I am Denise Haynes, my Business is R & R Property and this is “My Story”

I am regularly asked how my Real Estate career came to be and what the journey has involved. I have therefore written a brief version of my story for you, hoping that this may give you an insight into who I am and where I’ve come from.          

I’m not sure where my Passion for Real Estate stems from. It certainly wasn’t from my family growing up. Although Mum & Dad always owned our family home there were never any other Real Estate transactions made whilst I was growing up. Our family home was originally a 2bdm old weatherboard home with lots of holes to let the rats and mice come and go as they pleased. When I was aged about 12 Mum and Dad overhauled it and it was converted to a 3bdm and it was pretty neat when I finally got my own room. The long-drop toilet was still proudly located in the back yard though. No luxury such as an inside flushing toilet for us! Times have changed so much with homes, we used to have little old homes and share bedrooms as children. The new homes today are huge in comparison and usually very modern.

When I was 20 I purchased my first home to live in, an old 1930’s weatherboard on small acreage. I then sold this and purchased a historic convict built cottage which I still hold to this day. These purchases were achieved with me working up to four jobs at once (1 full time, the others part time) plus my husband at the time working his job. These processes although exciting because I was purchasing a home for myself certainly were underwhelming as far as a Real Estate transaction is concerned. I sold my own property myself but there was no celebratory congratulations from the Agency I dealt with to buy the cottage and in actual fact it was quite a dodgy experience. Not a good introduction to the world of Real Estate I must say.

Some years later and now single and having bought my ex-husband out so I could keep the cottage I somehow got it into my head that I should buy myself an investment property. So I scoured the papers, seeking something within my very small budget. Eventually I found a 2 bedroom unit which I thought I could rent out easily enough and purchased it. This was followed by a second sometime afterwards and so my portfolio began to grow. But again all these transactions were totally un-exciting. Not once did I even receive a settlement gift pack from my varied Real Estate Agencies for my trouble. Maybe a bottle of cheap wine some years later from one of them whilst still on my Real Estate investment journey. From these earlier experiences I have gained the knowledge that these are momentous transactions in our life and from this I have ensured that R & R Property have the most amazing settlement gift packs (full of local products) for our clients and hand them over very ceremoniously. After all it’s usually a celebratory occasion finalising from what is generally an emotional roller-coaster ride

As an employee I have never ever been the go to work, start at 9 do as little work as possible and go home on the dot of 5 type girl. No not me, I have always been that pesky employee who goes above and beyond, has regular fantastic ideas about what the business can do next to improve and service the customer better. I was the girl who stayed behind if she didn’t complete all her tasks knowing that she wouldn’t be paid any overtime but just wanting the satisfaction of a job well done. For my good willed efforts I have pretty much always been labelled as being a troublemaker. I’m still not sure why, maybe my actions make people nervous or feel inadequate themselves. I re-call when I told one of my Aunties that I was working hard to purchase another investment property she asked me with such disdain – “What do you want to be, a millionairess???” Tall poppy syndrome is rife. At that point in time I was saving as much of my wages as I could each week by sticking to a super strict budget, just so I could try to get ahead.

I think the writing has always been on the wall that I needed to own my own business, but it took a while to happen and only because I got thrown in the deep end. When it’s sink or swim – you’d better start swimming real fast!

I would like to advise that I am self-titled as unemployable these days. Having been to the other side where I can make decisions, bear the brunt of them when they don’t turn out well or rejoice when they do. Although having my own business is up there with one of the hardest things I have ever undertaken in my life it certainly does give you the benefits of artistic freedom. Whether that is worth it is something you would have to decide for yourself as everyone is different. Some have gone back to being an employee after a stint as a business owner and are happy as can be, just to have a regular wage coming in and no big decisions to make. Not me I seem to like doing things the hard way.

In 2004 after being treated what I considered to be unfairly, for quite some time at my current employment, I told my boss to stick it were the sun don’t shine and walked out. There are only so many knocks you can take before self-preservation kicks in. At the time there was a Real Estate Agency in my tiny little suburb. I’d had it in my thoughts that a job in Real Estate might be quite interesting. I quite liked having my investment properties and just thought that it might be something different and interesting. Having no experience whatsoever I plucked up the courage to walk in and ask if there might be something going job wise for me. There wasn’t of course but at least I had registered my interest. I later found out that it was purely because I was a local that he didn’t even consider me.

A few months later I thought I might like to have my cottage appraised after having completed some improvements, so I telephoned the local agent and asked him to pop in to do so.

