The Masters Series

In some fields, an apprenticeship or residency helps kick off a successful career. But in real estate, most just dive in after earning their license. Now's your chance to learn from a top-producing real estate pro.

The Techonology Master J. Lennox Scott

John L. Scott Real Estate, Seattle

In Lennox Scott's 30-year real estate career, he has stayed on the cutting edge of technology solutions. Today, his real estate firm has a team dedicated to innovation, development, and education. Take a look at how they do it.

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The Image Masters Jill Eber and Jill Hertzberg

Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, Miami Beach, Fla.

Meet Miami’s dynamic selling duo, The Jills, and get tips for creating a polished brand.

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The Open House Master Margaret Rome

Home Rome Realty, Baltimore

Baltimore practitioner Margaret Rome, e-PRO®, shares her secrets for creating a successful open house.

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The Prospecting Pro Anna Kruchten

Phoenix Property Shoppe, Phoenix

Phoenix practitioner Anna "Banana" Kruchten, CRS, CRB, GRI, has a knack for using unique strategies to land new clients.

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Stats Master Keith Byrd

Century 21 Hometown Realty, San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Keith Byrd is a numbers guy, and he's found that a little math can be a great way to reach out to buyers and sellers. Byrd uses housing stats from his local MLS to track pending home sales, new listings, expireds, recent sales, and more. He then posts the information to his Web site, slowatch.com, which he uses to provide inventory reports, median home price charts, and market trends for counties in his area. Watch the video to learn more how Byrd uses statistics to guide his business, and how you can, too. 

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The Team Experts

The Raines Group, New Albany, Ohio

A decade ago Sandy Raines was a hard-driving Real Living HER broker in New Albany, Ohio, whose heavy sales load frequently pushed her to the limit as she juggled work and family responsibilities. In 2001, her priorities abruptly changed when her young daughter nearly died in a freak elevator accident. "No one person can do it all," she says, "You need the support of others to succeed." Raines put together a team of 16 real estate pros including her husband, Ron Cadieux, a former organizational psychologist. The structure allows every member to focus on his or her strengths, whether it’s "selling, listing, or making sure the paperwork doesn’t fall through the cracks," she explains. By working together, Raines says, team members earn more than they would if they were selling properties on their own. In 2008, sales volume for the Raines Group topped $75 million, and the team expects even better results this year. Raines’ use of personality screenings for new recruits, as well as ongoing training exercises, helps her maintain a cohesive, high-functioning group of professionals who also genuinely like each other. Watch the Raines Group in action to see how its members minimize internal competition and encourage each other through the ups and downs of business.

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Auctioneer Bill Sheridan

Sheridan Realty & Auction Co., Mason, Mich.

For motivated sellers—including lenders looking to unload foreclosed homes—auctions are an increasingly popular way to get property sold fast, sometimes in a matter of minutes. But as simple as auctions may seem on the day of the sale, they require a lot of careful preparation. Just ask Bill Sheridan, owner of Sheridan Realty & Auction Co. in Mason, Mich. In 2008, Sheridan handled more than 60 auctions, and he expects an even higher volume this year as home owners leave Michigan due to substantial job losses. From creating a strategic ad campaign to setting the price and ensuring a good auction-day turnout, he says the auction process is far more involved than most people realize. "I open the bidding at a price I think is fair market value," he says. "If you start an auction at $50,000, the price will never reach $280,000." Spend a day with Sheridan, chairman of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Auction Forum, as he lifts the curtain on how business gets done in one of the busiest auction circuits in the country.

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Second Home Specialist John Resor

Sotheby's International Realty, Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Selling vacation homes isn’t so simple these days, especially when the price tags of your listings are in the seven figures. But there’s ample opportunity for skilled practitioners who can adapt to the times. Take John Resor of Jackson Hole, Wyo., who already has closed 17 transactions this year. The broker with Sotheby’s International Inc., with more than two decades of experience, educates prospects about his state’s home owner tax incentives and keeps in close contact with past clients, who are a key source of referrals. "I consider my clients to be my friends. After viewing property with them, I take them hiking or skiing. And I’ll stay in touch sometimes up to five years before they ever buy anything," he says. Spend a day with Resor against the backdrop of the Teton mountains to learn secrets for success in second-home sales.

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Relationship Expert Sue Smith

RE/MAX Premier, Dulles, Va.

When it comes to creating lasting connections with customers, it’s all about the personal touch, says top-performer Sue Smith, SRES, associate broker of RE/MAX Premier in Dulles, Va., and leader of the Sue Smith team. Hand-written thank you notes arrive in the mailbox of every open-house attendee, and past customers expect to hear from the 20-year real estate veteran on a regular basis—even if it’s just a quick call to say hi.

Indeed, Smith is passionate about real estate and it shows. She’s even incorporated her love of horses into her business, helping clients buy and sell equestrian property in northern Virginia. "We’re paid to be positive," says Smith, whose team’s sales volume has grown about 40 percent over last year at this time. "Every day I wake up thinking it’s a wonderful time to be in real estate." See some of Smith’s practical business tips and to get a taste of her contagious optimism.

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Foreclosure Expert Mary Berry

Century 21 All-Pro Realty Inc., Oklahoma City

With foreclosures making up such a large share of housing inventory, trying to avoid these often-complex deals isn’t only bad for business, but it’s becoming increasingly hard to do. Educate yourself by stepping into the shoes of Mary Berry of Century 21 All-Pro Realty Inc., Oklahoma City. Berry, CRB, CRS®, decided in 2001—after 19 years in the business—to focus exclusively on foreclosures. The move paid off big; last year Berry recorded 699 transaction sides, all involving distressed sales, and she expects to beat that volume in 2009. It’s not always easy, she admits, but it’s a niche worth pursuing. Get a glimpse into Berry’s day as she rolls up her sleeves and gets the job done.

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Condo King Chris Feurer

Jameson Real Estate, Chicago

For the series debut, we spend a day with Chris Feurer, a former owner of a carpet-cleaning business who realized the potential of real estate in 1996 after cleaning a HUD foreclosure property that was flipped in less than two weeks for a $50,000 profit. He started out as a leasing agent, making key connections in the apartment and condo markets. At GMAC Real Estate, Feurer rose to the top of the company's 22,000 practitioners. More recently, his team CRF Marketing at Koenig & Strey LLC exceeded $220 million in sales in 2007, placing it in the top 10 nationally for sales volume, according to an analysis by REAL Trends. In August 2008, Feurer and his business partner bought a controlling stake in Chicago's Jameson Real Estate, where he's grown the sales force from 93 agents to 170, with the plan of increasing it to at least 200.

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Katherine Tarbox is a senior editor with REALTOR® Magazine. Formerly, she was editorial director for Washington Life. She is the author of the international bestselling book A Girl’s Life (Dutton, 2000) and has made hundreds of media appearances including The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and CNN.

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