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Diary of a Work Experience Student ( Part 2)

As promised, here is the second part of the blog from our very own Leila! 

Leila decided to do her compulsory work experience placement with us from 2-6 December 2019.  

It was refreshing to have her temporarily join our team and, even more welcoming was to hear her thoughts and opinions of the daily tasks which have now become second nature to us. 

Leila was kind enough to share her daily journal of her experience with us and, we are delighted to share this with you all. 

Day 3: Wednesday 4 December 2019

It seems that it’s that point in the week when I start band-aiding my toes because of the blisters, which are of course due to my work heels!

Again, we began the day in Mariam’s apartment, consolidating knowledge, queries and terms that had surfaced the day before, thus actually putting sense to the “experience” part of work experience. 

We headed to the city soon after, briefly casting our eyes over a short stay property that is managed by one of the SSRE partners. We speedily checked that everything was in order, and updated the inventory just to be sure. Apparently, in real estate, you can never be sure enough. 

What started as my first vacate inspection became much more.  Mariam and I entered, and were immediately confronted with the placement of the furniture. Everything was positioned haphazardly and randomly around the room (it was a furnished studio apartment), and it honestly looked awful. It became more concerning when we realised that there was a film of grime, not just on the furniture, but on most surfaces. The carpet, the kitchen bench, shelves and drawers, the bathroom tiles, the shower, the window sill.

I won’t bore you with the details, but here I am wearing a silk blouse and creamy Ralph Lauren pants, moving around heavy furniture and cleaning an apartment that was supposed to already be clean. Although I was only on my third day of the experience, I was sure that is not the job of a real estate agent to do.

The vacated Tenant was working very close by so came to the property while Mariam and I were still there. They agreed that it was necessary for them to pay professional cleaners to finish cleaning the property so that the condition would more fairly reflect the condition they received the property in. 

Once the property was more organised, I reviewed the itemised property condition report, noting the new condition of each item compared to the original “ingoing” condition. Mariam helped me to identify what was “reasonable wear” and what was damage.

More than two hours and a lot of sweating later, Mariam and I returned to the car-park. By then the parking fee was $48.00. Mariam was actually relieved though. This is because city parking can cost much more and she had anticipated having to pay closer to $80.00.  

We returned to the office for the rest of the day, documenting the inspection and our findings, and uploading the photos taken to the office files to finalise the vacate condition report. One pro of our visit was that we got some nice photos to use as marketing images for the property; they were taken after we’d given the place a once-over, of course.

Like all days, they don’t actually end until, well, the day ends. So of course my shoe broke on the way home. You know, the ankle strap that was keeping the shoe on my foot. Then I dropped my phone. Yeah, let’s just say it wasn’t my best moment.

So today, I got to experience a lot.

 Day 4: Thursday 5 December 2019

This morning was the first real morning that I didn’t have an outfit planned, and I found myself caught very off-guard. I realised I didn’t have anything to wear so I ran to my mum’s room. We ended up finding me a gorgeous outfit, out of some pants Mum had forgotten she owned and one of her favourite, summery blouses. I felt awfully prepared this morning, as I had a lot of time to kill before heading to Mariam’s. Ha, I’m getting good at this.

As always, we began in the apartment doing basic tasks, but this morning instead of heading to any inspections or on field trips, we went straight to the office to finalise the reports from all of the routine inspections we had conducted throughout the week. The morning flew by quickly as we did this, and discussed various aspects of real estate that Mariam, Noune and Argine felt I would benefit from knowing.

Later in the day, Mariam and I departed for an OC (Owners Corporation) meeting for one of the committees she is on. Yes, there are multiple; she likes to contribute to the positive state and wellness of buildings that she is involved with, which I find admirable. We weren’t sure if I would be able to sit in, but the committee generously allowed me to! I tuned in to the issues they were discussing, and their interview of a potential new contractor. Honestly, some of it was interesting. I picked up on some new jargon such as “illegal subletting”, “overcrowding”, “Essential Services” … My ears pricked up when I heard “foyer refurbishment” and “finishes samples”, and it was certainly intriguing to see how a group of professional adults navigate their differences and come to compromises and conclusions. Even though the couch that I was sitting on was pretty comfy, sitting for two hours in a little room in the corner of a carpark wasn’t exactly exciting.

Anyhow, the meeting wrapped up and Mariam took me to briefly view an apartment being “refurbished” for lease by SSRE in the building. I loved it! The view was stunning, and honestly, I could see myself living somewhere like that someday. It was a great way to end another educational day.

Dat 5: Friday 6 December 2019

Wow, today is my last day of work experience at Silver Service Real Estate. I’ve come to the conclusion of my brief venture into the real estate industry. It’s been a ride and I have mixed feelings about it being over.

