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Winter 2014 • Volume 8 / Issue 4

Diversity Dedication Daring

Meet this year’s REAL Trends The Thousand.

They reveal their success secrets and give you a peek into their lives.

PLUS: Teaching by Example While Realtor Sukh Singh hasn’t been a victim of domestic violence, she knows how to help those who are. ®

How I Got My Start: This young entrepreneur is a force to be reckoned with on the Miami luxury housing auction scene.

Giving Back Find out how one giving back program is reaping many rewards.


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Winter 2014 Volume 8 / Issue 4

4 6 16 21 24

Publisher’s Note: Amazing Success

From helping victims to domestic violence to developing new business models, the stories of real estate professionals featured in this issue are nothing short of amazing.

COVER STORY:

Diversity, Dedication, Daring

Meet this year’s REAL Trends The Thousand. They reveal their success secrets and give you a peek into their lives.

Teaching by Example

While Sukh Singh hasn’t been a victim of domestic violence, she knows how to help those who are. Here’s her story.

Going, Going, Sold!

This young entrepreneur is a force to be reckoned with on the Miami luxury housing auction scene.

Building a Culture of Giving

Find out how one giving back program is reaping many rewards.

6 16 21 24


Letter from the Publisher

Amazing Success

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am constantly amazed by the variety of people who have created great success in their real estate careers. They come from different countries, different cultures and bring their own flair for how to succeed. Just as important is how they live their lives. In this issue of LORE, we uncover a sales associate who works to shelter women who are victims of domestic violence and one who provides shelter and care for animals. All are driven to succeed, not just in the business of real estate; but in the goal of creating better families and communities. In this issue, we cover the careers of some of the nation’s very best, from Ben Caballero in Texas and Mark Spain in Georgia to The Jills in Florida. Caballero built a business serving production builders with a highly specialized set of services. Spain has built an enormous team approach to selling homes in the Atlanta area, shifting from regular sales to distressed and back again. The Jills built a brand serving high-end clients in South Florida and have appeared more than once at the top of The Thousand. While it appears that the world revolves around technology, the reality is that the skills, drive and desire to serve are what underlies the best real estate agents in America. It doesn’t matter where you come from or your educational degrees. What matters most is the drive to succeed, whether it is in real estate sales or in giving back to your community.

Stephen H. Murray Publisher

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www.loremagazine.com Steve Murray Publisher smurray@realtrends.com Tracey C. Velt Editor-in-Chief tvelt@realtrends.com David Grassnick Graphic Designer chiefcreative@msn.com Travis Saxton Webmaster tsaxton@realtrends.com Doniece Welch Advertising dwelch@realtrends.com 303-741-1000 Lore magazine is published online via Issuu four times a year—in February, May, August and November—by REAL Trends Inc. 7501 Village Square Drive, Ste. 200 Castle Rock, CO 80108 (303) 741-1000 Free Subscriptions: Click Here or call 303-741-1000 tsaxton@realtrends.com


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Diversity Dedication Daring REAL Trends The Thousand, as advertised in The Wall Street Journal


I

t’s no wonder that individuals in this year’s REAL Trends/ The Thousand, as advertised in The Wall Street Journal are successful—no two are the same. They’ve built new business models, they work long hours and they love what they do. We profile three of the top The Thousand sales associates. Read their stories here:

No. 2 Team by Sides Mark Spain, associate broker, team CEO Keller Williams North Atlanta The Mark Spain Team Thinking Outside the Box Mark Spain, team CEO of The Mark Spain Team of Keller Williams North Atlanta, is no stranger to the real estate industry. “I am a second-generation Realtor®,” says Spain. “I grew up with real estate at the dinner table and went into the building business with my father.” Spain segued into onsite sales with a large builder until, in 1997, he joined a RE/MAX firm, where he was a top producer for 15 years. Then, the market crashed and the brokerage went bankrupt. “At the time, I was doing a lot of short sales and had 220 active listings and 200 pending sales,” says Spain. He closed every pending deal, bought the 220 listings from the brokerage and joined Keller Williams. That was in 2010. “I learned a lot from that experience,” says Spain. The most important lesson, he says, was to think outside the box. Once at Keller Williams, Spain quickly built a team that now stands about 40-people strong. “At this point, my main focus is human resources. When you get this size, you’re a small business and the people issues are consuming,” he says. “I also focus on talent searches. Only certain people fit our culture. We’re a positive, motivating family business, and culture is a big deal.” The emphasis is on “positive,” he says. “It’s hard enough working with so many different personalities; you don’t want your partner or neighbor dumping on you every day. We have a 100-day trial. We give them time to adjust, and we coach them through. Many who are negative don’t even realize that they are that way.”

