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About This Episode
Courtney Poulos started her real estate brokerage in 2009, right after the crash. She had 2 choices – either sink or swim. She not only mastered the art of staying afloat, but used the down market to increase her business to 7 figures. This week on The Walkthrough™, she shares five ways to take advantage of a market reset and grow your business.
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Links and Show Notes
- Use the Changing Market to Your Advantage
- Grow Your Business to 7 Figures
- Courtney’s HomeLight Agent Profile
- Acme Real Estate Website
- Courtney’s Podcast – Under All is the Land
- Courtney’s Book – “Break Up With Your Rental”
- Acme Real Estate Instagram Profile
- Courtney’s Instagram Profile
- Join our Facebook mastermind for The Walkthrough™ listeners
- HomeLight’s Agent Resource Center
- Follow and listen to The Walkthrough™: Apple Podcasts/iTunes | Spotify | YouTube
(SPEAKER: Lisa Johnson Smith, Host)
Lisa: If you were to play a game of “Family Feud,” and the question was, “Name a phrase that most real estate agents prefer not to hear,” I bet these would be on the list: low inventory,
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Man, I bet your team would rack up the points because that’s all we’ve heard for the last several months. Well, it is a known fact we are in a changing market.
Well, this should be music to your ears. My guest today has figured out how to use this changing market to her advantage and not only have a thriving business but one that continues to grow. And she’s gonna tell you how on today’s show. She started her career in 2005 and her business in 2009, right after the crash. She knew she had to get creative to figure out how she could turn lemons into lemonade. And let’s just say she’s made a whole lot of lemonade since then.
Well, on today’s show, she’s going to share five ways to grow your business by taking advantage of a market reset. This is The Walkthrough™.
Hey there, I’m Lisa Johnson Smith. Welcome to The Walkthrough™. This is a weekly show. New episodes come out every Monday. This is the show where you learn what’s working right now from the best real estate agents and industry experts in the country. At HomeLight, we believe in real estate agents. We’re here to explore how great agents grow their business, stand out from the crowd, and become irreplaceable.
Today you’re going to meet Courtney Poulos. She has been killing it as the broker-owner of ACME Real Estate in Los Angeles and co-founder of ACME Real Estate, Florida. Last year, she and her team sold $200 million in real estate. She’s also been named a Woman of Influence by HousingWire, and she’s also a member of the Forbes Real Estate Council. Her face might be familiar to you, too. She has appeared on “Million Dollar Listing, Los Angeles,” and she’s also a host on “American Dream TV.”
On today’s show, Courtney and I are going to talk about what she does to keep winning in a changing market, how she sets herself apart from other agents through her marketing, what she does to audit her competition in order to use it to her advantage, how she intentionally goes against the trends to work in her favor, her method that helps convert renters into buyers, and why knowing your value proposition is so important. Now, let’s get to my conversation with Courtney Poulos.
Lisa: What really struck me the most about your story when we first spoke is that you actually started in a down market.
Courtney: I started real estate in 2005, so I was right there for the first few months. It was still crazy, multiple offers. I started in D.C., and right afterward, right after I started, it started to go downhill. And by the time I moved back to LA, we were really in the throes of foreclosures and short sales, so it was a different time completely.
But here’s the thing, the market is always great for somebody. And what I did is I determined who that person was and what it is I thought they needed. So, when the market’s down, it’s a great time for investors to buy. When the market’s down, we always talk about down, like it’s bad for sellers, but it’s actually an up market for buyers. So, I like to change the narrative around what a bad market looks like because when buyers have opportunity, to me, that’s good too.
And the investor that I started soliciting, he had a lot of different agents running around sending him a lot of listings, but none of them really knew how to do the math the way that he needed the math to be done, to see if it was a good investment or not. So, I was persistent, very, very persistent with one investor who did about 10 deals a year, which was all I figured I really needed to get started and really build my business.
