View from the top

View from the top

After founding one of the leading law firms in KZN more than thirty years ago, Karien Hunter decided it was time to make a change. She shares her exciting journey from property lawyer to running an estate agency, and tells us why she thinks the North Coast is on the cusp of becoming an international playground.

Not many people can say they have built up a highly successful property law firm over the course of thirty years and then decided to completely change their career. Not many people are like Karien Hunter, though.

The founder of AMC Hunter Inc, Karien says the transition from heading up a property law firm to now leading Engel & Volkers Dolphin Coast has been an exciting one. “I’ve had to learn a lot over the past few months, but I have a ‘teachable spirit’ and I love growing and learning from others.”

While she may have spent the last few months learning from others, Karien has spent the better part of her life as a leader, teacher and mentor herself.

The mother of three, and a KZN Business Woman of the Year (in 2007),  says her greatest satisfaction is seeing others succeed. “In the early days a lot of my focus was on uplifting women. I grew my practice by helping others further their careers. I’ve always hired for potential – and then built around that potential.”

Although she is passionate about law, Karien says she recently came to a point where she needed a new challenge.  The time had also come to create space within AMC Hunter Inc, for younger professionals to come into their own. Handing over the reigns have given fresh impetus to the growth and expansion of AMC Hunter Inc.

“I’ve been practicing law for thirty years and it was time for a change. I always say, keep your core business your business, but I have an entrepreneurial spirit and I see opportunities everywhere.”

Over the years, Karien has seen a number of estate agents start their own agencies, often encouraged, motivated and even mentored by her along the way. “I’ve seen people flow through my office for advice and support and then go on to achieve huge success.”

When she was offered the opportunity to buy a real estate franchise ten years ago, Karien says she wasn’t ready to let go. But, when she took over the Engel & Völkers Dolphin Coast license seven months ago, Karien was more than ready.

3d rende of home key isolated on white background. Estate concept

“I’ve always loved beautiful properties and spaces and have an interest in interior design. I’ve also been involved in and advised on a number of developments and estates over the years. I am turning 60 next year, but I still have so much knowledge to offer.”

Having been in property law for so long, Karien says she has come to understand the importance of having a good, moral estate agent. “This is the biggest financial commitment most people will make in their lifetime and they need to be able to trust the agent facilitating the sale.”

She says the change in dynamic from having someone come into your office to consult with you, to being allowed into their home is a big one. “When you enter someone’s home you are in their personal space. Often this is after having met them just minutes before at the front door. The importance of being professional and respectful cannot be emphasised enough. It’s an honour and a privilege when people open their door for me.”

Asked why she chose Engel & Völkers, Karien says the professionalism of the brand is what attracted her from the beginning. “They really are on another level in terms of ethics and systems. They are a German company and operate to European standards, which, coming from a professional, corporate background, appealed to me greatly. The desktop systems, tools and support we have to work with are world class and second to none.”

With her expectations of her agents as high as those of her attorneys, Karien expects her team to conduct themselves in a highly professional manner, from the beginning to the end of a sale.

And the fact that she is an experienced property lawyer is a huge added benefit to the company. “Usually clients would not engage with the conveyancer prior to a sale being concluded. Now they can have a one-on-one rapport with me from the time they decide to sell their property, right through to registration of transfer of their property.”

The most exciting part of the process for her, says Karien, has been realising how lucky we are to live in what is soon to become one of the most sought-after places in the world. “My vision is to position the North Coast on the global map. Why shouldn’t we be next to Cape Town in top international property magazines? The North Coast has everything to offer in terms of phenomenal properties and an unprecedented lifestyle and it’s time the international market became aware of this.”

Details: Engel & Völkers Dolphin Coast, Simbithi Office Park, Simbithi Eco Estate / 032

CORRECTION: The article in our August 2018, entitled ‘Wonder Women’, featured incorrect and outdated information about Karien Hunter. This section of the article was published in error and we apologise for any misunderstandings this may have resulted in.


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