Well he must of thought I wasn’t so bad after all and rang me the next day to offer me a casual job, one or two days a week just doing general tea/coffee making, filing, general dogs body type stuff. I jumped at this chance and went in and was a total sponge, listening to everything and following instructions. In my usual mode and work ethic I worked as hard as I could, over and above, learnt as much as I could and I loved it. I was soon invited to take up a full time position and through the years worked in every role along the way. From Filing clerk to Property Manager (rentals) to Sales Assistant. My office manager/sales agent who had given me the job was over the moon because he had someone who would do absolutely everything for him except go out and sell the properties. All the behind the scenes work was completed happily by me and as I said before I just stayed there each evening until it was all finished. Sometimes working diligently into the night without overtime just to meet deadlines and get all my extensive amount of work completed. He had hit the jackpot! One part of the general roles I did was the marketing. When I started within the agency the marketing they had was very crude & basic to say the least. I seemed to absolutely love this creative part of my role and I was soon re-designing their brochures, window cards and general marketing material. I also took it upon myself to produce editorials and advertising to attract people to come to live in our area. Another trait I have is to take people along with me as a bonus. So whatever I was creating was not only for this business but for the town as well, therefore I was effectively marketing for the whole town – for free. I still do this to this day, sometimes it’s reciprocated, sometimes not. I am a strong believer in supporting local businesses regardless, so I purchase whatever I possibly can from them before outsourcing, no matter the price difference or waiting time.

The marketing campaigns I created were all very successful. The agency owners that I worked for at the time had 3 offices. One day they organised a meeting with me and asked if I would like to take on the role of marketing officer for all three offices. I was ecstatic and accepted immediately. I was so stoked to think they had such faith in me and I had been given this amazingly creative role as well.

Some months later with the takeover of a new owner I unfortunately lost my job with this business as they advised they had no room for a marketing officer. And so the next chapter began.

I had a short stint with another agency that left me feeling deflated. I applied for a role with this agency because I loved their marketing. Sadly this company was unsuitable and I was terribly unhappy there. My dream job totally sucked, so disappointing, but oh well time to move on. It was not a waste of time because I learnt more skills and had more experiences under my belt, again things to do as well as things not to do.

By this time my previous manager from the original agency had started his own Real Estate Agency. He invited me to be a commission only sales agent and work out of his office. It didn’t take too much thought for me to say yes. By this time I had considered that I wouldn’t mind turning my hand to sales and I saw this as an opportunity. So I grabbed it. Off I went and completed all the courses to become fully licensed (which you are required to do as a commission only sales person, as opposed to a wage earner who at the time of writing can work under a certificate of registration and someone else’s license). I was responsible for providing my own car, which had to be a 4WD (as we work in a rural area), training, phone and motivation. Commission only sales means if you don’t sell a property you don’t get any pay whatsoever. You always have your ongoing & never ending operating costs to deal with though, and when you do sell you only receive a percentage as, of course, most of it goes back to the business. So I had to swim real fast!

This was all fine except of course I turned into not only a commission only sales person but his private personal assistant again as well. Never mind, I soldiered on and did everything I could. As a new business we had nothing and I basically helped him create the business bit by bit. The business was created in one of the biggest economic down turns in a long time so things were tough. I just worked as hard as I could trying not to miss any opportunities to learn and sell. I also worked hard to become the best Real Estate Agency within our area and to obtain the lion’s share of business. I was putting in hours and hours of work, doing the km’s, taking the calls, making the calls – then going home and working on it at night as well. I remember clearly one of the business owners friends at the time said – “you will end up being the owner of this business Denise”. At the time I just laughed this off thinking that I would never be capable of doing that. That all sounded way too scary to me!

During this time I was a sponge and followed the current owner around and took in as much information as I could. I had done this for years previously when we worked together and I truly believe this, along with being thrown in the deep end is the best way to learn. No amount of text book reading and classes will ever teach you how to or how not to deal with people and the many facets of Real Estate that on the ground foot work will. Of course I do believe in doing courses and have done many in my time and still do. I love self-improvement but it all falls into place when you put what you’ve learnt into practise.

Just over 12 months after starting, the owner of the business said “I’ve had enough and it’s all too hard, do you want to buy the business”? Prior to this, for the past 6 months, at the age of 41 I had been trying to fall pregnant with my partner unsuccessfully. I thought to myself, well I’m obviously too old to fall pregnant, that’s just not going to happen for me so why not give this a go. I was terrified to say the least! So my partner and I quickly sold one of our investment properties to fund the purchase. Ironically enough, and against everyone’s advice I paid the owner what I and others perceived to be way too much money for the business, because I knew he was experiencing hardship. Mind you I also knew that I was paying him for something I had helped create, but being the kind hearted person I am, I overlooked this and just decided to run with it.

The day I signed the contract of sale I found out I was pregnant. Oh my goodness what a surprise! I had been so busy stressing over buying the business I forgot about trying to fall pregnant and of course that’s when it happened. Good old Mother Nature! After much discussion with my partner I made the decision to keep going with the business regardless and just multi task with bubba in tow.

We still laugh today that my husband found me in the lounge room at 3am madly sending emails and completing work because my water had just broken (2 weeks early) and I needed to get this work completed prior to going to hospital. I was also speaking with clients during labour in between contractions. I had to ring and explain this to them afterwards as I thought later that I probably sounded a bit strange at the time. After I had given birth to our beautiful daughter I had my little temporary office set up in the hospital room, as I was to quickly find out neither a baby nor a business sleeps. Everyone who came to visit us in hospital still laughs about my little hospital office set-up today. Then from hospital back to the office we went after a short stint at home getting to know each other. I still laugh today that half of our area have seen my boobs due to the fact that I would be breast feeding in my office when people would bowl in to see Miss Newborn. From the day of her arrival she has been known officially as “The Boss!”

