Jonty Downes might not own his own home yet, but he is already working towards selling his first house.

The 18-year-old is Christchurch's youngest real estate agent, and he has 10 buyers wanting him to find them their new home.

He is also the second youngest licensed real estate agent in New Zealand. The youngest a person can be registered for a real estate licence is 18.

He has been interested in real estate since he was a small boy.


As a 7-year-old, Jonty would cycle around his neighbourhood, see "for sale" signs and be interested in new houses built in the area.

By the time he was in year 12 at Hagley College he was attending auctions and putting his foot in the door of the real estate industry.

"I've always had a real passion for houses," he said.

But he found people could not understand his passion or take him seriously for wanting to leap into real estate straight out of high school.

Traditionally, real estate is a second or third career for people, entering the industry as a career change from their previous job.

Real Estate Authority Statistics show 2071 people aged 53 to 57 were issued with their licences in the first half of 2019 in New Zealand, compared with 171 people aged 18 to 22.

Avonhead Harcourts branch manager Lisa Yardley-Vaiese decided to give Jonty a chance, offering him a place on the Grenadier graduate programme.

She said it was more difficult for young people in terms of credibility because, usually, younger people had not yet bought a house.

one roof

Older people tended to create the perception that they know the industry better and buyers were more likely to have confidence in them.

Real Estate Authority head of regulatory services Josh Doherty said the number of people aged 18 to 21 issued with a salesperson's licence in New Zealand had remained relatively stable over the last five years.

More young people have joined Grenadier's graduate programme in recent years, though Yardley-Vaiese said she had never mentored someone as young as Jonty.

In spite of his age, Jonty has proved his worth and knowledge with colleagues and buyers.

"I've nicknamed him Wikipedia because he just knows so much," Yardley-Vaiese said.

To enter real estate, agents must complete 13 papers before registering for a licence.

Jonty remembers the moment he got his licence and said it was his best achievement so far.

"I was quite excited to just call buyers and do anything real estate-related, because I think it had been inside of me for ages and I just wanted to let it out."

He does not yet own a home, but said it was on the cards.

He is not looking for anything fancy – a one-bedroom flat would be perfect.

- Star News