- How Rob thinks coronavirus will impact real estate [2:29]
- How Rob got into real estate [4:54]
- How Rob sells 100+ homes per year [7:38]
- What Rob is doing to line up deals amid coronavirus [10:33]
- Three questions to ask clients during this crisis [14:24]
- Mistakes Rob made when hiring new agents [16:39]
- About Rob’s new book [20:34]
- How to persevere through tough times [25:06]
- Rob’s advice to new agents [27:32]
- How to break through your goals.
- Plus so much more.
Money was hard to come by while growing up. Rob started working at age 11 delivering newspapers. He used his earnings to pay his tuition through a private high school and college. He played baseball in college while attending Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.
After graduating from FAU, Rob took a job as a stock broker in North Palm Beach, Florida. Arriving early one day for work, he noticed a book sitting on his mentor’s desk. It was titled, “The Greatest Salesman in the World,” and was written by Og Mandino. He took it home that evening and finished the book that evening, and he hasn’t looked back since. After reading it and Part II of Mandino’s best seller, Rob was inspired to become a speaker and writer, even though he didn’t know it at the time.
In the winter of 1992, Rob started out writing down his goals. He didn’t start reaching them until 2001, when he gave his first speech to a crowd of 650 people. That was the encouragement he needed to join Toastmasters, an international speaking organization that helped him to hone his skills as a speaker. In 2005, Rob finally wrote down his goal to write a book. Rob knew he wanted the book to be centered on the theme of awareness but he didn’t feel worthy enough of being an author. He struggled for years and wrote sparingly before he finally committed to finish writing his book in January 2017.
A serial entrepreneur, Rob has been involved in several businesses. He had his own newspaper business from 1994 until 2004. Rob was partners in a cigar business in the mid 1990s. He flipped a few houses over the years and has spoke in front of several organizations, including Wells Fargo, Sherwin-Williams, Wachovia, M&T Bank, BB&T Bank, The Baltimore Sun, and others. Rob also speaks to school students and prison inmates. When Rob speaks, he is moved by the spirit to connect with others and inspire them to realize their dreams.
In Rob’s first book, Better Than You Think, he shares his experiences and insights on awareness and how he has grown into the person he is today, and the person he wishes to become, which is an ever-changing goal. His goal is to inspire and impact everyone he meets to fulfill their God-given potential.
By listening to Rob or reading his new book, you too will learn how to become more aware of yourself and your potential. You will learn ways to access that potential in you and put it to use. You will laugh, you may cry, and you will think, and those are the three components to having a good day but more importantly to having a good life!
Rob currently owns a real estate team at Keller-Williams Gateway in Baltimore County, Maryland. He has been sold more than 1,400 homes and continues to build his team, leading the way by instructing agents not only on the ins and outs of the business of real estate, but on how to be their best selves.
Rob became a dad at age 17. He has been married to his lovely wife Debbie for 23 years. He has three children, Crystal, Robbie, and Amanda and a granddaughter, Corina Thompson.
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Aaron: Rockstar Nation, this is Aaron Amuchastegui coming to you live, talking today to Rob Commodari. Rob, how’s it going, man?
Rob: Going great. How are you today?
Aaron: I’m good. I’m good. It’s one of those times we’re recording this during our crazy time where everybody is working from home, sheltering in place, dealing with everybody’s webcams and things like that. Everything still seems to be functioning. People are surviving. What’s everything like where you live?
Rob: We are stay at home, as you know, but we’re allowed to– We’re an essential service here in Baltimore, and we’re allowed to conduct real estate. Quite honestly, I’ve been really busy. I’ve put eight houses under contract in the last 10 days, so I got to be happy about that. Consider myself very blessed.
Aaron: Real estate is definitely an essential service. We’ve been talking about that a lot on our state of the market news briefings recently. When we start to look at it, it is kind of surprising. I guess maybe it’s not surprising, but we’ve seen a lot of transactions happening. We see people listing houses right now. We see people buying houses right now. It’s like even though this happened, people still have a need to move or a need to buy. Do you think it’s sped anything up? Do you think it’s slowing things down, or do you think it’s just had very little impact?
