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Julie ODonohue shares her journey to change how we buy and sell homes

Julie O'Donohue shares her journey to change how we buy and sell homes.

Posted 25 October 2017

Julie Personalised Blog

Someone asked me the other day to define my journey to this point with Next Address, and I had to reflect on my history. Not something you usually seek to do! I am a country girl by birth with an interesting and strong family history of entrepreneurs and social enterprise values. Ranging from a Great Uncle who invented the agricultural auger, a Great Aunt who was one of the first music wonders to graduate from Melbourne University, a Grandfather who developed a highly successful low sud detergent for the Dairy industry, then across to my parents who successfully started and sold 3 interstate transport companies. Add in a few politicians and the stage was set.

My education was completed at Uni in Melbourne, and I soon began my business life. I was always on the look-out to improve my surroundings if I saw a possibility in the cracks. For some reason, this was always a strong current and theme. At that particular time, I saw a need to provide alternative holiday care for children with developmental disabilities. Along the track this evolved into owning a 55-bed guest house in the Yarra Valley with my hubby, somehow producing three children and then a move into real estate. This didn't last long, with a switch back to the other side where I worked in and with the not-for-profit sector. My work in this sector was mainly in the marketing and event management space. I was recently part of an evening to celebrate ten years of an event I established which has raised over $1.6m for cancer research.

So raising money and improving the community space I live in has always been a commitment in my heart.

It was during a difficult time in which I witnessed a friend having a particularly harrowing real estate experience that the possibility in the cracks, improving the space and social justice kicked into front gear. A combination which created a reflection point for me- how should this real estate experience look? What SHOULD it have been? What COULD it be?

Imagine this: an industry which is worth $16B in Australia alone: Australians paying the highest marketing and advertising fees and having the lowest for sale by owner stats in the world. In Canada over 60% sell their own home, NZ 30-35% France 35-40%. Why have we been caught up in a system which primarily provides low satisfaction rates, poor communication, inaccurate valuations and high fees?

I was using Uber and Airbnb and started to think about these peer to peer models and their possible application in the real estate sector. I was also giving some pro bono time to another cancer charity who were struggling to find the dollars they need for a wellness program.  What if you linked the two?  A crack in the industry window had presented me with a possibility:  a high dollar profit and social enterprise.  I researched the sector for 12 months. I did my homework. This real estate gig was a space ready for a change.

Imagine giving 6% back to social enterprises. Imagine transparency, communication, accurate valuation, no time wasted and low fees. This is our focus at Next Address. This is our ethos and our passion.

The came the next hurdle: How do you break into this business controlled by multinationals and the media?

The answer comes in a plethora of ingredients: timing, perseverance, tenacity, a dogged belief in the product and its iterations and great people.  Great people on the sweat equity team, brilliant advisors and then finding the right professional to believe in you and back you. That investor sector of our business is still evolving as we embrace the right investors, that door is still open Australia!

Fortunately, a highly skilled PR communications company Arize, came our way thanks to Vicky Mann. Timing and through their network, perseveration and tenacity some great opportunities have emerged. The Block Channel 9 features Sticks and Wombat- how great are these two? The real estate agent Noel Jones is the agent appointed to auction 46B Regent Street on Next Address. An agreement was made to promote. No money changed hands.  What an opportunity!  We only had 16 days, and we had to make the most of it.  All articles still had to be signed off by Channel 9 and I'm still not sure how we got away with it really. My thanks to Honi Rosenwax (Arize) for this.

So seeing the possibilities and jumping into those opportunities with the right team and attitudes around you makes for an exciting time, not only for me, personally, but for the Real Estate industry as a whole.

Julie O'Donohue

Founder Next Address

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