Look back at the industry talent we’ve featured this year — and their stories, motivations and dreams — and be inspired as you move into 2021.

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 the real estate industry weathered its second year of COVID-related disruption, tight inventory and overheated buyer demand, we continued to bring you the best insights and advice from industry experts in a variety of markets, offering a variety of perspectives.

Our annual roundup of Lesson Learned articles brings together their thoughts, giving you the chance to reflect and consider the lessons you’ve learned from the year just past. In addition, we hope it inspires you to look ahead and see how you can apply these valuable lessons to your own real estate practice.

Lesson Learned: It’s all about those personal connections

As a two-decade veteran in communications roles from PR to crisis management, Cory Jo Vasquez, chief marketing officer of Realty ONE Group, is used to speaking to national audiences.

However, in the realm of real estate, she’s found that it’s the one-on-one that matters most. Discover how she first learned that it’s people and relationships that truly make an impact. Read more.

Lesson Learned: Every single agent matters

When R New York President Stefani Berkin talks about supporting agent success, she means it. Besides the company’s 100 percent commission model, she has spearheaded the development of a real estate curriculum taught by industry leaders and specialists to maximize agent growth during her tenure. 

In addition, Berkin works with developers to ensure a steady stream of new listings for her high-energy team. Find out how she first got into real estate and what she’s planning next. Read more.

Lesson Learned: Take care of clients (and each other)

As senior directors of Luxury Sales for Compass, South Florida’s Ida and Minette Schwartz have led their team to more than $200 million in luxury real estate sold. 

Find out how they cultivate their relationship with each other and their relationships with clients and colleagues to grow their impact and influence on the Miami residential market. Read more.

Lesson Learned: Be relentless in the follow-up

Growing up with family and friends in the real estate and development business, Jared Halpern learned early on about the opportunities and possibilities inherent in the industry.

Through his early experiences working alongside heavy-hitting NYC brokers and collaborating with agents in the Hamptons, Long Island, Miami, and Los Angeles, Halpern found out that stick-to-itiveness is often a powerful differentiator. Read more.

Lesson Learned: Reserve your judgment

As a founding partner of the Belvedere Advisors Team at NYC’s Compass, Ante Jakic works with some of the most exciting luxury properties in the world. His most important qualities? A passion for people and a sincere interest in who they are and how they live. Read more.

Lesson Learned: It ain’t over ‘til it’s over

As the founder of The Chad Carroll Group, Chad Carroll has dedicated his work ethic and skill to building an impressive track record as a luxury real estate agent in the competitive South Florida market.

Now, as he grows his market reach and embarks on a new role as a luxury real estate developer, he’s putting the lessons he learned early in his career into operation — always expect the unexpected. Read more.

Lesson Learned: Do what works for you

Savannah, Georgia-based Karin Carr is an experienced real estate agent in her own right, but it’s her video acumen that has made her a household name among agents all over North America.

With thousands of followers across multiple platforms, she puts her humor and personal style front and center when creating content for her business endeavors. Find out how this No. 1 BombBomb real estate video influencer (in 2019) developed the professional strategies that have made her a leader in both real estate and marketing. Read more.

Lesson Learned: Patience pays off

With an international perspective and an exhaustive knowledge of the Hamptons real estate market, Yorgos Tsibiridis has achieved record-breaking prices on the way to $400 million in sales.

Yet, he knows that it’s never a good idea to push clients into decisions they might later regret. Find out why he believes that patience and a client-centered approach always pay off in the end. Read more.

Lesson Learned: Be prepared to go with the flow

After moving to Florida in 2015, Simon Isaacs put his background in investment and trading to work as the broker-owner of Simon Isaacs Real Estate in Palm Beach.

There he has built a reputation as a tough negotiator and advocate for his clients, which resulted in an 85 percent referral-based business. Find out why Isaacs says that, when it comes to real estate, you can always rely on the unexpected to occur. Read more.

Lesson Learned: Play well with others

Jay Phillip Parker, chief executive officer of Douglas Elliman’s Florida region and president of Douglas Elliman Development Marketing, Florida, came onboard in 2013, helping to grow Douglas Elliman’s presence in markets throughout the Sunshine State to a total of 19 offices and more than 1,100 agents.

In doing so, he has learned that people who play well with others and focus on relationships go further. Read more.

Lesson Learned: Listen before you speak

Luxury broker Reid Heidenry has a passion for teamwork and for residential and commercial real estate in the desirable Miami market. That passion has allowed him to put his expertise to work for top-tier clients throughout the area.

What makes him so successful? Heidenry knows that sometimes it’s all about keeping your own counsel and letting the client take the lead before you offer your perspective. Read more.

Lesson Learned: Giving 100% every time pays off

With a background encompassing everything from luxury new home construction to foreclosure flips, Compass agent and team principal Dennis Bowers brings in-depth knowledge and expertise to his client services in the Naples, Florida market he serves.

Find out how he discovered that every deal has the potential to pay dividends for years to come. Read more.

Lesson Learned: Always be open to learning something new

With almost two decades of experience exclusively in the New York borough of Queens, Bianca Colasuonno combines exceptional market knowledge with a client-first philosophy, creating a winning combination that has made her one of the area’s top agents.

But it’s her love of learning that keeps her progressing as she develops her skills and professional expertise. Read more.

Lesson Learned: Overcome any objections with exemplary performance

As founder of Spears Group of Scenic Sotheby’s International Realty, Jonathan Spears is dedicated to creating exemplary outcomes for luxury clients throughout his Emerald Coast market.

It was by overcoming objections early in his career — as a teenaged real estate agent — that he learned the importance of letting your performance overcome any potential setbacks. Find out how he gained the confidence and market expertise that allowed him to flourish. Read more.