Rob: There’s an impact there overall, but I think what’s happening is we lag. The real estate industry lags. Now, back in ’08 or ’09, the real estate was the first thing that crashed, and everything else followed suit. If we’re going to have a problem, we’re last in, but I think we’ll be first out, if that makes any sense at all, because the stock market’s already crashed. We got this virus going on. February was the most explosive February they’ve had in years. Everything was all set to be a banner year in real estate and then this hits.
There’s peak. We already had a shortage of inventory. That was already there, shortage of inventory, excess buyers.
What I see happening now is I’m still busy because I’m closing the deals that I had, but there was people in play already. Bang, we were getting them under contract where they were listing or buying. Now the question is, with the stay at home, how many people are going to be afraid to even go out? How many people are going to be afraid to list their house on the market? There’s a work around that too if you do a virtual show and you do a virtual open house. Time will tell.
When I said earlier we lag, I might not be able to put 8 deals under contract in the next 10 days or months from now because the things have slowed down somewhat. Prices have not gone down. Now there are going to be buyers out there that believe, “Oh, I can get a deal because they want to sell their house.” There’s still a shortage of inventory. There’s still multiple offers being had out there, so stay tuned for that.
Aaron: Those are all really good points and some good insight from out where you’re at. Tell us about yourself: where’d you grow up, where you’re from. How’d you get in real estate?
Rob: I’m originally from Northeast Baltimore City, grew up one of seven kids in a 745 square foot house. Some kitchens are that big these days, right?
Rob: Seven of us, we had one bathroom. Grew up community in Baltimore city. I started working when I was 11 years old. I had a good old paper route, and I paid my way through high school, Catholic high school. Pay my way through college. When I got out of college, I eventually came home here to Baltimore. I went to college down in Florida. I came home to Baltimore, and I started at T. Rowe Price. I was working T. Rowe Price and worked there for about four years, but in the process, I was working weekends. I was helping a buddy of mine deliver newspapers. At that point, they had these things that were called agencies, and you have like 3000 customers.
While I was working at T. Rowe Price and helping this guy on weekends, a big agency came open in downtown Baltimore, Federal Hill, Locust Point, Pigtown area of Baltimore, which was right in the middle of revitalization, or transformation I should call it. I was there 1:30 every morning delivering newspapers. I was watching these boarded up windows come down and new windows going in. I was watching formstone come off of walls and brick going up or getting reappointed. I was right in the middle of it. I’m watching this transformation, and I’m seeing all these realtor signs go up. You saw the same names and the same areas all the time, and it piqued my interest.
My wife had got pregnant with our second child, and I’m like, “I’ll get my real estate license.” I wanted her to stay home. I got my real estate license, and I started working real estate while I was working at T. Rowe Price. I did– I’m sorry. I started real estate as I was still doing the paper because I eventually got out of T. Rowe Price.
Aaron: You started real estate as a side job, it sounds like. When you did that, the idea was that way your wife– You could pick up a second job so your wife could stay home, and then you started to grow this. Then eventually you transitioned 100% all the way into real estate.
Rob: That’s what happened. I guess a coincidental thing, you could say ironic thing was if you’re a goal oriented person, like my wife, she was due to make $42,000 that year. I’m like, “I’ll pick up this real estate job or career, and I’ll try to make 42 grand to offset it.” The funny part about it is I made $41,000 that first year of real estate. Now I met it one [laughs].
Aaron: That’s so much of what we end up talking about sometimes is, what do we get with gross revenues versus net, and how do you grow that team? How many transactions you doing? How many transaction you do in the last 12 months?
Rob: We did 104 transactions last year. We’ve been averaging that for about five years.
Aaron: You’ve been doing about 100 for the last five years?
Rob: Yes. About that, yes.
Aaron: Awesome. You just stayed nice and steady. What’s that average sales price over there?
Rob: Right now, my average sale price about 287.
Aaron: You do more buyer’s leads or listings?
Rob: I’m heavier on the seller side. It’s more 55, 45, sometimes 60, 40 depending on the year to the seller side.
Aaron: How do you continuously get 100 deals a year?
Rob: Work and discipline. I’m part of this coaching program. I’ve been doing it for 17 and a half years. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say, but it’s the Brian Buffini program. It’s a system. There’s millions of systems out there, and you could take any system. I’m not going to say one is better than the other, but if you take a system and you work it and you’re disciplined in that work or that application, it will work for you. This system is about doing business by referral, and it’s about building the relationships. That’s what I’ve done.
