A self-described ‘serial overachiever,’ Jonathan Spears was enrolled in college at the age of 14, and in 2010 earned his Florida real estate license just after his 18th birthday.
So, it is little surprise, as he rings up his 30th birthday in January 2022, that the boyish-looking entrepreneur leads the very successful 11-person Spears Group, under the aegis of Scenic Sotheby’s International Realty, (SpearsgroupFL@Sothebys.com), serving a high-end clientele in Northwest Florida and closing more than $1 billion in sales in under five years.
“My friends at Florida State called me, ‘Doogie Howser’ because of my age,” said Spears. “I didn’t even know who Doogie Howser was for a while—the impossibly young doctor on a TV show in the early ‘90s. I only knew that I was focused on getting my degree and starting to make my mark in the global economy.”
In 2011, with the real estate market in an oversaturated and underperforming state, the 19-year-old went to work for a small boutique real estate firm. His business came primarily from short sales.
“I learned a lot about price and value,” he said. “I was beginning to gain experience in the luxury market, and I quickly learned how to go from reactive to proactive and make my phones ring.”
In 2015, he joined the newly founded Scenic Sotheby’s International, and with his first hire, administrative assistant Sara Mallet, at his side, closed more than $45 billion in Emerald Coast properties in his first year with the company.
Barbara Pronin: What is it about real estate that attracted you, Jonathan, when you clearly had a world of choices coming out of school?
Jonathan Spears: I’ve always had an advisor’s mindset, for one thing, and I knew how to articulate data. I had planned to go to London and study international business, but the more I learned about how the real estate market works, the more the inner entrepreneur in me jumped at the challenge to compete.
BP: When did you decide to team, and why?
JS: In 2015, when I joined Sotheby’s. I’m a bit of a control freak, and at first it was hard for me to delegate. But as my business grew, I realized my time was more valuable in the field with clients than trying to keep up with paperwork. Plus, I wanted my clients to have the ultimate consumer experience, and Sara is wonderful at ensuring that every client feels valued and confident that their transaction is in the best of hands.
BP: Why did you decide to expand your team?
JS: One of my first hires was my brother, Caleb, who was 18 when he came aboard, but had much the same mindset to succeed as I did. At about the same time, though, I hired a seasoned agent who could help handle our growing client list.
BP: What does the team look like today?
JS: We have eight agents and a client care support coordinator plus Sara and a Chief Executive Officer I brought on in 2020 to ensure the team is growing in all the right ways. We also have a full-time media director.
BP: How do you operate as a team?
JS: Collaboration is key for us. We meet weekly to delegate and to stay up to date on all our transactions, new listings and business and so forth, plus we talk informally on a daily basis.
BP: Tell me a little about your market.
JS: It’s primarily a second home market that attracts high-end buyers who want to enjoy the beauty and lifestyle of Florida’s amazing Emerald Coast. Our average sale price is $2 million, and we’re proud to represent some of the finest properties from Destin to Panama City Beach and all along the Gulf of Mexico.
BP: What are some of your proudest achievements?
JS: We are most proud of the reputation we’ve established both as real estate investment advisors and as the premier team in our market. We closed more than $700 million in 2020 and 2021, and we were ranked by the Wall Street Journal as the Number One mid-sized real estate team in Florida and 11th in the nation.
BP: What are your goals going forward?
JS: To stay ahead of the curve, for one thing, so that we can continue to be the best possible advisors for the high-end clients in our present and emerging markets – and to create a process that can be replicated in other areas.
BP: Such as?
JS: Colorado, for one, which enjoys a dynamic change of seasons and is attracting high end buyers from all over the country these days as the pandemic drives changing lifestyles and priorities. We’d like to be able to leverage the Sotheby’s International brand to build an unmatched referral pipeline.
Barbara Pronin is a contributing editor to RISMedia.