Listen to today’s show and learn:
- Why so many people are buying homes right now [2:51]
- Jonathan’s brief bio [4:33]
- Jonathan’s first year in real estate [9:46]
- Working as an REO real estate assistant [13:54]
- Joining Sotheby’s International Realty [16:30]
- Dialing with purpose [23:30]
- What drives luxury listings [26:04]
- How to succeed with neighborhood farms [27:16]
- Jonathan’s real estate team [28:42]
- Jonathan’s advice to new agents [30:09]
- Jonathan’s donation to the Agent Success Toolbox [31:38]
- The secrets to success with direct mail [33:53]
- The pros of proactivity [39:25]
- How to break through your goals.
- Plus so much more.
An entrepreneur at heart, Jonathan considers it his greatest achievement to deliver exemplary service and keen expertise as he helps his customers achieve their Real Estate goals.
Motivated by a strong work ethic and a true passion for the Real Estate business, he has developed his extensive knowledge of the Northwest Florida Real Estate market since 2010. He puts that knowledge to work for his customers, securing the best deal for his buyers and highest sale price for customers selling their luxury properties.
Jonathan graduated from Florida State University at 19 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Finance. He devotes the same uncompromising dedication and work ethic to his customers in every transaction.
Related Links and Resources:
- Grow Your Real Estate Profits with Our Agent Success Toolbox
- Enroll in Pat Hiban’s 6 Weeks to 7 Figures Course
- The 5-Hour Schoolweek by Aaron and Kaleena Amuchastegui
- Jonathan’s Website
- Jonathan’s Facebook Page
- Jonathan’s Instagram
- Jonathan’s Twitter
- Download Jonathan’s Direct Mail Tips from the Agent Success Toolbox
Thanks for Rocking Out
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Aaron Amuchastegui: Real Estate Rockstars, this is Aaron Amuchastegui. Hey, I just finished interviewing Jonathan who you’re about to hear, but there was a couple of nuggets I just wanted to add to this, make sure that you guys listen. This guy started going to college when he was 14 years old and he became an agent at 18, he’s been an agent for 10 years. He did a hundred transactions last year, 134 million. He’s already at 110 million this year.
He gets to talk about being someone’s assistant on a team for years before he was able to build and grow his own team. He was the youngest person ever to get on the Wall Street REAL Trends top 250 based on sales volume. That was when he was 24 years old. It was from stuff that he did when he was 23. He was a go-getter, but also has had to change his real estate business many many times in the last 10 years. He’s going to talk to us a lot about that
Dial-up, be ready to listen. You guys are going to have a good time.
Real Estate Rockstars, I am back. I’m Aaron Amuchastegui and today, I get to interview Jonathan Spears. I’m really excited about what we’re going to talk about today. I got to read some of the pre-interview stuff that he did with Curtis and some of the show notes. Jonathan has been a go-getter from a young age. He got his license when he was 18. He’s been a licensed agent for 10 years out in Florida doing 100 transactions a year. A lot of cool stuff there, but also, we’re going to get into how he got started that so young, being so successful so quick. A lot of tips today for new agents, a lot of tips about how to persevere through everything. Jonathan, how are you?
Jonathan Spears: I’m great. Thank you so much for having me here. I’m just glad to be here.
Aaron: You’re out in Florida right now. I’m in Texas and right now, the world is like, oh my gosh, coronavirus is back. We’re going to lock us back up. What’s the feeling like in Florida when it comes to weather or people outside, are people worried? What’s the story on the street?
Jonathan: Well, it’s typical Florida. We got afternoon thunderstorms and really hot weather. Weatherwise, we’re great. People are active, they’re outdoors. I’m in a spot where it’s really easy to try to distance yourself socially because we’ve got miles and miles and miles of gorgeous beach to do that. Here, we’ve obviously got a lot of influx with tourism. Summer’s our peak season. We’ve got basically a drive to market where we’re getting influx from Texas and all the Southeastern states. I feel like everybody is in Florida right now. It’s been interesting. We’ve been wearing our masks and trying to be as cautious as possible, especially when showing property. The fight here is strong and we’re thankful for that. It’s keeping our economy going.