I met him after soliciting him for about a month. I met him in person. I had a spreadsheet of all of his past deals of what he bought it for, of what he sold it for, and what I approximated his profit margin to be. He didn’t even look me in the eye in our first meeting. But I was like, “Listen, I have no business. I have zero clients here.” That’s what I told him. “I have no competition in terms of dedicating myself to your agenda completely. I can do that. So if what you need right now is somebody who can really attend to your math and your hunt, I’m your girl.”
Lisa: Wait, I have to stop you. I love the way you just turned that around. “I have zero clients, but I’m all yours.”
Courtney: Zero clients. Yep. So, when I came back to LA, I had sold for five years in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. So it wasn’t like I didn’t know what I was doing, but I hadn’t really worked with a flipper before. The market had shifted upside down. It was a different market, but I feel like it all starts with analyzing and not being delusional about the changes that are happening.
Lisa: What do you mean by that?
Courtney: Who can win in a changing market? So, the people who are losing, or the people who lost in 2022 are the people who didn’t budget any contingency for a market shift in 2021 when they purchased their properties to flip, for example. So they’re the ones who had all their construction costs and budgeting around a number that was based on what buyers would pay at a lower interest rate.
So, they’re thinking the past markets were gonna carry on, so when the new market comes, they’re like, “Oh, my god, that just ate up all of our profit.” But they have to bring their prices down to what the buyers can afford since the interest rates have gone up. I mean, buyers can only qualify for what they can qualify for. So, they’re eating sometimes their profit and breaking even, or even taking a tiny loss. Now they’ve been winning for the past eight years, so that’s the other thing.
If you’re playing a long-term game, you realize you are gonna win some and lose some, and there will be years where some sudden shift happens and you have to accommodate. So, if you’re winning overall in the long run, it’s kind of like every other market, like a stock market, like your 401(k). It’s not gonna be a win every time, but if overall you’re winning at the end of 10 years of flipping houses and you’re making a lot more money than you would investing your money in the stock market, then it’s a good investment.
All that to say, no matter what the market is, there is somebody winning. And if you find out who that is, that’s the client that you need to solicit in order to keep yourself afloat, you know? And that’s how I built the business in a changing market.
Lisa: So, how did you decide though that…I mean, how did you pinpoint this one person and decide this is who you were gonna go for?
Courtney: The agent that was working with this flipper. They broke up, and my broker called me and said, “Hey Courtney, they just broke up so now’s your chance.” And I took that chance. He didn’t even return my phone calls for weeks. And then when he did, after the meeting, he gave me an opportunity to list a property, but it wasn’t even his, it was his partner’s property. It was a two-on-a-lot property in an area that was transforming, so kind of rough around the edges, next to a school that had a bell that would ring. And it had no appliances and it had no staging. So I took the listing. I staged it myself. I bought used appliances to put in there so that it would qualify for FHA.
Lisa: Out of your own pocket?
Courtney: Out of my own pocket. I did that. And I treated it like it was the most expensive listing on the East Side. And when he came in, when I had the broker’s open, even though I think nobody came to it, I still had food and brochures and all the things, and he was like, “Wow, you really…you know, you did this.” And I’m like, “Yep, that’s what I do.” And so it instilled some trust in him. So, I had to kind of show him what I could do before he trusted me with his listings.
So, the point is, again, knowing your audience, like what is it that’s missing? And I think real estate agents in the previous market got a little bit lazy. I would go into listings and be like, “What?” You know, there’s just the MLS printout on the table, or the house isn’t staged, or it’s staged poorly, or it’s dirty, or it just looked like nobody cared. And I’m like, “You just think you’re gonna throw this on and it’s gonna sell.” And they were. And so people would be: you didn’t have to do anything.
