A scare with cancer was instrumental in forming Norman Sarraf’s unflagging commitment to children’s charity Camp Quality, but his authentic upbringing was the true genesis of his unwavering work ethic and loyalty to family. It’s always twenty-four seven with Norman, but it’s never work for this extraordinary business visionary.
As a child growing up in the inner Sydney suburb of Lewisham, Norman Sarraf knew more about traffic than real estate.
Thousands of vehicles would drive past his family’s house every day, which he thought was normal. He had no understanding of good or bad areas in which to live, whether a street was busy or quiet, or what was a renovator’s dream or ideal for the investor.
“We lived in a little semi on the corner of Old Canterbury Road and Barker Street; there was a panel beater behind us and a railway above us.”
Norman recalls that “it never dawned on me it was a main road, or that we lived in a semi and that was the lower end of the scale of homes until I was about twenty-one. It was just home.”
Perhaps not your average background for your average real estate agent. But there’s nothing normal or average about Norman Sarraf.
The first ‘light bulb moment’ Norman recalls happened when he was about ten. “These guys came to our house to tell my parents how much it was worth. I realise now they were real estate agents, but to a ten-year old they were guys dressed in fine suits, carrying pens and clipboards, and they looked very important.
“I remember thinking then, ‘that’s what I want to do’. I had no idea what they did, but I wanted to do it. I wanted to be just like them.”
That image was embedded forever into Norman’s mind, and after Year 10 he thought seriously about leaving school and buying one of those suits. The drawback was he didn’t yet have his driver’s licence so it would be difficult to get a job so he decided to stay and complete Year 12.