Metro Realty Dunedin

Building success in the south

  • Metro Realty

    Mark Stevens, managing partner, has led Metro Realty to be number one in Otago.

Metro Realty is the largest real estate company in Otago, specialising in all areas of real estate from residential and commercial sales and marketing, to leasing and investment. From a staff of seven in 1995, the company now employs more than forty full time staff across three offices.

Leading Metro through this expansion has been managing partner Mark Stevens, who joined the company two years after it was set up.

“In 1995 a group of five real estate consultants decided to start their own company and invited me to join them in 1997. Initially there were seven of us – five agents, a sales manager and a receptionist. Two of the original five agents are still with Metro, and in 1998, business partners Adam Gain and Craig Palmer joined me in the business.

“It’s a simple structure, but one that works well,” says Mark. “Adam and I oversee the day to day running of the company, while Craig is Dunedin’s number one agent and specialises in selling residential homes.”

Dunedin is home to sixteen real estate companies, eight large and eight smaller. Metro occupies the top spot, and the reason for its position is clear to Mark.

“We are independently owned, and not linked with any other national company. We are not franchised, which makes us able to make decisions easily and simply to meet the market. At any one time we have between 25 and 33 percent of the market share,” he says.

Six years ago the company expanded across the road from the original offices, and now owns a three storey building in Highgate and an office in Mosgiel. “We started up in Mosgiel nine years ago as a joint venture with an existing real estate company – now we have eight staff in the branch,” Mark explains.

Over the last five years in particular, the housing market, like other industries, has experienced its fair share of peaks and troughs. “The market has definitely bottomed out in Dunedin and is now on the rise,” says Mark. “Prices are firming up a little and we are now witnessing some positive movement in the number of sales each month. Luckily, Dunedin doesn’t have the ‘booms and busts’ that other major cities experience, but that said, the town is still feeling the effects of the recession. It’s not easy.”

Mark attributes keeping upbeat and continuing to grow the business through the recession down to his staff. “We are fortunate to have experienced staff, and most have been with Metro for a long time. We try to create a comfortable, happy office environment. Part of that is encouraging staff to be competitive with other real estate companies out in the market, not with each other.”

As the company has grown over the past 17 years, so has the relationship with Markhams Clarke Craw. Director Barry O’Donnell and his team have been handling Metro’s financial matters since day one.

“We have been with Barry since our first day in business,” says Mark. “And as the business has grown, so we have relied on his advice and guidance.”

There’s a list of things Mark enjoys about the relationship with Barry and the Markhams Clarke Craw team. “They are so approachable,” says Mark. “You can have a yarn to the advisors and I know I can ring them any time for a chat and get good practical advice. Informality is a Dunedin ‘thing’ – we don’t have too many formal sit down meetings.

“Another thing we respect is the firm’s philosophy that if something is not within their particular area of expertise, they will pass it on to a colleague who does have that skill. It means that someone is always on hand to provide a solution, no matter what the question,” says Mark.

Published Summer 2012.

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