Interview: Gavin Rubinstein, The Rubinstein Group
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Interview: Gavin Rubinstein, The Rubinstein Group

A breakout reality TV star and one of the country’s best-known (and arguably most divisive) real estate agents – we chat to Rubinstein ahead of his second outing on Luxe Listings Sydney.

By Terry Christodoulou
Fri, Apr 1, 2022 4:53pmGrey Clock 4 min

Gavin Rubinstein has built a reputation as one of the busiest men in Australian real estate – a man with an insatiable appetite for success.

From selling the country’s finest luxury residences via his agency, The Rubinstein Group, to starring in Amazon Prime’s surprise TV hit Luxe Listings Sydney, Rubinstein has developed a broad following and confident reputation.

Still, the recently installed H&R Block Property Ambassador works hard for his dollars and is acutely focused on his career – happily wolfing down lunch in his car to make various client meetings.

We caught up with the 34-year-old ahead of today’s second season launch – to talk swagger, suits, selling and more.


What’s a day in the life of Gavin Rubinstein like?

It’s very structured — I’m a man of routine. Alarm goes at 5am every day of the week, I’m in the gym by 6am and then some time to myself before the whirlwind of work really kicks in.

Between the hours of 6am-10pm my phone is consistently buzzing whilst I jet between meetings and some of the most luxurious properties in Sydney.

I suit up too, no matter the occasion, because I truly believe if you look good, you feel good, you do good. However, the supposed glamour of real estate isn’t all that, you’ll find me eating lunch at my desk or in the car when I can find a spare minute.


What makes a good agent?

Persistence and work ethic is key — very few people realise how demanding this industry can be before they get their foot in the door. You have to be willing to throw away a lot of leisure time to be one of the industry’s best.

Secondly, always, always deliver on your promises and do what you say you will – because building genuine client relationships is only going to project you forward.

Lastly, a solid level of service and communication is key. Go above and beyond to provide that wow factor because buying and investing in property is no small feat.


You operate predominantly in Sydney’s east, what makes it such a coveted – and expensive – area?

The harbourside lifestyle is definitely appealing, so too is its convenience – you’re never more than a 5-10 minute drive to some of Australia’s best beaches. Similarly, it’s a relatively short commute to the CBD for work commitments whether travelling by car, bus, train or ferry. Above all, I think it’s the stunning views – you can’t get much more iconic than the Sydney Harbour Bridge or Opera House.


Why do you believe Luxe Listings holds such a strong allure for viewers?

For Sydney viewers it is obviously located in their backyard, so people are intrigued and excited by the stardom of locations that are known to them. The way in which they showcase our city is on another level, the types of property on display are very aspirational and that has a lasting effect. Call me biased,  but I think the cast of the show definitely complement each other in wicked ways, providing some good entertainment and drama. From a production point of view, the cinematography is epic, really putting on a show of property and views.


Where do you think the ANZ prestige market is heading in the next 12 months?

Given the continued demand for prestige homes and minimal buying opportunities, I believe we’re only going to see this sector grow from strength to strength. We’re seeing a huge ‘return-to-home’ phenomenon from expats, many of whom are returning with large amounts of wealth which they have accumulated over many years working in places like London, Hong Kong, New York and Singapore. This is only fuelling the demand for hot property nationwide.


What advice would you give to people looking to buy in Sydney?

As always, for anyone looking to enter the market irrespective of your experience with property, I highly recommend you seek advice from a tax professional in the know. As Australia’s leading property taxation experts, H&R Block are on top of every single tax concession related to home ownership and property investment.


Obviously, you’re something of a divisive character, what would you say to someone who wants professional success but also wants to please everyone?

Be true to yourself, remain authentic, and never put on a show. Intelligent people see straight through any fake facade and that will only inhibit your opportunities in the industry. In regard to a ‘people pleasing’ mentality — you also have to learn to value your time and know when certain activities might not be a productive use of your precious working hours.


Of your ‘competition’ on the show and in market – namely agents D’leanne Lewis and Monika Tu — how do they influence your work? Do you think you’d be as driven without their presence?

Competition is a good thing and I love to compete. I’ve always possessed this natural drive and tend to run my own race no matter the task at hand, but every agent has, or will, build their own style and value proposition. I know what I bring to the table and it’s not going to be for everyone — I’m cool with that. Some people will connect better with my competitors and that’s always going to be the case.


What’s next for Gavin Rubinstein?

