The Upshot Podcast – Episode 7: Glenn Farah
The Upshot Podcast with guest Glenn Farah
Host: Ben, Head of Investor Relations at Homely
Guest: Glenn Farah – Marketing Director & Sales Executive of NG Farah
The Upshot by Homely invites you into honest conversations with the entrepreneurs, challengers and longstanding legends shaping the real estate industry today.
Homely is proud to welcome Glenn Farah from NG Farah to the Upshot Podcast. A big supporter of Homely, Glenn’s career has been extensive and impressive. Having sold his first property at the age of 17, Glenn ventured into an extraordinary career where his passion for the family business exploded into cumulative sales of over $1 billion of Australian real estate sold under his banner. The accredited auctioneer is actively involved in a number of charities and community programs and has a true passion for real estate.
Glenn’s take on current property news
Across the country, it appears to be tight as people are reluctant to sell in a declining market.
Ben: Thank you all for joining us on the sixth episode of the Upshot podcast by Homely. I’m Ben Williams, and today we have the privilege of interviewing Glenn Farrah, a renowned figure in the southeastern side of the Sydney market. Glenn is part of the NG Farrah group in Sydney and has had a long and successful career in real estate. He comes from a family with a strong real estate background, and we are eager to hear his insights on the property market and how he has built his business into one of the major players in his area. Glenn has sold over a billion dollars worth of real estate in his extensive career and possesses in-depth knowledge of the inner and eastern suburbs. Additionally, he has conducted over 4,000 auctions and actively supports his local community through charity auctions for organisations like the Children’s Hospital and South Sydney Juniors. Glenn, welcome to the program. We appreciate you being here today.
Glenn: Thank you, Ben. I’m delighted to be here. I appreciate the invitation.
Ben: Excellent. Let’s begin by discussing the current state of the Sydney marketplace. While we’ve had several Melbourne and Victorian agents on the show recently, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the Sydney market. How are things shaping up there?
Glenn: Currently, the market is strong. Despite heading into winter and experiencing upward trends in interest rates, auction clearance rates remain high.
Ben: So, considering these factors, it seems that the market is performing well. Are you observing a shortage of supply at the moment? Across the country, it appears to be tight as people are reluctant to sell in a declining market.
Glenn: Absolutely. In our marketplace, we’re seeing a minimum 25% decrease in stock levels, which is sustaining the market’s momentum. If there were normal stock levels, the prices we’re currently seeing wouldn’t be achievable. The low supply has created a situation where buyers are becoming anxious due to the lack of available options. Consequently, they are forced to pay higher prices for properties.
Ben: That makes sense. Do you anticipate that supply will increase in the coming months, especially with the mortgage cliff approaching? Is this topic being discussed within your office or marketplace?
Many homeowners are doing their best to manage higher interest rates, but there will come a point where they can no longer sustain it
Glenn: While it’s not a topic of open discussion, my experience over the years leads me to believe that the Reserve Bank won’t ease up on interest rates. I expect them to continue rising, which may prompt more properties to enter the market. However, I don’t foresee a significant increase in supply until 2024. Many homeowners are doing their best to manage higher interest rates, but there will come a point where they can no longer sustain it. Although we haven’t reached that point yet, I believe we’re heading in that direction.
Ben: I recently had a conversation with someone from a major bank who mentioned that around 15% of mortgages in the market are starting to feel the pressure from these interest rate rises. As they struggle to hold on, they will eventually need to sell. In your opinion, will a sudden increase in supply cause the property market to sharply decline, or can it maintain stability given the current climate?
Glenn: Confidence is crucial in any market. If confidence falters, people tend to follow the leader, resulting in a decline. However, I don’t anticipate a drastic fall. There’s generally a 10% buffer in the top segment of the market, and I believe that buffer will diminish. Currently, people are eager to purchase properties due to the strong rental market. This rental market strength is exerting pressure on the sales market. Many individuals who would typically opt for renting are compelled to buy since rental options are scarce. This dynamic contributes to the market’s resilience.
