Real estate and its reward for the soul: Thomas Massam
For most people, real estate, cycling, ballroom dancing, and the military don’t seem to have much in common.
But if you wander through the traps of the Western Australian property market, you’ll soon hear about an industry mainstay named Thomas Massam.
As down to earth and humble as he is, Thomas has been in the real estate business since 1968.
He was also a gunner in the Australian Army, Australian Road Championship cyclist and winner of Pan-Pacific ballroom dancing.
It’s a unique combination of talent, but it was his work in real estate that earned the Associate Director of Harcourts Alliance a Medal of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honors List. in June.
“I think the Queen was too generous,” Thomas mused, emphasizing her “no-frills” attitude towards life.
“But again, I think it’s good for the industry because real estate agents aren’t too often recognized by the public.
“They all think we’re just fucking car salesmen. Of course we’re not, so maybe that could help show it. “
A traditional departure
Born and raised in Bruce Rock in Washington State’s Central Wheatbelt, Thomas did not initially join the workforce as a real estate agent, but as a builder after obtaining a trade certificate (apprenticeship ) five years.
“When I was a kid, half of the kids left school at 14 and I did too,” Thomas recalls.
“I couldn’t leave school fast enough because I was wasting my time there, not going anywhere.
“So I had a job, I built houses and made furniture. “
It was upon completing his apprenticeship that Thomas got involved in cycling, following a rigorous weekly training program that saw him represent the state in two Australian 125-mile road championships, and a saw winning a gold medal in the team championship.
“In my final year of driving, my training schedule would be a 50 or maybe 100 mile Saturday race,” Thomas said.
“Sunday was practice and you were trying to go at least 100 miles under your belt before a massage on Monday night.
“Tuesday was a tough practice race where I did what was called The Fremantle Block three times which was about 75 miles.
“Wednesday night I was doing a lot of work in the gym, Thursday I was doing 75 miles again at a slower pace, then Friday night it was a massage before resuming racing on Saturday.”
A broken dream
Thomas says his goal was to compete in the Empire Games and the Olympics, but with a place in either prize of at least £ 400, he decided to retire as he was only 20 years old.
“I was like ‘damn it, I’m not going anywhere in life if I keep spending that kind of money,'” he recalls.
“Back then, a good bike cost about the same as a small car, and even though I had the best bike, I couldn’t keep spending.
“I thought I couldn’t buy a house, take the girls out or buy a car like everyone else did.
“I just couldn’t afford the money or the time, so I retired. “
After cycling, Thomas turned to ballroom dancing and got so good that he led a dance class and competed and won state championships as well as a Pan-Pacific competition.
“I decided to do ballroom dancing because I wanted to meet girls,” Thomas laughs.
“But I loved dancing and there is a lot of work to do. There are a lot of hours, a lot of training, and you have to learn all the different styles – from Latin to Modern and New Vogue.
“They kept introducing new types of dancing into New Vogue and it was a bit awkward.
“But I turned professional and taught dance lessons for a while. “
A job in the railways
After dancing, Thomas worked for the Midland Railway Company as a construction manager for the laying, laying and repair of rail tracks and marshalling yards across Western Australia.
“We started living in boxcars and I made the bunks so the workers could sleep,” Thomas explains.
“The boxcars were in the sidings and our water supply was trucked over the tracks at night as they moved goods in and out of the siding.
“So they would move you around, which was a hell of a nuisance because it woke you up.” “
When the Midland Line was put back in place, workers began living in tents in the siding before Thomas got smart and bought himself a trailer.
“After that, I bought more trailers, about six, and rented them to the workers,” he says.
“It was a good little deal.
After his career in the railroads, Thomas bought and sold farms with great success, starting with a 3,750 acre property in the Dandaragan area, followed by 4,000 acres in Nyabing and finally two farms in Kudardup, near from Augusta, where he raised 2,000 merino sheep.
A real vocation
Having realized his dream of being a farmer, Thomas decided to sell and move to Perth with his wife to access good schools for their children.
“I had made money buying and selling farms, so I thought I might as well stay with the same kind of business,” he says.
“I joined Colin Reynolds Proprietary Limited, which at the time was Perth’s largest real estate agency.
“In the first week, I listed three properties and sold one.
“From then on, every month I was their best salesperson. After only three months, I was appointed manager of one of the Tuart Hill offices. “
It didn’t take long for Thomas to be wanted by industry legend Kevin Sullivan, with the Kevin Sullivan Memorial Award still being given by the Real Estate Institute Award of Western Australia.
“With Kevin, I was selling tic-tacky boxes on tic-tacky streets,” Thomas says.
“He trained me to be an auctioneer, and we also did commercial sales, manage commercial properties, built malls, high rise buildings and also managed, listed and sold these.
“With Kevin, I went from knowing nothing about real estate to being a highly skilled professional.
“Every Saturday Kevin and I had auctions, and we had a whole page in West Australian filled with our auction properties.
“They were very exhilarating years, wonderful years.”
Go out alone
Thomas decided to start his own agency in 1981 after he and Kevin disagreed about hiring a specific sales manager.
Thomas Massam Real Estate opened at Karrinyup Shopping Center and subsequently added branches in Kingsley, Heathridge and Doubleview.
Highlights of his career at his own agency included the development of ‘Mullaloo Waters’, a 20 unit townhouse development, ‘Sevenoaks’, a 41 unit retirement villa development, and ‘Heathridge City’, a town center. commercial of 12 stores.
Thomas sold his agency in 1995 and joined Roy Weston, which Harcourts later bought out.
He says there have been many big changes in the real estate industry over the years, but the most notable is the technology involved.
Thomas says when he started in real estate he spent every night at the post office phone booth because it took him nine months to install a phone line in the rental he lived in.
“I was there every night putting six pence in the meter to make calls at work,” he says.
An early tech enthusiast, Thomas was one of the first in Perth to install computers in his offices, but laments the fact that while the technology promised to do away with paperwork, contracts are now thicker than they are. never have been.
“We used to have a piece of paper, it was the offer of acceptance, and you put stuff on one side of the paper and on the other, you put a little more stuff,” he says.
“Then you took that piece of paper and everything was sorted out internally by the company and it didn’t cost anyone anything.
“Now I just sold a property in Joondalup, and there must have been a quarter inch of paper. It’s amazing.
Thomas says there are three key factors people need to be successful as a real estate agent.
“I think you have to be born to sell, and most people are not born that way,” he says.
“Then you have to be honest and, number three, you have to work hard.
“You have to put the needs of others ahead of your own in a lot of cases, which is disappointing because when you’re raising kids it’s not the best.”
Some wise advice
Thomas is also urging new agents to enter the industry with 12 months of revenue behind them.
“They really need 12 months of income behind them to live on while they train,” he explains.
“To really know what you’re doing, you have to be in real estate for at least five years.
Thomas says it’s been a privilege to work as a real estate agent for so long, and he’s not about to quit the job just yet.
“You help people increase their wealth or find a place to live and a place for their children to play.
“It rewards my soul.
“I still get people daily who want me to sell them stuff and buy them stuff.
“Although I can drive and see and walk and my brain is still working, I will continue to do what I am doing. “