The technology explosion has changed forever the way we work and play. Sources estimate there are more cellphones than people in the world today—and some might argue that social media has taken over our lives. But for DPR Realty Owner Dale Milton, and Designated Broker Matt Deuitch, the tech phenomenon fueled new ideas about the future of the real estate industry. Their tech-focused outlook and agent-centered business model have served as unerring drivers, vaulting the independent, Phoenix-based company into an Arizona powerhouse. In this exclusive interview, Milton and Deuitch share their vision of the ideal working environment for agents, and the strategies they employ to ensure their firm remains poised for incremental growth.
Barbara Pronin: Let’s begin with a brief synopsis of your career paths and how you came to lead DPR Realty.
Dale Milton: I spent some 25 years in corporate America before moving into real estate 13 years ago. I started on the sales side and joined DPR Realty as an agent. I became a partner in the firm in 2003 and sole owner in early 2014.
Matt Deuitch: I’ve been practicing residential real estate for 20 years. In 2003, I was on the Scottsdale Area Board of Directors, where I served a year as president, and I appointed DPR’s then-designated broker to the board. We served on several committees together, and had a great working relationship and many good, professional discussions about the state and direction of the industry. At one point, he handed my resume to Dale and told him I was the next guy to hire as designated broker if it was ever needed. Sadly, we lost him to illness not long afterward, but I’ve been proud and very fortunate to be able to serve as DB for the company since then.
BP: How many offices and agents do you currently have and what regions does your firm serve?
MD: We have about 1,200 agents, predominantly in the Phoenix Metro Area. We also belong to surrounding local associations in Arizona, which allows our agents to readily do business around the state. We have multiple offices in many urban and suburban cities, although our specialty as a company is in Phoenix and surrounding communities.
BP: How would you describe your firm’s positioning in the marketplace? What sets DPR Realty apart from the competition?
DM: We are proud to be an organically grown company with local ownership and a trusted history in our region. We are well-known for our ethics, creativity and commitment in the local market, but we also have a clear understanding of the global marketplace so we can make the best of new opportunities. Because we are independent, we can make the decisions that best serve our agents and clients and focus on providing them with service that exceeds expectations.
MD: Also, we are consumer-friendly, with live receptionists, easy broker accessibility, great agent Web pages, and a cutting-edge suite of next-generation tools and technology that serves us all well. There was a time, you may recall, when some brokers and agents were apprehensive of the technology avalanche—fearful they would become irrelevant to buyers and sellers who were doing their searching online. But we embraced the tech opportunity to become more relevant to consumers, delivering content and managing transactions in ways that exceed expectations. We have a Facebook forum, streaming video, green-screen video editing, mobile business apps, email solutions, and a dynamic agent-centered online resource center. Social media, digital platforms and the technology space are where the next generation dwells; texting, tweeting and posting fosters their relationships and enhances client outreach. The traditional set still favors the personal, high-touch approach with just enough tech to enable them. As older business models transition to the new, we’ll offer tool sets for both, like in-classroom training and streaming video classes. We are proud to be on the forefront of the agent business, driving down costs and enhancing the agent-client
BP: How would you describe current market conditions in your area?
MD: We’re in a balanced market right now, with four to five months of inventory. Distressed sales are nominal and continue to decline, and pricing is no longer feeling a considerable downward pressure. Consumers are adjusting to this balanced market, so neither sellers nor buyers believe they have an advantage.
BP: What has been your approach to growth in recent years, and how has that changed now that the market is rebounding?
DM: DPR Realty was built from the ground up as a value-driven, agent-centered business. We have not purchased other firms and then promoted ourselves as one of the fastest-growing companies. We’ve built ourselves up one agent at a time. When the downturn drove agents into other industries, we created a referral-only program so that qualified agents could park their licenses here with no fees. Many of those agents have now come back into real estate and are doing very well. They appreciated that program, which helped them make it through a tough environment unburdened by big overhead and fees. That, plus other innovations and benefits, including our low agent fees, is what has helped us to grow so successfully.
MD: The shift in focus has essentially been from helping agents maintain their business in a distressed market back to ensuring the agents get the support and tools they need to thrive as the market improves. Our training content, for example, has adjusted from short sales management when the market demanded it to mortgage and seller financing issues as credit-damaged buyers began looking to purchase.