Monika Tu

PHOTO: “Everything I do, it’s all around my real estate,” says Monika Tu, 57, who specialises in selling to Chinese buyers. CREDIT:STEVEN SIEWERT

On May 24, Sydney real estate agent Michael Coombs uploaded a one-minute video to Instagram. It showed the suave 41-year-old in some of the luxury homes he’s sold, or at his swanky Neutral Bay office, set to dramatic music and interspersed with headlines such as “over 1.3 billion in sales” and “setting suburb record after record”.


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At the end, the tongue-in-cheek credits name Gucci as the production designer and GQ as director of photography. “Eat your heart out Stephen [sic] Spielberg,” Coombs wrote.

Real estate agent Michael Coombs, "the king of the north", at a property he is selling in Mosman.
Real estate agent Michael Coombs, “the king of the north”, at a property he is selling in Mosman. CREDIT:LOUISE KENNERLEY

It might seem like an odd vanity project, but this is 2020, when real estate agents can be rock stars, influencers, celebrities – take your pick. Those at the top of the game know it’s much more than just selling a house; it’s about style, image and personal brand. They’re in demand for product launches, society parties and even reality television.

Coombs has 12,300 Instagram followers; Gavin Rubinstein, whose patch is the eastern suburbs and whom Coombs says is “the closest thing to a celebrity real estate agent” in Sydney, has 27,200.

“I don’t have a life, you know, this is my life,” Tu says, gesturing around her office. “I don’t waste time. Everything I do, it’s all around my real estate.”

When Coombs launched LJ Hooker Avnu last year, the party made this newspaper’s social pages, with Benji and Zoe Marshall, Kate Waterhouse and Luke Ricketson and Nova’s Tim Blackwell in attendance. Coombs has also sold homes for Beau Ryan, Matt Shirvington and Karl Stefanovic.