As the director of Marshall White Balwyn, William Chen has had a particularly unique first year running an office.
‘Our office opened in February, a month before the first lockdown started,’ he explains. ‘We had to make sure we were staying connected both with each other and with our vendors and buyers.’
A year on, William reflects on how overcoming the challenges of that first year has set the office up for success. ‘We worked really hard to keep the momentum going through 2020, through developing systems to get more listings, coaching the team, staying in touch with everyone, and we’re seeing the results of that now.’
William has been working and living in Balwyn for over 15 years, and his love for the area is as strong now as it was when he first came here. ‘It’s a lovely leafy area, there are more parks in this suburb than in any other suburb in Boroondara,’ he says. ‘It’s a great family area, with a lot of great schools and a great sense of community.’
Building a community has been one of William’s favourite parts about working in real estate, ever since he first began as a business IT specialist in a commercial real estate firm 15 years ago.
‘When I was first working in IT, I was drawn to the business mindset of the real estate agents, and I wanted to be part of it. I’d already worked as a salesperson in China, and my brother is in sales as well, so I suppose the sales gene is part of my family!’
Now that he’s a director, he cherishes the relationships he’s been able to build through his work. ‘I meet people at open inspections who become friends, and then buyers and vendors, so building my network has been one of my favourite parts about this journey.’
When William first began in real estate, he was one of very few Chinese agents in Melbourne. ‘Now, there are many more, particularly around Balwyn. So, I’m very proud to be one of the longest working Chinese agents in this area.’
Over his career, he’s observed many changes in the way real estate operates. ‘Social media really changed the game a lot,’ he says. ‘When I started, we really just relied on print media for advertising. Now a lot of our buyers come to us through social media, which is something that is still very new in our industry.’
However, even with technological updates, William still believes the most important requirement for a successful career in real estate is good, old fashioned hard work. ‘I think a lot of people think real estate agents just work hard on Thursdays and Saturdays, but really, a lot of it is about what we do behind the scenes.’
‘I’m working nearly every day, after hours, always making sure I’m doing the best for the vendor. We don’t just drive nice cars and stand around at open inspections,’ he laughs.
For William, the hard work is always rewarding, no matter what. ‘My favourite moment in the job is when the contract of sale gets signed and you get to put the sold sticker up on the board,’ he says. ‘You really have that feeling of ‘mission accomplished’, that you’ve done a great job for both the vendor and the buyer.’
At the end of the day, William strives to achieve success not just for himself, but for his family.
‘As I watch my kids grow up, and I see my wife happy, and I come home every day after work and feel the warmth and comfort my family gives me, it motivates me to work harder for them and create a good life for them.’