Now, whether or not they were leaving money on the table, in my opinion, they probably were. So it would even appeal to more people if it was done correctly. But you could still get away with it. Now, you can’t get away with it. You have to change your mind about who makes the decisions now and who’s making the decision right now in the market is the buyer. And the buyer knows the buyer has options. So the buyer is going to expect the most out of their purchase, whether it comes to renovations, presentation, or even pricing strategy. And sellers have to adjust to that and not cut corners like they were before.
Sellers’ agents need to not be cheap, spend a little money on marketing. It might take you three or four weeks to get the right buyer for a property, and that doesn’t mean you need a price reduction right away. It just means it’s gonna take a little bit longer in this market, which is fine but don’t be delusional and make choices based on the previous market. Acknowledge this market for what it is and who has the power here. It takes six months, I’d say, for most people to adjust to a shift in the market, and I’m hoping that this 2023 market has more realistic sellers, and their budgeting is going to be more realistic as well.
Lisa: As we went into 2023, did you find that your sellers were more amenable to changing the price?
Courtney: What I have found is that changes were made by the people who are putting their properties on for 2023 that are renovation resale artists. They started to make some changes in 2022 so that we could come on at a more reasonable rate. So, for example, I have a flipper who was thinking about maybe putting in a water feature, like a pool or a hot tub or something, that got nixed. I’m like, “Nope, we’re just gonna do pretty landscaping.” So, they’re cutting things out of the budget a little bit, and that’s okay, as long as it’s not the critical stuff, you know? But strategic and intelligent pricing is critical to having a really good sale, a faster sale for top dollar. So, I’m saying that I think that a lot of the people who are going live in 2023 are people who made adjustments in 2022.
Lisa: Gotcha. Okay.
Courtney: And the people who were doing 2021 to 2022 are just breaking even or taking a little tiny loss. And that’s okay. It’s a write-off.
Lisa: Right. But it’s still that conversation you have to have with your sellers, which I know you’re rolling your eyes right now. What’s that conversation like for you?
Courtney: Well, with regular sellers, I will say anybody who purchased a property in the past five to seven years is still going to make a profit when they sell. So, the property values haven’t come down, there’s no crash happening whatsoever. So it’s that on the resale, maybe sellers aren’t going to make as much money as they did before, but when they go to buy, they’re also getting a discount on the buy.
So, it’s six of one, half dozen of the other. The objective is to buy and sell in the same or more favorable market conditions. And that’s possible right now. So, you’re getting a deal on the buy, you’re dating your rate, so you can refinance at the end of 2023, and you’ll have a lower sales price. So that’s good. So yeah, you took a little bit less profit on the sales side.
For some people it’s even better because they’re getting capital gains, taxes on the higher increased profit. So, it can work out, you know, in the favor of the seller. I have to break all that stuff down to a seller, a regular seller. But a regular resale seller does understand that they have an advantage. So that’s the good news.
Lisa: Okay, so we’ve got this changing market. You built your business to seven figures in a changing market and you have very specific things that you attribute to being able to do that. Let’s get into some of those.
One of the things you talked about was auditing your competition and could you break this down for me? Because usually, people are doing a deep dive within their own company. They’re trying to break down, “Okay, where do we need to make these changes? What are we spending too much on, all that?” What do you do? How do you do this for your competitors?
Courtney: I do this naturally because I’m an intellectual by nature. I like data. I like to see. I like to analyze what’s going on. Say people don’t take time to focus on the business of the business. To me, that’s where all marketing starts. It starts with analyzing the competition. So, if I’m introducing a new soda brand or something, I wanna make sure that I know what my competition’s branding looks like, what their taste feels like, what people’s response to them is like, what their pricing is like, all the things so that I can strategically put myself as a competitor and have a chance at winning.
Same thing with building a brokerage. Same thing with building a real estate business generally. I think that you have to–like in my case of ACME right now–for example, we train agents. So, we have something called Agent Ascent training. It’s an 11-week training program where the trainees, one of their assignments is to go out into the field and go to open houses and actually evaluate what’s going on there. What paper is on the table? Did the agent ask you to sign in? Is there food? Is there drink? Is the sign dirty? Are there balloons? Did the agent pay attention to you? If the agent asks you if you are an agent and you say yes, do they stop talking to you? All the things, how are they dressed? Like what’s the vibe? Is there a smell?
