Tuesday afternoon, approximately 50 real estate agents attended a panel of some of the most successful, top-producing agents in the area. The five panelists shared their success stories and tactics to a room full of acquiring minds. The panel included decades of experience from Jenny Huang of Coldwell Banker, Dale Warfel of Keller Williams, Jerry Zang represented Bay One Real Estate Investment, Keith Walker of Intero and CSR’s very own, Kelly Hunt.
The seasoned veterans were asked a series of questions in which each thoughtfully answered to feed the curiosity of the growing crowd. The day concluded with open questioning from eager attendees. Discover what led to Kelly Hunt of CSR’s success in the past and present as well as what she plans to do to prolong an ever-changing market in the Bay Area.
Tell us a little bit about yourself for starters.
Hello Everyone, I’m Kelly Hunt with CSR Real Estate Services. I’m a licensed REALTOR®, a Certified Residential Specialist, an Accredited Buyer Representative, a Short Sale and Foreclosure Resource and a Senior Loan Consultant with over 35 years of experience in the real estate industry. My primary focus is maintaining the highest level of integrity and professionalism, while helping my clients achieve a very important and life changing goal.
What is your number one source of leads?
I’m sure everyone has a different method of getting more leads but really, it’s based off of reputation. First starting off with what you can do on a budget, mailers, flyers and whatever else you can do. Even if starting off with no budget, do what you’re capable of doing. It really only takes one spark to get things started.
After selling a home for one person that worked in the county, soon enough I had 30 county employees in my transaction history. It all stemmed from one excellent transaction which then “mushroomed” into mass referrals. It’s all about quality of service. That being said, over 95% of my business consists of referrals and returning customers year after year.
How much time do you typically spend on new lead generation?
I wouldn’t say I spend a ton on generating new leads. Since my database is healthy and I’ve maintained it over the years, my database essentially works for me in sending over referrals. I don’t go around door knocking or cold calling. I don’t necessarily geographically farm in an area either. While those are definitely workable tools to lead generating, everything works differently for each agent. Whatever works best for you, or what you’re comfortable with is what’s best.
Again, I can’t stress enough how your CRM (Client Relationship Management) or database is a major key to success! Keeping everyone organized even from years ago will have your database work for you in the end. Lastly, reputation is your lead generation! Client and community reputation is everything. Say an agent knows you against multiple offers. They know you’re ethical, professional, on top of your game, polite and are the whole package – they’ll likely pick you for reputation over another agent. It’s that simple.
Say you have some free time, what are you up to?
I usually exercise in the morning. Work/life balance is so important for a healthy self. At CSR, our company culture reflects that as well.
Do you have a team and at what point did it make sense to?
I hired assistant early on after I started producing. I do receive support amongst the company I work for too with the support staff, which is great. You do have to think of yourself as your own company within a company. The minimum help I’ve ever had was a part-time assistant. He helps me so much with database management in making it a live organism. My contacts are receiving monthly newsletters, event invitations, direct mail and more – all from my database. It really is a game of cost comparison. An assistant is less expensive than what a realtor’s time is worth in being able to accomplish high-level work for clients – oppose to time-consuming, yet essential work like putting out open house signs for an hour. The only way to succeed in this business is to build your weaknesses up and get help where you need it. In the end, this saves time and money while making your business run more efficiently.
For newer agents in the room, what’s your advice to getting a deal as soon as possible?
Again, having a CRM and getting that started is the most important. Also, getting out there and being face to face with people, building authentic relationships is key. Building trust is so important in a world of uncertainty. Something else that is very important to realize is that the more knowledge you have, the better. Don’t stress about one agent having more experience over the other – the experience will come. You will service clients above and beyond with having more knowledge to use as tools. Focusing on your quality of service and initial interactions is extremely important.
Who do you talk to if your new to the industry?