Aaron: The economy is an important thing. We’ve heard from agents all over the place that it’s been really– Every agent I’ve interviewed in the past month or two has said it’s a super hot market, lots of transactions happening that even though we’re doing them a little different, that sometimes it’s like virtual showings and things. It’s just a super hot market. Do you agree with that? Is it a hot market?
Jonathan: Yes, very. Here’s the thing. People have had time to reflect on their life and what experience they want for their family. Right now, they’re taking action on the time that they’ve had to sit and think what lifestyle they want. We’re thankful to be positioned in an area that people love to enjoy.
Aaron: It’s like when I was talking to Jeff Cohn last week, he said it’s the hottest market he’s ever seen in his career, period. It depends on the state, and it depends on the place but we have heard a lot of that. Jonathan, take us back to how did you get into real estate? You can take that story all the way back to– I saw a lot of things about how much stuff you’ve accomplished in your life at such a young age. Bring us along for that.
Jonathan: Absolutely. I had a unique story getting into real estate. I started college at a very early age and I was very entrepreneurial. 14 years old, my mom was dropping me off to take college courses. I remember kids in class calling me Doogie Howser. I had no idea who Doogie Howser was at the time. Typical millennial, get on my Palm Pilot at the time, before the iPhone, and looked up on YouTube who’s Doogie Howser. That name stuck with me throughout college and also early into my career.
Being able to get a jumpstart early on education was great because I was in flux, trying to figure out what is it that I want to do? Even more interestingly, it was during the great recession. I remember sitting in finance class and watching the Lehman Brothers collapse. It was like, where am I going in business? Because that was my passion and real estate was a very natural progression for me. It was really something that I saw as an opportunity to problem-solve for others. I remember spending my 18th birthday which was in January of 2010, studying for the exam and got my license shortly thereafter, and immediately went to work.
Aaron: 14, you went to college. Were you homeschooled? Were you track through regular education? What was that?
Jonathan: That was my first foray into true prospecting because I was homeschooled and there was a dual enrollment program at our local college which essentially you’re able to leverage state funds to go ahead and get your associate’s degree prior to graduating high school. I called the Dean of the college up and basically explained my situation. I’m homeschooled. I’m looking to enroll in classes and I’m in the 10th-grade homeschool-wise, even though my age didn’t reflect that. I was two years ahead of the curve. It took a little bit of convincing, but they allowed me to go in and take a college placement test. The rest was history. I was able to ace the test and start taking classes full time which was great. I was excited to get to do that.
Aaron: That is cool. My other thing, my other businesses, my wife and I, we wrote a book called The Five-Hour School Week. We pulled our kids out of school. We homeschool, we travel, and during this, during quarantine, during coronavirus or not, her Instagram, her everything has absolutely blown up with people interested in homeschooling wanting to learn more about homeschooling. There are so many questions of that where people say, what about college? I could totally get off on a tangent of that with you, but a very cool thing. Like you said, your first interest is–
A 14-year-old can’t just apply for classes but it is possible if they’re going to go work hard and go through it, you had to do some convincing. You had to get them to essentially say that you’re their guy. You got into real estate. What was your first year like in real estate? How many deals did you do and what did you experience?
Jonathan: In 2010, being here on the Gulf coast, I don’t know if you remember this or not being in Texas but we had the BP oil spill where you had CNN live camera, oil pumping out into the Gulf of Mexico. Our economy rallies around tourism and that was one of the most brutal aspects of the recession, was a twofold, one, hitting a financial crisis in America and then two, this BP oil spill.
