Editor’s note: This month’s interviews were conducted prior to the escalation of the coronavirus.
Vitals: Engel & Völkers Minneapolis
Years in business: 4.5 Size: 60 advisors, 3 shop locations
Region served: Minneapolis/St. Paul and surrounding metro
2019 sales volume: $381 million
2019 transactions: 1,061
In August 2015, Geoffrey Bray was given an opportunity to bring Engel & Völkers, a noted European-based real estate brand, to the Twin Cities, and became co-owner of Engel & Völkers Minneapolis.
Having had a poor experience in his first real estate dealings as a 25-year-old, Bray has made it his mission to never offer average service, and believes in a philosophy of providing world-class, red-carpet service to all clients.
“There is no room for average in this industry or your life,” he says.
Prior to the escalation of the coronavirus pandemic, Bray classified the Minneapolis housing market as strong, despite low inventory. Sellers with nice homes that were priced and marketed well were selling, and buyers enjoyed interest rates at historic lows.
How do you stay on top of trends and innovations?
Geoffrey Bray: We like to stay in the know on what is going on out there in our profession as far as new ideas and innovations go while keeping a healthy sense of what has always been most important, which is knowledge, expertise and service. Real estate agents are notorious for being attracted to the next shiny thing in the room, which is important to be aware of, but not always what is best for the individual’s business or the client’s needs.
When I look around our real estate professional landscape, I am always in awe of the top 10 percent of professionals who stay steady and firm in their commitment to their craft. Clients pursue an agent for a second and third time because of the experience they had. So, if we see a trend or innovation that we feel can truly help the consumer experience, those are what we tend to pursue or study further.
Are there any market segments/niches you’ve recently expanded into, or are considering expanding into?
GB: The Minneapolis condo market is undergoing major change. During the mid-2010s, certain condo buildings would become so popular that the listings inside the building would never hit our local MLS. Toward the end of the 2010s, building and development for new condo projects had come to a halt, leaving what was left on the open market with much to be desired as far as amenities and unique design. The market for downtown condos slowed dramatically in 2019, and we see an opportunity to bring some unique projects to the city and be a part of not only molding our skyline, but also, the experience a consumer has when shopping for a new condo. Over the course of the early 2020s, we hope to be part of a few cool projects in that space.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in the business?
GB: Worrying too much about the future. I spent a lot of time doing this early in my career, and at one point determined that it wasn’t doing anything positive for me or the people around me. Whether it is the well-being of our advisors and staff or market conditions, there is always something that can preoccupy my brain space with worry. Focusing on the positives, as well as the things I can control, has given me and our leadership team the ability to move a bit more freely.
What are the biggest opportunities for increasing business once we’re on the other side of the pandemic?
GB: Advisor growth, with the current advisors we have and a few more amazing ones. We are currently looking to expand into a new marketplace within our metropolitan area that we feel is poised for major growth over the next five to 10 years. With that, will be the need for new advisors that can assist with that location. We learned very quickly that there are two ways to grow the numbers at a real estate firm. The first is to hire a bunch of people that will all do a few transactions, and the other is to help all the people we currently have do a few more transactions. The idea of the latter seems to make both the company and the advisors happy. So, while growth in the number of people at our firm is important, the growth in their production and happiness is even greater.
Keith Loria is a contributing writer for RISMedia.