Everyone you know! Now you have a place to put them (in your database) and make yourself well known, well thought of and top of mind with consistent marketing. Be in their presence at all times: online, social media, website, direct mailers, event invites and more. We now live in a world where you can touch clients at any time for anything. People DO forget that you’re a realtor, believe it or not. Continue to market yourself and remind friends, family and past clients that you’re in the real estate business. From there, you can continue to add to it. Before you know it, years will have passed by and your database will be filled by the hundreds or thousands. Cultivate leads in the future that are high-quality referrals. For example, I had a call from a client which I sold a home to 10 years ago saying, “We get your routine emails, news letters, event invites and all. You were always there and have stayed in touch, so we are reaching out to find a new home after all these years”. Build your database and make it fully YOURS. When in doubt, focus is key. Use your heart to service your client. That’s the best method.
Who would you recommend as a coach?
There’s lots of sources out there. Our office implements Buffini & Company and Tom Ferry. It really helps that we have a Mentorship Program too at CSR. New agents are paired with a seasoned veteran in the industry during the first couple transactions to get things started and ensure everything is done correctly to make for a smooth transaction process. This also provides someone to help you be accountable. It’s great to have someone as a guide or mentor outside of friends and family. They have no other relationship with you than to make sure you’re successful.
What’s your ratio of buyers v. sellers?
This can fluxuate, depending on the market, but in recent years I’ve had more sellers than buyers. Listings generate more business – that’s for sure. You should receive about two referrals from a listing if you do a great job. If you list, you last; is what we say. This also gives you more of a bit more of a controlled schedule. You never know what will come as a result from a buyer or seller. Honest, excellent work makes for a prosperous business.
When do you think the market will turn around?
We will have corrections, as we always do. But I really don’t see it happening any time soon. There are no indicators right now with the technology job market booming. We have Facebook, Google, Apple and more technology giants continuing to move to the central bay area, Amazon, eBay…the list goes on. Tax rates and loan rates have begun to adjust. It’ll be interesting to see in the future when or how sever the correction turns to be, but I think it won’t be for quite some time. The environment is way different than it was in 2007. If you’re worried as an agent, you shouldn’t be. You have to think about it like this: We are our own global economy in Silicon Valley. We always recover faster than the rest of the nation after a recession hits. Not only that, but as realtors, we will be okay and come out faster than normal.
Top 3 ways to leverage current listing for next listing opportunities:
Host open houses, engage people, build up contacts and as I’ve mentioned: one listing turns into 2 more listings. Buyer and seller packets you make are huge in that it explains how transactions work. Give clients something of value. Social media is huge and honestly very inexpensive to market on. Have something of value with your marketing info on it to leave behind with clients for them to refer to. Boost posts and see the number of hits you get. Ultra micro-segment your database by industry, likes, preferences, region and more. Be in contact with the open house neighborhood. Coming soon marketing is huge. Let your database know you’re doing business, of course. Be sure to let neighbors nearby know before the sign goes up. This gives you a chance to learn more about the neighborhood and the character it possesses.
What percent of income do you put into marketing?
I don’t put a specific amount of time or money into advertising. Of course, I spend money on postcards, buyer packets, Facebook boosted posts and what not. Spending money to benefit a client generates more valued leads. You can spend thousands of dollars a month on Redfin, Zillow or Yelp to only receive a small percentage of leads that you have no relationship with – this makes it easier for them to fall off too.
What is your secret to longevity and prosperity to real estate?
Again, reputation to me is everything in prolonging a healthy and sustainable business. If you’re doing things the way you should be doing them (ethically), that’s the way to do it. Be proud and passionate about what you’re doing and be happy to do it. Educating yourself is key. Things are constantly changing in every industry. Know your stuff! You can’t sustain doing anything unethical or wrong – it really just leads to a downward spiral. Have a clean slate each night and be proud of what you’re doing as a real estate agent in making dreams come true for home owners. That really is the key to success, longevity and prosperity in real estate.
Learn more about Kelly Hunt.