My first year in real estate was extremely tough. Everything was uphill battle and when I was trying to figure out where am I going to hang my license? How am I going to start to enter this market that seemingly is the worst market to ever start real estate in the history of our area, it was apparent that I needed to find somebody that was still a market leader, despite all of the adversity that was going on in the area.
I nestled up under a top broker who was essentially doing foreclosures, and they were doing 200 plus foreclosure transactions per year, the inventory was steady because of the amount of foreclosures that happened in 2008, 2009, that by 2010, he was getting 100-plus broker price opinion requests from banks ranging from Wells Fargo to Bank of America. I started working with him as a licensed assistant at a very small boutique brokerage and that’s where my career foundation was laid.
Aaron: At the beginning, were you just doing a bunch of BPOs, a bunch of support for him to get the listings?
Jonathan: Yes, at the beginning, I was doing broker price opinions from seven o’clock in the morning to seven o’clock at night and what was unique about that timeframe is that I was in a salary position, working for an individual agent who had seven or eight different assistants, just to try to support this business model of high transaction volume and constant turnover with OREO and for me, just getting an understanding of our market by doing broker price opinions was, I literally couldn’t parallel it anywhere else. It was a very unique start because I was servicing such a wide swath of area, almost, a third of our state understanding intimately, details about different properties coming to market. From a knowledge basis, it was a turning point in my career where value was driven by market statistics. That’s where I immersed myself.
Aaron: That story is really so cool and that’s something that any agent can do now, right? You can actually do a price opinion or a bunch of price range to learn a market but when Jonathan’s talking about doing hundreds of them, absolutely, you not only get faster at them but you start to notice a bunch of different things. 2010, that’s crazy because you said that you had the oil spill at the same time and then the OREO transactions.
I stopped being a home builder in 2009 and this was out in California and that’s when we really started buying the foreclosures. At that time, at first, we were trying to buy them as OREOs from agents but unless we knew the right agent, we couldn’t get it. It’s like those OREO agents really had it down. They proved themselves in 2008. Now, the bank has given them all the listings but then they also had all of their buyers built-in for the most part. They’re like, it’s just about the transaction, different sort of real estate, you’re not trying to get the deal. You’re trying to crank through the deals and make it more of a machine.
At that time we were buying. We started buying foreclosures on the courthouse steps instead before they got listed to agents, and we were comping hundreds of houses a day and you’re absolutely right, that when you’re doing that many, it’s the same as a BPO, right, but we’re doing our own spreadsheet. This is how much it’s worth. When you’re doing that many every day, you’re learning that this neighborhood, just a block over is this much more, or the stuff that backs up to this street is worth so much less than the ones that don’t. You got to learn all of that.
How long was it from– You came in and you kind of joined someone else’s team, you were an assistant doing admin-type stuff How long until you actually got to take the reins, and get a listing started because now you’re doing 100 transactions a year, you’re no longer an admin, you were running the boat now, how long before you got to start making that transition?
Jonathan: Well, it’s interesting. I started as an assistant, essentially, and the assistant role is what allowed me to build a knowledge base towards selling but that business, like you said, is very reactive. You’re already on this treadmill of receiving listing assignments, their assignments from the bank, and you’re reacting to them. That aspect of the business was overwhelming and it taught me to multitask at a really high level. I spent two years working just about strictly as an assistant for this OREO firm and it wasn’t until 2012 that I really started delving into selling and I had to finish my college degree.
I was doing this whole BPO thing. I wrapped up my college degree just before I turned 19 and that gave me some confidence to really free up my time to go out and sell but again, it was very reactive. I was working with investors just like yourself who either are calling our office and asking okay, we need a for OREOs, we’d like to be the first one to know, we know how competitive this is. We’re starting to miss deals of the courthouse steps because the banks are taking them back at a higher price point as the market started to improve a little bit, and they were finding better success at selling them at a higher level.
