- California’s current Covid-19 restrictions [2:51]
- Winning listings via Zoom [4:15]
- Advice on giving an online listing presentation [1:45]
- The best way to present a CMA to sellers [10:25]
- David’s approach to lead gen and follow-up [12:55]
- David’s opinion on virtual events [15:55]
- A niche-based approach to conversion [17:50]
- Why David doesn’t pressure potential home buyers [20:54]
- David’s sales stats for 2020 [22:10]
- David’s current team and system for training new agents [24:23]
- A BIG mistake new agents make [25:55]
- Plus, so much more.
- Grow Your Real Estate Profits with Our Agent Success Toolbox
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- BiggerPockets Podcast
Aaron Amuchastegui: Real Estate Rockstars. This is Aaron Amuchastegui and I am back. I don’t know if this is going to be like, we’re almost to episode 1000. We’ve done at least 1000 episodes when you combine your State of the Markets with your real ones, the guy that I get to talk to today is one of my favorite guests, one of your guys’ favorite, most successful Bay Area real estate agents. Mr. David Greene gets to come back today. David, thanks for joining me.
David: Thank you very much, Aaron, looking forward to it. We always have a really good time with these.
Aaron: We always have so much fun. The last one went so long. We had to break it into two. We’ll see how we do today. It’s funny, you’ve been interviewed just as a regular guest. You were a long-time listener. You’ve done a few State of the Markets with me where we just talk about the news. Today, I think we’re going to classify this as a regular episode, but we’re going to do a little bit of both, because you’ve got some big updates for 2020, you’ve got a new book coming out that we want to talk about. Plus, there’s probably some real estate news that we should just see everything’s going.
You and I got to see each other just a few weeks ago and we were out in Northern California and the GoBundance guys got together at my house out there and you drove up from the Bay and we had a fun day of talking and it seemed like it was the first time in a long time that people had gone outside and got to have fun. Now, is California back on lockdown or is everything normal now?
David: California is doing a thing where as the cases increased, they then shut things down and as cases go down and they then open it back up. Right now at the time of this recording, we’re shut back down but by the time this comes out, we could be open again because cases could have dropped.
Aaron: Is real estate still an essential service? Do they still say, “Hey you–“, and when that happens, what are you allowed to do?
David: It is an essential service with a lot of extra regulations added. We have a lot more forms we have to fill out. We have a lot more things that we’re prohibited from doing. We can’t hold open houses. We can only show a property to two people at a time and there has to be a special form.
We call it a PEAD. I believe it’s Property Entry Advisory and Declaration, or something that, that we fill out that says, “I promise I’ll wear a mask. I’ll wear gloves. I won’t touch something. We’re not showing symptoms of being sick.” The offices are open, but we all have to be six-feet apart from each other. You can’t have clients in the office right now. You have to wear a mask when you’re in there. We can get it done, but it’s definitely a lot more difficult to do so than it is during normal times.
Aaron: I have my house listed out there and the agent had called me about a week-and-a-half ago or two weeks ago and she said, “Hey, I have to cancel the open house from this weekend.” She was switching to a virtual open house instead, but it was like a night and day thing. It was like two days ahead of time it was scheduled, and all of a sudden it was no open houses. You’ve got to sign something, “I’ll wear gloves if I come in your house and I promise I won’t cough on the counter.”
David: I’ll tell you what I love about it that I’ll just admit is now that you’re not allowed to go to people’s homes for a listing presentation anymore, because it’s not considered essential, I’m taking tons of listings without going to look at houses and I’m having the exact same success as before that, which totally validates the feeling I always had that going to someone’s house is something you do for the sellers. It’s not something that has to be done to actually sell the property. I need to know the condition of it. I need to know the comparables and I need to look at the numbers, but I think I’ve got 19 listings that were in the works right now, getting ready to put on the market, and several, probably five or six in contract, and I don’t think I’ve gone to any of them, actually. I’ve done it all on Zoom.
It’s awesome when this kind of thing happens because it lets the agents who adapt faster get ahead, and the people who have always done the same thing all the time, regardless of if it made sense or not, you kind of get exposed.
Aaron: I did an online notary to sell a house where I got to stay in my house, I got on Zoom– It was a different version of that. I got to sign all of my docs using DocuSign. I took a picture of my ID and it closed and recorded. I was like, “Man, thank you COVID for that,” because I’ve been dying to be able to do that from anywhere.
David: They just use Zoom.
