A little look in the rearview mirror as we slide into 2019.
If I wanted to choose a movie title to best describe my last year, it would be Fight Club. Or maybe The Long Walk to Freedom? My bank account’s cash flow would best be visualized like the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan… absolute carnage!
A career in real estate is not for the faint of heart. Earning commission selling houses in a third world country that is battling through a recession, whilst politicians threaten property redistribution without compensation, is quite honestly a mad man’s game.
If you can look past the aforementioned horror show there are diamonds in the rough: new friendships, freedom, and true satisfaction of sailing your own ship. 2018 taught me much, but the most important thing it gave me was a belief in myself, in my plan and the simple truth that if you want something, you can roll up your sleeves and go and get it.
Every fight comes with its own small amount of glory. There are 52 agents in my office and roughly 250 on the north coast, every day it’s me vs everyone else. On all good property deals, it’s always a race to the finish. Closing a deal reminds me so much of my early surfing career, that feeling of winning an event was the exact same rush.
I love it.
The property market on the north coast was buoyant in 2018, largely thanks to the increased influx of young families from Durban and Gauteng. Ballito is a very unique space in the sense that it has found itself in a prime position after the new airport was built, and sugar farmers started offloading large tracts of land, close to the town’s heart, for developers to custom design living spaces that are perfectly in line with the demand of new generation. The result has been a radical expansion, as huge investment money has poured in. Elaleni, Zululami, Barbets Crest, Birdhaven, Loxley, Mont Calm, Tahari, Brooklyn and Ballito Hills are just a few of the new estates currently being built in and around the Ballito area.
Simbithi continues to be a favourite, with its location, facilities and incredible lifestyle offering. I live in a sectional title unit, a 3 bedroom duplex in the estate, and by far the two biggest perks of our lifestyle are they security and the lifestyle my kids live. With many young families in the sectional title complexes, our kids spend most weekday afternoons and all weekends running amok on the nature trails, fishing in the dams with their mates. Joel has a watch alarm set for 5pm so he knows when it’s time to make his way back to the house. Not only is it a great way to grow up for them, it’s a huge pressure off Kimmy and me as parents, because we have space, and the TV remote!
As much as estates are the premium demand, we saw freestanding homes bounce back into favour again this year, as prices continue to climb in gated estates, free-standing houses (which have had minimal demand in previous years), found themselves as great value for money in 2018.
I sold R50 million worth of property this year, 12 of those 14 deals were neck and neck races with other agents. One thing you can be sure of, if it’s a good deal, there’s going to be multiple offers, and navigating that deal to the finish is the hardest part of this profession. It’s something I’m really starting to enjoy the pressure of (I only lost 2 deals to other agents). My most intense negotiation this year was a R10 million cash deal, which was close to a record high price in Simbithi. It went backwards and forwards over 3 days until we settled at R10,650,000. Such a rush, and a great boost for my own confidence in negotiating and closing big deals.
No matter how much the deal is worth, the highlight of my year in sales always comes back to the people I get to meet. This year I’ve worked with some incredible people, made some new friends, but few more inspirational than Mr Harold Mac Millan.
Mac, as I’ve come to know him, is a character like no other, and getting to meet people like him is exactly the reason why I love my job. My first intro to him was quite an experience, a range rover pulled up, with the number plate Mach2, which left me half expecting a Ferrari loving racing fanatic who shmaaked to go fast, instead out jumped the closest looking human to the Goonies pirate, One-Eyed Willie.
A few years ago life granted Mac the cruel privilege of a tumour behind his eye socket, and as a result, half of his facial bone structure had been surgically removed. Steele plates and bone grafts had been put back to restore his faces shape. A patch of skin has been sewn over the place where his eye used to be, leaving him with literally half a normal face.
Now I say privilege of a tumour because life can really be a shit, you can guarantee it will throw you curve balls and how you decide to respond is what makes you who you are. What Mac has lost, has only left more space for his incredible human spirit to shine through. A decision he probably made during a very dark time, and one that defines his true character. Perhaps having walked so close to death, free’s a person to truly shine the way we all should. Mac walks this earth free of the limitations that many of us carry, and when he speaks to you, it is direct, straightforward, and from the heart.
We connected instantly.
Anyone who knows me knows I have a dark sense of humour and love a good laugh at life’s cruellest jokes, somebody once described it to me as “cheap laughs in dark times”. I like that. Mac is no different and disarms everyone he meets with comical quips about his appearance (he introduced himself as the pirate of Simbithi), not allowing you a moment to feel sorry for him. But what’s really cool about him is his passion for life, this guy ain’t waiting for tomorrow, he is ALL about today!
He came to me through a good friend, looking for an investment property, and we struck gold pretty quick. We closed a deal on an apartment in Simbithi, and it needed a lot of work to get it into a rentable state, but scooped it for a fantastic price. Now on average, it takes 3 months to transfer property into a new owner’s name, and it’s never advisable to begin renovations until it belongs to you. If anything goes wrong in the transfer process, you risk losing any money you spend on renovations.
Trivial things like this weren’t going to slow Mac down. He asked me to get permission from the seller to get started early, which I did, and when I walked into the property a day later, the entire place had been dismantled, tiles ripped up, cupboards sent for a respray, lights replaced… all this in one day! Ol Mac wasn’t messing around. When people operate on that level, it inspires you to raise your game too. Over the coming days we sorted out locks and keys, fixed the garage, re-tiled, sanded the deck, and found him a tenant (a good mate of mine who I think connected with him instantly as well), now we only have to wait another two months for the lawyers to catch up and register this place.
The point of my story about Mac is really just to give praise to a person who inspired me this year, those connections are rare. It’s so easy to feel sorry for ourselves, to say life’s unfair and make excuses. Mac reminded me that we should only make room in our lives for positive energy, regardless of our circumstances, life is not fair and never will be, we should grab a hold of our passions and go after them like there is no tomorrow. Cheers to this legend for giving me a new perspective, something I value a lot in this world.
Kimmy took a big step this past year too, starting her own photography business, and it has taken off! We both really wanted careers where we decide when and how we work, so we could maximize our holidays and time together. You can see some of her work at littlemcdonald.com (she is the youngest of three McDonald siblings). She has specialized in property images for real estate companies to start, with a few family shoots, a wedding and a even a hotel in the midlands thrown in to make for an exciting first year. Her real passion is wildlife and hopefully she will be shooting a game lodge soon. I’ll be there to carry the bags.
So here’s a huge THANKS to those of you who I’ve worked with so far, it is always a pleasure working with my friends! I look forward to driving more of you around our town this year, talking nonsense, comparing war stories, venting about parental responsibilities, and connecting over a beer.
I’m really excited about 2019, and I plan to make the most of it. I wish you all good health and wild adventures this year, make the most of this trip around the sun.
See you all soon.