Business Insights

An interview with real estate agent Luke Chiodo

Luke Chiodo may be late to the real estate business, but not late to the property market having bought, renovated, developed and sold almost twenty residential properties in metropolitan Melbourne and Albury-Wodonga.

His work life journey started in the mid-80’s as an employee working for RESI Building Society – a customer-owned mutual institution, who had its own share of reincarnations over the last three decades to land as a subsidiary of Westpac Bank, and branded as the Bank of Melbourne. In his time at the bank, Luke forged a career as a loans officer and bank manager, in roles that saw him conduct 4,000 property valuations and approve over $900 million home and small business loans. He most favoured home buyers, and specifically first-home buyers new to home buying and home loan experience.

A decade later in the mid-90’s, Luke caught the renovating bug from an over-achieving client who proved that flipping property for profit was, er, profitable. So began the love affair for buying, renovating and selling property. Just a few short years passed, and Westpac became the Bank of Melbourne’s new owner. The buy-out meant the brand had hundred’s of duplicated roles, and Luke, was made redundant. On redundancy, Luke says, “I was financially fit, so redundancy didn’t worry me. If anything, it improved by position for what was to come.”

It’s something that didn’t change when, in 2016, he and his partner moved from Docklands to Wodonga before settling across the Murray River in Albury.

Property wasn’t the only thing that held Luke’s interest. The other was fitness. Though he learned personal fitness training some years back, he didn’t get the opportunity to put what he learned into practice until soon after relocating to the border, when an exasperated gym owner gave him the keys to his club and walked away. Luke gave it his best shot, but with such fierce competition and an overcrowded marketplace, the experience was short-lived but not regretted.

Once the dust settled, Luke wasted no time in getting his real estate agents licence, and continued to flip property for profit. A few off-market sales earned from word-of-mouth advocacy got him a gig at a place he calls the ‘big yellow box’. Luke says of the experience, “it was a training ground, nothing more”, and adds, “after years working for myself on projects I felt most passionate, the idea of a 9-5 job that was plagued with internal squabbling over commissions was simply foreign. If I wanted a career in politics, I found the right place.”

The big yellow box did teach him something. Luke says of the experience, “I’ve learned the corporate-style cookie-cutter approach to real estate doesn’t fit every property nor every vendor. It’s the reason I’m now an independent real estate agent. I’m accountable to my vendors, not a franchise nor shareholders”.

Today, as well as holding a real estate agent’s licence, Luke is a licensed business agent (broker) and auctioneer across both Victoria and New South Wales.

When pressed for his work style, he says, “My most effective sales strategy is to reach and motivate prospective buyers to compete for your property. To do that, I campaign to get maximum exposure for your property, and to secure the best price and terms for what is likely your biggest investment.” He adds, “Intrinsically aligned with my lifestyle, I’d describe my work ethic as simple, fair and transparent. And my most valuable quality is integrity.”

I remind Luke there’s forty other real estate agencies in Albury-Wodonga, and ask him if there’s space in the local market for another independent agent to really make a difference. Luke smiles, “Unlike conventional real estate agents, I have a simplified fixed flat-fee pricing structure that’s based on service quality and performance — not property prices. My fee stays the same whether I’m representing a $200,000 unit in Lavington or a $800,000 estate in Thurgoona.”

“I don’t know any agent who can seriously justify a higher fee just because the property they’re selling has higher price tag. The better question is, what did the agent do to affect the property’s value?”

In another interview, Domain Media called you bold and daring, how did that feel? “We loved it! Though it wasn’t unexpected. Yes, flat-fee commission got us noticed, but it was our service inclusions that other agencies call ‘add-ons’, when things shifted for us. I mean, what other agency engages a licensed inspector to carry out pest and building inspections for an appraisal and makes the reports freely available to buyers, or includes premium online search listings, property micro-sites, photography and signboards? Our flat-fee pricing model is the market’s most comprehensive, and we’ll keep innovating as time goes by.”

That’s ballsy.

Over the years, Luke’s clients have trusted his skill and experience, and contribution to their financial security. Today, he does the same in property sales.