This morning, we headed straight out into the inner-west to conduct two inspections – a Routine Inspection, and a Vacate/Bond Inspection.

We entered the first apartment and began to look around. Mariam realised fairly quickly that something wasn’t quite right. There was pet food & water bowls about. The immediate problem was that the lease agreement didn’t include the tenant keeping a pet. There were other problems though. The property had cleaning issues, some obviously due to the dog that was living there. We wrapped up that inspection but, suffice to say, the management of the findings had yet to begin.

Next, we headed to the nearby vacate. This time around, Mariam gave me the checklist to do it all by myself! She thoroughly checked the property as well to make sure I wasn’t missing anything but, I don’t think I did (she didn’t miss anything – Mariam).

After this, we went to a really nice local pub to grab some lunch. That is one benefit of working on the road. You also get to learn about the different suburbs of Melbourne and why people like to live there.

After sharing a delicious plate of nachos at Hardimans in Kensington, we headed back to the office and spent the rest of the day there, writing up the inspection reports and tying up the loose ends from over the course of the week.

I feel like I have a pretty good handle on things by now, and I’m happy to say it’s been a successful toe-dip into real estate.

Day 6: Saturday 7 December 2019

Now that I have completed my brief stint in real estate, I see that I’ve gained an impressive amount of knowledge in a short time. I don’t know exactly how other real estate businesses function, but I can tell you exactly what I’ve learned from my experience with this one. A large part of what I’ve learned is that Silver Service Real Estate functions in their own, unique way that ensures they are serving every client. I saw that the relationships between agent, landlord and tenant were valued and treated with respect by SSRE, and I saw genuine care and devotion put into every task required.. 

Every aspect of real estate is dealing with people. Whether it’s a client, a contractor or an owner’s corporation, it’s people. It takes an awful lot of time, patience and social skills from what I’ve seen. The job is a massive commitment. I mean, many are, but this one requires time spent out of work. Out of the regular 9-5 workday pattern. The job is unpredictable. A new day brings new tasks, new difficulties, new clients. Real estate calls forth the skills of negotiation and cooperation with many different characters. Agents at SSRE ensure they work with their clients and find a compromise rather than simply pleasing one party.

I’ve learnt about owner’s corporations, or ‘OCs’ as agents say, close up. How challenging it is to work in a group tasked to solve problems that affect how people live! In that, I’ve seen different personalities work together and challenge each other.

Everything I’ve learnt in this past week, I know will be invaluable to my life and how I will now experience the world of real estate and interact with agents. Through the real estate industry, we have places to call home. We task these people with the responsibility of putting a roof over our heads. Giving us shelter. They hold our livelihoods in their hands. And if you ask me, Silver Service Real Estate does an awesome job honouring that. It’s been a hell of a ride, and I’m so lucky to have had this experience. I’m also honoured you were able to share it with me through this blog.  

What a delightful read, Thank you Leila for your wonderful insights. It was a pleasure having you as a temporary member of our Team!

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Diary of a Work Experience Student ( Part 1)

Leila, who will shortly be entering Year 11, decided to do her compulsory work experience placement with us from 2-6 December 2019. 

It was refreshing to have her temporarily join our team and, even more welcoming was to hear her thoughts and opinions of the daily tasks which have now become second nature to us. 

Leila was kind enough to share her daily journal of her experience with us and we are delighted to share this with you all. 

The paragraphs below highlight her choice of placement and the first two days of Leila’s work experience with Silver Service Real Estate. We will share the rest in an upcoming blog soon.

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Hi! I am Leila McDonald, a year 10 high school student studying at Albert Park College. I am the niece of Mariam McDonald, the head of Silver Service Real Estate, and I chose to work there as my compulsory work experience placement.

I chose to do my placement here for a few reasons, starting with the fact that I think the skills involved with real estate are valuable in everyday life. I’m very interested in psychology and how human minds work, however considering the confidential nature of clinical psychology I struggled to find a placement in this specific industry. To me, real estate seems like the next best thing. The marketing and engagement skills essential to the job are so important in interacting with people, and the requirement of knowing how to appeal to people and their needs is a deeply psychological process. I’m interested in exploring the world of real estate, and how it can give me an insight into how people engage with it.

From what I can see, the job of a residential real estate agent entails the marketing of a property being leased or sold, conducting inspections, negotiations between landlords and tenants, being responsible for any difficulties or problems with a property that may arise, and some other, smaller scale tasks. I think it’s quite a demanding job, and as much as the administrative hours of SSRE maybe 9 am-5 pm, I’m fairly sure that the agents dedicate large parts of their own lives to it.

Day 1: Monday 2 December 2019

I pulled myself out of bed as I remembered that it was day 1 on the job. I mean, adults are always nattering on about the inconvenience and pain of their work-life, so my tentativeness to embark on a week long journey of a “9 – 5 grind” (as some would say) was not baseless. However, a small part of me felt excited to begin my stint in the workforce, despite my measly wage of $5 a day.