Aaron: There’s a couple of different brands that do it, but it is a Zoom-type thing. You click to login and you’re like a Zoom screen on the left side, but then the right side is the document. She’ll walk you through it as you’re signing. If you have any questions, she’s doing the same job as a normal notary and as you sign, she goes, “Good. Good, good. Okay.” Then, when she’s done with it, there’s some electronic stamping and if we’re out in Texas, we electronically record anyway, so you can sign a grant deed and they can email it to the counties for recording. Now, they’re even just taking those electronic ones, email it to the County. No one’s going to the County. It’s like as soon as I sign it, it gets recorded and sent in, really.
David: I remember when the case law was passed, a judge looked at it and said, “Yes, it meets all the requirements.” I thought, “That’s so cool. I wish this stuff would happen more frequently.”
Aaron: COVID is pushing some of that. We’ll wait to see what happens. Let’s talk about, right now you’re doing Zoom interviews with clients. They’re saying, “Hey, David, I think we want you to list our house. Let’s have this meeting. Now you’re doing your listing presentation over Zoom. What are your tips and tricks with that? Is there anything that you’re doing different? If somebody is doing their first Zoom listing presentation, what advice would you give them?
David: First thing you have to understand is that giving a presentation in-person is easier and more effective not because it actually makes a difference in the information being provided, but because it creates an emotional sense of peace with the seller, which is how most people make decisions. In fact, I would say everybody makes decisions based on how they feel. When you’re doing a Zoom meeting, you have to remember your goal is to be good enough to replicate that emotional sense of comfort that the person listening to you gets, where they feel comfortable signing the listing agreement and say, “Yes, you can sell my house.”
The way we’ve always done that was in-person because you’ve greased the wheels, so to speak, it makes it easier, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The first piece of advice I’d say is get good, get your skills up. When you’re giving your listing presentation, we have a literal PowerPoint or a slide deck that we walk people through that’s designed to create an emotional experience. I start off building credibility with myself in the listing presentation. I go on to talk about this is what actually sells houses versus everything that you heard. This is what people did 30 years ago, this is what people do today. I use facts from the National Association of Realtors to establish credibility on what I’m saying.
Then, I blow them away with all of the marketing that we do and how we get pictures taken and ways we advertise your house and I have stats to support why that works. I walk them through what the experience will be and all the ways that I’m going to make them money. At the end, I say, here’s what comes next. We go over a CMA that I’ve put together. If you do all of that in the right order, it’s like walking them through this emotional experience where they were nervous and you made them feel good and then they got excited and then they were eager to move forward. Then, you show them the numbers of how this process should look. Now, they trust you and they’re like, “Yes, what do we got to do here? How do we sign?”
I haven’t dropped one yet out of every listing presentation I’ve done. I really think it’s because I just approached it like all I have to do is to get you to feel comfortable and good about what we’re doing. I don’t have to be in front of you to accomplish that.
Aaron: We should do a whole class on that. We have a certified listing class in Rebus that tells people how to get that listing, but it seems now we need one for how to get that listing via Zoom, because it sounds like there’s a better chance to really do the visuals. Showing the charts, showing the stats, getting them to buy in. It sounds like, if I dissected that right, you’re not actually telling them how much you’re going to list their house for until the very end. At the beginning you’re like, “I’m David, it’s an awesome time to sell. Here’s everything that we do. We’re super awesome. By the way, here’s the price.”
It’s almost a really high-end sales thing. I’ll email somebody about a mastermind or something and they’re like, “We can’t tell you how much this is going to cost. We have to do the call first.” Then, they do the call and they get you super excited and then at the end, they’re like, “I love it too,” and they go, “It’s probably going to be a lot less than you were thinking. This is $30,000, right?” They go, “No, that’s way more than I was thinking,” but they get you so excited with that.
David: I think that’s the only way to do it, to be frank, Aaron. When someone says, “What’s my house worth?,” and you throw a number out at them, hardly anyone takes that number and says, “Maybe I can change my mind about this,” or, “That’s negotiable.” You throw out a price of 675. That’s what they think you said, they go find another agent who says, I’ll sell it for 700. They go with the other agent. When somebody says, “Hey, what do you think my house is worth?” I turn that into a phone call or a Zoom call to– Maybe ‘turn the tables’ might not be the right phrase, but what I’m trying to do is take control of that conversation. I’m asking questions like, “Why do you want to sell? What’s motivating you? What are the fears you have?” I start off with all that. I work that into a presentation that makes them think, “Whoa, this person is really good. They know way more than me.”