I figured out very quickly, how do I bring value to these people that they want this information that I have first? I created basically a gateway for being a proprietary source of that information for prospective investors. I built a client base of investors in my first year or two in real estate that we just kept going after these different foreclosures that started to come up within our own database. Not only were we creating our own inventory, essentially, by being that gateway for OREOs from the banks, but we’re also creating a steady lead of absorption, which was double ending, essentially, from these investors that we had built relationships with over the years.
Aaron: It really was. Those 2009 to 2012 really was an innovative time. There was there is much of that because people were– By the time 2012 came, that’s when the big hedge funds got into the business of foreclosures and that sort of thing and it was like the buck was up at that point but for those first few years, there was much innovation of people learning systems and doing new things and you’re able to find that niche. What about now? Fast forward, I guess we’re going to jump a bunch of stages. Now you’re out in Florida, what’s your team look like now and how do you get your deals?
Jonathan: Well, going from that reactive state of doing OREO inventory, I found very quickly that I gravitated towards luxury products. The OREO inventory was simply a placeholder but as I watched the hot sheet every day, I would always gravitate towards the highest price points and just understanding that side of the market, when we got that stray luxury foreclosure, I would put everything into it and everything meaning understanding the market, and prospecting heavily for a buyer for that particular property.
That allowed me to start to build my clientele towards a luxury base. Fast forward to 2015, I decided that in order to serve this client base that I had worked hard to create, I needed to transition to a brand that I could represent property at a high level. Sotheby’s International Realty had entered our market in 2014. I’ve been watching what they did very closely and decided to affiliate with Sotheby’s at the beginning of 2015 as a single agent, I did not have a team at the time.
When I affiliated with Sotheby’s, the year prior, I was 22, I had sold $24 million in business by myself. The first year with Sotheby’s, I doubled my business. I sold just under $50 million as a single agent and the transition was brutal because I had to figure out, how do I go from answering the phones all day to picking up the phone and making the calls. That reactive versus proactive nature is a hard one to turn off because when your phone’s ringing off the hook, you’re so used to answering, and not really having the time to place many calls after that.
I distinctly remember getting into my beautiful new office at Sotheby’s and meeting with the sales manager, and they’re like, “All right, Jonathan, you’re good to go, here’s our tools.” Sitting in my office and looking at my phone and going, okay, the way I used to do business isn’t going to work anymore. Slowly, but surely, I sought out opportunities to create value in the market with different seller profiles and for me, it was leveraging the tools that Sotheby’s International Realty offered at the time to create value with people who wanted to sell their property to high-level.
Going from somebody who is selling low price foreclosures to the upper tier of the market is a very interesting and difficult job. Not to mention, I’m only 23 and I had a baby face like no other. People would always ask me, are you out of high school? What are you doing? Are you somebody’s assistant-
Aaron: How’d you get this listing?
Jonathan: Yes, how’d you get this listing? Having that understanding, that intimate knowledge of the market is really where you can separate yourself from the pack. It’s not really about the age at that point, it’s about value and how are you bringing value to that person?
Aaron: If somebody is questioning your age, whether people think you’re too old or too young or they’re trying to question your experience or you’re new or anything else, actual knowledge, actual statistics, knowing your market can offset any of that. Anyone out there that’s listening, if you’re fighting that, if you’re looking at something or somebody is saying, “Well, no, you’re not the right fit for this” or they’re questioning whether or not you should be there or should be their agent or anything else. A lot of what Jonathan’s talking about is, know your numbers, know the statistics, know the data, and you can win that argument.
Aaron: Let’s jump back just a second. You had a bunch of listings where all you had to do is answer the phone and it was like, here’s your listing, go do it. You were doing the transaction, and that is the sort of thing that most agents wish for. They say, “Man, those guys have it easy, the people that just get the listings handed to them.” We would go buy houses and then sell them through our real estate team and people will be like, “Oh, it’s really easy to be an agent when you’re just giving them the listings.”