And you’d be surprised what you learn from that. What the students learn from that is how many missed opportunities there are actually to engage. Because a lot of agents aren’t trained on how to host open houses effectively. They kind of treat it like they’re a receptionist or working retail. “Hi, I’m Courtney, do you have any questions?” No, that’s not how you instill competence and confidence in your real estate services to the consumer. So, you have to approach the interaction a different way. And this is one of the weaknesses of the competition. I’m 100% aware of that. And a lot of times people walk into our open house and say, “Oh, my gosh, you guys are the first nice agents we’ve met today.” I’m like, “What?”
Courtney: Yeah. People ignore them or they’re rude to them, which is another thing that happened in the past market. So, auditing the competition doesn’t just relate to open house interactions, it’s also what’s happening on social media.
Okay. So, I picked somebody whose career I desperately want, let’s say James Harris of The Agency. Let me look at his social media and see what he’s doing there. How many… And obviously, he has a TV show, so this is probably a bad example, but I’m just saying. I could look at: how many posts he makes a week, what the content of his posts are, how many personal posts versus business-related posts are there, how informational are his posts? Is it showing a lifestyle, or is he giving facts and figures that can help an ordinary buyer? Is he focusing only on luxury real estate, or is there something accessible for an ordinary buyer? What is there, and how can I improve it in my own?
For example, maybe you find somebody or a couple of agents who are killing it around any particular demographic. Some people choose their agent because this agent works in a particular neighborhood. So if I look at what her social is doing, what kind of postcard marketing is she doing, how can I find that out, what’s her messaging, etc. Then, I can figure out what’s missing, and I can fill that void.
Lisa: Wow, I love that. I mean, how much time do you think you put into auditing your competition, though?
Courtney: Oh, well, at this point in my career, I look at it more from a brokerage point of view. So I’m doing less on my own personal kind of branding, and more on how is ACME holding up compared to the other choices that a seller might have. I’d say I spend a solid at least an hour, two hours a week, for sure.
Lisa: Another thing you mentioned was going against the trends and so can you give a real-life example of a time that you did this?
Courtney: When I started in real estate, it was just postcards, postcards, postcards. Farming was pretty much postcards and door-knocking. And then, when the internet started to take off, as far as real estate marketing is concerned, that’s when a lot of people stopped spending their money on postcards and started spending their money on digital advertising. And that’s when I started spending more money on postcards.
Lisa: Okay, talk to me about that.
Courtney: Yeah, I mean, like to me, it was like, okay, so everybody’s moving their advertising spend to there. Because before, you’d send a postcard, but you were one of 10 postcards. When I stopped receiving real estate postcards, I was like, now’s a good time to do real estate postcards. So just going against the grain a little bit. There was a moment in Eagle Rock where I realized nobody was using bus bench ads anymore. So I’m like, “This is a no-brainer. I’m gonna do the bus bench ads.”
Lisa: So you took up bus bench ads?
Courtney: Oh yeah, I did.
Lisa: Are you on shopping carts too?
Courtney: I did.
Lisa: You did.
Courtney: I did it once. It resulted in nothing. I did it one time. Because we’re not really a neighborhood… The thing is, I think that works when you’re really trying to go for a neighborhood branding kind of a thing. With ACME, we’re really a style. Our brokerage vision, and our agents, and our listings, and everything is like an interior design kind of centric firm. So it doesn’t matter where in LA County, we have listings in San Diego, we have listings in Palm Springs, we’re all over the place, but what you’re gonna get is this particular type of presentation. So it’s not really neighborhood-specific. So I think it was kind of a waste of money.
Lisa: So which one was a waste of money? The bus bench ads or the shopping carts?
Courtney: The shopping carts.