In essence, there’s a book I really love called Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff, where he describes this concept of frame control. What I’m doing is taking that frame in that conversation, establishing myself as the expert, and by the time I’m done, before I even give them my number, I run over the CMA that I put together. Now, you’re not even arguing with me. You’d be arguing with math and logic. No one’s going to do that, and it makes it so much easier to get the clients to go along. I just got done– Funny we’re saying this, I was just training two agents on my team about this very thing. It’s always tempting, because it’s faster, to throw out a number. You just make way more work for yourself when you do it that way.
Aaron: Then, it’s like you’re always catching up.
Aaron: Let’s back up a little bit. What’s your top of performer right now? How are you getting the lead? Are some people, are they going to a website saying, “What’s my house worth?” Then, you’re saying, “Let’s do a call?” How are people finding you?
David: I am planting seeds constantly every single day to get people to feel comfortable reaching out to me to say, “David, I want to buy a house, or I want to sell a house.” That’s really all that we’re doing. There’s a million ways to do it. I have a mortgage company now, so we do loans as well, and we run our lending meeting. One of the guys was talking about how he went to go buy a car and he’s like, “Yes, the guy selling me the car, he seems really interested in what I do.” I said, “Okay, get off this call, go call that person, and ask them what their interest rate is, and if it’s over 4%, he needs to refinance.”
He literally did that and now, the money from that refinance is going to pay for his car. He’s getting a free car, just because he planted seeds with the right people. Every agent wants to avoid it, but it really can just be that simple. I’m not using a special program, I’m not buying online leads. I am putting together events, I’m talking to people, I’m making friends with people.
I work really hard, if you’re my friend, to set myself apart from the other agents that you know. I will do that. I assume everyone knows eight or nine agents and I want to be the one you think is the best. I’ll put more effort into people that I already know, like when we go hang out at your house, Aaron, and I’m meeting people. If you’re not a real estate agent and you live near me, I’m put more time into those conversations so that that person feels better about calling me when it comes time to sell their house. Then, when they call, I have a very, very solid a follow-up system.
Like, we don’t drop leads very often. We call it lead bleed in the book. That’s a really big problem agents have when they get busy. Once you do reach out and say, “Hey, we’re kind of thinking about buying. What do you think the market is like?” I’ve got a really, really good conversion ratio because I’m so systemized with, like, boom. Grab that person, put him in this spreadsheet, set up this call, this is the conversation we’re going to have.
I think a lot of agents probably don’t, from what I’ve seen. They don’t understand the value of being assertive when somebody asks you about the market. They say, “What do you think? I’m kind of thinking about buying.” That’s showtime. That’s where you step in there you earn the right to get a sell by. If you just have a casual conversation with a casual person, you’re usually going to get at a casual result.
Aaron: Yes, I love that. You’re like that showtime. You are a real estate agent. You’re a real estate professional. If somebody says like, “Hey, can I get a professional opinion?” That’s like when you go into the doctor’s office and somebody’s asking the doctor like, “Hey, what is this lump from? What do you think?” He’s not going to screw around, “I could probably tell you. I know a little bit about that stuff,” right?
Aaron: When you go to the doctor’s office, it’s showtime. The real estate office could be anywhere. It could be sitting around a table at a barbecue. It could be in line anywhere else. It could be when you’re buying a car. You’re right. Somebody asks for advice, it’s showtime. Be the agent, step up and treat them like a doctor would their patient, this is your operation room, as you jump into it. I love that analogy. You were doing some events. I remember going to one of your events in Roseville, and it was like an investor meet-up type thing. You and one of your agents, Kyle, you did this presentation, and said, “Hey, here’s what’s going on in the market. Here’s some great places to buy in the city of Sacramento. Here’s why. Here’s why we believe in them long-term.”
It was like it was marketed as a, “We’re going to tell you how to become an investor if you want to be investor. If you want more info, we can help you find those deals or not,” but you’re like giving a bunch of info. Have you found a way? Do you do that virtually now? Are you doing those in person? Are you still doing any events like that all?
David: We’re not doing any events like that, and I don’t do them virtually, frankly because it’s very difficult to build a relationship when you’re doing it virtually.
Aaron: with a big group. Like, you can build it with an individual but if you got 50 people coming to your show, you’re not going to be able shake their hand afterward.
David: That’s exactly right. They just think that they’re here to gather information from me. I use that information as the bait to pull you in, so I can get to know you. I can figure out, “Are we going to build a relationship?” What we do during the downtime is we improve and we foster the relationships with the people we met during the uptime. I added a ton of people in my database for all those events. Now, we’re reaching out, we’re talking those people.
