After spending much of the last few months in lockdown in an apartment in St Kilda West, Marshall White Port Phillip agents Ben Manolitsas and Georgia Whitford were excited to find a home with a little more room for the two of them and their exuberant dog Sonny.
‘I grew up in Albert Park, and we wanted to be close to the beach and close to work,’ Georgia explains. ‘I’ve always loved this area. I love the period homes, the tree lined streets – and there’s no traffic!’
Ben is equally enthusiastic about their new home’s placement, set just steps away from the bay. ‘There’s something about being close to the beach. I’ve lived in the area for the last ten years, and I just wouldn’t live anywhere else.’
The house, a single level Victorian full of original period charm, stood out to them because of the sleek modern kitchen and sunny rear deck. ‘There’s nothing better on a Saturday after our auctions or open for inspections than coming home and having a glass of wine together and cooking a meal,’ Ben says.
The community feel of Albert Park was another major drawcard. ‘You get to know everyone in the community living around here,’ Ben says. ‘So much of our job is about building relationships with people, so when we both live and work in the area, people already know us and trust us.’
For Ben, he knew from an early agent that he loved meeting people, so moving into real estate was a natural progression. ‘What other job lets you meet fifty different people a day?’ he laughs.
The couple, who recently got engaged, both cherish the relationship building aspect of real estate. ‘Selling and buying a house is such an emotional experience,’ Georgia says. ‘When you buy a house, you’re moving into a new phase of life, and as an agent you go on the rollercoaster of emotions involved in that with your client, which can be amazing.’
In this particularly unusual year, the emotional element of real estate has become even more heightened. ‘When things were really turbulent earlier this year, our clients were really looking to us for certainty,’ Ben says. ‘People became more reliant on their agents than ever, looking to us to guide them in the right direction.’
But for all the emotional peaks and valleys, Ben and Georgia agree the highs make the job well worth it. ‘At the end of the day, no matter how difficult or emotional selling is, people are usually happy with the result,’ Ben says. ‘We had an auction on Saturday where the home sold for $300,000 over expectation, and the owners were crying and thanking us, which was an incredible experience.’
‘When you get an amazing price like that for someone, it just opens up a new door for them,’ Georgia says. ‘It can change someone’s life.’