I agree with that. I agree that it is an easier thing when the listings just come to you. Making that transition had to be really, really hard to go from. Making those phone calls, what were some of the things that you learned early on with that? You learned that you still needed a niche and you created your own profiles and things like that. When you first had to go from, “Hey, listings aren’t going to come to me, I have to go find them. Wait, I’ve got to become a dialer.” What did you learn during that experience that new agents should hear now?
Jonathan: I love that term, a dialer, but it’s absolutely what we do, we dial every day and really dial with purpose. The intention is to create value for the person that’s answering the phone on the other lawn. For me, I was transitioning more from representing buyers and spending all day in my car shuffling people from listing to listing, to being in a position where my best value play was representing a seller with the tools in my tool belt that I didn’t have previously.
That was really a skillset that had to be developed and cultivated because when you’re a buyer’s agent, you are very reactive. Buyer says, “Jump,” you say, “How high?” Buyer says, “Hey, I need you to meet me at this property at X time.” You say, “Sure, let me clear my schedule.” I had to learn, how do I control my business? How do I control my time? That time management aspect is where that dialing for dollars comes in and you block prospecting windows every day to make sure that you’re talking to the people you need to talk to.
Transitioning from the buyer side to where my business is now, which is heavily weighted on the listing side, that was really the process and the transition from small boutique brokerage to Sotheby’s International Realty where I’ve got an international set of tools to bring the widest possible exposure for somebody’s property.
Aaron: Switching over. Now, when it comes to prospecting, and you’re doing high-end luxury listings, how long does it take? A lot of people say, “I was dialing, dialing, dialing. I was doing outreach, I was doing letters, I was door-knocking, and then two months later, I got my first listing from it” or a month later or a week later. What do you think your timeframe is for your average kind of client? The day that you get the outreach, you have the first conversation with them, of the ones that you get, is it 30? Is it a month from now, is it six months from now, is it relatively quick?
Jonathan: My business today is a little different than at the beginning of my career. The inventory that we represent today is really the upper echelon of the market in Northwest Florida. What’s interesting about that is it’s not just about having a conversation with a prospect. Prospective sellers in a luxury market usually have relationships with all of the top agents in the market. It’s really cultivating that relationship to be the person that’s positioned to get the business at the right time.
Luxury sales aren’t always driven by, “Hey, I need to sell because of X, Y, and Z.” Most of them are driven by timing, and, “Hey, we feel like the markets inflated, we want to take advantage of that. We also see another opportunity over here.” Being the one position to get the business during that time is so important.
What we focus on now primarily, though, is just being able to stay in front of folks, not only through answering the phones and making those calls, but also through different types of advertising, whether it’s our lifestyle advertising on Instagram, lifestyle advertising through social media platforms, or airport billboards, which I was one of the early adopters here to secure advertising in airports, which even now amongst the pandemic, we still are getting influx and lead flow on, which has been quite amazing. It’s different avenues to stay in front of people. It’s not about just trying to cultivate the relationship in one way or one method.
Aaron: What is your best method today? What do you think? If somebody was saying, hey, I’m going get into luxury real estate, and I know every market’s different, but if they were going to focus on just one, what would you tell them?
Jonathan: What I would say, if you were trying to cultivate listings in just one sector of the market, I would try to pick up a farming area that you know intimately and that you are borderline obsessed with. That’s where I started farming areas were areas of the market that I was most passionate about, and making sure that not only did I understand who lives there, but I also understand who was transacting there. When I go into listing appointments today, one of the strongest messages that I have for a prospective seller is, not only can I show you stats in your market, but let me tell you the story of why these homes transacted.
If you’ve got somebody with a unique property, and you’re trying to bring the most value to them, in their mind, of course, their home should be priced ahead of the market because it’s their home. Being able to come to them and say, “Look, we sold your neighbor’s house for X, Y, and Z because they had a pool built by a notable architect in Nashville” or some unique feature that they may not have, them being able to get that story allows them to digest the market at a higher level. Looking for those small minute ways to bring value, there’s value in the stories as to why people transact.
