When Greg Allen-Baines first moved to Warkworth in 1989, he says the town was a quiet place in winter, mainly servicing the surrounding farms.
In the intervening years, and as one of the town’s longest serving real estate agents, he has watched as Mahurangi has become a magnet for Aucklanders looking to downsize and retire. He says as more people came through Warkworth and Matakana on their way to Omaha, the area became a destination in its own right.
And while he may have worked in the industry for nearly 25 years, and is the principal of Harveys Real Estate Warkworth with wife Amanda Wynne, his career happened by necessity rather than by design.
Allen-Baines and his family moved to the sleepy Warkworth area from Pakuranga after he left the police force and bought Sports World, retailing sports equipment. But a serious car accident not long after they arrived turned their lives upside down.
Allen-Baines was in hospital for three months and unable to work for a year.
His father-in-law and a friend pulled out all the stops and managed to keep the business operating during that time, he says.
“I’ll be forever grateful for their extraordinary help.”
But it was clear keeping the business long term might not be possible, and ultimately it was sold. While still in hospital, his father suggested he do some real estate papers, and this became Allen-Baines focus as he recovered.
“Real estate work has always been very competitive in this area and those that have really done well had a lot of experience.”
Starting his career in his forties, he befriended sales stalwart Ken Bogue, who became something of a mentor as Allen-Baines navigated his way by correspondence through a four-year Graduate Diploma in Business Studies (Real Estate) with Massey University.
That saw him not only able to sell but also eventually led to him owning his own company.
In 1999, Allen-Baines and Viv Wyatt, who is also one of the longest selling agents in the area, bought a Harveys franchise together, eventually parting ways nearly 15 years later.