After a year that resulted in historic highlights, the real estate industry is still as competitive as ever. As many of the sector’s top companies look to outdo last year’s performance, the path toward achieving those goals rests on the shoulders of their agents, who are undoubtedly aiming to do the same.
While there is no silver bullet for improving your performance as an agent, an old saying states, “success leaves breadcrumbs.”
RISMedia spoke with several high-performing real estate professionals at some of the top brokerages listed in its 34th Annual Power Broker Survey to pick their brains on their strategies to maintain the solid momentum they built last year.
Leonard Steinberg, Compass: Touting 25 years in real estate, Steinberg wears many hats at the tech-focused brokerage that topped RISMedia’s 2021 Power Broker Rankings—based on sales volume. A veteran at the company, Steinberg tallied an impressive 2021 performance with more than $200 million in sales volume.
Tim Allen, Tim Allen Properties at Coldwell Banker Realty/Realogy: Allen has earned his fair share of recognition from Coldwell Banker and Realogy—now Anywhere Real Estate—as one of their top producing agents. Accounting for $465 million in residential sales last year, he was named Coldwell Banker’s No. 1 agent in the U.S. last year.
Elizabeth Riley, Luxe Property Group, brokered by eXp Realty: A 17-year veteran in real estate, Riley has leveraged her marketing savvy to serve her community and clients. Recording $34,039,604 in sales last year, she spends a great deal of time educating fellow eXp agents on topics that span the entire real estate industry.
Lauren Muss, Douglas Elliman: A native New Yorker, Muss has been in real estate since 1994, achieving more than $6.5 billion in sales. In 2021, she reeled in nearly $243 million in sales volume.
See these companies’ rankings in RISMedia’s Power Broker List.
Jordan Grice: How do you measure productivity and what are you doing to stay productive when it comes to sales, lead generation and networking?
Tim Allen: I’ve sold a couple thousand houses and if I was just selling houses I would’ve retired or gone out of business long ago. It’s just boring to me, sitting in front of someone and going out with a scripted line or coming in there with an agenda. What I really like to do is meet people. I want to get to know them. I want to know about their life, their family, and their goals. That’s what is most important to me. I love what I do, and I still get excited about it, I get excited about being with my team.
Elizabeth Riley: For me, I don’t focus on the numbers, and I don’t focus on the goals. I say that because if I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing day in and day out. If I’m treating my clients like they are my one and only client, if I’m showing up and delivering and exceeding expectations, then I’m helping them reach their goals which in return helps me reach my goals.
Last year was my best in all of my 17 years in the business, and I think it’s really because I went back to relationships and building a rapport with people. They know me, like me and trust me, and when I’m treating them really well and doing the best service I can for them they tell everyone they know.
JG: Competition for listings is as fierce today as it’s ever been. What’s your approach to locking down listings?
ER: I was in the business in 2008, and I moved from Atlanta to Austin, Texas and started up my real estate business again and people thought I was crazy. I think people have choices. You can either look at the negative and the challenges, or you can look at the opportunities. I looked at the opportunities in that situation and I look at the opportunity now. People are still selling, buying and moving. It’s not that the whole market is shut down. You just have to be a little more creative, and focus a little differently on how you generate business. For me, it’s relationships and consistency. I stay in contact with my clients or my sphere consistently—whether or not they’ve ever bought a home from me—for times like this. What’s happened is I’m top of mind consistently. I’m not just talking about just sold or just listed. I’m adding value in some way, and it’s on the way to the trash can that I’m making an impact. It’s having those relationships but it’s also about being consistent.
Leonard Steinberg: Let’s assume I have a lead and someone wants to sell or is thinking about selling. When I meet with them, I can’t just tell them “I want to list your home,” and “I will get the most money for it.” That’s not good enough anymore. Today, to be successful in a very competitive environment, you have to showcase everything that you are doing.
I’m showing them all the tools, tech, systems and the different avenues that we take to get the message out about their homes.
It’s always healthy to have consistency in your history of doing real estate. When you sit down with your clients they want to feel confident that you have the confidence in yourself and your abilities to produce and you have to show them in great detail everything that you will do.
