RISMedia's Real Estate Magazine

AUG 2018

Real Estate magazine is the industry's leading source for real estate news and information since 1980. Published monthly by RISMedia, Real Estate magazine offers timely and relevant real estate news to the industry's top brokers and agents.

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90 August 2018 RISMedia's REAL ESTATE cess baked in to support our clients at a very high level. MP: Why is this strategy of invest- ing within, as opposed to spreading out, particularly important in your area? VB: In the Bay area, you might have to write 6 - 10 offers to get one into contract; properties move within 14 days. Much of the work is done on the front end by staff and agents be- fore a listing even goes public. It's like a production for a movie—and the seller is the one who benefits. I believed that having multiple offices spread out in multiple territories with multiple agents and multiple man- agers would be diluting the experi- ence—what we wanted to offer was a distilled experience. So we grew our local market knowledge instead. And it's worked. We were at $250 million in sales when I bought the company and we're just under $1 bil- lion today. MP: So, how does your strategy of focusing on the agents you have rather than recruiting more agents translate to beer service for the consumer...and increased profitabil- ity for your firm? VB: Having more agents isn't what's best for the consumer. Having agents that have resources that can protect and support the consumer is what matters. Those resources don't usually come in the form of another agent, they come in the form of a well-trained, sophisticated support staff on the back end—people who can do all the research and admin work so that the agent can focus on what they do best, which is know- ing the market, getting the house prepared and successfully negotiat- ing the transaction. Our model is to run the firm like a serious business. By doing so, our per-person produc- tion increased by 30 - 40 percent. The market changes like the tide; if you're not full-time servicing several transactions a month, the consumer you're working for won't get the best service. Why bring in more agents who won't do as many transactions per year? Why not support the ones you have instead? MP: How would you describe your market? What are the greatest challenges? VB: We're in the technology hub of the country, so our clientele de- mands that you're technologically up to speed. They want to know that you know what you're talking about when it comes to marketing a house and financing. Our clients are incredibly educated—we're dealing with every- one from CEOs of tech companies to savvy millennials, and the way they communicate and the speed in which we have to respond is critical. When you're moving properties with- in 14 days, marketing, speed and ac- curacy are of the utmost importance. MP: How are you best serving the needs of your clientele? VB: A lot of documents go into the contract here—our agents and staff have to know a lot about disclosures, condition and local ordinances. Rath- er than constantly outsourcing it, we looked at how the company can inter- nally support the agent and the cli- ent by taking this part of the job over. As opposed to being part of a fran- chise, we're deeply ingrained in a specific community. Berkeley, Calif., is unlike anywhere else in the coun- try. There's a high income and it's an expensive place to live. It's also still counter culture and doesn't respond to elite marketing. If you try to go glitzy to appeal to the 1 percent, it works against you. So the question we ask is, "What am I doing today that will help my buyer and seller?" What am I doing to train and pre- pare my agents to take care of that person? Will having a lot of inexperi- enced agents help that consumer? Probably not. We're hyperfocused on what our sellers need and getting their property exposed and sold. "The market changes like the tide; if you're not full-time servicing several transactions a month, the consumer you're working for won't get the best service." - VANESSA BERGMARK OWNER AND CEO Market knowledge is a key component to the brand's continued success.

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