Amy Tep has been a fan of home design since she was a child growing up in Maryland, so it’s no surprise the Vietnam-born team founder of the La’Tep Team at Better Homes and Gardens Metro Brokers gravitated to selling real estate as an adult.
Today, the four-person La’Tep Team, headed by Kim La and Amy Tep, serves buyers and sellers in greater Atlanta, Georgia, with a focus on being a caring resource for the area’s growing Vietnamese community.
Settling in Atlanta six years ago, when her husband’s military stint took them there, Tep quickly dove into the city’s diversity, both as a volunteer and as a REALTOR®, establishing her team with Metro Brokers in 2017.
La, whom she met while volunteering in the Vietnamese community, was initially the team’s office administrator, graduating to the position of co-leader when she earned her real estate license early in 2021. With the 10-county Atlanta region home to 83% of Georgia’s substantial Vietnamese population, the busy team recently expanded to include experienced agents Cindy Huynh and Steve Doan.
“As so many people in the Vietnamese community speak little or no English, it’s important for them to build trusted connections,” Tep says. “We want them to know we are there for them.”
While Vietnamese clients make up 70 to 80% of the team’s business, she says, their focus is on providing the best possible real estate experience for all their buyers and sellers.
It’s an approach that is yielding productivity. To date this year, the team has closed more than 40 transactions, nearing $14 million in sales with a goal of reaching $20 to $24 million by year’s end.
Here, we interview Tep to gain insights into her team’s focus on design and how she’s found success in her niche.
Barbara Pronin: Amy, tell me a little about your fascination with home design as a kid.
Amy Tep: I can’t explain it, really, except that I was always curious about design, textures, the features in a house, the architecture. It must have spilled over, because my 13-year-old wants to be an architect. The fact is, I want my buyers to understand how the features and design in a home can work for them.
BP: It sounds as though you have established deep roots in the Atlanta community in the six years since you’ve been there.
AT: I came to this country from Vietnam as a child, so I know how confusing and frustrating it can be to get a footing. This is my way of giving back. Many people in our Vietnamese community need help understanding and adjusting to our way of life, and I have worked hard to help. It’s not surprising that people try to do business with people who speak their language and take the time to fully answer their questions.
BP: There are many Vietnamese real estate agents in Atlanta. What is it that differentiates your team?
AT: Our focus is on education. We are very thorough, because we want to be sure our clients fully understand the buying process. Also, we stay in touch with them, even long after closing, to answer questions, to act as a resource, to help them find their place in the community. That’s why we are successful, I think. Much of our business comes from referrals.
BP: Communication must have been easier with just two on your team. How are things changing now that you’ve added two agents?
AT: We really are growing as more than a team. We already feel like family, very comfortable with each other and how we can pull together. We have monthly meetings to share information and set goals. But we also have a group chat every day, to be sure all the bases are covered, to understand everyone’s transactions in progress and if anyone needs help or backup. Steve is licensed in commercial real estate as well, so we are able to stay abreast of that.
BP: What are your plans for future growth?
AT: We want to be sure we grow strategically, because we know that the success of our agents reflects on Kim and me as team leaders. We want to be sure that every client is properly screened, that we understand their goals and are equipped to make every transaction a good experience. It helps that we have all the resources of Better Homes and Gardens and the Metro Brokers team behind us. It’s part of what helps us customize our service.
BP: If you could summarize your objective in a few words, what would you say?
AT: The real estate process can be challenging for buyers and sellers no matter how well you speak the language. We want to make it better, more rewarding for all. I guess I would say, we want to be the change that matters.
Barbara Pronin is a contributing editor to RISMedia.