INTERVIEW: MONIKA TU, Founder / Director Black Diamondz Group
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INTERVIEW: MONIKA TU, Founder / Director Black Diamondz Group

Where her Chinese-focused business is headed given ongoing COVID constraints.

By Terry Christodoulou
Mon, Mar 15, 2021 7:01amGrey Clock 3 min

Monika Tu doesn’t mince words. Nor does she carry any passengers.

How else to explain what is now a rather well-worn tale – a story, hers, that details a Chinese immigrant who landed in Australia from Shenzhen in 1988 without any English.

She studied, claimed an RMIT scholarship and subsequently turned a basic market stall into a successful international electronics business. She’s since found incredible acclaim — and arguable dominance — as a property agent within Sydney’s tightly-held prestige property market.

There’s more to her work than simply opening residential doors — helping to forge and foster cultural and community links for her largely immigrant (predominantly from China, Middle East, Europe) client list, alongside arts philanthropy and an unwavering dedication to each and every day.

We caught up with Tu to discuss the difficulties of 2021 — and to better understand the road ahead.

Kanebridge News: There’s an incredible resilience that seems to frame the Sydney prestige market – but how difficult was 2020 in regards to your business and key clients?

Monika Tu: Obviously, Covid-19 had huge impacts on many businesses last year and ours was no exception. The restrictions on international travel hit us hard, however, we saw a surprising rise in local Chinese buyers wanting to buy a property quickly.  People may think that most of our buyers are international. However, that’s not the case and many of these people had been holding out for the ‘perfect’ property — but when Covid hit they relaxed their expectations slightly because their main aim was to secure a property.

KN: And how do you view the road ahead?

MT: I see the market continuing to do well. The prestige market will always follow a different trajectory to the general market, but I don’t see things slowing down.  With the influx of movie stars and wealthy individuals wanting to call Australia home, there’s only one way prestige property is going, and it’s up.

KN: There’s a belief in some economic quarters that things must naturally end, and soon.

MT: People have always said this, even prior to the pandemic. But Sydney and Australia’s prestige property market is robust, resilient, and has proven itself repeatedly.  As long as Australia is seen as a world-class lifestyle destination, people will always be willing to pay.

KN: What was the allure of property that made you start Black Diamondz?

MT: If I’m honest, it wasn’t so much the allure of property that made me start Black Diamondz. It was the gap in the market of servicing the multitude of high net-worth individuals, predominantly from China, who were looking to call Australia home. Some agents were more than capable of finding them a great property but could not open other doors such as schools, lifestyle, business opportunities, networking, and philanthropy.  This is the gap that I knew I was able to fill.

KN: How did you get your start in the prestige market?

MT: Black Diamondz really started by chance.  There were a lot of conversations at the dinner table about new migrants searching for luxury homes, but a lack of services or guidance for them when it came to making decisions.  One of my friends had a friend from China looking for a property and was having no luck with local real estate agents. I took him for a drive around Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs and just asked him what type of house he liked. He picked one, I knocked on the door and the owners said it was not for sale. Fast forward five days later and they sold it for $13.5 million. That is when I realised the need for this type of service was out there and took full advantage.

KN: Does the size of the deal you’re working to close ever intimidate, or is it something that drives you?

MT: For me it’s never about the size of the deal. I treat a $5 million apartment with the same work ethic that I treat a $50 million home. For me it’s all about giving my clients, both buyers and sellers, the very best experience possible.

I love smashing records, like selling Sydney’s most expensive home in 2019, but those things don’t happen every day and if that’s what drives you, you won’t last long in real estate.

KN: What do you think gives Black Diamondz a competitive edge?

MT: On the surface, it’s our proven ability to achieve consistent, market-leading results over the past ten years, as well as our international database. But deeper than that is our standing within the community. I know almost everyone in Sydney, and I have nurtured these relationships over the years. This is the key to a successful real estate business — your network and influence.

KN: You’re a self-confessed workaholic, is that a necessary mindset to achieved success especially in the market you work?

MT: I think the entrepreneurial mindset I have is what has made me successful — not only in real estate but in life. I never stop working but I also don’t see it as work, it’s my life and it’s what I do day in, day out.

Blackdiamondz.com.au



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Thousands of Australian companies on the brink of going into administration as EOFY nears

Along with high inflation and weak consumer spending, there’s another key factor pushing a record number of businesses to the edge

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More than 10,000 companies are expected to have entered external administration by the end of the 2024 financial year, a level not seen for more than a decade. Data just released by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) shows 1,245 companies became insolvent in May, the highest monthly number this financial year. At present, a total of 9,988 businesses have gone bust in FY24 with data from June yet to be finalised.

Deloitte Access Economics Partner David Rumbens said the surge in business insolvencies this year was a “clear sign of economic distress”.

He commented: “[ASIC] predicts that by the end of the financial year, the number of companies entering external administration will likely exceed 10,000 – a level not seen since 2012-13, in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).”

Mr Rumbens said the elements contributing to this year’s surge in insolvencies include high inflation and interest rates, weak consumer spending, and the commencement of more proactive tax debt collection activities by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

“One of the key factors contributing to this surge in insolvencies is the [ATO] pursuing debts that were previously put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

Mr Rumbens cited ATO figures showing collectable debt rose 89 percent in the four years to June 2023. This has particularly impacted small businesses, which account for approximately 65 percent of the total debt owed at about $33 billion. “But more strictly enforced debt collection is coming at a time of tough economic conditions. High interest rates and cost-of-living pressures have weakened consumer spending, particularly in more discretionary components of spending.”

The construction sector has seen the highest number of insolvencies by far in FY24, mirroring the trend of FY23. Of the 9,988 insolvencies to date, 2,711 of them are in the building sector, which faces several challenges. These include a substantial lift in the cost of construction materials that is well above inflation and has made many fixed-price contracts signed within the past few years unprofitable. There is also a significant labour shortage that is delaying new home completions and new project starts, and also adding higher costs to projects.

“The construction sector has been hit particularly hard, with construction firms leading industry insolvencies in every quarter since mid-2021,” Mr Rumbens said. “They have accounted for approximately 25 percent of all insolvencies during this period. The residential construction sector is already facing a backlog of projects to complete as a result of skills and material shortages in recent years, and increased insolvencies in the sector may only exacerbate the problem of housing shortages.”

The ASIC data shows the next biggest industry affected is ‘other services’, which includes a broad range of personal care services such as hair, beauty, dietary, and death care services. The sector has seen 939 insolvencies in FY24. Retail trade is next with 687 insolvencies, followed by professional, scientific and technical services with 585 insolvencies.

“The food & accommodation sector has also experienced a wave of insolvencies. High input costs, worker shortages, and weak consumer sentiment have put pressure on businesses. Specifically, in March, cafés, restaurants, and takeaway businesses accounted for 5.5 percent of total business insolvencies, the highest proportion in the last three years.”

Mr Rumbens pointed out that while the number of insolvencies was high, it represents a lower share of the business sector at 0.33 percent than it did in FY13 when it was 0.53 percent. “This reflects the increase of registered companies in Australia, which has risen from just over two million to 3.3 million since 2012-13. Even so, the continued lift in insolvencies since 2021 highlights the difficult conditions many businesses face at present.”

 

 

MOST POPULAR
11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

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Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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