Aaron: Especially in that upper market as they change. 100 transactions a year, but you’re in the luxury space. What’s your average price point that you’re transacting?
Jonathan: Our average price point is $1.4 million.
Aaron: 1.4 million, 100 of those a year, and you have a team of seven?
Jonathan: Yes, I do. I’ve got three assistants and three other agents who work with me.
Aaron: How do you manage your team? How does that team work? Do your other agents go get their own deals? Do you guys split incoming deals? Do the admin help all of you?
Jonathan: Yes, the admin do help all of us, which I’m thankful for. I know they are as well. Really, they’re the glue that keeps us together. I feel like salespeople live in chaos all the time, our phones are constantly being blown up. My wife always tells me my phone’s literally growing out of my ear, which I have to laugh.
For me, setting up a team was important when I started to see myself losing business, whether it was just a simple follow-up from a previous seller, or it was phone calls that I couldn’t get to. I realized very quickly that leveraging other people was the only way to continue to grow. There’s only so much we can do as one individual human being. You get to that point where you decide, “Hey, look, I needed an assistant.” That’s an important time to start considering a team. Also, if you’re a new agent, and you’re entering into the market, I started in the market on somebody else’s team.
Being able to grow within that culture was what was so important for me to be able to go off on my own, and further build upon that success. If there’s one piece of advice I’d have for anybody listening that, either A feels like they’re struggling in their current situation, or they’re starting to enter into a new phase of selling, I would get under the top producer that you could possibly get under in your marketplace. That’s what would really help you propel yourself towards success.
Just to go back and answer your question, at the point where I felt like I needed to team was when I hired my assistant, Sarah, who’s been with me for five years. This was 2015, I had sold $45 million the year prior. I was quickly becoming the market leader in our area, I was only 23 years old at the time, and I did about $70 million in business but I wouldn’t have been able to do that $70 million had I not have hired Sarah, who was not only able to help me schedule showings, and really all the things I couldn’t get to, but also be that support system so that you do get the opportunity to decompress at times.
You realize very quickly that you can rely on other people to be that pillar of strength in areas of your business that you may not be strong in. It’s okay to recognize those things and say, “I’m not great at organizing. Let me hire the best possible organizer I can to help me in my business.”
Aaron: One of the things we talk about on here is a lot of agents come on and they donate a toolbox item. This is something they use in their business, and they share it. What’s your toolbox item?
Jonathan: I brought a toolbox item that I would say is one of my top ways to get new listings. It’s just a snapshot of a direct mailer that we utilize. Oftentimes, when we’ve got a new listing, or recent sale, or some type of success story in the market, we leverage these mailers to a specific farm area. Earlier in the conversation, I talked about finding that space in the market that you’re obsessed with and going after it. Direct mail is the one way you can get into somebody’s living room without actually having to be there physically. The way they perceive it is so interesting because just one direct mailer doesn’t typically get the attention of a prospective seller or a buyer.
Having that repetition, typically for me, it takes six to seven postcards to a single address for that address to decide, “Hey, I’m going to pick up the phone and call this guy.” Being able to take those mailers that I gave you an example of one of them, and put them in front of people as frequently as possible with value, not just really sending them something that says, “Hey, I’m Jonathan Spears, I’m the top agent in the area, you should call me,” but, “Hey, I’m Jonathan Spears. I just sold your neighbor’s house for 10% ahead of the last sale in the market. By the way, the last sale in the market was the highest sale ever. This is a new notch. Call me and let me explain to you how I did that and a strategy that we could leverage to sell your property.” That type of messaging is so important, and it’s why I wanted to share it with your viewers today.
