Interview: Nicola Kelland

Nicola Kelland is an award-winning real estate agent and the managing director of Kellands Real Estate – a boutique real estate company specialising in project marketing and selling high-end properties in Auckland, Waiheke Island and costal real estate across the country.

How did you get started in real estate?

I guess real estate is in the blood really – a lot of my family have been or are in the industry including my father, and as children we grew up with real estate being the family dinner conversation. Since then an uncle, an aunt, two of my sisters and one of my nephews have been or are still in the business.

I’ve always had a passion for architecture and design – I even married an architectural designer – so when my sister started Kellands Real Estate in 1994, I jumped on board with her straight away and have been with the company ever since.

How has the industry changed from when you started out?

I think the fundamentals are pretty much the same – it’s still about offering a superb customer experience and marketing a property to achieve the best sale price possible. The marketing of those properties has changed with the huge growth of the Internet and social media, but you still need to know how to really present a property to achieve the best possible price, match sellers with buyers and have excellent negotiation skills.

I think the biggest change though, especially in Auckland where the demand and the value of houses has increased so much, is that real estate is not just about choosing a house from the newspaper and buying it. Real estate is now an actual topic of conversation and it plays such a big role in our lives, so an in-depth knowledge of the market is essential.

What makes you so successful?

Passion, dedication and enthusiasm. I’m lucky that I love what I do and I’m extremely passionate and dedicated to the business and ensuring our customers receive great results.

Real estate is often a challenging industry so we need to make sure that each and every property is marketed in a way that truly expresses its individuality, and that every single customer experience is a great one.

And not to mention I have such an amazing and talented team who keep delivering fantastic results and all live up to the brand and foundations of the business. The culture of Kellands is very team orientated, we all help each other to achieve the very best results for our customers. One of our customers recently described us as a company “that was big enough to do the business, but small enough to care”.

I heard you changed your name back to Kelland even though you’re still married? You really must be dedicated to the brand!

Well, I’d been thinking about it for many years and I just felt that the time was right to go back to my maiden name. I wanted to go back to my roots and also strengthen the link between my business and me.

How did your husband feel about that?

We’ve been married for over 25 years so he’s well aware of my commitment to the name Kelland and what it means for me, so he was fully supportive of it.

You’ve got two boys too. How do you juggle family and business?

I started at Kellands when my first son was eight and, then after six months working in the business I surprisingly fell pregnant with our second son. I won’t lie, it was pretty challenging at times with a new baby, as I’m sure it is for most mothers, but with a fabulous nanny and a husband doing the weekend shift, I managed to get through those early years.

I had my doubts if I could mange both at first, but an inspiring talk by a visiting female real estate agent from America, who become highly successful while having six children, convinced me I could have both, a business and a family.

Which New Zealand businesswoman do you admire?

Firstly it has to be my sister Deborah for starting up this fabulous company. She’s been my mentor, business partner and best friend and we’ve worked very closely since the company began in 1994.

I think she’s so inspirational and visionary. She even recently kick-started a not-for-profit organisation called ChCh Heart to raise money through t-shirt sales for Christchurch. With the help of Kellands and other great Kiwi companies, we have sold over 10,000 t-shirts already!

I also admire the many successful women I meet daily in my business and social life, from the incredible stay at home mother who dedicates herself to helping at school and with sport, to the high-flying business owners and professional women. For me they are equally amazing.

What has been your favourite real estate deal since you began your career?

I don’t know if there is one particular one that stands out for me, but the most fulfilling deals I have done, is when I have formed great friendships from meeting the people that I have either sold for or met through the sale process. Many of my friends have started as clients.

What property would you buy if money was no issue?

I’m lucky that my husband is an architectural designer so our house is designed for us and I do love it. But if money was no issue, it would have to be a stunning coastal property, with rolling hills, a large vegetable garden, horses in the paddocks and a beach at my front door!

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