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In the following interview, Vickye Vasser, broker/owner of HomeSmart Realty South in New Orleans, La., discusses her growth path, and how her agents help her succeed.

Region Served: New Orleans, La.
Years in Real Estate: 25
Number of Offices: 2
Number of Agents: 100

I understand you have a legal background. Has this benefitted your journey in real estate?
Prior to my real estate career, I worked in the legal field, and I keep my license active because I put those skills to use every day. It’s helpful to be able to negotiate with other brokers, and I’m able to identify and avoid pitfalls my agents could fall into and make sure they’re protected and supported.

What is one unique challenge you and your team have been faced with over the last few years, and how have you adapted?
I’m from New Orleans, but I lived in California for 20 years before coming home five years ago. When I moved back, I realized there was a void in the market of a transaction-based real estate company. HomeSmart was already huge in other areas, but not here, so I saw a huge opportunity. However, no one had heard of HomeSmart, so I was trailblazing, and that has been the biggest challenge. In the past two years, we grew from three agents to 100. The key was getting over that hill of people knowing who we were and what we do. Once agents and clients understood that HomeSmart Realty South has incredible technology and broker support, as well as a fantastic company culture, things took off.

How have you facilitated such large growth in that time?
My agents have exceeded my expectation in helping me grow. I don’t pay referral fees because I feel that when a potential agent comes in to interview and they’ve been referred by one of my agents, they usually ask, “Is there something in it for the agent that referred me?,” and when I say no, that makes the recommendation authentic. New Orleans is focused on Southern hospitality, and we do take care of each other. I take care of my agents, and my agents have helped me build my business.

What does success look like for you and your team?
Success to me would be striking that balance of financial success and freedom. A lot of the time when you grow, the price you pay is being a slave to your job. When I started, I was still wearing 18 hats, so success would be having the growth continue without burdening myself or my team. This means having the proper systems in place. HomeSmart helps by offering excellent systems, many of which I’m still learning.

What is your top tip for new agents entering the field today?
I’m a fundamentalist. I know technology is fundamental to success these days, but I tell agents to focus on their relationships. I love Brian Buffini‘s personal notecard system, and I believe that if you target a few reliable people in your sphere that want to see you succeed, and you take them to lunch and let them know how important the relationship is, you will succeed. It’s not just personal contacts, either. Partner with businesses in the area. Ask your dentist if he or she has an agent to refer to their clients. If they say no, take them to lunch and see if they’re interested in having that kind of relationship.

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Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at