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Social media interfaceAs he walks around town, Samer Kuraishi, senior vice president of Washington, D.C.’s A-K Real Estate, often draws second looks and a “how do I know you?” vibe, until eventually someone will almost always shout out, “You’re the guy on Zillow!”

Kuraishi is quick to point out that joining Zillow in 2011 has not only changed the brokerage business for the better, but the exposure has helped catapult him to one of the top real estate professionals in the area.

After all, Kuraishi and his team went from zero online leads in 2011 to closing more than 351 transactions valued at more than $101 million in 2013, thanks to 85 percent of his cultivated online Zillow leads being converted to clients.

“As of the end of August, I have done $89.2 million so far in 2014, on track for 40 percent growth,” Kuraishi says. “Of that, 90 percent is from Zillow leads.”

In the Beginning
At just 18, Kuraishi entered the real estate game and obtained licenses for Maryland, Virginia and D.C.

“I was always intrigued with money and always considered myself an entrepreneur,” he says. “My father was in the business for 25 years, but that wasn’t really the driving force behind my decision. I wanted new things and was always thinking about ways to make money.”

Kuraishi spent $300 for a 60-hour course, and within a few months of getting his license, was already cashing his first big check.

“I had worked at some restaurants, but had never seen that much money in my life, and never looked back,” he says. “I still went to college (in 2004, he graduated from the University of Maryland), but knew this was what I was going to do.”

The Brokerage
Husni Kuraishi, Samer’s father, is the broker of record at A-K Real Estate. The younger Kuraishi opened his own branch in Germantown, Md., in 2004 and another in downtown D.C.—just two blocks from the White House—this past February.

“It was always my dream to be in the city with the movers and shakers,” he says.

Kuraishi works with all types of real estate, including, but not limited to, distressed properties—short sales, foreclosures, condo conversions, development, investment properties, first-time homebuyers, sellers, commercial and anything on a piece of land. His expertise has made him in-demand for webinars and conventions.

One of the things that separates the brokerage from others in the area is that Kuraishi and his team speak eight languages fluently, appealing to the diverse multi-cultural atmosphere that defines the region.

Zillow Comes into Play
Kuraishi happened upon Zillow after receiving a random phone call about signing up.

“I knew a little about it, but I had lots of people call me every day; this guy called a number of times, though, and I liked him, so I gave it a try,” he says. “I bought my first zip code for $110 and got a number of inquiries, and bought more.”