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$225 Million: How Did They Do It?

by Chicago Agent

You may think that only certain personality types have the drive or ambition to achieve the heights that the top agents reach. But anyone can do it – if they know the secret. Of course you have to know your product. Long hours and dedication is essential. But if you start with those basics, you too can rise to the top of your game.

The Mystery
How do those incredible agents continue to achieve the big numbers year after year? They seem to effortlessly hold deals together. They maintain the highest degree of professionalism. They have the complete confidence and trust of their clients. They are respected by their peers. All this while having a good time!

The secret?
They are naturals. They work within the comfort areas of their personalities.

They are not fake, phony or false. They use their natural abilities to excel. They know their strengths and weaknesses and play their strengths. They do not try to be all things to all people. They are simply great at being natural.

The Samurai
Larry Bernstein – Re/Max Alliance

Meeting Larry Bernstein is like meeting an old friend. People are immediately put at ease by his stress-free attitude and peaceful outlook. He makes it all look effortless. Like professional pool players make hard shots look easy. But Larry’s casual demeanor should not be misinterpreted as inattentive. Larry is always in full command. He watches over every detail of each sale and brings the buyer to close without worry. Larry goes the extra mile to solve problems. By the time the drama reaches the client, problems have been transformed into gentle turbulence.

Trained on the job, Larry learned the business by working through the phone book and a Hanges directory of city streets and avenues. Although it took him 180 days to close his first sale he never lost his positive attitude Larry kept selling and kept learning. He has an amazing career sales of $261,000.000, closing $37,500,000 in 2003.

During his ride to the top, he learned that for him, the key to happiness was maintaining a balanced lifestyle. He quit carrying his calculator and his watch and started spending more time with his family and golfing. Surprisingly, his sales increased. He attributes this to having a better sense of well being, allowing his mind to be open and receptive. Larry credits his success in the industry to a few things. His memory is bulletproof. He prioritizes his objectives. He doesn’t rest until a project is completed. If he has an opportunity ahead, he’ll take care of it before his competition ever gets a chance to rally. Last year he played 75 rounds of golf. A personal goal for this year is to increase his golf rounds to 80.

1. Stay positive.
2. Stay open-minded
3. You have to spend money to make money. You cannot fear the cost of advertising or sales.
4. Be sincere
5. Be respectful
6. Be an over-achiever
7. Be realistic
8. Be responsive
9. Must be a closer
10. Must be a good parallel parker
*11. If your not enjoying it, you won’t be good at it

The Host
Janet Owen – Sudler

Gracious and distinguished, like the luxury homes and high-rise condos she sells, Janet Owen is the perfect host from the moment one steps into the foyer of one of the homes she represents. She is respectful and comforting to all her clients whether the asking price is $300,000 or $7,000,000. Janet uses her natural grace with all her clients. She treats everyone with class and dignity.

She came into the industry when her husband, a luxury home designer, gave her an appreciation for fine homes and exposed her to career opportunities. After signing with Sudler, she began to practice and refine the gracious art of selling. Janet’s respect for the industry and work ethic are ever-present. “My clients trust their health to their physician, their assets to their financial planner, and their real estate to me.” This devotion to her clients and their property is the reason that they are so loyal and her peers hold her in high esteem.

1. Be willing to share your knowledge with colleagues, it will come back to you tenfold
2. Technology is great, but real estate is still a hands on people’s business.
3. Always be polite and gracious. Always get the job done.
4. Be organized. Real-Estate is in the details.
5. Be willing to spend money. Whether on good assistants or marketing, you and your client will be the winners in the end.
6. Don’t assume anything.
7. Do the right thing. Ethics are far more important than commission. All you really have in this business is your reputation. Stay ethical and the commission will follow.
8. Be a good listener. Be a good communicator.
9. Ask you client for the same level of faith and trust that they give their physician and financial planner.
10. Learn to get by on very little sleep and have an understanding spouse.

Janet’s been the top producer for Sudler for fourteen consecutive years, closing $30,000,000 in 2003 and career sales of over $350 million. She ascribes the achievement to an absolute love of what she does, a thorough knowledge of the market and great communication with her buyers and sellers. “When my buyers and sellers tell me how pleased they are with every aspect of their real estate transactions, it truly makes my day!” How much time does she spend working? Janet declares “When I’m not working, I’m thinking about work.”