Lisa: Oh, okay.
Courtney: For sure.
Lisa: All right, so then, how did the postcards work out for you? Did you find that you really got business?
Courtney: Well, actually yes. We got, and we still get listing appointment leads off of postcard farming. What I realized, though, is it’s much more effective for potential listings than it is for buying, for buyers. It doesn’t really hit buyers the same way.
I’m gonna talk about this in a second, but going against the trends is another thing where you constantly have to stay on top of your ROI. So when we had this website that was a crime blog on the East Side called East Sider. And nobody was advertising real estate there, but everybody was paying attention to what was on there because a lot of people were moving to the area, and they cared about crime. So it was like a crime…it was a crime blog, really, a neighborhood news blog. This is when blogs were big. And so I started advertising real estate there, and my click rate was so high. They were the number one traffic generator for our website and lead gen and everything. It was crazy. So I was buying banner ads, and sponsor posts, and doing all the things.
At a certain point, obviously, the competition caught on, and people started doing it too. And then my rate of return was so low. It was like 0.001. So I stopped advertising there. So, you do have to monitor it.
And I feel like real estate agents especially get stuck in a particular type of marketing, and they just keep doing that even if it’s not producing any results. And we also have this habit of throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks, regardless of the messaging. So overall, we need to be more thoughtful about what we’re doing, and especially as money becomes a little more tight, that auditing becomes really important and paying attention to what everybody else is doing so you can do the opposite of that also is going to serve you. You need to catch people’s eyes where there’s less clutter.
Lisa: I think that’s kind of like a great segue for another one of your suggestions, which is understanding who you’re marketing to and how they receive the information. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Courtney: So, this is the one, this is the one, the one, the one. So if I am making a postcard that’s going to sellers, having it say, “We just sold this house,” is okay, whatever, but it doesn’t really… What is a seller looking for in a real estate agent? You know, what is it that makes that agent potentially appeal to them?
So if I helped with the staging or renovation before putting it on the market, or if we were able to offer a service, like we have a new concierge service where people can do the renovations and then pay for it at closing, that information is more appealing. So I have to change my messaging from “Just Sold” to “Here’s how I just sold this listing for top dollar in your neighborhood.”
If I’m trying to market to buyers, buyers aren’t looking at postcards, right? We figured that out. So where are they? Who are they? Who’s buying in Northeast LA? Well, demographically, I can roughly tell you they’re between the ages of 28 and 40. There are married people. There are single people. Some that have kids. Some that don’t.
But they are all on social media and especially first-time home buyers. They’re at this period in their growth where they may not use Instagram so much for social, but they might use it for marketing their businesses. So, Instagram becomes a great place to explain certain things about why it’s easy to buy a house, or why interest rates shouldn’t be a hurdle right now, or whatever the messaging is that a buyer needs to know to get out of the renting cycle and get into actually considering a sale.
So you have to figure out what their hurdle is right now. Like buyer’s hurdles. High-interest rates. They hear high-interest rates. You’re literally throwing your money away on rent every single month. You’re throwing it away without a thought. So, the fact that you have to pay a couple of hundred dollars more for the next 10 months, but you’re gonna actually own an appreciating asset at what is still a historically low-interest rate, and that thing is going to be leverageable for you over the next 10 years, should dominate your tiny fear about the interest rates being slightly higher than they were last time. The fact that you could write an offer and you’re only gonna be up against two other offers should encourage you to get in the market.
Every investor that I know that is successful buys when the market’s down. Down. When no one else is buying, when they have a competitive advantage. So getting that messaging like, “Hey, guys, don’t read the headlines. This is your moment. This is what you’ve been waiting for and here’s why.” That kind of messaging will translate on social. It is something that somebody would share with their friend who’s thinking of buying.
But there are other things too. I wrote a book called “Breakup with Your Rental, the Professional Woman’s Guide to Building Wealth Through Real Estate.” I started with nothing. My mom taught me nothing about real estate, about buying a house, nothing. And nothing about life management, money management. I didn’t understand any of that.
