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Top brokers answer questions about their secrets to success

By Kayla O'Brien

RISMEDIA, Jan. 10, 2007-They make it sound easy, but Hawaii Brokers Steve Hogin and Rosie Poree-Hogin say being fair and upfront with agents-and giving everyone a say in important decisions about the company-are the reasons why agents come to their company and "stay forever." But there is much more than the beautiful Hawaiian weather keeping their loyal team dedicated to the task. Here, some informative Q&As with top brokers around the country on recruiting, training and motivating agents, and much more.

Owning a Bit of Paradise

Steve W. Hogin and
Rosie Poree-Hogin
ERA Pacific Properties
Maui, Hilo, and Hawaii

Number of offices: 3
Number of agents: 117
Years in real estate: 25
What made you first relocate to Hawaii? "When we stepped off the plane from California, we knew we were home. Maui either embraces you or tosses you away and she's been very good to us and our family."
Average home listing: There's a big variation; some areas sell for 1.8 million, others for $350,000.
If we weren't in real estate: "We'd definitely still be working for ourselves. I think I'd be a chef and Steve would be on his canoe."
Current forecast: 85 degrees and sunny.
Words to live by: "Quality isn't expensive, it's priceless."

What's on the minds of home buyers and sellers in your region?
Sellers want top dollar; they want to make as much money as possible in a short amount of time. Buyers want the best deal out there, without spending all of their savings.

What's the biggest challenge you face?
Everyone wants that billion-dollar home on the beach with unobstructed views. The reality is that not all homes are on the beach. People come over thinking that they're going to be able to get this $50,000 house with a pool on the water, maid service and all that, but that's not here. To accommodate the misconception, right off the bat we give our clients the hard facts-the value of the homes, there are no shacks, the reality of the prices, and then get down to what they want and how much they want to spend.

What type of business do you see in Hawaii, such as retirement homes, second homes, primary residences, etc.?
We have a very mixed plate. There's the local person looking for their first home, and then a combination-about 40-50% are primary home buyers, 20% are buying secondary homes and then there's a balance of investment properties.

How do you plan on growing your company?
Two years ago we opened in Hilo, and now we're hoping to open up in the outer islands. We're not sure about expanding further in Maui because our agents live all over the island and with technology the way it is, they don't necessarily need to come into the office.

What training methods do you use for your agents?
Both my son and I are certified through ERA for Acceleration and all agents must go through that training. We do a lot on the computer and eCampus, where ERA provides tons of training and certifications right there for the agents. We're all hands-on, and have been known to bring speakers in for training sessions.

As far as our agents are concerned, we don't have a turnover of agents; agents come to us and stay forever. We're fair and upfront with everything, and the agents all have a say. We are respectful like a family; caring, laughing, and crying with each other. We all respect one another.

For more information, visit

Focusing on Customers and Agents

Lily Vu
Broker/Owner, Franchise Developer
L & V Realty, Inc., dba Advance Realty Advantage
Orlando, Florida

Years in real estate: 3
Median home price: $242,500
Inspiring words: "‘You cannot teach what you do not know-you cannot lead where you will not go.' I believe there's some grain of truth in it."
Weekend plans: "For the last two years, I've volunteered with a youth group at my church-a Big Sister/Big Brother concept with teenagers ages 15-21. We have group meetings and we mentor them. I feel I can be a good support to them because a lot of times teens feel they can't talk to their parents, and are more willing to open up to someone new about school, relationships, pressures, potential challenges, etc. Any little impact I can have is very rewarding."

Describe the demographics of your market.
Our company is based in Orlando, Florida, nicknamed "the City Beautiful," the sixth-largest city in Florida. The city is best known for tourist attractions, particularly Walt Disney Resort and Theme Parks, Seaworld and Universal Studios. We cater to a variety of customers, including the first-time home buyer, vacation home buyers and seasoned investors.

What are the advantages to being a discount broker with Advance Realty in Orlando?
The discount brokerage is the wave of the future. The Advance Realty concept and business model is most aligned with my philosophy; focusing on both the customer and the agent. Customers are very savvy and demand great value at a reasonable price. This is why Advance Realty's discounted fee structure is right on track. We provide full service without the sacrifice, not the "a la carte" style of service, where every single item is an add-on cost to the customer. With our concept, the consumer gets the full range of service and also saves money. Real estate is a major purchase and most people are intimidated by it, knowing that some things are better off left to a professional to handle. In fact, ORRA (the Orlando Regional Realtor Association) has been running a great campaign to build consumer awareness on this concept-"DON'T It Yourself"-encouraging potential home buyers and sellers to use professional help and not to go it alone.

How do you plan to recruit future agents?
I would like to attract "like-minded" individuals who also enjoy serving customers while continually honing their business skills. Agents should share the philosophy and goals that I have and also be rewarded when they help to build a great team. Advance Realty Solutions is building what they term "The Advance Advantages" program, which is dedicated to providing agents with a variety of value-added benefits, including revenue sharing programs, corporate partner programs, technologies, etc. For example, the Agent Alliance Rewards program offers agents the ability to earn commissions (in addition to their personal splits) and retirement monies whenever they introduce a new agent into our system.

A Good Framework

Lori Arnold
Coldwell Banker Apex
Dallas, Texas

Years in real estate: 24
Career path: "I obtained my license when I was 19 years-old, which is quite young for the industry. I worked in our family-owned business, which was very small, then I became the broker in 1990. After a couple of years, we wanted to grow the company and joined Coldwell Banker as only eight agents with one office. Today, we now have nine offices (the ninth opened in December), with 425 sales associates.
Region served: Eastern and northern Dallas, Fort Worth market
Sales volume for 2006: $850 million

What is the secret ingredient to your success?
Coldwell Banker gave me the systems and framework necessary to work hard. I did exactly what my business consultant told me to do; it was a lot of hard work and there are no short cuts. It was essential to recognize the importance of a business plan, understanding that plan and working it every day. Each agent has a written business plan that we help them implement. We're also really good at coaching our agents to new levels of production. With new agents, we double their production in one to two years. I have a management staff that spends extensive time to help coach, create career changes, and offer personalized help to assist agents who want to grow, but don't necessarily know how to.

What are your recruiting methods?
We hire one out of every five prospects. Recruiting is about relationships. We are selective. We don't do cold calls, but we find agents through good transactions or people in a different industry that we've had a good relationship with. We are interested in those who want the career. We want our agents to take consumer care that way-build business relationships with the client for the long term.

How do you motivate your agents?
We do a lot for our agents. We have a good framework and hold quarterly meetings about the market with national speakers. We also look for unique opportunities. After I saw the recent movie "Invincible," I called an emergency meeting and we went to a local theater and rented it. I had well over 250 attend and they loved it. We need variety in our events and education to motivate them; every agent is unique and has something different that motivates them, so we want to hit all hot buttons.

How do you stand out in such a competitive market?
Our per-person productivity is exceptionally good. We sold 5,000 houses, with 325 agents last year, which was four to five times higher than our competitors. Our agents excel at what they do. Consumers need to think of it this way: if you need to have heart surgery, would you choose a proficient surgeon or someone who does one per year? You only get proficient by doing it. We're selective and we train well.

For more information visit