In this weekly column, real estate agents across the nation share stories of the lessons they’ve learned during their time in the industry.
As founder and CEO of Northrop Realty, a Long & Foster Company with more than 200 energetic real estate professionals serving the greater Baltimore/D.C. metroplex, Creig Northrop, along with his wife Carla, have created a growing brokerage through an emphasis on the client experience.
Find out how Northrop turned a talent for sales and a willingness to go the extra mile into a brokerage that spawned 10 new offices and $1 billion in transactions within its first year.
How long have you been in the business?
I have been in the real estate business for over 30 years. I owned a video store before that, and I thought I could sell $2.50 videos, or I could sell $250,000 homes. Naturally, I followed the latter path, and my mother, who was already a very successful agent, helped me learn everything about real estate by allowing me to shadow her.
I made it my mission to know every street and price range in my market area, so if the buyer called about a house, I knew of two other great choices for them that they didn’t know — always keeping ahead for my clients with extensive knowledge of the market.
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
As the leader of one of the top brokerages in the mid-Atlantic — dominating the market with our forward-thinking model built from a strong foundation, great leadership, outstanding administration support systems, state-of-the art marketing, NorthropU for our agents, and our newest training platform Elevate, along with our amazing “all-the-time” agents.
My goal is also to help build the next No. 1 individual agent and team in the nation, starting with each county that we serve first. Zig Ziglar says it best that if you help others achieve what they want, you will always get what you want, which is the model we follow at Northrop Realty.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in real estate?
To fail forward. Sales are all about the client, not about you, and it’s important to know that you never lose, you learn. To be a top agent or team, you can’t be a part-time agent or even a full-time agent but an all-the-time agent who builds relationships — not a transactional agent.
Fall in love with your clients, and build an everlasting friendship for referrals. Solve their problems because your income is proportionate to the bigger problems you can solve, and lastly, have fun.
Your attitude is an asset that makes real estate a lifestyle and a job that creates fun for you, and more importantly, your clients. Making real estate fun is one of the founding principles that help me not just go through it, but grow through it.
How did you learn it?
I had a potential client early on in my career who asked me about staging and painting during a listing appointment. I didn’t know the first thing about staging a home, so I tried to wing it, which resulted in me saying the wrong things.
I realized I was over my head when it came to that part of the business and that I can’t do everything on my own for my clients unless I only want to be a transactional agent, and I didn’t want to be.
I wanted my focus to be on building a real relationship and great communication with my clients, which is built on a strong foundation of trust. I decided that I wanted my clients to feel special, and that requires hiring good people who are masters of their specialties, like IBM’s approach, but applied to real estate.
I needed to hire specialists who are dedicated to completing the transactional paperwork, and that is how our client care coordinators came to be. I wanted talented stagers and photographers who could make any property shine, so I hired ASP-certified home marketing consultants and employed HD, 4K fusion photographers, along with 3D Matterport techs.
Next, I built, along with my wife Carla Northrop, an in-house marketing department and an IT department to support all of our brokerage needs. We built systems to create a better experience for our clients so that our agents can focus on their needs.
By taking this approach, we’ve become No. 1 in the nation for five-star Zillow reviews with a focus on building a strong relationship, great communication, and exceeding the expectations of our clients before the transaction, through the transaction and after the transaction.
By creating this type of brokerage, we all learn more, and we all earn more while becoming our clients’ Realtor resource.
What advice would you give to new agents?
If you’re going to do it anyway, why not be the best, so be selective of your brokerage. I would recommend a full-service brokerage offering extensive and continuous training, mentorships, and systems. It’s best to be at a brokerage, like ours, that has a care culture and where every person matters.
Do you want to be featured on an upcoming “Lesson Learned” column? Reach out to us here!
Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant with Writing Real Estate. She is also a Florida Realtors faculty member. Follow Writing Real Estate on Facebook, Twitter, Instagr