I remember when my sister was working as a waitress at Shake Shack. My grandma was like, “Well, she’s making about $100 a day waitressing. It’s a great job.” You know, there was never like, “Hey, you know, there’s no future there.” And that’s the class of people that I come from, which is fine. And, of course, I love the roots of it. They don’t need a lot of money to be successful.
But in terms of how competitive life is getting now and expensive things are, when you look at the cost of things versus the income that we’re making, if you’re planning for the future for your kids, you can’t play defense. You have to play offense. And offense means real estate. This is the only space where people can actually make real money, life-changing money, legacy money that I see. Unless you’re a real tech guru, and you can invent an app that Apple’s gonna buy or something like that. But otherwise, this is it for the ordinary person. So that kind of messaging should be empowering.
And when I wrote that book, my point was to say, “Even if you think you can’t do it, here are 10 ways that you can. And maybe it’s partnering with your girlfriends, or maybe it’s taking a skill you have that you know these flippers don’t have. Like you are great at design, these flippers suck at it. Why not offer your design services for free to a flipper in exchange for 5% of the profit?” Whatever, create it, invent it, but don’t sit on the sidelines saying, “There’s no way I can save up to have a down payment,” watching all your friends moving forward and you’re sitting on the sidelines of your own life and your own financial independence.
So, all that to get back to the point of understanding who you are, who you are marketing to, what you’re marketing, and how they’re going to receive it is the foundation of good marketing spend. So that requires analysis too. So why not call your clients and be like, “Hey, if you were gonna move somewhere, where would you move?” Or like, “What are you looking at the real estate market and thinking right now?” Or call your renter friends and be like, “I noticed you haven’t bought. Of course, I’m a real estate agent doing a little research. So what’s your hesitation? What are you worried about right now?”
Find out what their concerns are, do a little market research, put some effort in, hear what they’re saying and then address that in your marketing. And you could ask these people too. You could probably do a Facebook poll, like where do you receive your ads? For the younger people, it’s on TikTok.
Instagram is where it’s at right now, for sure. Even I have to make sure I’m keeping up with certain trends. And I do feel like since people are receiving information via Instagram, it’s a perfect place to have these kinds of conversations which are very valuable conversations. I’m with it, and I get it, and I wish somebody would’ve educated me the way I’m capable of educating them.
Lisa: Right. And that goes along with what you say about demystifying the market, too, these conversations.
Courtney: Yes. Committing to the language. So, in training, the kinds of things that we do with our agents is I throw questions at them, the same types of questions that sophisticated buyers and sellers ask me. Like, does every agent know how to answer the question about “Is it a good time to buy?” Like if I asked you, “Is it a good time to buy real estate right now,” would you know how to answer?
Courtney: What would you say?
Lisa: Well, I would say yes, actually it is because you have less competition. Even though the interest rates are higher, there are way less buyers. So where you would have in the past, more recent past, paid way above…what is it, around 40% above what a home is listed for, now, you will pay even below asking a lot of properties, especially in this area going below asking where they were nowhere near going below asking before, you might pay higher interest rates, but you won’t pay over in the house, and then you can eventually refinance your house.
Courtney: Perfect. So, you know the language of real estate. But I bet you any money that if you ask five agents, especially at the beginning of the shift in the market, how to answer that question, a lot of them didn’t know how to answer it. So our job as real estate agents is to be able to break things down and change people’s minds about how it’s supposed to look. We have to do that by understanding how to speak it clearly ourselves. It’s a language.
I’ll give you an example. I have buyers who are looking at condos, right? So, some condos have high monthly HOAs. Some have low monthly HOAs, right? But if you are a buyer, you think about real estate like it’s an expensive pair of shoes or an expensive car. Really, we’re moving our money from the bank of our savings account to the bank of our real estate account, so it’s not like spending money on a pair of shoes or a car, but still, in our brains, that’s how it feels.