Aaron: That’s awesome. You guys will be able to find that as a toolbox download item. That makes a lot of sense. You’re going out, and you’re saying, “Hey, you have to mail to them six or seven times before they pick up the phone.” Every one of those mailers, you’re not just saying, “Hey, call Jonathan,” you’re going to provide value. That may be, “Hey, this house comped for this.” It may be, “Hey, these three houses sold in your neighborhood.”
There’s all sorts of ways as an agent that agents can provide value on some of that outreach. Then when you do go to send it, if you’re trying to narrow it into a neighborhood, do you have to farm and get your address list or do you just walk into the post office and say, “Hey, it’s all of this zip code or all of– Because there’s different rates for different forms of direct mail. What’s your method for that?
Jonathan: That’s a great question. Let me give you guys a little secret. I use a company called Xpressdocs. If you go to xpressdocs.com, they’ve got a very automated process. We’ve got a designer on hand that will put together our graphics that we provide to Xpressdocs, and they handle all of the shipping aspects. We go to different programs, REDX, and a few other different places to get addresses. We’ll build out these farm areas so every time we want to send a postcard, we’ve already got that ready to go, and we’re not repeating the process all over again. That’s how I would recommend getting started.
I would start with an area that’s like 200 homes or less, and that may even be ambitious. Start with a small farm area. The larger you go, the more diluted your investment’s going to get, and the more you’ll spend every time you send a postcard. If you start with one neighborhood that you absolutely love, you know you want to do business in, you understand, and you can talk about on the drop of a dime, that’s where I would go first.
Aaron: I have not heard anybody say that. You’re saying 200 or less. Don’t send it to a big old list. Don’t send it 1,000 or 2,000 because I’ve heard people say, no, you have sent you a giant list to get that. You’re saying, no, find a neighborhood, get 200 or less, really focus on it, just pound it by sending out letter after letter. Then when somebody calls, you know what neighborhood they’re calling from?
You already know the answer-
Jonathan: [crosstalk] immediately and you’re like, “Hey, I just had lunch with your neighbor at the local golf club.” They’re like, “Oh, my gosh.” Those are the kind of conversations you want to have. You don’t want to just pick up the phone and have to say, “Oh, hold on, let me get my laptop open so I can talk to you about your area.” You need to be so proficient if you’re mailing an area that when one of those sellers calls you, you’ve got all of the stats, all of the information, all the value that they may need during that phone call to set an appointment.
The goal is not for somebody to call you and say, “Hey, we want you to list our house.” The goal is really just getting them on the phone, and you getting an audience with them, whether it’s through Zoom right now, during this pandemic, or whatever means necessary.
Aaron: I really, really like that. Do you do anything else to filter the list? You find a neighborhood, do you try to make sure that they have equity? I guess everybody has equity right now. Do you do any sort of filtering or not?
Jonathan: When I’m looking at the list, I’m typically targeting areas that they’re filtered out based on price point. If I know that there’s a specific neighborhood, and there are two streets in that neighborhood that they’re million-dollar-plus homes, or they’re $5 million-plus homes, whatever that is, I’ll hone in on that. I may not nail the whole neighborhood, I may just target individuals.
That’s a great way to go about it as well if there’s somebody you’ve been trying to prospect. Let’s just say you have a buyer for a specific house, and they’re not really answering the phone, send them handwritten notes, or drop them your mailing list and these postcards, and they’ll think you’re mailing to everybody, but they’re going to start seeing your information repetitiously and they’ll respond, whether positive or negative.
I’ve had people who pick up the phone and they say, “Hey, we’re never selling, please, don’t ever call me again, or ever send me a mailer.” I say, “You know what, I really appreciate you reaching out. Thank you so much.” I take them off my mailing list, but I save their phone number on my phone just in case there’s a time where I can call them with value. We’ve already had that dialogue.
In other instances, I’ve had agents call me and say, “Hey, my customer told me they’ve got a wall of your postcards in their house. That when they go to sell their property, they want me to talk with you about their value before we ever even list it.” I’m like, “I’m obviously not trying to steal your customer, but I really appreciate the feedback because we work so hard on those mailers.” It sounds like they’re responding pretty well to them.