 Dressed to the nines and perfectly preened, I began my long commute of, well, 3 minutes. That’s right, I met my aunty (or should I say ‘supervisor’ for this week) across the road from my apartment building, in our favourite local cafe. So, perhaps the travel experience wasn’t so reflective of a ‘real’ job. The rest of the day made up for it. We spent some time in the cafe as Mariam talked me through the digital system Silver Service Real Estate utilises to organise their files and access their database remotely. It all seemed pretty nifty, and much more convenient than having to travel all the way to the Richmond office.

 We then hopped in the car to head to a routine property inspection, which I was admittedly eager to experience. Being on the other side of a tenant-agent relationship was interesting to observe, knowing what sorts of things my real estate agent zeroes in on when they inspect the apartment I rent with my dad. We then continued on to some small chores and tasks, everyday occurrences for the standard real estate agent, such as meeting with a painter and choosing a new carpet for a recently flooded apartment.

 A bit after midday, we hit the office which was where we spent the rest of the day. Now, I feel like I should mention that the whole time, Mariam was speaking to me in words that clearly made sense to her, but kind of just went over my head. Real estate jargon, you know? I had many questions by the end of the day, some of which I asked at the moment, but the fast-paced environment meant that some had to be saved for later. I mean, what on earth are arrears? Anyway, I finished up my day scrutinising the website and social media platforms that represent the business. I noticed that there was possibly room for expanding and utilising the accounts to more of an extent than they had been, which I will pitch to Mariam if we get time tomorrow. I want to help with what I understand, and I feel like social media is almost my area of expertise!

The day ended and, lucky me, dad agreed to call an Uber so I could get home speedily and efficiently. Not sure I’m getting that 5-star treatment again, so I may have to look into how I’ll get home via public transport. It sounds kind of exciting though.

So, overall, an eventful day and a great start to a productive and insightful week, and I feel ready to approach the job with an open and inquisitive mindset. Bring it on.

Day 2: Tuesday 3 December 2019

Fortunately, it seems that Mariam has set up the week so that seemingly every one of our days begins in the suburb I happen to live in. I had already chosen my outfit in my mind last night as I tried to fall asleep, so I had a plan of attack when I woke up this morning. I, again, began my arduous commute to Mariam’s apartment where we began our day, sending emails and discussing the difficulties of tenants who are unable to pay their rent and get themselves into “arrears” (that fancy word I learnt yesterday). 

We then headed across for another routine inspection, which I’m beginning to enjoy. It does feel a bit invasive, however, it seems that renting a property warrants these visits. Mariam did share some anecdotes about the people living there so, I did get to appreciate that it is also someone else’s home though.

The next stop was an inspection as well, and the tenants were home and had an adorable little toddler, which makes the job so much more enjoyable. 

We then returned to the office and stayed there until the end of the day. Mariam had a meeting, so she left me in the hands of the team to continue showing me the ropes. Lewis, one of the Hub Support members of the SSRE team walked me through how a tenant is secured, and all the paperwork and contracts that are required. We drew up an offer of tenancy, a lease agreement, a lease schedule and some other basic documents that I forgot the name of. It all seemed very standard procedure, but it was very informative for me to know what process my parents go through when they lease a property.

The day wrapped up, and as I suggested yesterday, I did indeed have to catch a tram home. It was so frustrating, and it took like, an hour. It doesn’t sound long, but it felt like years. I think I’m starting to get an idea of what having a full-time job really feels like.

Thank you for your candidness and authenticity Leila. We look forward to reading the second part of your work diary!

Keep a lookout for the second part of this blog!

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Refresh with A Fresh Coat of Paint!

It is so important to stand out in today’s world. Today, we have more to distract us than ever before. In the world of real estate, to make an impact, little things can go a long way. 

In today’s blog, we talk about how a small investment can lead to big returns. For example, how just a coat of paint can refresh an old home, giving it new life. If you are selling or renting out it’s important to put your best foot forward and brighten up the living space.

We have put together an easy and quick list for you to be able to give a new fresh spin on your home in a few simple ways:

A bright fresh coat on your outer walls attracts so much attention. Sometimes different colour can help grab attention and give the house character. 

Inside, create a feature wall, use wallpaper or bright contrasting colour to get the colour going and engaging.  If you have a lounge which isn’t the most welcoming space, by just adding a nice bright coloured wall it can not only add some colour but also make it cozy and welcoming. 

Give your furniture new character by just painting over it. Not only will it make your furniture look new, it saves cost and, the colour can complement & add an entire new texture to your home.  

With the new year approaching, this is a great time to invest in your place and, to keep its market appeal!