Ben: That consistency is noticeable in various regions. We recently had Donna Cross, a property management expert, on the show, and she mentioned that things are starting to ease up in her marketplace. However, the number of applicants remains high, creating uncertainty around housing options. This situation is likely to push more people towards considering buying properties.
Glenn Farah’s real estate career
Ben: Now, let’s delve into your career. You’ve been in the industry for a significant period and have worked within your family business, leveraging the Farrah name. Could you provide us with an overview of your career? I understand you entered the real estate field at the age of 17. Is that correct?
I genuinely enjoyed the competitive nature of real estate. I had to learn the sales aspect on my own through trial and error.
Glenn: Yes, that’s right. I sold my first property at 17. It may sound surprising, but it was legal at the time. I was born and raised in Maroubra, and unfortunately, I didn’t perform well in school. So when it came to finding a job, I was fortunate that my dad had a small one-man real estate office. I was disappointed with my HSC results, so I asked my dad if I could work in his office. He agreed, and I saw it as an opportunity to make something of myself despite failing my HSC. I genuinely enjoyed the competitive nature of real estate.
At a young age, I had the chance to sell a property by chance, which sparked my interest in the industry. I sold a small semi in Kingsford for $62,000 in 1980, which is now valued at around $1.7 million. My father had established the one-man office, and I had to learn the sales aspect on my own through trial and error. It took time, but with the support of my brother and a philosophy of recruiting and taking care of our staff, we managed to grow the business over the past 40 years. Today, we have around 75 employees, four offices, and eight working partners, excluding myself.
For me, property is about lifestyle, and being born and raised around Sydney’s beaches, that lifestyle element has always been a driving factor. Fortunately, buyers see it the same way, and when there’s a connection between lifestyle and a property, emotions come into play, and it becomes more than just a financial investment.
Speaking of NG Farah, at what age did you take over the reins of the business? Did your father hand them over early, or did you have to work for it?
Ben: Indeed, the eastern beaches and the areas where you operate are stunning. It’s understandable why people are willing to pay a premium to live there. Speaking of NG Farrah, at what age did you take over the reins of the business? Did your father hand them over early, or did you have to work for it?
“Son, if your name isn’t good enough to put on the door, no name is good enough.”
Glenn: My father wasn’t eager to hand over the reins too early. I had the opportunity to travel extensively when I was younger, which was a great adventure. In 1986, my partner became pregnant, and that inspired me to work even harder. I realised I needed to take the business to the next level to provide for my growing family.
So around 1986, I became the sales manager, and by 1992, I was running the business. In 2010, I stepped down from a more prominent role, but we managed to grow the business by recruiting talented individuals and building our own brand. In the early 1980s, I suggested to my dad that we should consider getting a franchise like Raine & Horne or LJ Hooker since nobody knew NG Farrah at the time. But my dad sat me down and said, “Son, if your name isn’t good enough to put on the door, no name is good enough.”
He instilled in me the importance of building our own brand, and it turned out to be a wise decision. Why pay franchise fees when we can establish our own successful brand? My brother Martin played a crucial role in growing the business too, as he had a natural talent for sales and building long-term relationships. By taking care of our employees, many of them eventually became working partners, and the business evolved. Today, we have three generations involved, including my daughter. It’s truly special for our family to work together. Although my father passed away in 2002, his initials, NG Farrah, are highly respected, and he left behind a great reputation.
People still come to our office today, recalling how Mr. Farrah helped them purchase or rent their first property, even lending them half the money for the bond. He created a lasting legacy, and we strive to continue in his name.
Ben: It’s remarkable that you’ve established a legacy brand in your marketplace. With the third generation now working in your office, is your daughter planning to take over the helm in the future and continue building this legacy?
