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RISMEDIA, January 6, 2010—Having the right people in the right place is one way real estate professionals are taking on today’s tough market. While cutting expenses and keeping an eye on the market seem to be the norm across the country, Mark Star, CEO & Owner, Prudential Americana Group in Las Vegas, Nevada discusses how equipping his office with quality sales executives and staff helps his company stay at the top.

Mark Stark
CEO & Owner
Prudential Americana Group
Las Vegas, Nevada

Years in real estate: Started in 1985
Number of offices: 7
Number of sales associates: 1,100
Company’s average sales price: $165,000
How to help agents survive: Be open to change and adjusting to a very new environment. Be willing to go back to basics. Measure yourself strictly by results, giving you the opportunity to adjust and change quicker. If you can adapt quickly, you can have the results you want.
The role of today’s real estate rookies: Despite the economy, there are more new agents getting into real estate than people might think. Because they are new to the business, they have no preconceived judgments about the industry. This gives them a leg up over their competition. They are much more willing to follow the direction and commit to what the environment demands of them. The committed rookies are doing extremely well. To them, this is not new—it is simply the way it is. They are also way more tech savvy and comfortable with technology, in general. They want to use new tools and are comfortable with them from the start.
Battling on: Having great people is everything. We are so fortunate that we have so many quality sales executives and staff in an environment that demands quality people and lots of hard work. That’s how we continue to battle and win.

Tell us a bit about the Las Vegas market today.
There’s a lot of activity; our “sales executives” (agents) are working hard and making dramatically less money. They are also dealing with a very frustrated clientele as you could imagine. You have some people who thought they bought early enough in the decade, but because the market got hit so hard it’s affecting many more homeowners than expected. Buyers are also frustrated; they will put in 20 offers plus and can’t get one accepted. Now more than ever, it’s very important that buyers and sellers work with seasoned professionals. There is a silver lining—you can purchase a home at better prices than we’ve seen in 15 years. There is tremendous upside for someone with a long-term vision.

Given the market, what is your company doing to be cost conscious?
We’re all about lead generation, so we focus on working with our sales executives to help them generate business. We’ve shifted budget dollars to lead generation. These are not referrals; they go directly to our sales executives. Doing this has increased our business and afforded us the ability to make cuts in areas that don’t work or are not as effective.

Another key for our company goes back to advice I received years ago. That is, a real estate organization should never own the building where they own the brokerage. If you’re the majority, don’t own it. Some years back, we got out of most all of our building ownership. This really came into play once the market turned. We were able to come from strength when renegotiating our lease space and create flexibility that many of our competitors lacked.

How has your managing style changed in the past few years?
I haven’t changed my management style. I’m very hands on and communicative. I still do a conference call every Tuesday before each office has its own meeting. I do the first 15 minutes over the phone. I still call everyone—every sales executive, every employee—on their birthday; that’s something I’ve done for the past 20 years. We’ve always cared; just now, it seems more appreciated and more needed. People are going through tough times and we have to recognize it, and educate and help them through it where possible.