Taking the helm of a 25-year-old business in the throes of a pandemic was never going to be an easy ask.
But not only was Harcourts Queenstown’s new managing director Warwick Osborne undaunted by the task, but says they were “ahead of the game” from the outset.
Celebrating the quarter-century business milestone he says Harcourts’ advanced and extensive digital presence and systems paved the way for a “fast out of the blocks” approach when the real estate industry sprang back into action post-lockdown.
“We’ve always been a market leader as part of the wider Harcourts Highland Group with six offices around Otago and a coveted Number One spot as the top real estate company in the region,” he says.
“But the pandemic’s demonstrated that our early adoption of Facetime, Facebook lives, videos and intricate algorithms via the Harcourts Digital Suite to connect with buyers has paid off, along with the fact that we’ve been livestreaming auctions since 2015.
“Being part of an international brand with proven systems and procedures in place stood us in great stead, but we don’t rest on our laurels.
“We used the lockdown period to upskill by taking part in up to 32 international webinars, proof if it was needed that Harcourts training is second to none. Our centralised technology meant we could focus on supporting our vendors and purchasers from home, essential as we already work a lot with international buyers who want to be able to make informed decisions from anywhere in the world.
“And on the ground here in Otago we’ve partnered with key specialists in the technology and digital fields to keep us moving forward.”
On a local Queenstown level Warwick says trust, community and shared values are at the heart of doing business.
“We’ve always been a market leader and nationally we’ve been voted New Zealand’s most trusted brand for eight years in a row by our clients.
“Our Queenstown office has developed market-leading expertise, involved in project marketing for many different developments. We have a core of highly-focused key people who bring a wealth of project marketing experience to those, and our expertise spans residential multi-stage developments to high end property sales and a concise approach to smaller, boutique projects.”
Warwick says more milestones are coming and Harcourts is “ahead of the game” for people who need reassurance that they’re putting their project, development and brand in the right hands.
“Our early adoption of online technology some years ago means the wave of compliancy requirements that’s coming such as the Healthy Homes Act and the REA Privacy Act will be broken down to be easily accessible and understandable.”
Warwick has 18 years of know-how in the Queenstown property market and says the Harcourts philosophy of ‘people first’ resonates most with him and his team.
“People are the most important part of our organisation and ‘people first’ places much emphasis on workplace culture, especially important in times like this,” he says.
“We’ve created a very driven, supportive and team culture within the business which includes admin staff and consultants, encouraging people to be the best they can be and reach their full potential.
“We’re very team-driven which gets the best results for our clients. Vendors aren’t just working with one agent, they’re being supported by an entire team effort to get the best outcome.”
Warwick says the business adapted to the new post-lockdown environment extremely quickly by identifying what they didn’t need to spend time on and where to shift focus.
“There’s a saying that you never waste a crisis if you want to see some change.”
And how well does that set Harcourts Queenstown and the Highland Group up for the next 25 years in business?
“It’s proved to us that surrounding ourselves with great people is key, along with the importance of teamwork married with efficient and effective systems and processes. We’re in an enviable position when it comes to building on the next 25 years.”