Glenn: My daughter is incredibly competitive, and she genuinely loves the business. I always say that you need to love your job because you spend a significant portion of your life working. She’s enjoying the challenges, and while it’s a big responsibility to run the business, I believe she will eventually join the board as a partner. She already has valuable experience. When my kids were five and six years old, I used to play a game with them in the car. I’d offer them 50 cents for every NG Farah sign they spotted.
So real estate has been in their blood since an early age. It’s part of our DNA and even a topic of discussion during family dinners. My dad always enjoyed engaging in such conversations. It’s an integral part of our family, and we’re proud to carry it forward.
Do you think it has become more challenging over the years, or do you believe that with the emergence of new technologies and approaches, it has become easier?
Ben: You’ve been in the industry for a long time. Do you think it has become more challenging over the years, or do you believe that with the emergence of new technologies and approaches, it has become easier? What are your thoughts on this?
Glenn: In this industry, you must keep up with the trends, technology, and best practices. It follows the 80-20 rule, where 20% of the agents generate 80% of the income. To thrive, you want to be part of that top 20%. It takes time, approximately a decade, to build your brand, establish trust, and become the agent people turn to for their biggest asset sales. Real estate is a long-term game, and unless you keep up with technology, make proactive calls, connect people with properties, and stay in touch with your database regularly, you won’t succeed.
You can’t be reactive; you must be proactive. It’s a tough industry because success hinges on acquiring good properties, which not only sell themselves but also create opportunities to meet new people. Building a reliable database, maintaining clean data, and constantly staying in touch with your contacts are vital. If you’re not doing it, someone else is, and they will get the business. Real estate requires mental strength, belief in oneself, and the ability to handle both the highs and lows. It’s a challenging but rewarding profession when done right.
For a new agent entering the industry, besides making calls and managing their database, are there any other strategies you would recommend to gain traction quickly?
Ben: If you want to succeed in sales, I’d like to touch on the 80-20 rule we discussed earlier. It seems you’ve covered all the key points about how 20% of agents dominate the marketplace. For a new agent entering the industry, besides making calls and managing their database, are there any other strategies you would recommend to gain traction quickly?
Glenn: Absolutely. Hard work is non-negotiable for a new agent. If you start work at 9 o’clock, you’ve already given your competitors a two and a half hour head start. You need to be at work by 7 a.m., making 100 calls a day, connecting with people in your target area. Familiarise yourself with every property that has sold in your area because your knowledge will shine through when you engage with potential clients. Knowing the market and property prices will not only educate you but also attract potential vendors who appreciate your expertise. One great thing about real estate is that, even as a new agent, you can outperform someone with 15 years of experience. People judge you based on your energy, enthusiasm, eye contact, persona, and aura.
If you believe in yourself, work hard, leverage technology, focus on a specific area, and find a mentor to guide you, opportunities will come your way. Embrace the experience of losing or missing out on business because it fuels your competitive spirit and drives you to improve. Losing is not a setback; it’s an opportunity for growth. Real estate demands hard work, tech-savviness, a targeted approach, mentorship, and the willingness to face challenges. Success comes to those who are proactive and determined.
Ben: Absolutely. You mentioned the importance of product knowledge earlier, and I agree it’s a powerful tool for new agents entering the market. When you possess more knowledge than your competitors and can convey it effectively to buyers and sellers, it gives you a significant advantage. Knowledge truly is power.
Another point I noticed is that a little bit of pressure can keep you motivated. You mentioned having a baby on the way, and I imagine that kind of responsibility can help you stay focused. It could be having a mortgage you can’t afford or any other pressing commitment.
Firstly, real estate is a sound investment. Secondly, I knew they would work harder when they had those additional responsibilities.
Glenn: Exactly, Ben. I used to inquire about my staff’s family and mortgage situations because those responsibilities would provide extra motivation. I encouraged my staff, even those who didn’t have mortgages, to invest in property for two reasons. Firstly, real estate is a sound investment. Secondly, I knew they would work harder when they had those additional responsibilities. When you have to feed a baby or make mortgage payments, you’re pushed out of your comfort zone. In real estate, you can’t afford to be comfortable; you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Ben: That’s an excellent point. I love that mindset. Now, moving on to your experience as a business leader. Over the years, you’ve witnessed various market changes and led your team through them. Can you share any insights on guiding a team through different markets?
