Welcome to “Letters from,” a column that examines the intimate thoughts of members of the real estate industry.
1. Why did you get into this business?
I’ve always loved meeting and working with different types of people. Working in real estate is fascinating with all its moving parts, and [it] provides a great ratio of working in the field and behind a desk.
It provides a career where one is compensated on how well, smart and hard the agent works. It allowed me to quickly and relatively inexpensively start my own business in a major metropolitan area. It also allowed me to dictate my own hours and does not involve much work-related travel.
2. What is the biggest challenge you face right now in your business?
Lead retention is the biggest challenge many agents face.
3. What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started?
If I could go back to 1998 and give myself real estate advice, I would tell myself to create a monthly newsletter to keep in touch with past and current clients while offering solid value to them.
For the last two years, I’ve created a great monthly piece that I write myself. It always includes local housing statistics, a short article and my latest 60-second video regarding real estate. This helps me keep in touch with clients and is quite fun to produce.
4. Who has made the biggest positive impact on your business?
Without a doubt, I would say it has been my administrative assistant or office manager. I’ve had about eight over the years. Most have been great while a few have not worked out. The biggest positive impact came from my first office manager, Kathleen Carter Brooks, who has worked with me for just over 10 years.
She helped me generate a solid client base through honest, reliable, professional, knowledgeable service. That base has been kind enough to recommend me to a plethora of clients and continues to come back to me for any and all real estate needs.
In 2005 when we noticed the lenders becoming very selective as to whom they’d lend money, the market began to slow down. This then lead to a huge amount of foreclosures.
Kathleen helped me enter the foreclosure world and sell over 200 properties owned by various banks. This helped keep us solidly in the black during some very difficult years.
We took excellent care of the properties for our banks. We assisted other agents who needed assistance in showing [and] selling foreclosures. We helped those who had been foreclosed upon by assisting with Cash for Keys and extra time when it could be arranged.
We never forgot that this was a very difficult time for many people and treated everyone with respect. Kathleen has since left my company to start a family. My current office manager, Maaza, is outstanding.
She is not afraid to put in extra hours when needed and has been the perfect fit for our office culture when it comes to interacting with clients, customers and the LuxManor Realtors.
5. What is one thing someone could do to help you in your business?
The best thing that helps our business grow is referrals. Most of LuxManor’s new business comes through a mutual friend or satisfied past client, and we really appreciate the support and confidence that this shows.
6. What tool has made the biggest positive impact on your business?
When I first became a Realtor, most agents did not even have cellphones. Today, smartphones provide access to all kinds of data while on the road (including the MLS and my entire client database), which allows me to be even more efficient.
Technology is evolving faster than ever, and one must embrace anything that actually adds value. For example, my company’s aforementioned 60-second YouTube videos allow me to inform my database about many different topics.
These have included how to fix a garbage disposal, how to winterize exterior hose bibs and the difference between an earnest money deposit and a down payment.
7. What do you think is going to be the biggest change in real estate in the next five years?
The duties of a Realtor are likely to change. We used to have all the information regarding listings, comps for past sales and [we were] the only way to provide access to homes.
Current buyers now find the home they actually buy online more often than when their Realtor introduces it to them. Agents will have to find new ways to bring value our clients.
It will not be enough to simply help navigate the ever-changing laws, supply the latest contracts and assist in evaluating the market when assessing a property’s value.
We’ll need to be even more knowledgeable regarding the condition of the home well before an inspection. We’ll also need to be current on the myriad lending options to know how to best assist our clients.
For more Letters, check out Marian Keriakos.