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REAL Trends’ The Thousand His focus on human resources came from his father’s advice, says Spain. “He taught me the world of positive thinking. While I was in high school wrestling and playing sports, he helped with that positive mindset. I work on it every day. Once you get complacent, it’s a downward spiral.” Spain’s love of sports and competition stayed with him as well. At age 44, he still plays tennis. At one point he was on three different neighborhood teams, but slowed down once his daughter Carter, now age 3, was born. However, he continues to work out at a cycle class. “My wife and I go to the gym together when we’re not watching our daughter Lexie, age 15, ride horses. She’s a competitive hunter-jumper,” he says. “Weekends are family time.” While downtime is rare for Spain, he commits time to raising money for the YMCA. Since cycling is his favorite class, he organized a team to participate in the YMCA’s annual fundraiser—the Spin-a-thon. “I was chair of the captains and led them to raise money. Some 40 to 50 percent of all YMCA members are on scholarship. We raised enough to send about 200 kids to camp,” he says. “That fundraiser opened my eyes to how important the YMCA is to the community. I will continue to leverage my influence in the community to raise money for them,” he says. As if that weren’t enough, Spain frequently speaks at Keller Williams events. “I tell my story. Some 90 percent of your success is mindset, I tell them. I talk about what a normal day looks like for me and how important it is to make exercise a part of your routine. I tell them to join the ‘5 a.m. Club,’” he laughs, referring to his daily rising at 5 a.m. to work out and be at the office by 7:30. The real secret to Spain’s success? “I’m a strategic thinker. I create and build relationships. I’m a believer that success is more about hard work and good habits than it is about intelligence,” he says. “I teach two things that will determine your success: the people with whom you surround yourself and the books you read.” That, and a healthy dose of positive thinking.

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From top: Mark Spain (right) with wife, Whitney, pregnant at the time with son, Andrew Jr., along with daughter, Carter. Mark (far right) plays golf with Adam Merrick (left) and Ryan Dallas


No. 2 Individual by Sides Brian Bair, Realtor® Liberty Properties & Associates, Gilbert, Ariz. Realty 360, Las Vegas From Movie Stars to Real Estate “Years ago, if anyone had told me I would be involved in residential home sales, I would have thought he was nuts,” says Brian Bair, a Realtor with Liberty Properties & Associates in Gilbert, Ariz., and with Realty 360 in Las Vegas. At the time, Bair was a talent agent representing models and actors. His lone tie to real estate was his love of investing in Arizona real estate. Then, the real estate market boomed and Bair’s investment properties began doing well. In 2005, at the suggestion of his mentor, Scott Simonton, a successful Arizona developer, he sold his talent management company and pursued real estate investing full time. “Scott allowed me to follow him around for a year to see how he worked projects. He urged me to consider real estate,” he says. “He continues to be a friend and mentor.” However, just as Bair entered the real estate market, it crashed. “I was a bad luck charm because within two months after I got into the market, it bombed,” he laughs. Bair found an opportunity listing custom homes. That triggered his interest in acquiring distressed properties and led him to start Bridgeport Financial Services, his first real estate venture. “I bought, rehabbed and sold about 1,000 properties in two years. But I was still disconnected with the real estate market in some ways. Soon after, in 2007, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo both contacted me about doing some REO (real estate owned) work for them. I wasn’t that interested but said OK, and the next day I had 35 listings,” he says. Then, he started buying single-family homes for investors to hold. He was hooked and built his career around marketing. “Marketing houses is not much different from marketing talent,” he says. Like many real estate professionals, Bair has once again reinvented himself. No longer involved in REO transactions, he instead concentrates on what he calls concierge service. “When people list with me, whether at $200,000 or $5 million, they get a concierge who arranges their weekly landscaping, carpet cleaning, involves a design team in staging and more,” he says. “It’s hands free. We handle it all for them, the move and everything. That’s my secret sauce.” For Bair, it was an easy transition as he says he’s a people person. “I’m old school with regards to personal service. I don’t send an email when I can pick up the phone.” A self-proclaimed workaholic, Bair is learning to juggle his time more efficiently to spend more time with wife, Alyssa, and son, Miles, who is 1 year old. “It’s the hardest thing to adjust—time. I work six days a week and am at my desk at 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. most nights, so I speed home to see Miles each night before he goes to bed.” That schedule doesn’t leave much time for hobbies, although Bair did spend some Lives of Real Estate