Glenn: One crucial aspect is staying connected with the local community. I have always valued and supported community initiatives such as surf clubs, footy teams, and charitable organisations. These groups contribute to the social fabric, providing opportunities for children and creating safety nets in our society. Being part of the community has been important to me, and supporting these initiatives goes beyond mere sponsorship. It’s about genuinely caring for the community. Retaining staff is also vital for a successful business. Constant turnover is detrimental.
Fortunately, I have been fortunate to retain many team members for extended periods, some for 10, 15, 20, or even 30 years. Those long-term employees have become my working partners and have been rewarded with partnerships. Staying up-to-date with technology is critical for everyone in the company. Technology allows for more efficient operations and quicker results. Although I didn’t grow up with it, I have learned to adapt and keep up. Younger generations are more naturally adept with technology. It’s essential to keep up or, at the very least, stay informed.
Other crucial aspects include building your database, nurturing your personal brand within the larger company brand, and continuously investing in yourself. Reinforce your knowledge, maintain physical and mental well-being, and develop resilience. Real estate presents challenges, and being fit and resilient will enable you to bounce back quickly. While hard work is crucial, maintaining a work-life balance is equally important. My father always encouraged me to take vacations and recharge my batteries. Investing in self-care and rewarding yourself will help you become the best version of yourself when serving clients.
Ben: Being active in the marketplace is excellent advice, especially during the quieter winter months. It’s a great opportunity for agents to recharge and perhaps plan a European holiday to rejuvenate.
The key is to recharge your batteries, disconnect, and return with renewed energy and enthusiasm.
Glenn: Let me elaborate on that. I’ve known agents who would take a six to eight-week trip to Europe every year, and interestingly, they would generate more income in the last five months of the year than they did throughout the entire year. That’s how impactful a European holiday can be. Of course, it doesn’t have to be Europe specifically; it could be a trip to New Zealand or Fiji. The key is to recharge your batteries, disconnect, and return with renewed energy and enthusiasm.
Ben: I’d like to circle back to a point you mentioned earlier about building personal brands in the marketplace. Apart from community events, what other advice would you give agents for developing their personal brand?
People can quickly detect if you’re only participating in surf clubs or seeking sponsorship for the sole purpose of generating business. So, start by being genuinely passionate about what you choose to engage in
Glenn: Community events are certainly valuable because you can leverage them, but it’s crucial to be authentic. People can quickly detect if you’re only participating in surf clubs or seeking sponsorship for the sole purpose of generating business. So, start by being genuinely passionate about what you choose to engage in. People want to connect with authentic individuals, not those who put on a facade to enter a new business. Be your true self, first and foremost. Connect with people and causes you genuinely care about. Additionally, make sure you establish a presence in the local retail community. For example, if you’re working in an area like Maroubra Junction with around 150 shops, take the time to introduce yourself to everyone. Don’t hesitate to approach people and be proactive. Effort and initiative are admired qualities.
If you’re focused on a specific area, don’t be afraid to knock on doors to introduce yourself. However, ensure that you have something of value to share when you approach someone. For instance, you could mention a recently sold property nearby, a new neighbour moving in, and see if they are interested in selling. People appreciate a meaningful conversation rather than a mere solicitation for a listing.
Maintain consistency and persistence. Even when you face setbacks, don’t give up. Demonstrating resilience and perseverance reveals your true character. Losing is a part of the game; what’s important is understanding why you lost a listing. Engage with the vendor, wish them well, and ask for feedback on how you could have secured the property. Honest communication often leads to valuable insights for improvement, helping you be better prepared for future opportunities. Sometimes another agent may have an advantage due to personal connections or exceptional past results, and it’s important to be aware of those factors too.
