feel they can come to me and ask me anything, knowing that I’ll always listen and give the best possible advice.

“Then there are other landlords who come to me with their first rental investment and they need a lot of help, advice and guidance, so they can make the right decisions for their circumstances.

“I like to be able to give a personal touch to every client. I’m interested in more than just their property. I like to get to know and understand them, because this helps you to work with them better.

“I really believe that’s why I have succeeded in my career.”

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