JG: What do you do to create a client experience that leads to referrals and repeat business?
Lauren Muss: It’s back to that 24/7 service. We’re in the service business, so service is service. They are not looking for you to get back to them tomorrow, they want feedback. Even if you have nothing to say, say something. Make sure every week if there are no showings all week, still email them and reach out to keep them in the loop. It’s just constant communication is the most important thing for the client experience.
TA: My phone is on all the time because my cell number is on all our ads, and I engage that person and I find out a little bit about them, but then I drop knowledge on them. Most of my clients and team are smarter than me, but in this one little niche that I handle, I don’t care if you’re a billionaire or a mogul, I’m an expert in this. You drop these little tidbits of knowledge on them and they’re like ‘oh, Tim knows what he’s talking about.’ There’s so much that we do that’s nuanced, so I think getting this engagement, a rapport falls into a relationship.
LS: You have to first know who your clientele is. Then, as important, you have to know your personality and style of doing business. I’m not a broker that can show up to a showing in torn jeans and a t-shirt, but there are agents of whom that is very attractive to their audience, and it works for them. For my style of business, I dress up and I’m very friendly, but I’m professional. It’s not about trying to become a client’s best friend as much as it is to say that I’m providing you with professional services and here are all the things I will do, and I’m available to you anytime all the time. Then, showcase to them because talking about what you will do is one thing, but demonstrating it is what gets the referrals from the clients and their family and friends.
JG: We are certainly living in an era where technology and innovation are fixtures within the industry, so what tools and resources do you find most valuable to your business and why?
TA: I’d say social media. I remember I was behind in that, but social media is everything now. It’s a form of entertainment and communication and getting followers. These are things I’m learning from my team. We actually worked with an influencer down in L.A. at one of my homes. We wanted to get it rented, and we went to this influencer who shot it out to all those people and we rented it to an incredible athlete. That’s how we got that client. If we put an ad in the paper that client would’ve never seen it.
ER: Being a part of a company that is very tech-forward was foreign and new to me so I had to figure out how to right that, but technology and I were never really good friends. But we all have to evolve. I know some people talk about their CRMs and lead conversion insights, but for me, I really love Trello. It’s very visual and I’m a visual person that wants everything in front of me. I use Trello more than I use my CRM and then another app that I love is called Reach.
JG: What advice would you give to agents that are looking to follow in your footsteps and step up their game this year?
TA: It doesn’t happen overnight, and I think first and foremost, you have to have a plan. My plan is less scripted than others, but have a plan and stick to it. Surround yourself with great people, and prioritize character, skill set, work ethic, and the right attitude. Then put those people in positions to succeed. When you have that, get creative and take risks.
Be available, pick up your phone and know when you hang up your phone too. Those are the basics, you gotta stick with the basics.
LM: My advice is more of a list. This is not a part-time business. If you don’t respond in two hours someone else will. If you think not to send something because it’s not exactly what they asked for, they will find out on their own or from someone else. Know your facts and what you are talking about. Listen to what your client needs and wants. Listen to every sales meeting and market update. Know the stats and know what’s moving in the market and what’s not. You have to know your building. The more you know the more you can help someone. Lastly, learn to withstand the punches in the bad times because it’s not easy.
ER: Building a foundation is also critical for agents. Many times people just jump in and run with it, which can lead to being reactive for the rest of your career. Make sure you build that foundation and don’t be a secret agent and don’t compare yourself to others.
As an agent, you have to figure out who you are as a person and business and determine who you want to be. Too many times people want to be like someone else, but it comes across as very forced. If you’re genuine and authentic you’re going to attract the kind of business and people you are meant to work with, and I truly believe that comparison kills joy.
LS: Take this business seriously. When you take this business seriously you should really buy into it and become an expert not just in transacting but also in the market, the trends and news, your properties, real estate design, etc.
The day I started to dig in deep and really entrench myself into real estate and embrace it that’s when I began to love it. Everyone says to follow your passion. Well, you become extraordinarily passionate about something when you’re successful at it and I’m successful at real estate and, in fact, my success has fueled my passion rather than the reverse.