After living in Australia for 15 years and working in the property industry in Greece for 12 years, Jennifer Starr has returned home to settle in Whangarei where she is now selling homes to Kiwis returning to Northland, just as she did. She is heading up the running of goodGround Real Estate's new Whangarei branch.

1: Describe your business.

goodGround Real Estate is an independent and locally owned company. The main office and team is located in Waipu but we are currently expanding into Albany and Whangarei. Our vision is to have three sales specialists in the Whangarei office by the end of 2015. The company started in Waipu in 2008. My new role is opening the Whangarei office and heading up the team there. It will start as a satellite of the Waipu office as we develop the Whangarei office.

2: What are you most passionate about in your line of work?


Most passionate about getting the best possible price for vendors and matching properties with people who love them. It's matchmaking people and properties.

3: What inspired a career in real estate?

Real estate combines my two main interests; working with people and their diverse housing needs and property with all its potential.

4: How long have you worked in the industry?

I lived and worked in Australia for 15 years, then Greece for 12 years. I returned to New Zealand a year ago and now live in Parihaka in Whangarei. After working in tourist property management overseas, I made a beeline for this industry once I returned to NZ and settled in Northland. I also worked on business development for i-Rentals in Whangarei before I gained my certification.

5: What do you wish you had known before you started out in real estate?

Just how much time, effort and dedication is involved to do the best possible job for every client. Be prepared to work at least 60 hours a week. It is complex - from town planning to the Fair Trading Act, Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA) regulation to GST, and contract law and insurance.

6: Tell me about someone who has influenced your decision to start this venture?

While I have a BA in sociology from Canterbury University, I have been out of the loop for quite some time in either the NZ and Australian workforce. To find my niche here again at this time of life was not so easy. I came close to door knocking my CV in Whangarei and, as part of that drive to join the workforce again, I approached Whangarei Mayor Sheryl Mai in the chair. She suggested I contact the goodGround principal, Martin Albrecht. The rest is history, as they say.

7: What's your personal philosophy on surviving business challenges?

Take a step back to re-evaluate, but have the dedication to continue.

8: As a business leader in your industry, what sorts of trends do you see?

There is a steady increase in interest in Whangarei as out-of-town buyers realise what Whangarei has to offer at comparatively affordable prices. Interested buyers are from Auckland and Christchurch, and Kiwis returning home from overseas, just as I did.

9: If you could change one thing about real estate, what would it be?

Over-regulation and compliance requirements within the industry now is common - my concern is that the additional cost to the industry will increase the cost of our service to clients. There are high costs for licensing for the company and the individual agents and salesperson. There are also high costs for verifiable and non-verifiable training, which are requirements under the new regulations. I'd also find a way to reduce the amount of time real estate agents spend on recording facts for the requirements of compliance under the law/for legal compliance.

10: Describe a typical day in your business.

In any week will see numerous buyers to discuss their needs and show properties that may suit them, we have numerous appointments with vendors to discuss how best to market their property/what feedback there has been from potential buyers/their concerns, planning and administration, phone calls to potential and current vendors, dealing with the needs of people who walk in with queries. The diverse range of people and properties means no day is like any other.