It is 25 years since Sydney brothers Andrew and Greg Bell arrived on the Gold Coast as the fresh faced new kids on the city’s real estate block.
Since then, they have built what is now the largest Ray White group in Australia, Ray White Surfers Paradise, boasting 15 operations covering the residential, prestige, new projects, commercial, industrial and marine sectors, with 12 offices across the Gold Coast, in the United States and Asia.
The Group has 240 staff and an annual sales turnover in frequently reaching $1 billion, making the Bells the undisputed leaders in Gold Coast real estate.
Their rise hasn’t been only about selling and leasing property, the Bells have established themselves as Gold Coast patriots who love the city and are committed to giving back to the community that has taken them on a remarkable journey.
The Bells have witnessed the best and the worst of property market fortunes on the Gold Coast, where real estate goes through cycles more predominantly than any other market in Australia.
And while they now head the Queensland’s largest real estate group, the brothers encountered plenty of challenges early on.
They arrived in December 1989, when the pilots’ strike led to the city’s economy suffering its worst period in history for more than nine months, the Japanese property boom was collapsing, interest rates were at 18 per cent, and ‘the recession we had to have’ was well underway.
Pulling up stumps on their successful three-office real estate operation in eastern Sydney and moving to a new city was a huge gamble for the brothers who had bought Ray White Surfers Paradise.
“It was a real test of character, we had to find out what we were made of and if we could get through the worst times the Gold Coast had ever encountered which went on for many years,” said Andrew Bell, the Group’s CEO.
“Overnight we went from the top of the heap in Sydney’s eastern suburbs to the new boys on the Coast who no one knew.
“There were only two alternatives – either to lose it all or make it work and we sure didn’t like the first option.
“The company has grown significantly since then – the Gold Coast, too, has gone through a major transformation which we’ve been privileged to have been a part of.
“In particular we’ve played roles in bringing new developments to the Gold Coast and marketing the city nationally and internationally.”
By 1993 the Bells decided that the influx of holidaymakers to the Coast during the Christmas/New Year period was a great opportunity to showcase the city’s property sector.
And so The Event annual auction spectacular was born.
Initially known as Simply the Best and later renamed The Event, the January mega auction is now considered a litmus test for the national property market every New Year.
That same year the Bells began an enduring association with the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Queensland, launching the city’s annual Muscular Dystrophy Ball.
Now in its 21st year, the ball has raised $3 million for the cause while becoming a key event on the city’s social calendar for hundreds of people.
The Bells also find time and resources to support Surfers Paradise Surf Life Saving Club through RWSP Group’s annual Sports Lunch, which kicked off in 2005 and has raised more than $600,000 for the club.
“We were concerned about the then financial strain on the surf life saving clubs and how it could affect the city’s tourism industry if the beaches weren’t kept safe,” Group director Greg Bell said.
This year, Southport Surf Life Saving Club was included as a beneficiary in the more than $40,000 raised.
In recent years Andrew has lent his expertise to the Gold Coast’s successful bid for the 2018 Commonwealth as the Chairman of the Business and Community Committee. Now, he is still intimately involved with the Games’ Joint Marketing Committee, one of three committees charged with organising the Commonwealth Games.
“Winning the Games has given the local economy a tremendous long-term boost and will create a legacy for the Gold Coast’s community, tourism, arts and sporting sectors,” Andrew said.
“It will also put the city on the world stage which is an opportunity we must seize with both hands.”
Recognising the growing global attraction of the Gold Coast, the Bells have pushed into the United States and Asia with offices or affiliations in the USA, Hong Kong, Beijing, Singapore, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur.
“While we live and breathe the Gold Coast every day, we believe this push abroad deepens our value delivery to clients,” Greg said.
“We’re great believers in the Gold Coast and realise that it has a national and international appeal as a lifestyle and investment destination.
“And while we continue to play a role in promoting the Gold Coast on the world stage, our focus remains on servicing our local clientele.”
The group’s international push has yielded the sale of more than 330 Gold Coast properties to Asian buyers in the past 12 months.
The group has also brought its strong auction focus to marine sales establishing Ray White Marine in 2010 with bases on the Gold Coast and Sydney.