Aaron: So getting referrals, being able to build up there. How long have you been part of that coaching program?
Rob: About 17 and a half years.
Aaron: That’s a long time. You’ve been a part of it. You use the same system all the time in the last five years. It’s held you nice and steady.
Rob: Yes. One of the most important parts about the system is tracking, knowing your numbers, knowing how many contacts I got to make to get a referral, how many referrals I need to get a deal, and what all those ratios translate into. When you know those numbers, what it does at the end of the day, it takes anxiety out of it. If I go a month without a referral, am I stressing out? Yes. If I know my numbers, I know at the end of the year consistently I’m averaging 240 referrals a year, I’m going to be okay. It ebbs and flows.
Aaron: That’s important to think about in real estate for all the agents out there that you should look at stuff on a one-year basis instead of a one month or a two month because it does ebb and flow. You could have four deals one month, four fall out next month, and then they come back. It’s really easy to have that up and down swing, but if you start to focus on your annual goal like that, I think that’s a much more solid way to go through it, a lot easier.
Rob: It’s extremely helpful. Then it takes the anxiety out of the equation.
Aaron: Right now, as we’re in corona virus time, we’re shelter in place, what are you doing with your goals right now? Have you looked at your annual goals and said, “Hey, the year is still going to be what it is. We just might have a bumpy couple weeks or a bumpy couple months”? Are you starting to re-look at that, changing strategies? What changes have you made in the last two weeks?
Rob: I think whether it’s strategies or tactics, they have to change it. Let’s just assume we are going to have a 30, 60, 90 day slow down. Let’s assume that. There was just a podcast a week and a half ago that Brian Buffini did with Dr. Lawrence Yun. He’s the chief economist for National Association of Realtors. It was very encouraging. As I said earlier, there is still a shortage of inventory. It’s like we’re going to be in this 12 week or 8 week blizzard where you can’t do anything and people are stuck in their houses.
What happens in the winter time when we hit spring and people come out of the winter? There’s a pent up demand, and everybody just poof. Everybody hits the market. You could almost look at it like I’m preparing myself that I’m going to do 12 months of business in 9 months when we come out of this.
Aaron: Just like having a delayed spring, you’re like, “We’re used to coming out and firing so a couple months later.”
Rob: Exactly. I think you have to have the– You have to be healthy physically and mentally during this time. Are there going to be days where I get frustrated or I get down on myself or down on what’s going on? That’s probably going to happen, but if you have the right mindset and you tackle the right way, bang, coming out. You can’t say, “Okay, after this is over, I’m going to start.” You got to start now. You got to start right now. Part of the tactics is like, okay, how am I going to show a house to buyer right now?
Say I’m the listing agent and I have a seller and I have a buyer– I mean an agent that has a buyer, let’s get all four of us together on a Zoom call and have the homeowner take us through their house on a Zoom call with all four of us on the call. We can show a buyer a house that way. Are they going to buy it virtually? Maybe not, but they can at least almost do a letter of intent where we’ll make an offer to buy contingent on us viewing the house within so much time. That’s one thing.
The other thing I think is really important, Aaron, is during this time– My mission statement is to love, serve, and care. To love, serve and care of people to put them in the best position to either buy or sell a house. Right now, I’m not calling my clients and saying, “Hey, do you have a referral for me?” I’m calling to let them know that I’m calling them because I love them, I care for them and I want to know how I can serve them right now. Whether they’re stuck in their house and they need me to go to a store and get a bag of groceries or they need to get to the store and get some medicine, I’ll drop what I got to do, and I’ll go do that for them if I have to. It’s not a problem
If we show people that now, when we come out of this, they’re going to refer you. The other side of that is that I’m calling every one of my clients over the next 30, 60 days. I’m calling everyone of them, letting them know I’m there. I’m writing to every one of them a note. Every single one of them is going to get a note from. That’s part of what I’m doing now.
Aaron: That’s a great habit. That’s a great habit that anybody out there can do right now. All of our new agents that are listening, all of our established agents that are listening, calling everybody that’s in your list, whether they’re a prospective client, past client, the people that you reach out to. Calling all of them, sending a personal note to all of them, just make sure they’re right. Now we’ve had a lot of that lately of trying to be of service.