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REAL Trends’ The Thousand time owning racehorses. “I still enjoy watching horse racing and going to the racetracks,” he says. Through the years, he’s owned three racehorses. “Two of the horses got claimed, which means that I would run them in races that allowed someone to buy them if they did well. The third horse passed away; it was sad,” he says. His most successful horse, Epic Power, won six races for Bair before he was claimed. Now, Bair is focused on developing a givingback campaign. “A friend had a child with cancer. As a father, I’m impacted by the stories, so I have

made a commitment to donate $100 of each closing to childhood cancer treatment,” he says. A self-starter, Bair says that working hard is part of his DNA. “I want to be the best at what I do, and it’s never good enough,” he laughs. “If I double my sales one year, I’m not reveling in the glory; I’m already thinking about next year. In this business, you have to be six months ahead of what others are doing,” he says. For Bair, reinvention is the result of that future planning. He tracks, evolves and adjusts— his own formula for that “secret sauce.”

No. 3 Team by Volume Branden and Rayni Romito Williams, co-founders of Williams & Williams Estates Hilton & Hyland Real Estate Beverly Hills, Calif. Partners for Life Remember the old playground song— “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage”? Well, it didn’t exactly work that way for Branden Williams and Rayni Romito Williams, co-founders of Williams & Williams Estates in Beverly Hills. In fact, first came a business partnership in 2002. The rest of it didn’t come until 2010, when the two decided that their business partnership was transforming into more. They married in 2013 (in Paris!), and “then came the baby in the baby carriage,” with the birth of Viviana in August 2014. “We have very similar personalities,” says Branden. “Before we started dating, we would work until midnight, then I would go home, kick off my heels and the phone would ring,” says Rayni. “It was Branden calling to recap the day,” she laughs. The two also connected over a love of fashion, art and architecture. “In our area, many of the real estate agents are in jeans or flip flops. Branden and I were always in suits, and that’s become part of our brand,” she says. 10

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Despite the similar personalities, it was their differences that contributed to their career success. Branden, a former actor who appeared as Will’s love interest in two episodes of the hit TV show “Will & Grace,” came into real estate after “deciding at age 29 that it was time to get a real job,” he says. A friend’s father owned a boutique brokerage firm and persuaded Branden that with his service industry and method acting


“The women in my life let me know that you can create the life you want,” says Rayni Romito Wililams (above.)

