NEW YORK — Starting a family real estate team probably wasn’t what Kenny Blumstein had in mind when he told his wife Meris to get a job. But a family business is what they ended up with many years later.
The family shared their story and some practical tips for agents at their Inman Connect panel, “Anatomy of a team: Family style, how it works.”
Meris started out as the voice for Corcoran Group, answering phones. Within a few years, she got her real estate license and started recruiting the family.
Kenny got his license as a condition of joining the team, and their daughter Sydney described a deal made with her ‘rents in which she got her license in exchange for free rent in the family loft, which she said she took advantage of for seven years after she graduated college.
Their son, who was not present, is also a part of the family’s lineup and received the same become-an-agent-for free-rent deal as his sister.
Their team now consists of 10 people, with Meris as the “face” of the business. They key is that everyone on the the team must uphold the standards and reputation of the brand. “We all work independently together,” she said.
Sydney credits her parents with working with higher-end clients, and doing it well. She said that for around 15 years the business was 92 percent referrals; they didn’t do any type of real marketing except for hosting parties.
As a successful generational team with a strong word-of-mouth businesses, the Blumsteins have a few tips to share:
- Respond to phone calls or any other communication within 10 minutes.
- Be the resource for your clients by having a strong, vetted service provider network.
- Listen to people on the phone. You have two ears and one mouth — do twice as much listening. Sydney started at age nine, and it showed when she became an agent as an adult.
- Make each client a friend. Sydney said that most of her parents friends are former clients; they maintain relationships with their clients long after the transaction ends.
- Create connections among the people you know. When the Blumsteins would throw parties in their loft listings, they’d bring in artists to help get them exposure. Connect your clients with the people around you and in your sphere, and they’ll become part of your network for life.
- Broker/agent relationships are critical. If an agent has similar offers come in, he or she is likely going to choose the one from the agent he or she has a relationship with.
- Leave yourself out of it. “This is a cooperative business,” Kenny said. “Leave the ego at the door.”
And if you’re considering bringing a family member onto the team, Meris has some big advice: When someone else you care about does business in a way that’s different than the way you would do it, let them fly.
Meris said that before she adopted this advice with her son, their work relationship didn’t work at all. But they learned to compromise, and now their business is a family affair.