Part of real estate, we’re always trying to reach out to people and say, “Hey, what do you need? Do you need to buy? Do you need to sell? When do you need to sell? How much do you need to sell for?” Figuring out what your client’s needs are. Right now, their needs are a little bit different, but real estate agents are poised to serve. You guys have that server mindset already, and so it’s a prime opportunity to go out there and serve. Especially, I really love the mindset you have of, “Hey, this is just a delayed spring. When we come out of this, we’re going to come out swinging.”
Rob: Right. I think you have to. Aaron, if I could add something, there’s three questions that– I was on a Zoom conference call last week, and three questions came up for us to ask our clients in this situation. First of all, ask them what do they need right now? What do they think people need right now? In that answer, you may have here an opportunity of what they specifically need, that person. Then the next question would be, “Hey, what’s your biggest fear?” It could be financial, losing their job, their health, whatever. Whatever comes up.
Then the third question is, this is where you’re asking for a referral without really asking for it. You’re just putting a plug in that hey to let them know you’re still here for them. It would be like Aaron, me as your real estate agent, “What do you think I could do to serve your community?” You tell them you’re still a real estate agent, and you want to serve.
Aaron: What do you need? They’re, “I’m doing okay.” You’re like, “What can I do as a real estate agent to serve your community right now?” It’s reminding them it’s there. It’s telling them– especially because maybe people don’t want to ask for help right now. You being able to say hey, how can I help serve your community, I could see that being the thing that continues that conversation and pitches them back to you of how you can get into action.
Rob: Yes, I think so. I think you’re right.
Aaron: Let’s go back early in real estate for you. The first year or two, what was the big mistake that you made that looking back you’re like, “Wow. I either learn so much from that. I should have known better than doing that,” or totally changed the way you’ve done real estate since then?
Rob: I think one of the mistakes– I have a team. I have a small team. When I first started, I was doing everything. Then you start to delegate, and I’m a doer. It’s hard for me to let go of things sometimes. Sometimes I just hire somebody just to say, “Okay, here, do this, do this, do this.” I didn’t take the time to train properly. It’s almost put systems in place. Mistakes I’ve made is I haven’t put systems in place first. I just threw bodies in the sheet.
I think it’s important to have full policies or procedures or systems in place and then be slow to hire, very slow to hire which I haven’t done, and be quick to fire. When I do it over and over again, I’m slower to hire and pull that trigger quick, Give them 30, 60, 90 days. If they’re not cutting it, then it’s time to go.
Aaron: That’s great advice, especially right now. Real estate, we are going into uncertain times. Hopefully, it’s just a one or two month break, extra delayed spring just like that. Any time that stuff is a little uncertain, a little bit weird– For me, it’s uncertain because this has never happened before. There’s stuff that has been like this. We’re talking about 2001. We’re talking about 2008. There have been times when we’ve had major resets and changes, but it’s never been like this. We’ve never had the whole world staying at home.
We’ve never had everything put on hold, but also this government stimulus to say, “Hey, we’re just going to make it a blip. We’re going to cancel it out.”
This is totally unheard of, totally new timing. Yes, being able to say, “Hey, as you get ready to hire, it is uncertain, so be clear.” What I try to tell people too is I made the same mistake early on in my businesses. Because as soon as you start to have a task you don’t like, you go, “Man, I need to hire somebody to do that.” As soon as you start to scale, it’s like, “Oh, I need to focus on this. I want to grow. I need to hire somebody. I really wanted to hire people.” Now I try to tell people, as soon as you’re starting to think about that, start writing down what they’re going to do, and write down what they’re going to do that first week. It’s like the day I hire somebody, have your list. This is what they’re going to the first week, because sometimes it’s like, “Oh, I don’t like filling out that part of the disclosure form or getting that part of the document or using DocuSign.” You start to just, “I need to hire somebody for this.” But start to make that list to make sure you can at least fill up a week.
We realize we’ll hire somebody thinking, oh, they’re going to do all this stuff, and you’ve only got like a day’s worth of work for them and you go, “uh oh, now what am I going to do?” Or they’re running wild, or they’ve got nothing to do and those sorts of things.