Plenty! We’re in the midst of opening a new office in Rose Bay, very much expanding the TRG team and family. In addition, I’ve partnered with H&R Block to help educate and upskill property investors and prospective owners about the changing deductions and tax implications… I’m a stickler for progression; next year has to be better than last and today better than yesterday. Stay tuned people.

Luxe Listings Sydney season two streams on Amazon Prime from April 1;


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But as house prices increase across the country, the conversation has started to shift from size for the sake of it towards more flexible, well-designed spaces better suited to contemporary living.

For the owners of this 1920s weatherboard workers’ cottage in Fremantle, the emphasis was less on having an abundance of room and more about creating cohesive environments that could still maintain their own distinct moods. Key to achieving this was manipulating the floorplan in such a way that it could draw in light, giving the impression at least of a larger footprint. 

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Positioned on a site that fell three metres from street level, the humble four-room residence had been added to over the years. First order of business for local architect Philip Stejskal was to strip the house back to its original state.

“In this case, they were not quality additions,” Stejskal says. “Sometimes it is important to make sure later additions are not lean-tos.”

The decision to demolish was not taken lightly. 

“Sometimes they can be as historically significant as the original building and need to be considered — I wouldn’t want people to demolish our addition in 50 years’ time.”

Northern light hits the site diagonally, so the design solution was to open up the side of the house via a spacious courtyard to maximise opportunities to draw natural light in. However, this had a knock-on effect.

A central courtyard captures northern light. Image: Bo Wong

“We had to make space in the middle of the site to get light in,” Stejskal says. “That was one of the first moves, but that created another issue because we would be looking onto the back of the neighbouring building at less appealing things, like their aircon unit.”

To draw attention away from the undesirable view, Stejskal designed a modern-day ‘folly’.

“It’s a chimney and lookout and it was created to give us something nice to look at in the living space and in the kitchen,” Stejskal says. 

“With a growing family, the idea was to create a space where people could find a bit of solitude. It does have views to the wider locality but you can also see the port and you can connect to the street as well.”

A garden tap has also been installed to allow for a herb garden at the top of the steps.

“That’s the plan anyway,”  he says. 

A modern day ‘folly’ provides an unexpected breakout space with room for a rooftop herb garden. Image: Bo Wong

Conjuring up space has been at the core of this project, from the basement-style garaging to the use of the central courtyard to create a pavilion-like addition.

The original cottage now consists of two bedrooms, with a central hallway leading onto a spacious reception and living area. Here, the large kitchen and dining spaces wrap around the courtyard, offering easy access to outdoor spaces via large sliding doors.

Moments of solitude and privacy have been secreted throughout the floorplan, with clever placement of built-in window seats and the crow’s nest lookout on the roof, ideal for morning coffee and sunset drinks.

The house has three bedrooms, including a spacious master suite with walk-in robe and ensuite overlooking the back garden. Adjustable blades on the bedroom windows allow for the control of light, as well as privacy. Although the house was designed pre COVID, it offers the sensibility so many sought through that time — sanctuary, comfort and retreat.

Adjustable blades allow the owners to control light on the upper floor. Image: Bo Wong

“When the clients came to us, they wanted a house that was flexible enough to cater for the unknown and changes in the family into the future,” Stejskal says. “We gave the owners a series of spaces and a certain variety or moods, regardless of the occasion. We wanted it to be a space that would support that.”

Mood has also been manipulated through the choice of materials. Stejskal has used common materials such as timber and brick, but in unexpected ways to create spaces that are at once sumptuous but also in keeping with the origins of the existing building.

Externally, the brickwork has been finished in beaded pointing, a style of bricklaying that has a softening effect on the varied colours of bricks. For the flooring, crazy paving in the courtyard contrasts with the controlled lines of tiles laid in a stack bond pattern. Close attention has also been paid to the use of veneer on select joinery in the house, championing the beauty of Australian timbers with a lustrous finish. 

“The joinery is finished in spotted gum veneer that has been rotary cut,” says Stejskal. “It is peeled off the log like you peel an apple to give you this different grain.”

Rotary cut timber reveals the beauty of the natural grain in the kitchen joinery. Image: Bo Wong

Even the laundry has been carefully considered.

“The laundry is like a zen space with bare stone,” he says. “We wanted these different moods and the landscape of rooms. We wanted to create a rich tapestry in this house.”

The owners now each experience the house differently, highlighting separate aspects of the building as their favourite parts. It’s quite an achievement when the site is not enormous. Maybe it’s not size that matters so much after all.

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