Meet the lovely Sandie Dunne, owner of busy local real estate agency, Dunne Southern Highlands.
We caught up with Sandie before she ran off to spend her day showing beautiful high end properties to prospective buyers, and chatted about what life and business has been like since she moved to the Highlands permanently in 2017 [+ how it reminds her of her country of birth].
1. So, let’s start with you! How long have you owned Dunne Southern Highlands and how did that happen?
I worked on the lower North Shore for 22 years, having my own business for 9 years in Neutral Bay and Mosman. I sold top end properties and waterfronts in the area and I was amazed at the number of my north shore clients living and buying in the Southern Highlands.
I had been doing the weekend escape to the Southern Highlands for many years, and decided to make a move and come down here permanently in 2017.
I joined Drew and Karl at Drew Lindsay’s, which I really enjoyed as they handled great properties, however when Drew sold the business I decided it was time for me to go out on my own again.
Thankfully, Karl Zabel joined me. He has such a treasure-chest of information and knows all the major homes and retreat properties in the area.
With quite different personalities and skills, we also complement each other well and make a great team.
Steve Westlake joined us recently, which was a real boost for us as he is a great asset with his building knowledge and is such a charming and charismatic personality.
Our wonderful assistant agents, Victoria Sharp and Margaret Chapman are long term residents in the area. Angeline Reyes is our admin and technology manager.
2. We detect an accent….
Yes, my Scottish accent immediately tells you I wasn’t born in Australia!
Although this last summer we've just had reminds me so much of my summers in Scotland. Lots of rain and not much sun! Although it’s still a lot warmer here.
My sister and nieces have lived here for 30 years or more so it’s nice to be close to them.
3. How has the property market changed in the Highlands across your time in real estate?
Wow…so much! When I first worked here, I was surprised at how long properties would sit on the market.
Auctions were only used for desperate vendors and styling properties for sale was not considered a priority.
Covid has changed all of this and now the process is so streamlined and more sophisticated.
There are now so many new agencies in the area.I thought there were a lot in Mosman, but there’s so many more here.
The Southern Highlands is a very special place to work in real estate - maybe that’s why!
4. What’s your favourite property you’ve sold?
That’s a difficult question to answer as it changes as each new property comes along.
I love the 100 acre estate on Johnson’s Lane, Wildes Meadow. The views across the national park are breathtaking and the land is so well planned and farmed. The home is like a hunting lodge with soaring ceilings, but I have heard major changes are planned.
I also loved the 25 acres I sold last year which went for a record price in Berrima.
Styling the property for sale really made a huge difference to the way buyers perceived it and I am sure we wouldn’t have reached the $6.5 million without it.
5. Talk us through your day. What does a busy Saturday look like for you?
Most of the properties we sell have personal presentations rather than having an open house. It is a bit more intense, however you get to know the buyer a lot better, and you can take the time to peel through the layers of the house more thoroughly.
I like starting with a coffee at Plantation or Kookabar in Bowral, reading the paper to see the latest property offerings.
Then it’s off to meet buyers that have booked appointments
I know Saturday is a good day for prospecting, but I avoid this when I can…I know I need to do more and handle the rejection that comes with it. Maybe I’ll start next Saturday!
6. What’s your favourite thing about living and owning a business in the Highlands?
Starting up a new business was a little scary. Would locals support me? Will I be considered an outsider?
I need not have worried as I have had more support than I could have imagined.
Most people here are friendly and will offer advice and help. They don’t judge you on if you were born here or how long you’ve been here. They judge you on your skills, and what you can offer.
There are so many small businesses here and we all understand the challenges we each face. Helping others on the same journey is a privilege and gives you confidence in your own journey, so I do try and help wherever I can.
We've been in business now for 16 months and whilst there have been tough times and challenges I feel extremely grateful for the team I have around me and the support we have received from the community.
Hopefully it just gets better and better from here.
Dunne Southern Highlands is all about leveraging the experience and skills each team member has in selling luxury properties and achieving record prices across the Highlands. Technology, innovation, experience and local knowledge combines to create positive client experiences and fantastic sales results. Find out more about Sandie and the team here.
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