background, he would quickly become a top real estate salesperson. “I’ve always considered myself the go-to guy for everything—buying a surfboard, finding a doctor, choosing a place for dinner. Real estate was a good fit,” he says. It fit so well that after six months, he had an explosion of deals come into escrow at one time. “I was young and had no idea how to put together the contracts and deal with the paperwork and the processes,” he says. Enter Rayni, who grew up in a real estate family and spent two years on the lending side of the business. She had the contractual background that Branden lacked. “When he popped all these deals at once, I told him I would help him put them together. We had this great partnership and just kept going with it,” says Rayni. After five years of a casual partnership, the two merged and branded officially in 2007. Outside of real estate, the two enjoy time with their baby girl; however, both find it hard to slow down at the end of the day. “The most challenging part of real estate is never being able to turn off. Real estate is a 24/7 job, and weekends aren’t our own,” says Branden. He does find time to surf, and the two take one big trip each year. Rayni is passionate about art and museums. “I love to take the baby to tour local museums,” she says. Given Branden’s acting background, it’s no surprise that the two have been approached to do a reality show. “We had a meeting with the president of “E!: Entertainment Television” (now “E!,” owned by NBCUniversal Cable),” says Rayni. “It was a surreal moment. Before real estate, I was the receptionist at “E!: Entertainment,” and suddenly I was at Soho House meeting with the president!” The pair ultimately turned down the reality show, as it would have been too time consuming. “You can’t operate on our level and have a show like this. We’re not looking to become famous; we’re just looking to be the best in our field,” says Rayni. Both are active in their community, particularly with the Los Angeles Mission and Friendly House Los Angeles, two charities that help get the homeless into rehab and off the streets. “We support our community. Giving back is part of our brand, so we’re constantly going to different charitable functions,” says Branden. Overall, says Rayni, “We’re living the LA dream. We are living in the very neighborhood that we sell. The women in my life let me know that you can create the life you want. They told me you could have the life you want and be glamorous doing it!” Lives of Real Estate

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REAL Trends’ The Thousand

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any of this year’s top sales associates were already profiled by LORE magazine. Here’s an update on where they are today:

No. 1 Individual Salesperson in Both Transaction Sides and Volume Ben Caballero: Specialization Is Key

buyers, and they do recognize the value of having their home information in the MLS. I reduce their inventory marketing time by managing their MLS listings with a high degree of accuracy and timeliness.” In an effort to better service clients, Caballero has launched several new products that streamline a variety of marketing processes for them. One recent addition is a suite of marketing tools. “I have all my clients’ home information, photos and sales counselor information populated into our databases, so in terms of process, it’s now a simple matter for our clients’ sales counselors to create collateral materials without having to pull information from several sources or do it manually,” he says. “In addition, I can now take a builder’s data feed directly from the back office system and create MLS listings.”

As a multiyear The Thousand No. 1, Ben Caballero, MIRM, broker/CEO of HomesUSA.com Inc. in Dallas, is often asked how he achieves such a high sales volume “My answer is specialization. Real estate has many areas in which agents can specialize. I choose to be a corporate specialist. Corporate specialists serve informed corporate clients, whose needs are vastly different from those of retail home buyers and sellers. They provide a specialized set of services and often handle a high volume of properties,” says Caballero. An agent who specializes in real estate owned (REO) properties is one example of a corporate specialist. “My specialty clients are volume homebuilders. My clients’ marketing departments, sales departments and product knowledge exceed those of any agent and most real estate firms. To attract homebuilders as clients, I had to determine what I could do more effectively than they could. I had to go beyond providing traditional agent services,” he says. “I realized that as skilled as home-building companies are, their core competency is building homes. They are not skilled in the nuances of the MLS or the details of how agents work, but they do want agents to bring them

“My aha moment was when our clients started telling us that they loved what we do for them. I’ve owned and operated businesses in this industry since I was 21, and during that time, I’ve always been on the receiving end of a certain degree of complaining from clients. I can sense my clients’ enthusiasm for us, and the results we achieve for them as their partner is extraordinary, as one can see in our sales volume.” — Ben Caballero, HomesUSA.com Inc., Dallas