Rob: My biggest fear when I hire somebody is if they get bored. I don’t want them bored. I want them busy. If I’m busy doing and I don’t have time to train them, then am I really training them? That’s always going to struggle in the real estate world, but if you have the– As I’m walking along now and something happens, I create a system. I create a policy, put it in a book, and put it in a file. Then when that person comes on, bang, there you go. You got your system. You got your policy or your procedure in place. If I train you how to do a listing, now we can video it. We can video us doing that, and I can save that for training later, right?
Aaron: Yes. It’s especially good advice right now. We’ve always been doing trainings. Not everybody has been doing video stuff, whether using Zoom or anything else. It’s really easy to record. Right now, anything that anyone’s going out there to retrain agents, talk to buyers for future stuff, record it. You can record the video. You could save it for later.
As soon as it’s done recording, document it somewhere with lots of words that are searchable, whether it’s Gmail or somewhere else, and go, “Hey, this is that time that I trained the guy with this.” We’ve got a lot of great info right now. So easy to record and build up those big systems if people are just figuring out how to get started right now while they’re working from home. I think it’s a great time.
Rob: Yes, absolutely.
Aaron: Tell me about your book. Right now, we’ve got it up behind you for the listeners who are seeing. It says Better Than You Think: Developing Awareness for a More Fulfilling Life. What made you decide to write the book? When did it come out?
Rob: It got published back in November. The long story is it took 15 years. The short story is it took three years. What I mean by that, I had a goal– I wrote a goal back in 2005 to write a book. I’m a personal growth junky. I’ve been reading books for– I started reading July of 1990. I read my first book, The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino. Since then, I’ve probably read about 900 books. I just love personal growth and awareness, is I think the foundation for everything. This book is really about awareness. The more awareness you have about what’s going on inside of you, what’s going on around you, what’s going on inside of others, the more fulfilling life you can live.
It’s a book deep in awareness, deep in reflection and deep in lessons of experiences you’ve had. The way I wrote it is I’m sharing– Awareness is the first chapter of a story that hit me about awareness or how to get more awareness. You may have been doing something in your life that you never realize that’s a way to get awareness. Then I just shared a story that resonated with you. Now you know how to get awareness which resonated with you.
It’s a book of stories and lessons and how the reader can apply those lessons in their life. Right now, I guess a little bit of shameless self-promotion, one of the chapters is awareness. Are you aware of what’s going on right now? Another chapter is acceptance. We can’t change what’s going on right now. We can’t change it. It’s here, so we have to accept what it is. We can change, going forward, what we do to handle situations like that, right?
Rob: Another chapter is the seasons of life. This is a season. We’re in a season right now, and who knows how long this season lasts? Is it a month? Is it two months? Is it six months? We don’t know how long that season’s going to go, but what lessons can we learn in this season? Then the other chapter that’s in the book is perseverance. How do we persevere. Whether you’re a realtor, whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, whether you’re a school teacher, who knows, how do you persevere? How do you learn how to persevere through the tough times?
Aaron: Tell me about the story. In the book, on the acceptance chapter, what story do you lead with when you’re trying to teach people how to get acceptance?
Rob: It could be emotional acceptance like some people have a problem– It took me 15 years to write this book because I couldn’t accept the fact that I think I could tell stories. I had lower self-worth. Like, who’s going to listen to my stuff? Who’s going to read my book? Who might’ve think I’m going to be an author? You have to persevere through that.
One of the acceptance issue is like we all tell ourselves stories. Things happen. One of the early stories in the book is about– This is crazy. This goes way back to when I was five years old. I have a sister that’s 364 days older than me. What do they call it? Irish twins or something like that?
Aaron: Yes, there’s all sorts of versions to that.
Rob: We had a birthday party, shared birthday party, and we invited these people. It was at a friend’s house. Everybody that came out one after the other, after the other came for my sister and didn’t come for me. Finally, somebody comes up, and he has two gifts, one for my sister, one for me. It was a game I already had, Chutes and Ladders, so I already had the game. Then that moment, there was a, whoa is me. Nobody likes me. Nobody came for me. Nobody showed up, blah, blah, blah. The story you tell yourself is I’m not worthy. I’m not worth it.