Overall, maintaining a positive and grateful mindset is crucial. Appreciate the privilege of living in a wonderful country and bring that gratitude into your work. When you approach your work from a grateful perspective, you naturally attract positive people.
Ben: I appreciate your insight about contacting the vendor after losing a listing. Learning from mistakes and understanding what went wrong can be invaluable lessons.
So, what challenges have you faced in your career, particularly during the turbulent 2000s, and how did you navigate them?
Glenn: The 2000s were indeed a challenging time for me. Over the course of 30 years, I had built a brand but lost my way a bit by focusing excessively on work and neglecting certain values. Unfortunately, I made a mistake that had severe consequences. I lent money to a close friend without considering the person’s character, and things went terribly wrong. I found myself associated with someone of questionable integrity, which ultimately jeopardised my real estate licence. Losing my livelihood and reputation after dedicating three decades to the industry was incredibly difficult. However, my partners are very competent people, and I have a lot of faith in them.
Ben: I’m not sure if you’re a golfer, but Tiger Woods went through a lot of difficulties towards the end of his career, and when he won the Masters after everyone had written him off, it felt like the king had returned. Similarly, when you sold those properties, it was a fantastic time for everyone involved. It was truly special.
My advice is to stay grounded, stay humble, and stay grateful. Remember, you’re not better than anyone else, and you’re not saving lives. Keep everything in perspective
Glenn: Thank you. I think in terms of agents in the marketplace that I work with, one of the most common mistakes I see is when agents start experiencing success and generating significant income, they sometimes get caught up in it. They start buying new cars, new homes, and they start believing in their own hype. My advice is to stay grounded, stay humble, and stay grateful.
Remember, you’re not better than anyone else, and you’re not saving lives. Keep everything in perspective. Be grateful for the opportunity to earn good money, especially if you love what you’re doing. Real estate shouldn’t feel like hard work if it’s your passion. As they say, find something you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life. I always remind my agents to stay humble, stay connected with the local community, give back a little, and appreciate what they have. Having that foundation goes a long way.
Ben: That’s excellent advice. Now, Glenn, we’re nearing the end of the podcast, but we always like to conclude with a couple of rapid-fire questions for you. If you were selling a property for a vendor today, what piece of advice would you give them before they take their property to market?
Glenn: Trust your agent. If you place your trust in your agent, it will come back to you tenfold.
As a first home buyer entering the market right now, where in NSW would you buy?
Ben: Very good advice. Now, typically we ask, “What would you do with a million dollars if I gave it to you in your local marketplace?” But being a Sydney real estate agent, there’s probably not much you can buy for a million dollars these days. So, I’ll modify the question. If you were a first home buyer entering the marketplace, where would you consider buying in New South Wales?
Glenn: I’d look at the New South Wales and southeastern Queensland region. I believe the weather in that area is fantastic. Places like Byron Bay and the surrounding regions are desirable, but they may be too expensive. So, I’d look at areas from Tweed Heads down to Kingscliff, and even further up into southeast Queensland. It offers a great lifestyle, beautiful beaches, and more affordable options. You can buy a property there and rent it out, even if you don’t live there.
As some investors say, you don’t have to buy property where you live. For instance, buying a freestanding house in Tweed Heads or the surrounding area for around $800,000 to $900,000, which is just a short distance from the water, can yield great capital gains over time. The trend of people moving from Victoria and New South Wales to these areas has already started, and the growth is likely to continue.
These regions have an excellent lifestyle, good infrastructure, and a growing population. So, home prices will likely trend upwards.
Ben: That’s interesting. You’re the first person I’ve spoken to who suggests buying outside metro areas in major capital cities. I appreciate that valuable piece of advice. Glenn, this has been an awesome conversation, and I truly appreciate your time today. I’ve gained a lot of insights from our discussion. Your experiences and advice on tackling the ups and downs of real estate are invaluable. Thank you for your support of Homely as well. The real estate market is not an easy one, and your determination is commendable. We will continue to support you.