Nicolette loves luxury niche
NICOLETTE van Wijngaarden began luxury property business Unique Estates in April 2009 right about the time the global financial crisis started to bite hard in Australia.
Now with 130 properties worth $1 billion listed with the company, Unique Estates last week took out awards for Best Real Estate Agency Marketing for Australia and Best Real Estate Agency Website in Australia at the Asia Pacific Residential Property Awards.
The business began when Ms Wijngaarden sold her partner's $7.5m property, Brandon Grove.
"I saw that local agents did not have much success marketing the property," she said.
"I was asked to offer some advice and created a website, entered the house into an award and got some free editorial and in four months I had four local buyers.
"The eventual buyer flew in by chopper and bought the home for $7.7 million, including the furniture, which was $200,000 over the asking price.
"On the day of settlement several other property owners asked if I could do the same for them."
Unique Estates now employs eight people working out of an old dairy bale in Coorabell and offices in Sydney and Melbourne with a sales person in each.
"I love the work, it feels like it's the culmination of everything I have ever done in marketing like tele-marketing, branding, PR, sales and customer relationship management," she said.
Unique Estates' website gets more than two million hits per month and 40% of the visitors are from overseas.
Up to 80% of the clients come from Sydney seeking a lifestyle change to the North Coast but the site also lists properties in France, Southern Spain, Thailand and Nicaragua.
With so many prestige properties on her books, Ms Wijngaarden has a hard time picking a favourite.
"There is something amazing about all the properties I have to sell," she said.
"I am very aware of trust people place in me to sell what is often their most precious possession.
"I do feel the responsibility to do the best I can for my clients."