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As the leader of a real estate team, Dustin Oldfather is focused not only on his group’s success, but also on helping the individual members of his team thrive.

Oldfather, CEO of The Oldfather Group with Ocean Atlantic Sotheby’s International Realty, began in real estate alongside his wife, Mariya, after meeting while he was a student at the University of Maryland, College Park.

“The first year, we spent all of our savings,” says Oldfather, based out of Rehoboth Beach, Del. “We were all-in on real estate, and excited for the independence of being self-employed entrepreneurs.”

Their business grew in time, despite Oldfather having yet refined his skills, and a critical disconnect with the homebuyers in their marketplace.

“We had good mentors, but everybody that was in real estate [at the time] was fairly well established,” Oldfather says. “I was a good communicator, but I didn’t have great sales skills, and didn’t understand how to create clients. At the time I was in my 30s, and all my clients were in their 50s.”

Then the downturn struck—and in an area that attracted mostly retirees, business for the couple dried up quickly.

So, they shifted their strategy.

Dustin and Mariya Oldfather

“In 2008, the market was so soft, we decided to pursue internet consumers,” says Oldfather. “We were ahead of the curve.”

The online play was successful, but handling inbound leads soon became unmanageable. To address their need for support—and mirroring the origins of other real estate teams—the Oldfathers branched out.

“Because of the volume of inquiries we were getting, it was too much follow-up,” Oldfather says. “We wanted to build a team to give us more stability. We had to go through the learning curve of being business owners and managers, more so than just producers. We were lucky we found a good niche; it has served us well.

“We continued to moderately scale over the years, building our team methodically.”

Today, The Oldfather Group has 25 agents and several staff, including a director of Agent Development, a listing coordinator, an outbound inside sales agent (ISA) and a photographer. The Oldfathers—Dustin as CEO and Mariya as CFO—have dual responsibilities: ensuring the success of the team as a whole, as well as that of each member.

The Oldfather Group

“Personal branding is going to supersede all branding as we move forward in our careers,” says Oldfather. “We’re helping [our agents] build their brand. It’s not just about listing marketing.”

That includes crafting content, and doing it strategically. To that end, The Oldfather Group has brought on a director of Creative Content, a copywriter and a social media specialist.

“We’ve been excited about creating content,” Oldfather says. “We’re trying to find new ways to create clients. We also have to have our story. Part of what we’re doing here with social media is helping our agents to understand building their own personal brands, and doing that in tandem with our brand, so they can leverage the strength of that and not be left behind, like what’s happening with so many agents.

“We’re co-branded—we never want to dominate our agents,” says Oldfather. “We want them to be able to be themselves. We can’t hold people back.”

With 300 homes sold last year and a Brandywine expansion on the horizon—plus the addition of a Motto Mortgage, which has built out their capabilities even further—The Oldfather Group has an eye toward the future.

“We’re scaling with purpose and thoughtfulness,” Oldfather says. “We want great people…and we want them to have success. That’s why we’re built the way we’re built. For high service for our clients, we have to consider everybody as a client, including the key personnel that work with us. If we always do that, we’ll create the best experience for each dimension of the team.”

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com.

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