We’re commenting on their Instagram and their Facebook. We’re basically just staying top of mind, and building relationship with people we already met. When we feel the time is right, asking for referrals. It’s a really boring grassroots way of doing it, but I wouldn’t do it any other way, because the leads that are coming to me, “Hey, David, my mom wants to sell our house, my neighbor wants to sell her house.” They’re not one of those ‘I’m going to compete with four other agents on this listing’, like you get when you chase after the same leads every other realtor is.
For the most part, if I do a good job with that presentation and making them feel good, that’s now my client, and that’s it. My conversion ratio is very high. I feel like I say this every time I go on a podcast, and the agents still ask the questions of like, “But what’s the secret well where I can go find these leads, these people that are ready to go?” I just say, “We don’t do that.” We continually stay top of mind of the people we already know. When one of them raises their hand, and says, “Hey, I have a real estate need,” we are very aggressive.
You’ve got to be like a cheetah going after that gazelle. Like, you’re going to starve if you don’t get that thing. You jump on it and you’ve got a system in place. I’ll give an example of that. That meet-up that you went to, Kyle had enough people that approached him about house-hacking in Sacramento that he said, “What should I do?” I said, “You need to make a PowerPoint specifically about the upside to Sacramento, the good parts of the market, and then the parts that aren’t as good so that you could contrast it with maybe the Bay Area people, and people can make a decision on, “Should I go to Sacramento or should I go to the Bay Area?” “
You’ve now established yourself as the expert for Sacramento, and a house-hacking expert. He put those people in a contract all the time, but now, that’s part of his system. He’s got this PowerPoint. When someone says, “Hey, I think I want to buy in Sacramento, and I also want to rent out part of the house.” He has a specific presentation he gives them that details how to do it, and then they all sign up to work with him.
Aaron: That’s become one of his niches. One of the things you talked about doing was, in your leads, you’re actually finding them on social media and interacting with them on social media. You said, first goal, stay top of mind, and then as soon as someone raises their hand, you jump on it. Again, like you said it’s showtime.
No matter where you are, somebody raises their hand and says, “Hey, I’d like to know about real estate,” that’s your surgery center. You raise your hand and it’s showtime. Going in and interacting with those people. It could even be a cold lead but now interacting with them on social media, liking their stuff, replying, asking them how everything’s doing. I saw a guy on social media say like, “Hey, I’ll send a letter from Santa to your kids. If you want one, just give me this number, your address and your kids’ names and what they want, and I’ll send a customized letter from Santa.” I thought that was just brilliant as a real estate agent, reaching out because there’s obviously, yes, that’s a cool need. Now, he’s top of mind. The people that are taking him up on it are going to think he’s a super cool guy, and now there’s new people in his path where then he feels safely in a month or two to say like, “Hey, are you interested in selling?” I’ve got phone numbers. I’ve got kids names. I’ve got what their kids want for Christmas. What a great way to enhance that relationship with people. I think you said you put their name in a spreadsheet, right? They’re in the spreadsheet. Do you have other systems use to track the lead to make sure if there’s somewhat cold, I’m going to follow-up with them in two weeks or three weeks?
David: Yes, those are through the CRM that we use. It’s called Brivity. An auto plan is basically a series of reminders that can be assigned to different team members. Once you decided you weren’t going to buy right now, we put you into that nurture system where different agents get reminders to reach out and check in on people. Really, the approach we take is we’re never pressuring you to buy a house ever. If you don’t want to buy it, doesn’t make any sense to try to pressure somebody to, but in every conversation, we are assuming if I do a good job here, you will be the one to send me your referrals. I don’t really ever talk to anyone as if they are the lead until they say, “I want to buy or sell a house,” but I do talk to them as if, “I’m reminding you to, when somebody that you come across says they’re thinking about buying, that you think about me and connect us.”
Aaron: That’s a great way to be salesy without being too salesy, getting to do that outreach and go, “Hey, I want to stay top of mind. If any of your friends are thinking about moving–” One of the guests I had on last week reminded everybody, too. She said, reach out to the last 100 people you texted and remind them, because even if they live in Washington D.C. or Florida, across the world from you, they might know somebody moving to your city, that just posted on their own social media, “Hey, do you guys know anyone in the Bay Area that’s an agent?” They go, “Yes. I do know that guy out there.”
We’ll reverse our order a little bit. Let’s go down to your stats for the year. I’ve had you on a couple of times during the year, I’d like to– now we’re almost at the end of 2020. How many closings have you had? What’s your average sales price? What’s your volume at right now?
