Fiona Hatfield: I’m having too much fun to retire!
As a child, Fiona Hatfield’s family dubbed her “little Mary Sunshine”.
“I was always happy, chatty and having fun,” the 71-year-old said. “That has always been the nature of my beast, from the get-go.”
Her sunny disposition has served her well during her three decades in real estate.
“I have certainly taken some knocks over the years,” she said. “But we all do. You have to put your big boy shoes on. You have to let things roll off your back.
“I play the game 24/7 and I have been doing it for 34 years.”
Her career started in September 1986 when she bumped into Arthur Jones, a partner with the real estate agency, Gauntlett & Jones.
He asked her to come and work for him. Ms Hatfield insisted she didn’t know how to sell anything.
At the time she had a nine-month-old son, Stratton. Before he was born she had trained law firm staff to use Xerox copiers.
Mr Jones insisted.
Her first sale was a breeze.
“This guy walked in and said he was looking for some land,” she said. “We had just had these three new listings. I said, ‘Here is the lot plan. Here is where they are. I can’t leave the office right now, but you can drive up and have a look at them. This is the price.’”
The man returned a short time later and put down a ten per cent deposit on one of the properties.
“I never even showed it to him,” Ms Hatfield said. “I said to Arthur Jones, ‘Gosh, this is easy. I like this!’”
Gauntlett & Jones became Jones Waddington. The company was later amalgamated into Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty.
“I have achieved a lot of awards at Coldwell Banker,” she said. “I was the top producer for the island affiliate several times. I was also in the top two per cent at Coldwell Bank around the world. So that is selling a whole lot of real estate.”
When she was on a streak, she might sell six houses in a month. Her secret is to listen to the customer and get a feel for their needs.
“And you have to know the listing like the palm of your hand,” she said. “And you have to be honest about what you are showing. You want them to trust and respect you for your honesty.”
Her late mother, Sheila Gosling, sold real estate back in the 1960s with Sir John Swan at one point.
“My mother was a wonderful, outward woman,” Ms Hatfield. “She would introduce me to everyone. I have always been able to communicate and talk to people easily.”
One of many legendary tales about her was how she used to make rum swizzle in her washing machine.
“I was about 15 years old the first time she did that,” Ms Hatfield said. “We had just gotten this new washing machine with a tub and spinner. There was a wheel in the back to squeeze the water out of the clothes.
“One day she said to me, ‘What should I do? I have all these people coming for a party.’”
Mrs Gosling strong-armed her daughter, who was studying for exams at the time, into helping her clean out the machine.
The swizzles were such a hit she was called on to make them again and again, over the years. Goslings Brothers still has the machine, tucked away safely in their warehouse.
“Gosh it was fun,” Ms Hatfield said. “Goslings recently did a video of my son Weston and I mixing up swizzles in the thing.”
Her father, William Gosling, was a farmer and was educated at Cirencester Agriculture College in England.
“He was a sweet and gentle man,” Ms Hatfield said.
Her grandfather, Eugene Gosling, was a corporate lawyer and was the clerk of the House of Assembly. Her great grandfather, William Henry Gosling, was the head of Gosling Bros.
Today she loves passing her real estate knowledge on to newbie agents.
“I tell them, you’ll need your roller skates, because I go zoom, zoom, zoom,” she said. “I take them to new listings. I let them shadow me. It is really important to help new agents come into the business.”
She tells them there are as many obstacles to making a deal as there are stars in the sky.
“But you have to have a lot of balls up in the air and you just keep working,” she said.
Despite the pandemic, sales are going pretty well.
“I am a busy, busy girl,” Ms Hatfield said. “I have three offers on three different listings of mine. I am always busy. I have been out there and everyone knows me. I think you have to get out there and network a lot.”
She met her husband Martin after he called her best friend to ask for an introduction. The pair will celebrate their 36th wedding anniversary in May.
“He said, ‘She looks like my type of girl,’” Ms Hafield said. “My friend said, ‘Come to my house on Saturday night.’”
When their sons were little, Mr Hatfield was often travelling for Pact, his T-shirt company.
“Martin manufactured and designed clothing, and had it made in India and Egypt,” she said. “He is a creative soul. He worked very, very hard.
“The boys figured out that going to show houses with mom, and sitting in the car, was not that much fun. So my mother came and helped me a lot.”
Ms Hatfield was also a good tennis player in her younger years.
“My mother started teaching me to play tennis at three years old. On the court, she would be yelling ‘Fiona, get up to the net!’ I would say, ‘But mummy, I can’t see over the net!’”
These days she plays golf, a sport she discovered only in the last decade or so.
“Before that, I was just too busy with real estate and busy being a mom. I am very sorry I didn’t start sooner. It was too late, so I will never be anything fantastic. But I enjoy letting the air run through my hair.”
Ms Hatfield snorts at the idea of retirement.
“Never!” she said. “Why would I do that? I’m having too much fun.”
Lifestyle profiles the island’s senior citizens every Wednesday. Contact Jessie Moniz Hardy on 278-0150 or firstname.lastname@example.org with the full name and contact details and the reason you are suggesting them