Aaron: That is really funny when you get that. We get a lot of those calls when we’re prospecting to say, hey– Because we do a lot of prospecting as investors We’ve got a software called PadHawk where people can choose a zipcode or find people with equity and send postcards and stuff through there. It is funny when you send them and people are like, “Hey, I want to buy your house.” “Well, it’s already listed. Go talk to my agent,” or the agents call and go, “Why are you trying to steal my–” It’s like, “No. It’s really not.” I think most agents actually know that, “No, it’s just a bulk mailer.” Still, those are interesting conversations. When somebody goes, “Hey, my client has 10 of your postcards on the wall, you’re making it hard to do my business.” You’re like, “Well, you got to step up your mailer game then.” [laughs]
Jonathan: That’s exactly right.
Aaron: Some final thoughts on here. This has been so good for people. So many actionable tips. Instead of do a broadcast of prospecting, it’s niche down. Find a neighborhood that you want, put all into it. Probably a higher price point because if you’re going to focus– Because then you only need one of them to have a bigger thing. If you’re looking at houses that are $75,000, $100,000, it might be tougher because you get so many listings out of it to really make it pay off on that investment. You’re able to do that investment and push.
What are some things that when you first got started in real estate that you wish someone would have told you or that was an aha moment later that you were like, “Wow. If I had known this last year, my life would be way different?” Have you had any of those?
Jonathan: I have and it ties back to some of the dialogue we’ve had earlier with proactive versus reactive. If I would have started in this business and really understood the value of making the phone call and not waiting for a phone call, I think that that’s something that gets lost in the business today, especially in the economy we’ve had over the last decade. It’s been very positive. The real estate market in most areas is at an all-time high. We even talked about what’s going on in the market year to date.
For us, this pandemic has really led to a multiplier of our business. We’ve closed $110 million year to date. Last year, we did $135 million in business. We’re almost ahead by double as a result of demand just based on lifestyle. If I was looking back towards the beginning of my career, I’d say get very comfortable being rejected and be very comfortable with people saying no. Just like when somebody calls off my mailer, “Hey, please take me off of your mailing list. I’m never selling my house.” Click. “No problem. I’m so glad to hear from you.” Always respond positively and take that negative remark as just a checkbox. Next.
Be systematic. That’s the other thing. If I would’ve started my career with less of this frenzy and trying to fit into chaos instead of controlling it and controlling that schedule and really the narrative of my career, I feel like I would have been further along faster. Being systematic about your approach, whether it’s prospecting every day, have an ideal daily schedule where you can filter through what is a necessity first. I always tell my team it’s called eating the frog. The first thing they do when they wake up, they need to knock out the hardest tasks of the day. That way they can focus on being most productive as their day goes on. Proactivity and being systematic, it’s very simple.
Aaron: I love that. Start with the hard task of the day. Knock that out first and then it makes it a lot easier. You’re right. At the end of the day, your brain starts to get tired. It is a lot harder to get aggressive at two or three in the afternoon or to knock that stuff out. Jonathan, if anyone wants to reach out to you, if they’ve got a referral to send you out to Florida, they want some advice, what’s the best way people can find you?
Jonathan: The best way for people to find me are through our social media channels. You can find me on Instagram @Spearsgroup or @Jonathaninspears. Also on our website, spearsgroupflorida.com. It’s just spearsgroupfl.com. I’m always happy to answer questions or, of course, field referrals. Use me as a resource. I would love it.
Aaron: Awesome. Well, thank you, Jonathan. You guys heard it. Find him on Instagram. Go reach out to him. There’s so much info in here and I knew there was a lot more questions we could ask as we got to get on there. Thanks for getting on there today. You did not disappoint and hope to have you back soon. Thanks again, Jonathan.
Jonathan: Thank you.