So, if they say to me, “Courtney, I love this place. This condo, it’s $700,000, but the monthly HOA is $1000 a month. That’s crazy. I’m not paying that.” Then I would say, “Well, what is it that you expected to pay? Oh, you expected to pay $500 a month? Okay, great. So how long do you think you’re gonna be living in this house? Five to seven years. Great. Let’s take $500 a month times 12 months times five years, find out what that number is, and then we’re gonna deduct that from our offer price. How’s that feel? Good? Great. Perfect. Done. Now you get the house you want, at the price you want, and you’ve accommodated for the extra HOA fee.”
Lisa: I love that.
Courtney: And it’s like, “Oh, I didn’t even think of…like, I couldn’t even think of it that way.”
Lisa: Yeah, you just threw me for a loop. I’m like, “Ah, that’s a great idea.”
Courtney: That’s our job. We have to make sure people understand to not get stuck in the moment too. I get this question all the time, “Well, if I buy today, what if two years from now, the price isn’t what I paid for it?” And I’m like, “Then you rent it.” The objective is to buy and sell in the same or more favorable conditions. So, you wait. And that’s okay.
A 30-year fixed-rate loan, which is what a lot of buyers get, even though that doesn’t always make the most sense, but that feels safe for them. The first 10 years is mostly interest. So, the second 10 years. So, that’s where the tenant is paying down your principal at a much higher rate. So, it’s ideal, in fact, for you to get the heck out of there, leverage your asset, buy something else, let the tenants pay your principal down, and then sell in the next cycle. Perfect.
Lisa: Love that.
Courtney: You know what I mean? There’s nothing scary about this. The richest people in the world own real estate, and there is a reason why.
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Lisa: Hey, this is Lisa Johnson Smith. How would you like to have a say in future episodes of The Walkthrough™? How would you like to ask my guest your own follow-up questions and connect with other listeners to help them and learn from them? Well, you can do all of that and more in our Walkthrough™ Mastermind community on Facebook. Just go to Facebook, search for HomeLight Walkthrough™, and it should be the first group you see. Click join and come be a part of our community.
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Do you have a coach?
Lisa: It’s interesting to me when I…I mean, I hear people who are like yourself, super successful, making seven figures, and they’re like, “Yeah, talk to my coach every week.” Why do you choose not to have a coach?
Courtney: That’s a great question. I feel like it interrupts my flow. I have in the past. When I started the company, I had a business coach, and it was expensive. And the best advice that he gave me was outsource the stuff you procrastinate. Like, that stuck with me, and I do do that. Yeah, there’s something about real estate coaches that feel very cheerleader-y and kind of cultish to me, and I’m just not that kind of a group think kind of person. I invent things. I need to be alone with my vibe and my thoughts.
Lisa: You’re a visionary. Yeah.
Courtney: Yeah. And that is how I move.
Lisa: That’s just so wild for me to hear because I interview so many agents and super successful agents, and you are probably the first person who said that people push coaching, coaching, coaching, and there’s nothing wrong with it if that works for you. But I love the fact that you said this doesn’t work for you, “And it’s okay, and I’m still winning.”
Lisa: Love that.
Courtney: No, it’s true. It does… I have some agents who have coaches they love, and I’m so supportive of that. Whatever works for you, I just know what works and doesn’t work for me. But that brings me to my final point about what you always need to do, whether it’s a changing market or not, and this is a place where a lot of new agents just haven’t figured it out yet. But once you know it, boy, can you run with this. And I can give you an example. Know your value proposition. Why would someone choose you over someone else?
So, what I remind my trainees is that they’re gonna be up against me in the listing presentation. So they better be able to go in there and figure out what it is they’re selling about themselves, or what skill or talent they have or knowledge they have that makes them a better fit than me with all my years’ experience, and all my past sales when they don’t have that.