The failing business that I purchased in 2010 is absolutely nothing like the business I have today. All aspects except the name have changed. Everything has been overhauled. We have tested and trialled many things, some worked, some didn’t.

Over the years I have had many competitors trying to move in on the business, take advantage of the popularity of our area which I have had a huge hand in creating with the continuous stream of editorials, social media campaigns and marketing promotions to draw people here. We’ve even been on Selling Houses Australia, an award winning homeowner TV show on Foxtels Lifestyle channel. I’ve had the ex-business owner and ex-employees go out in competition with me, which is truly heart breaking but hey – That’s business! My mind set being; Do your absolute best at all times and just keep moving forward! It is frustrating though of course, having limped along when times are tough as hell, keeping your head just above water, risking everything you’ve worked all your life for, only to have competitors come in when times improve, taking the cherry so to speak.

Being a business owning mother is certainly a challenge and we have had many stressful and funny moments together. From catastrophic poo explosions whilst out with clients to doing $1.4 Million dollar deals at 6am whilst breastfeeding. I must say though “The Boss” has been an awesome business partner winning many hearts. I will be very happy if she has learnt some life and business skills from working with her independent, never give up mummy.

I absolutely love changing people’s lives by selling their property or making them new locals. Of course it’s not always roses and sunshine. No matter what the situation, selling and buying property is always an emotionally charged situation. I think a lot of agents forget this, but I strive to always keep the clients care and feelings front of mind. I always ask myself “Could I have improved this situation and process?” If the answer is “yes” then I try to rectify it and if the answers “no” then at the end of the day I can only do my absolute best. It’s always good to learn through any situation and my motto has always been to keep doing the best I can with passion and honesty.

I have always had a move forward approach to the business. Never becoming stagnant and always trying to grow. I have had many fails as a boss, a business owner, a mummy and a wife but I have always tried to overcome these and get back on track. I have considered quitting many, many times when things have gotten so tough I didn’t think I could go on, but there’s obviously a tough stubborn streak in me that keeps whispering “keep going – work through it”.

There have been many celebrations along the way as well and we continue to do so. I have a fabulous team and we are all passionate about the business and helping others both change their lives and also to be able to enjoy our way of life. Today we have two offices in two locations, have expanded our footprint throughout the area. The two offices although both totally different are both amazing in their own right. Very stylish and upmarket but the down to earth appeal that our clients love about us remains. Although we work really hard, fun and laughter are definitely a daily occurrence and not frowned upon. The whole team are working together wonderfully, but in general the team has always been an ever changing and evolving being in its own right as people come and go for different reasons.

I have always been incredibly shy by nature and have had to work really hard to overcome this. I still to this day dislike networking functions as I always feel awkward and nervous. Also unfortunately in today’s society if you aren’t a regular drinker, spending a fair amount of time at your local watering hole you are deemed as odd, stuck up or both. I truly hate that about today’s society and although I have been a regular drinker in my time I am certainly not these days. I also enjoy my own and my family’s company. After a long day working in Real Estate I just want to go home and spend my down time with them. I’m not stuck up, I just love spending my limited spare time in my own company or with my family, having spent all my working day each and every day with everyone else and their family. This also gives me time to indulge in my other passion and stress reliever which is photography.

Being a Rural and Residential Real Estate Agent is seriously one of the hardest jobs I have ever done. It is sheer hard work, both physically and emotionally. It is also incredibly rewarding! I have made so many amazing friends from clients who have both bought and sold through R and R Property in and around all of our areas of Stroud, Bulahdelah and Gloucester. And it is a great feeling to walk down the street and have everyone chatting to you, or singing out greetings to you.

I am incredibly excited about the future knowing that we have new & amazing projects in the pipeline which will be rolling out during the year. Never satisfied to be the same as every other agency, we definitely don’t cookie cut and we always look for out of the box ideas. That is also why I have never accepted the invitations from franchised agencies to join them. I love our independence and am incredibly proud of having full authority over everything we do. The R & R Property Team are now a force to be reckoned with and I also have a team of awesome contractors behind the scenes who have our back and know what we are seeking to achieve. Trust me I love this business, our slogan is “A Passion For Property” and it has my heart and soul poured into it. I’m not going anywhere and you’d better watch this space to keep up with us!

Denise Haynes and the R & R Property Team have offices located in both Stroud and Bulahdelah but cover a large area surrounding them, including Gloucester and Karuah. They are your Tree Change Specialists and love assisting others to make the move from city to country. The team are a combination of lifetime locals and tree changers so their vast experience and knowledge is your asset. You’ll find their free Real Estate advice on their Website, Podcasts and Facebook – “Hints and Tips”.

Stroud : 02 4994 5766 | “Bowen Chambers” 73 Cowper St, Stroud NSW 2425

Bulahdelah: 02 4997 4325 | 78 Stroud St, Bulahdelah NSW 2423



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***Disclaimer: The information within this document are my personal experiences and therefore my personal opinion and perception of events.