How I Make It Work: Graham Wall
Meet the premium real estate star whose zest for life is inspirational
“I’m one of five brothers. As little kids we traded Dinky Toys (model cars). I wasn’t that good at it… usually outsmarted or tricked by my brother Roger. When we were teenagers we’d buy Levi’s from the merchant seamen at Auckland wharves and sell them at school — huge margins. It’s always good to deal in commodities with no known commercial value, you can set the price.
“My mother reckoned manners were absolutely everything and I kind of agree. In this business [real estate], once you have reputation and momentum the rest is easy. At Wall Real Estate we are so grateful that we have these two attributes, probably achieved simply by telling the truth and being polite. Contacts are also extremely important. A former prime minister once introduced me to some visiting Americans as “the most plugged in man in Auckland city”. I’ve never felt so proud.
“I love everything about [what I do]. Especially working with my sons, Andrew and Ollie. Why do I do it? It’s incredibly enjoyable to spend the day around beautiful property and exciting and interesting people — not a week goes by that we don’t meet some extraordinary people with amazing stories.
"There are so many moments that I’m so thankful for, but a standout occasion was just last week when a friend introduced me to a very stylish woman at Allpress Cafe. She had bought a beautiful, secluded retreat from us on the wild West Coast a couple of years ago. She said, ‘Oh, it’s so great to meet you, I thank you every morning I wake up at that beautiful, beautiful place.’ That feels great.
“When it comes to a home’s architecture, I love light, and long lines of sight. I’m a fan of the mid-century modern Palm Springs look — crisp and clean and not too fussy. The view doesn’t have to be the ocean or mountains, it just has to be distant. Same inside a house, even a small house can achieve a sense of space by offering the longest possible line of sight.
When it comes to words of advice, do exactly what you say you’re going to do. And, say NO quickly.”
My favourite place to dine out is ... Prego. The only restaurant on Earth that’s been full twice a day for 33 years, that Italians love, that is 100 metres from my front door and welcomes exquisite grandchildren even when they are not on their very best behaviour.
To unwind I like to ... hang around the beach, read magazines, listen to new music (and old music). Now I’m finally old enough to play golf, I play a little, which I’m surprisingly very good at — thanks to James Kupa, the country’s most talented (and patient) golf pro.
I’m reading ... The Everything Store by Jeff Bezos, only because I’m completely mystified by the story of Amazon. The book is damned dull but it’s quite thin and I’m not going to let it beat me.
I’m watching ... Call My Agent! on Netflix because there’s nothing else on Netflix. Also, White Lotus on Neon, which is filmed at the Four Seasons on Maui and is absolutely brilliant.
I drive ... an SL Mercedes and a Range Rover because they are the best two cars ever made. Before I drove a Range Rover, I used to wonder what sort of idiot drove a big truck like that around town… turns out it’s me. I’d also have a 65 E-Type Jaguar just to look at if I could afford it.
I’d like to travel to ... Hydra in the Greek Islands. Beautiful food, beautiful people, no cars and no motor scooters.
My favourite item of clothing is ... a dark navy Prada T-shirt. I’ve got about 20 of them, I simply can’t throw them away.
I’d like to buy ... Levi’s 501s, waist 32, long leg/boot cut. Why: it would mean I fitted them.
A piece of art I have at home is ... a massive, uplifting 3x3 metres Andrew Barber — it’s big and beautiful and fills you with joy. Also, an intricate oil from Grace Bader’s latest sell-out at the Melanie Roger exhibition.