It’s kind of like whenever I was meeting with that flipper, and I said, “Listen, I have zero clients to compete with. I know my value is that I can contribute time, and you can be my only thing I’ve got going.” And that was a value to him because he’s sick of having all these different agents running around, giving him bad deals, and he wanted somebody who understood exactly what he wanted and focused only on that.
So I know with ACME, for example, our value proposition, when we go into a listing presentation, we spend thousands more on marketing than our competition. The way we present is unique to the market. People know it. They know our houses, and our representation is associated with quality. So we elevate the brand of our clients or the way it looks, the way it feels, the way it’s shot. We never take shortcuts ever, and we just have a reputation for being high quality. Let’s say that the staging…like you can see it if you go on our website.
Lisa: Oh yeah.
Courtney: The staging, the way we shoot. So we shoot…
Lisa: It’s cinematic.
Courtney: It’s cinematic. It’s lifestyle. It’s editorial. We shoot wide for the MLS. We shoot vertical for Instagram. We shoot vignette for Lifestyle. We shoot centerfold for our brochures that look like magazines. So we do these unique, beautiful magazines for every single one of our listings that are just about that property. Only about that property, but they are so pretty. And it’s a whole thing.
But also we market internationally and nationally. So our listings appear all over the world through our connection with Leverage. We really have expanded into certain other service industry kind of things. Like we do project management and fit and finish consultation for our renovation resale artists because they know we know we’re on the ground with buyers. We can tell you they don’t want subway tile. They’re sick of Carrera marble countertops. We know what they’re saying. We can give that to you, and you can use that to create a unique product that’s going to fly off the shelves even in a changed market.
So, we know that our value is in our experience, our attention to detail, the way that we market, the fact that we’re not cheap, and the fact that we have a high-quality control ethos. Our agents are collaborative. We are not competitive. We are not sales trophy, top in the office. That’s not how we work. And so that energy is really something that can translate to the success and consistency of our brand, but the success of our sellers and our buyers, and that’s what we really care about the most.
(SHORT MUSIC TRANSITION)
Lisa: Well, there you have it. I hope these tips from Courtney have helped you to rethink how you do business in the changing market. We’re gonna get to our takeaways in a moment, but if you want to connect with Courtney, check out today’s show notes. I’ll leave a link to Courtney’s website and her social media profiles. Courtney mentioned that she wrote a book called “Breakup with Your Rental,” and I’ll be sure to leave a link to that as well. And one last thing, Courtney has a pretty fun podcast called “Under All is the Land” that she co-hosts with a couple of other agents. You should check it out.
Now let’s get to those takeaways. From episode 108 with Courtney Poulos, “Five Ways to Take Advantage of a Market Reset and Grow Your Business.”
Takeaway number one: Don’t be afraid to go against the trends. Courtney makes it a point to do this. She says when most agents stop doing one thing, that’s her sign to start doing it. It’s an easy way for her to stand out from the crowd.
Takeaway number two: Always audit your competition. That means studying them to understand their weaknesses or strengths. And that way, you can be sure you’re not making the same mistakes but also improve upon what they’re doing better than you are.
Takeaway number three: Know your value proposition and then practice it through your marketing. One of the things Courtney’s team is known for is their design-savvy listings that have a cinematic look and feel.
And takeaway number four: Learn to demystify the market. That means being able to speak the language of real estate in order to educate your clients in a clear and easy-to-understand way, but also know your audience so that you’re sending the right messaging to your target demographic.
Well, that about does it for this week. Thanks to Courtney Poulos for joining me, and thank you for listening.
Hey, do me a favor? Please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen. Hit that follow button so you get all of our future shows automatically. My name’s Lisa Johnson Smith, and you’ve been listening to The Walkthrough™.
At HomeLight, we believe in real estate agents. We’re here to explore how great agents grow their business, stand out from the crowd, and become irreplaceable. Now go out and make some moves. I’ll talk to you again next week.
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