Dave Urquhart and his team keep a local focus as they respond to WA’s faltering housing market
Getting back into the Top 10 despite a struggling local economy is no mean feat. But Smartline Currambine has gone a step further and is in fact expanding its operations and marketing. With CoreLogic-Moody’s Analytics predicting ﬂ at house prices in Perth for the next year, the brokerage is taking a “stronger focus on our existing client base”, says Dave Urquhart. “The market over here is extremely tough, with low valuations, etc, so we’re telling clients not to panic and we’re holding their hand, so to speak.”
The brokerage’s clients are 80% local, and spread across the main client groups, although Urquhart ﬁ nds the clients he personally deals with are mainly investors. During these tough times Smartline is making a point of ﬁ ghting for its clients by continually reviewing their loans, explains Urquhart. “With ANZ, for example, came out that they would do 3.75% for three years, so we’ve proactively contacted all ANZ clients saying this is an opportunity for you to lock in half your mortgage at this rate. So that type of proactive response – clients love it, because they can see you’re acting in their best interests.”
Now 11 years old, the brokerage has worked hard to establish a local presence and local loyalty, which they maintain in innovative ways. They recently launched a blog with articles of general community interest, such as new supermarkets opening in the area, which Urquhart believes could prove popular. “That’s got a good following of 820, just over the last month, and we’re looking at increasing the coverage of that.” They also advertise on Facebook and are present on LinkedIn.
The brokerage’s six brokers are supported by two administrative staff , who are “the backbone of everything we do”, says Urquhart. It is looking to take on extra staff – when a staff member recently went on holiday, he says “our top writers were taken away from what they were meant to be doing and were chasing progress payments and this type of stuff rather than seeing clients”.
Reﬁ nancing has increased by 20% since last year, and a slight fall in settlements can be attributed to departing staff , says Urquhart. “If you compare apples with apples we’re probably on par with last year.” Defying “the doom and gloom in the market”, Smartline recently took on a specialist in commercial and equipment ﬁ nance, sending the brokerage in a new direction: “already in the ﬁ rst few weeks he’s bringing in clients and scenarios we wouldn’t have dealt with before, and that’s opening up doors in the local community”