The way you coach yourself out of that, the simple story is the people invited for me couldn’t make it. It wasn’t nobody liked Rob. I had to accept what it was. I had to accept that situation for what it was, but going forward, you can’t tell yourself stories in a negative context no matter what happens in your life. It is what it is, and then you go forward. That make sense?
Aaron: It does. How about a story? As we go through right now, it’s perseverance. The big thing in there, if you’re going to take one story from your life and the one that you’re grabbing back to yourself now as you think about what you’re about to go through, what maybe we’re going go through over the next couple of months, what’s that story you have that’s fueling you?
Rob: I guess I was 11 or 12 at the time. I had this little paper route. I just had these goals, and I don’t know why at that point I had these inherent goals and these embedded goals in my head. I was delivering newspapers, and when it came to winter-time, I would knock on my clients– because we had to knock on doors to collect money and get paid. When I would collect the money, I would say, “Hey, when it snows, don’t worry. I’ll come by early and shovel your snow, and you can pay me later.” When it snowed, it would–
I remember back in was it ’73, we had a nice– not ’73. ’77 or ’78 somewhere in that time, we had a nice blizzard. I remember that I would walk out of my house whether it snowed 2 inches or 10 inches, and I was not coming back home till I had a $100 in my pocket. If it was freezing cold or sleeting and raining, and your fingers start to hurt, your toes start to cramp up and I have 50 bucks in my pocket, and I’m like, I’m not stopping till I got a 100 bucks. You got to persevere through that.
Aaron: How old were you when you were doing that?
Rob: I’m sorry.
Aaron: How old were you?
Rob: I’m guessing 13. Somewhere around that. For whatever reason that was embedded in me, it was. How do you get through that pain? How do you get through that mental toughness, like I got to work through this, and it’s going to work itself out? What would happen is your fingers and toes would lock up and get frozen, and I would just, keep moving your hands. Keep moving your feet. Keep moving them. Keeping moving. Then, all the sudden, they would warm up. It’s like you got to break through that thing that’s holding you back. You got a break through that obstacle. Once you do mentally, then you can roll.
Right now, it’s that blizzard. My fingers are cramping up, and I just know I got to keep moving. I got to keep calling my customers. I got to keep writing notes. I got to keep building those relationships. Then on the other side, we’re going to break through, and it’s going to be better than you think.
Aaron: Yes. Better than you think once you– I saw that as a meme online earlier today. It was like, if you’re going through hell, keep going.
Rob: Keep going.
Aaron: If you’re struggling, you got to keep going.
Rob: Yes, persevere.
Aaron: Let’s see. I guess one of the last things, Rob, is there any last advice you would want to give to real estate agents out there for either their first year or now? What’s that the last big action you would give them?
Rob: Obviously, if you’re new to the business, first year, have a database, man. Get your database together and start with 200 people, because that way, if you got 200 people, you got 20 business days in a month. You can call 10 people a day and start building relationships with them. Get a database. Have that. The other thing is in this time frame right now, even though I talk about it like being a 12-week blizzard, don’t sit home and do nothing and take it as a vacation.
This is the time to double-down. Double-down on those phone calls. Double-down on those notes. Double-down on building your business or working on your business. What strategies, what tactics can I change coming out? It’s like double-down time, not double out. Not got out, get in.
Aaron: I think that’s great. Right now, it’s, yes, time to go out. Don’t take a 12-week break. Be ready, work hard, double-down on your business and be ready to come out swinging. Rob Commodari, how can people find you? They want to find you online or find your book, what’s the best way to reach out to you for advice?
Rob: You can reach me at Rob– It’s Rob @robcommodariauthor.com. I got two websites. I got the website for the author and website for real estate. It’s Rob @robcommodariauthor.com. Then you can reach me– I can give you my phone number if you want. I’m happy for you to call me. Call me 410-262-7396, and the website is robcommodariauthor.com
Aaron: Awesome. Rob, I think that book sounds awesome. Thanks for coming on here. I hope everybody listened and got some advice on how to push through and keep on pushing because once they break through, it’ll better than they think.
Rob: There you go. Thank you, Aaron. I appreciate that.
Aaron: Thanks for coming on, Rob.
Rob: Take care.