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Four years as an airman in the U.S. Air Force gave Keli James, team leader of the Keli James Team at eXp Realty, a sense of commitment and confidence, not to mention a great appreciation for teamwork. Add to that a post-service stint as an accounting professional skilled in negotiations, and it not surprising that she decided to put all those assets to work for her building a successful career in real estate.

By 1994, just five years after separating from the Air Force, and newly licensed, James began studying the benefits of team dynamics in the industry even as she worked to advance her own sales career. By 2018, she had built a team of six buyer’s agents who ultimately settled in with her at eXp Realty in Las Vegas, Nevada, committed to helping a growing number of clients, including a number of veterans, to seamlessly buy and sell their homes.

The team currently serves the greater Las Vegas area, but James, encouraged by her success in training and assisting a rotating number of additional buyer’s agents to convert listings into sales, is now looking for local buyer’s agents to join her newly established team based in South Florida.

Barbara Pronin: Keli, relating your achievements as a team leader makes it sound as though it was an easy rise, but I’m sure there were bumps along the way.

Keli James: For sure. Nothing is easy. Transitioning out of the air force, getting my feet under me in business and then learning the basics in real estate, all while raising my daughter, took more energy than I knew I had. But I loved what I was doing, and I think that, as well as some terrific mentors who helped me along the way, are the reason we’ve been able to thrive and grow.

BP: As I understand it, mentoring others is at least, in part, your strategy for establishing a team of buyer’s agents.

KJ: Yes. I’m a firm believer in our brand’s core value to, “work hard, be kind and make a difference,” and I love to see new agents do well. Agents who refer their listings to me can do so in one of two ways. They can turn the listing over to me completely and receive a referral fee, if they prefer, or we can operate on a 50-50 basis, in which case I provide some hands-on training for them as we move through the sales transaction.

BP: How does this help buyers and sellers?

KJ: Our commitment to every client is based on my more than 20 years of sales expertise, a transaction coordinator who is one of the best in the business—my amazing and patient daughter, Aubriana Martinez—and a deep-seated dedication to doing the right thing. It’s all about transparency, consistency and security in client service. You can’t maintain and grow a business that relies on referrals unless your clients leave happy.

BP: As a veteran yourself, I know you are also committed to assisting other veterans. How?

KJ: Yes, I’m proud to say that veterans account for about a quarter of our business. We are proud to reimburse their appraisal and home inspection fees when they work with us.

BP: Your strategies must be working if you’ve made the commitment to establish a team in Florida. In fact, this is launch month, isn’t it?

KJ: It is. Our new offices are based in Southern Florida, and I’m looking now for referral agents there who want to work with me in expanding our reach while they are building successful careers.

BP: Why South Florida, specifically?

KJ: Like Las Vegas, South Florida is an attractive destination area with no state taxes and many amenities—and who doesn’t want to live near those fabulous beaches? It’s always a busy market and we look forward to being part of it.

BP: What do you look forward to in the coming months?

KJ: I think a lot of re-financing last year may have reset the clock on sales to an extent, but I also look for new opportunities as the economy continues to open up and more people in the restaurant and hospitality industries get back to work—especially while interest rates remain so low.

BP: Well, it looks like you’ve got your work cut out for you. How do you keep your growing team motivated?

KJ: I’ve always been motivated less by money than by doing the right thing, by working hard to make every transaction a win-win—and that goes for my team members as well as for the buyers and sellers we serve. We value the privilege to help people achieve their real estate dreams, and we promise to keep doing just that.

Barbara Pronin is a contributing editor for RISMedia.