Failure simply isn’t an option for Shay Hata, of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices KoenigRubloff Realty Group. When she decided to pursue real estate full-time two years ago, she started out with no sphere in a new city with no previous experience selling homes. What she did have, though, was determination and vision. Now, she’s on her way to forming a team and is a rising star with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices KoenigRubloff Realty Group in Chicago.
“We relocated to Chicago in 2013 and I wanted a change of pace in my career,” Hata says. “I had watched my husband’s success in real estate—he’s been doing it for 23 years—and I wanted to try it. I hit the ground running from day one.”
And Hata hasn’t slowed down since. After closing more than $10 million in sales volume and 30 transaction sides in 2014, she’s on pace to easily double her production this year. In this interview, she shares her best tips for new agents.
Deborah Kearns: You’ve found success fairly quickly. How did you do it?
Shay Hata: It didn’t happen overnight. Working in real estate is a lot of hard work and long hours, and you have to earn the business. I did it by hosting open houses, networking with out-of-town agents for relocation referrals, and partnering up with local animal rescue groups—a cause that I’m deeply passionate about. I donate 5 percent of my commissions to these groups in exchange for publicity. Also, I created a business plan and put precise systems and checklists into place. You have to be accountable for your time and have a great follow-up routine.
DK: Tell me more about your strategy for hosting open houses.
SH: I never look at open houses as a way to generate leads; I want to get to know potential buyers, offer them my help and be a resource. I always invite the neighbors, too, because that generates some buzz. I don’t have visitors sign in, but rather, I ask them to sign out via the Open Home Pro app on my iPad. After my open houses, I set contacts up on an automated drip campaign. Additionally, I’ll send them similar properties via an automated MLS search. I held one open house (sometimes more) every weekend and, as a result, I began closing deals with every other open house and building my sphere of contacts. It was definitely time well spent.
DK: Great tips! What other systems or business apps do you use?
SH: I use Contactually (a Web-based CRM tool) for my drip campaigns, which includes two years’ worth of content after each closing. I email items of value once a week for the first month after closing, then monthly for the next two years. Some of those items might be market reports or home maintenance tips. Everything is automated and set up in advance, which frees up my time.
DK: How has your Web presence attributed to your success?
SH: Having a top-notch website with a clean, easy-to-use design is a must. I used Placester.com to create my website, which includes checklists for buyers and sellers, a rundown of the best Chicago neighborhoods, and my blog, as well as a list of trusted local vendors. Your website should be an all-inclusive, go-to resource. I also keep in touch with clients on my personal Facebook page so I know about their anniversaries, birthdays and other milestones.
DK: How else do you develop client relationships?
SH: I invest my marketing dollars in client appreciation events to treat my sphere like gold. I hosted a fun mani/pedi party for my female clients before Valentine’s Day, and they loved it! I did a sushi-rolling night for couples, a tax education event in March, and Thanksgiving pie pick-ups, too. If you’re just starting out, partner up with a real estate attorney or mortgage broker who can share the expenses with you.
DK: Did you work with a mentor or get specific real estate training?
SH: Yes! Real estate training is helpful, especially if you want to specialize in luxury or international listings. I’m getting my Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation and networking with international agents, because 20 percent of my buyers are from other countries (mostly China). If you can’t afford classes right off the bat, network with other successful agents in your office and learn from them. Go to brokerage events, real estate conventions and training events. Emulate and surround yourself with successful people.
DK: How do new agents break into the luxury market?
SH: You have to be comfortable around affluent buyers and sellers, and you have to speak their language. Offer to sit luxury open houses for agents who are too busy so you can start making those contacts. Also, they expect you to go above and beyond with concierge-style service. For example, I’ll hire a limo to take my luxury clients to downtown closings, or send a cleaning company before move-in. In addition, my assistant helps with tasks like grocery shopping or being present for service appointments. Those touches go a long way with luxury clients.
Deborah Kearns is an award-winning writer based in Denver with more than a decade of experience in corporate communications and news journalism. She has covered the real estate industry for more than seven years.
For more information, visit www.deborahkearns.com.