Craig Schofield has always had a passion for property and his local area. Based in Cooma, near the NSW Snowy Mountains, he began his career as a painter before joining the local council.
Close to fifteen years ago, an offer to join a real estate business was too good to refuse. After spending over a decade as an employee, he launched One Agency Cooma real estate agency three years ago.
Since then, Craig has built his reputation within the close-knit local community. He has firm connections and is always meeting new people across age brackets.
To ensure success, this busy real estate agent has built a strategy around being honest and upfront. This keeps clients coming back.
Even if it means losing a listing, so long as I’m honest, I go home happy.
Craig was fortunate to learn his trade from the ground up, working with an experienced stock and station agent before going out on his own.
For him, the reward of the job is being ‘in the middle’ of a happy buyer and vendor. “It’s exciting to sell a property and to help someone find the right house,” Craig explains, “If you do a good job, you keep the relationship with those people. This leads to referrals as people upgrade to larger properties or downgrade and move closer to town.”
Becoming One Agency
After 11 years working for an employer, Craig felt ready to try something on his own. Having supported his wife as she ran a business meant he was confident about what was involved.
“My employer was supportive of me leaving, as he had done the same thing many years earlier,” Craig shares.
The decision to go with One Agency was based on wanting to avoid the higher costs of franchises but not wanting to start from scratch. “One Agency was the next best thing. It’s your own business, you run it yourself and the marketing is there for you.”
Craig was drawn to the One Agency model because it allows him to run his business how he likes. In addition, “The branding looks contemporary; the black and orange colours really stand out.”
Having the support of other agents and head office has also been helpful for Craig, “Head office shares new technology but using it is optional. If you do go ahead, you get a discount.”
Being in a regional market like Cooma means the challenges for Craig are different from those inner city agents might face. In addition, there have been lots of local changes to the market over the past two years.
Right now, the Federal Government’s Snowy 2.0 project is bringing jobs to the region. This major expansion of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme is set to become Australia’s biggest green energy project and the world’s biggest pumped storage plant.
The announcement of this multi-billion-dollar project has brought interest from investors. Since 2016, average house prices in Cooma have jumped from $215k to sit at around $290k.
Buyers have realised the potential of the local jobs market plus the benefits of Cooma’s location. It is ideally situated within an hour from Canberra, close to the ski fields of Thredbo and Perisher and around an hour from the coast.
For Craig, the challenge is now finding stock to sell. “Buyer numbers are building and there are now multiple interested parties for each property. I have to be open with buyers but it can be challenging because I don’t want to disappoint people.”
Rent roll evens out cash flow
To ride the challenges of the changing market, Craig has a strong property management arm to his business.
“We didn’t buy a rent roll but some clients did follow me from my original agency,” he explains. “I now have two good property managers and a portfolio we have grown organically.” Managing around 120 properties means Craig and his team have an established ‘bread and butter’ income to rely on.
Business tips from One Agency Cooma
For Craig, technology and good accounting are the keys to running lean and having a streamlined, efficient business.
“We set off on the right foot and have stuck to it, to the point where there was only one question to come out of our last audit. We’re always improving on our systems and looking for software solutions that make life easier.”
Craig’s advice is to stay organised and on top of things financially. “You’re working with trust accounts and you have to be on the ball in terms of bookkeeping. Stay up to date with technology in all forms, including marketing and record keeping. The products out there are easy to learn and simple to use.”
In the coming years, Craig plans to expand his business by growing his property management base and his visibility in the community. “I want to continue the way I have been but at the same time I don’t want to get complacent. There are always changes in real estate and I want to continue to get the brand out there by exploring sponsorship opportunities.”
Locally, Craig will also continue to build trust in his area with the help of his One Agency office. “People who come to the area never have bad things to say about One Agency. It’s a trustworthy and growing company.”