It’s a question I get asked quite often, “What have I done to become a leading realtor in the Phoenix real estate market?”
The short answer is similar to what you would hear from any top agent; find your “why” and let that drive you. Well, that’s nice and all, but your “why” is not going to make you money.
You need to be different, you need to stand out, and you need to brand yourself.
Most are surprised to learn I didn’t become a real estate agent to make money; I did it to be able to buy my family a home using the commission as a downpayment.
In 2013, after a series of tragic events in our lives, I was listening to That Real Estate Show when I heard about a program that would enable a person to purchase a home after a bankruptcy or short sale (I had both) without having to fall in the standard timeframe guidelines before they could buy again. If the person had extreme extenuating circumstances, they could qualify. Sounds simple enough but the challenge I had was finding an agent willing to help me. Not one agent I called was willing to show me homes and go through the process.
Each agent I spoke with said, “It’s never been done (a buyer being able to hurdle the strict guidelines and qualify for extenuating circumstances) and when it came to closing you would never be able to get the acceptance for the loan.” So I began the loan process with the lender on the radio who spoke about the program, took the last of my tax refund and enrolled in real estate school. I knew I could get it done and I was not going to stop until I became a homeowner once again.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I had plenty of experience with my own personal transactions over the last several years. I was using licensed friends to do the transactions, but I was still the one doing all the work.
In a period of seven years, I had:
- Bought and sold five houses
- Negotiated my own short sale with the bank getting them to write a forgiveness letter erasing late payments from my credit
- Due to circumstances beyond my control, rented six homes before becoming a homeowner again
I had some knowledge and the chops for negotiating, and more importantly, I needed to provide my family with a more permanent solution. I was not going to stop until I achieved that.
Having my Arizona real estate license in my hot little hands, I did what most agents do fresh out of school. I joined a big name brokerage because they had all the tools and that’s where I was going to succeed.
More on that in a moment, let’s get to the meat and potatoes. I easily identified a home that needed work and that the seller had to move. I negotiated a great deal and achieved the impossible. I became a homeowner only 18 months after a bankruptcy and three years after a short sale and I did it with less than $1000 out of my pocket. I was good at this and I liked it! In my first eight months, I sold just over $2,000,000 in sales and rentals while achieving “Rookie of the Year” for that brokerage office.
I fought for my clients, I fought for my listings and I found that no one out there was giving back to their clients to help them reach the American Dream. I filled a need by giving back 25% of my commission towards closing costs for first responders, military, teachers and emergency care workers. These are the groups that were hurt the worst during the real estate downfall and these were the ones that desperately needed an agent with compassion. I worked harder than I ever have in my life, I became the concierge, communicating with lenders, movers, utilities, making this experience the best they ever had and making sure they understood the process. The joy and look upon a family’s face as they pulled up to their new home knowing they could not have done it without me; amazing! I filled a need and found my niche.
Along the way, I was hit on many sides by agents who said that the only reason I had clients was because I was “cutting” my commission, even broker owners demanding that I stop my giving back program because I wasn’t making enough money doing that.
Brokerages that supported my cause were definitely out there yet, I felt small and expendable. I was blind, but still just a number.
My business is not about money making abundantly, it’s about giving back and helping families find a home that belongs to them. I found that the big names didn’t really care beyond my numbers and that the broker was really what I needed to support my goals. In my unique way of branding, I needed a brokerage that would make me feel like an asset….not a number. A brokerage that had my back no matter what and supported my every quirky idea to give back.
Tru Realty fit the bill and for the first time, supports me in every endeavor. I am proud to say, in my four and half years as an agent, I have given back over $50,000 of my own commission towards closing costs for my clients and seen dozens of families move into their well-deserved new homes. I couldn’t do that without the support of my broker, the referrals of my friends, clients, and family, and the drive to succeed so my family can “live”.
This business is not a get rich quick or easy money way of life, I work 60 to 70 hours a week taking the extra steps and time to help my clients. Real estate is not for the faint of heart, buying a home is one of the most pivotal moments in one’s life and we must FIGHT for clients with passion. If you are not screaming, laughing, crying, jumping for joy, throwing something and high-fiving your escrow agent then you’re not doing your job.
I do not back down, I do not give up; I get the job done.