Sydney eastern suburbs real estate doyenne Di Jones dies

Jonathan ChancellorJune 24, 20180 min read

The eastern suburbs real estate doyenne Di Jones, 74, has died in hospital.

Her auctioneer husband of 48 years, Bill, and estate agent daughter Kim were by her side.

The company announced the news on its Facebook page on Sunday morning.

"It is with great sadness that we advise of the passing of our much loved ambassador and founder, Di Jones," the statement advised.

It was 39 years ago, when Jones and her auctioneer husband, who had been in the hotel industry, opened their first office in Glebe, building a client base by door-knocking then at Raine & Horne Woollahra, then Richardson & Wrench Woollahra. 

The Di Jones agency story began in 1992, in a small boutique office in the Sydney suburb of Woollahra run by the local identity and real estate agent extraordinaire.

In 1995 Di Jones Real Estate sold 278 properties at auction, for a total of $117 million. 

It was the first female driven agency.

“I just wanted to do something different — it was very male-dominated back then,” she recalled last year. 

Within a decade the company was turning over $380 million in residential real estate, at an average of $890,000 a property after it expanded into Balmain in 1999 and into Double Bay in 2000. 

She loved real estate. "It gets into your blood," she once said.

"You become part of people's lives for a month. And I just love the architectural element - I love the houses." 

During her time, those dark humble terraces of Woollahra and Paddington became light filled, cosy habitats.

Jones, an ardent Francophile (which explains the French provincial blue she chose as her company's colour) got into real estate after she and Bill had been living on Mooloolaba on Queensland's Sunshine Coast with their two children. 

Their second child, Matthew, suffered brain damage at birth and needed special care - for that, they both needed to work. The answer was real estate which helped fund send Matthew to the Rudolf Steiner Warrah school in Dural.

Di Jones knew her patch well.

Her own agency was just a few doors from her home, one of the village's stone cottages.

Very quickly Di's boutique agency was a success recognised by its distinctive French blue advertising. She calculated 70 percent of her business was derived by referrals.

Since its sale in 2016, the boutique business is no longer in family hands, though the current owners endeavour to follow the Di Jones philosophy based on connecting with clients and creating a bespoke experience to achieve outstanding results.

Daughter Kim recently opened her own agency Snowden Jones. 

Matthew died unexpectedly in 2008 aged 34 and the family established the Matthew Jones Foundation.

Di Jones once participated in a day in the life feature on her selling Sydney's most expensive real estate which kicked off at 6.15am, with an early morning constitutional around Centennial Park.

The small and trim estate agent did the walk with Bill.

They did it four or five times a week, a 50 minute exercise. 

The writer Christine Hogan noted once in the office she was dressed in a neat black, knee-length skirt, sheer black hose, black courts with a medium heel and an ivory jacket accessorised with a diamond wedding band, a heavy gold link bracelet and gold hoop earrings.

There was her Gucci bag with her business lifelines - a tiny mobile phone and her diary as she headed to appointments in her white BMW.

Back at her desk the was just an ornate pen, a bottle of herbal asthma medicine, a bottle of pale nail polish and some Miss Dior perfume.

Tim Schwan, when he was her CEO, said she was tenacious at getting a sale.

The Daily Telegraph reported she suffered ill health for years and was being treated for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at RPA, and a more recently diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.

She died in Prince of Wales Private Hospital on Saturday night.




Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.
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