David: All right. My total transactions are, closings are at 129. My total sales volume is nearly 82 million. I’m 1% underneath the goal of closing 90 million for the year. We have a spreadsheet that tracks all of our closings and all the agents who close what, because we have a weekly team meeting where we go over that. What we do is there’s a formula where I put in, “Hey, we want to sell X amount of houses.” Really, to start the year my goal was 50 million.
Then, as we track the closings it adds a cumulative total and tells you, you are this far ahead, or this far behind of hitting your goal percentage-wise. Once I realized we were way ahead of 50 million, we bumped it up to 75 million. Now, we pass that and we put it at 90 million, and I can see that I’m 1% behind. We’ll probably have a house closed tomorrow or so, it’ll be right on track. I’m guessing it looks like we’re on pace to close 90 million for the year.
Aaron: The beginning of the year before the world went crazy, you said, “We’re going to do 50 million in volume.” Now you’re probably going to hit 90. Now are those team closings?
David: Those are, yes– okay, so they’re team closings, but the majority of them were done from two of us. Kyle and I are the ones that bring in the lion’s share of the actual deals that close. Our structure’s a little different where I have agents on my team that are good agents and they do bring in some of their own deals, but the majority of their work are working with my clients. They show houses to my buyers and then I have two assistants that help me do all the work for the listings, which are all done in my name.
If you looked at the total transactions out of that 129, probably about 100 of them were me. Maybe 90 or so, 90 to 100, but I didn’t do the work on those, or I didn’t do all the work. A lot of that was agents on my team who are learning the business through working through my sphere and my leads and helping me make money while they’re doing it and then as they gain an experience, newer people will come in and work the clients that I’ve brought in and those agents that now have confidence and experience and knowledge what to do will slowly shift into working their sphere harder and bringing in more deals.
Aaron: Then, they’ll do their own. I think the last time we talked about– you were just starting your mortgage broker office. You were even looking at hiring in that realm for people and then you were also trying to hire people for your office. How many people did you have? What was your staff like in March, and then how many people do you have working with you now?
David: That’s a good question. I have one, two, three, four. I have five agents total that are licensed and then two of those are administrators that are also agents. There’s basically three of us and that was in March, and then I’ve added another four that are like brand new babies. What I’ve done now is I’ve taken my three that are pretty knowledgeable and I’ve supported them with the new agents that came in. Let’s say you call that a junior agent.
I pair them, or a couple of them with a senior agent who now helps train that person and in response or in exchange for that, the new person goes and looks houses up on the MLS for them, shows them houses, talks to listing agents, fills out their paperwork, helps them communicate with all the leads that they’re working and it benefits both sides. That’s one of the reasons I think we had a really good year, is I finally got that formula right.
Aaron: That’s a really cool formula to be able to grow that and see that growth and also have the whole team train each other up. Maybe it’s like this in most States, but in California, no one’s allowed to help you on the deal unless they’re licensed, right? If you have a transaction coordinator, they have to be a licensed agent. If they’re going to talk to a buyer or buyer’s agent, and California’s pretty strict about it. When you’re talking about babies coming in, that’s kind of the requirement even to be an admin. Even if somebody says, I don’t want to get commissions. I just want to work in your real estate office. You’re like, “Okay, first you’ve got to get your license.”
David: For the most part yes. What I did this year was I had people studying to get licensed that I would hire and pay hourly to come in and do some of the work that didn’t involve them talking to clients that they were allowed to do to support the licensed people.Then, when they get licensed, they’ve got three, four, five, six months of experience working, so that they weren’t starting from scratch. That’s another mistake I see a lot of people make is they wait until they’re completely licensed to do anything. It’s like saying, the game is on Friday. I’m not going to do anything to get ready for it until the game day. You need to be preparing long before that happens.
When I looked around, what I saw in real estate was a huge need for mentors. There’s not mentors, there’s a few at the top that are crushing it, that are very busy, and then there’s a lot of people at the bottom that are basically baby birds asking for a worm and hoping someone brings it to them and it’s really tough. So, I’m working on putting a system together where the experienced people are training the new people who really need the training, but the new people are actually doing a lot of the work. They’re making the flyers and gathering the information and putting stuff into databases and running calendars, all the nitty-gritty stuff that nobody really wants to learn that you have to. That’s how they’re learning the business, by supporting somebody else, rather than having one broker in an office full of 90 people and all 90 are going to that broker with the same questions.