Lesson Learned: Connect with your colleagues

As Compass’s No. 1 agent in Florida for four years running, Liz Hogan has made a major impact on her market and on the industry.

With $1.5 billion in career sales and a top ranking from Wall Street Journal/Real Trends, this Miami native works with everyone from first-time homebuyers to commercial property pros. Find out how she learned that the agents and brokers you work with are often your most important allies in the real estate business. Read more.

Lesson Learned: Always be open to your clients’ suggestions

With more than $1 billion in sales of luxury residential properties in their Miami Beach market, Allan Kleer and Fabian Garcia Diaz of the KleerandGarciaDiaz team at ONE Sotheby’s International Realty have mastered the art of effective marketing, transaction management, and relationship building.

Find out how they learned that, no matter your level of expertise, listening to your client is always the right idea. Read more.

Lesson Learned: Make learning your only priority

Third-generation real estate pro Ricardo Wolf has spent decades in leadership roles with some of the industry’s leading sales and marketing groups, resulting in more than a half-billion in closed sales. 

As the broker and managing partner for Wolf Real Estate Group, he continues to work with agents and clients throughout his South Florida market. 

Find out why he believes that no matter where you are in your career, there really is no substitute for ongoing professional development. Read more.

Lesson Learned: Learn the universal language of R-E-S-P-E-C-T

As president and CEO of Fort Lauderdale’s World Renowned Real Estate, Neal Oates Jr. brings bespoke real estate services to high-net-worth clients from around the world.

As an instructor for the National Association of Realtors, he impacts the professional lives of agents all over the country. However, the true secret to his success lies in the relationships Oates cultivates with clients and colleagues. Read more.

Lesson Learned: Don’t underestimate a ‘small’ deal

As the managing partner of Team Harborside, Matt Dolan loves introducing clients to Boston’s North Shore lifestyle. However, he started his real estate company while still flying for Piedmont Airlines.

Find out how his experience as a commercial airline pilot helped him develop a high-altitude view of real estate and the long-term potential of every transaction. Read more.

Lesson Learned: Join a team that complements your skillset

With a background that encompasses real estate investment, content development, marketing, consulting, coaching, and client representation, Dana Bull of Boston-area’s Boston’s North Shore Sagan Harborside has developed a deep understanding of the industry.

Her secret to such wide-ranging success? Finding the right folks to back you up all along the way. Read more.

Lesson Learned: It’s not about you

With more than half a billion in career sales, Angel Nicolas with The Nicolas Group at Compass combines his experience as a professional baseball player with his expertise in Miami real estate to deliver stellar service to his clients.

Just as in his playing days, Nicolas knows that teamwork is the key to success, and it’s that focus that has helped The Nicolas Group to become one of the top-producing teams in all of Compass Florida. Find out how he learned that it’s more about the client than the agent when it comes to creating winning outcomes. Read more.

Lesson Learned: Relationships matter most in this business

With a background in real estate law, New York City broker Lindsay Barton Barrett has built her career on the belief that hard work, professionalism, a sense of humor, a low-pressure approach and — most importantly — strong relationships are the backbone of a successful real estate career.

Find out how she became one of the top brokers in the country by having the right outlook, building extraordinary relationships and upholding core values and qualities like honesty and integrity. Read more.

Lesson Learned: Work your relationships

In retrospect, early 2020 was not an ideal time to switch jobs. However, even in the early days of the pandemic, Avast Realty’s Christie White put her corporate experience and her gift for creating personal connections to work.

Over time, she built the professional and client relationships that now form the foundation of her new career in real estate. Find out how she learned that reaching out and staying in touch — even from a distance — is the key to success. Read more.

Lesson Learned: Have the patience to let your dreams come to fruition

Richard Wheeler moved from his native UK to New York City in 2000 with dreams of being part of the fashion industry. After stints in both fashion, as the founder of The Emperor’s New Clothes, and hospitality, working the door at some of Manhattan’s hottest nightclubs, he went all-in on his interest in real estate. 

Find out how he put his eclectic background and boots-on-the-ground knowledge of NYC real estate to work as part of Kings Capital RE. Read more.

Lesson Learned: Tune into your clients

After more than two decades in Manhattan real estate, Stan Ponte, a senior global real estate adviser and associate broker with Sotheby’s International Realty – East Side Manhattan Brokerage, was named the No. 2 agent in Manhattan by sales volume for his 2020 professional accomplishments.

However, despite his experience and expertise, he still spends time listening to and learning from the clients and colleagues with whom he works. Read more.

Lesson Learned: There’s never a reason to lose your cool

Ranked among the top one percent of real estate agents nationwide, award-winning Compass agent Charlie Attias offers a deep background in finance and a keen understanding of his New York market. 

This experience has allowed his team to sell billions of dollars worth of property in his two decades in real estate. The biggest lesson he’s learned along the way? How to keep his head when everyone else is losing theirs. Read more.

Every deal is a learning opportunity: Lesson Learned

As the No. 1 agent at Douglas Elliman Miami, executive director of sales Dina Goldentayer has sold more than $1 billion worth of real estate over the course of her career.

Her #MovetoMiami marketing campaign saw her taking out a billboard in Times Square and helping dozens of New Yorkers move to luxury homes in the Sunshine State during the pandemic. Find out how she makes every deal into a chance to learn something new. Read more.

Do you want to be featured on an upcoming “Lesson Learned” column? Reach out to us here!

Christy Murdock is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant and the owner of Writing Real Estate. She is also the creator of the online course Crafting the Property Description: The Step-by-Step Formula for Reluctant Real Estate Writers. Follow Writing Real Estate on TwitterInstagram and YouTube.

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