The Corporate Athlete
Jennifer Ames – Coldwell Banker

Jennifer Ames has family interests in the real estate industry dating back 100 years. Her grandfather was part of the co-op conversions that exploded in the 40’s. Her background includes an Ivy League education with experience in investment banking and film producing. This exposure to hard work taught Jennifer to be the corporate athlete she is today and the top producer for Coldwell Bankers Gold Coast office. Having grown up with an inside view of the real estate industry, Jennifer’s first thought was to do something different. With a degree from Yale, she escaped to the banking industry “I thought real estate was about big hair and Cadillac’s,” she quipped “but when banking and the film industry proved unsatisfying, I realized the residential market could support my professional goals. I jumped into Real Estate sales and never looked back.”

Jennifer didn’t have a mentor as much as she had goals. Early on, she attended a gala where awards were bestowed upon the highest producers. Jennifer was inspired. With this goal in mind, she started training. Soon the time, discipline, and drive paid off as she was achieving the top numbers and honors.

Other agents love working with Jennifer. They know everything will be done right and on time. Armed with PDA’s, laptops and mobile phones, Jennifer uses technology to her advantage. Her clients do not wait long before questions are answered and problems are solved. Jennifer says much of her job is managing her client’s expectations. “Many times an agent doesn’t give enough information (to the client) about the process to help them understand. The more you can get a buyer or seller to a comfort zone where they really understand what to expect, the further the transaction will go.” This in turn, ties into her core belief about the business. “Agents should always tell the truth, even if its not what their clients want to hear. They’ll be thankful in the long run.”

1. Set goals and monitor your progress. Think long term. If you want to rise to the top, plan to work really hard.
2. Do your homework. Learn your market. Attend open houses and maintain an in-depth knowledge of the inventory.
3. Treat other Realtors as you would like to be treated yourself.
4. Manage your client’s expectations. Don’t oversell.
5. Become an extraordinary listener.
6. Respect other people’s time.
7. Invest in top quality marketing.
8. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Surround yourself with talented people, learn to delegate, and focus your energy doing what you do best…selling!
9. Maintain balance. Serve on a charity board, become a do cent, mentor a child, exercise, read a book, attend a cooking class, feed your soul.
10. Work hard, play hard, and above all, have fun!

The Rocket
Jeff Lowe – Sussex and Riley

Jeff Lowe is on fire. At only 30 years old, Jeff ended 2003 with an astounding $87,000,000 sold! Jeff is tops in Chicago and one of the leading agents in the country. Most agents think that they work hard. But Jeff redefines the model of hard work and dedication. He is young enough to make personal sacrifices and willing to make a big time commitment to his business. He is always on the job. But he has something else going for him, Jeff is a nice guy. His client’s like working with him. Listing with Jeff is painless. Trusting him to handle your property is easy. Like your good friend from college, he makes sure you are taken care of. His clients tell their friends that they can rely on him. He will hook them up with the right home, lender and attorney.

When Jeff graduated with a finance degree he had no idea what to do. He moved to Chicago and after a short stint bartending, started renting
apartments and got his real estate license. He quickly found that his natural ability to work with people translated into sales. Working with Sussex and Riley, he found a team that would encourage his enthusiasm and drive.

He works with both resales and new developments, and manages his growing business by keeping focused. His energy has kept his business growing even in market downswings. His business has doubled every year except the last, which grew by 10 percent. Jeff attributes his success to his charged enthusiasm. He works all the time and is devoted to his clients. He doesn’t get much time for fun and games- but he knows that at age 30, this is the time to build the business for the future. His youthful energy, business acumen and congeniality make him a powerhouse. Catch him if you can!

1. Work Hard. Know the neighborhoods you sell like the back of your hand.
2. Treat your client’s home like your own.
3. Treat every client the same.
4. Commitment and follow-up are essential.
5. Find a balance between work and personal life to avoid burn out and continue to enjoy the business.
6. Maintain excellent working relationships with other agents in the business.
7. Use technology. (i.e. virtual tours, website, blackberry, etc.)
8. Give back to the primary neighborhoods in which you do business.
9. Work for a company you believe in.
10. Treat other agents within your own company with respect and never forget you were new once, too.

Are you a natural?
You too can be at the top of your game. Start with the basics. Know you product, the markets, the neighborhoods and the players. Learn about financing options. Study sales techniques. Use all the marketing tools to get the word out. Most of all, be yourself. If you have the desire you can make it happen. Check out the advice of these superior agents!

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