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No. 1 Team by Transaction Volume The Jills®: Going Strong Growing up, all Jill Eber, a sales associate with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate/ NRT in Miami Beach, wanted to do was perform. “It was a dream of mine to perform. My sister and I would perform for anyone who came to the house. She played piano and I would sing,” says Eber. Raising three children and handling a successful real estate career takes a person who works hard and has energy to spare. Add to that a stint directing a summer camp and daily management of her children’s afterschool program, and you’ve got Jill Hertzberg, the other half of The Jills team with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate/NRT in Miami Beach. “I got my real estate license when my youngest started preschool so I could work when I wanted. At the beginning,

my career was secondary to my family,” says Hertzberg. In 2013, The Jills were involved in eight of the nine property sales over $15 million in Miami-Dade County, and they had both sides of the transaction (both buyer and seller) on four of those transactions. The Jills market the largest inventory of exceptional luxury residences in South Florida’s most elite enclaves, such as Star Island, Fisher Island, Indian Creek Island, the Sunset Islands, Golden Beach, Miami Beach, Gables Estates and Tahiti Beach. The sale of the Versace Mansion in September pushed them past their 2013 record of $474.7 million in sales volume, and other recent sales carried them past the half billion mark for that year.

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REAL Trends’ The Thousand No. 1 Team by Sides John Murray: Embracing Listing Portals Some things have remained the same for Murray: he still participates in triathlons and finds success in foreclosure sales. However, many things have changed for the founder of Key Realty, soon to be United Realty Key, in Rockford, Ill. The biggest change, says Murray, is his marketing business model. “My business partner and I have split ways. Our vision was similar but our methodologies were very different, which caused a rift,” he says. Out on his own again, Murray decided to take his marketing in a whole new direction. “My only marketing to date had been yard signs. That’s it. I thought that when you had hundreds of yard signs up, you didn’t need other forms of marketing,” he says. That philosophy changed when Murray took another look at Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com. “I’m a techie, but I was never convinced that online marketing was the way to go. I never had profiles set up on the listing portals. I always viewed [the portals] as competition. But, as I was redesigning my websites, I knew that my No. 1 goal was to get customers to visit my websites,” he says. That caused Murray to view the listing portals a little differently. “I looked at the cost per lead at the portals and started to view them as marketing channels, not competition,” he says. And, according to Murray, when he goes into something, he goes in big. “I am spending a ton of cash on the listing portals and putting together a white paper on the experience,” he says. “I want to unravel the mystery of it all. Is it a good return on investment? It will be an objective study.” While the white paper is for his personal research, he also wants to share it. “There are so many brokers struggling with the choices. Hopefully, this will clear things up as far as the listing portals are concerned and, secondarily, how the customer relationship managers (CRMs) work as they relate to leads.” The paper will be available in mid-2015. So far, the portals seem to be working. “My biggest challenge is that I don’t have enough agents to handle the number of leads I’m getting.” What a good problem to have! L

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End Domestic Violence

While Sukh Singh hasn’t been a victim of domestic violence, she knows how to help those who are. Here’s her story.

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n 2002, Sukhjiwan Singh’s sister-in-law told her of a bright, young colleague at work. “The colleague and her husband were new to America from India. This woman had no family or friends. She confided in my sister-in-law, telling her that her husband was hurting her, and then showed her the bruises, burns and cuts on her body,” says Singh, an associate broker with Prudential PenFed Realty in Alexandria, Va. Singh contacted the woman, who told her that her husband was an alcoholic and that her in-laws insisted that the couple could work it out. “With my and my husband’s encouragement and support, we helped her get out of this dangerous situation,” she says. Singh took her to the police department, and her husband was arrested. “We found her a pro bono attorney, and we learned there was a system in place for abused people,” she says. Had it not been for Singh and her sister-in-law, this girl might still be in an unsafe situation. Sukhjiwan Singh

The Long Way Home In 1979, Singh and her husband, Dr. Malkiat Singh, immigrated to the United States from India. “I was 27 years old with a 5-month-old son named Lally, now 34 years old. I was a schoolteacher in India, but when I came here it was a bit of a culture shock,” she says. A few years after giving birth to her second son, Ragen (now 32), she decided she wanted a career that offered flexibility. Real estate fit the bill.

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End Domestic Violence Singh says that while she doesn’t know what it’s like to be a domestic violence victim, she does know what it’s like to be surprised by what marriage really entails. Singh and Malkiat met when they were students in India and she was engaged. “It was an arranged engagement, and I wasn’t happy,” she says. So she broke it off, encouraged her family to get on board and married Malkiat. “It wasn’t an arranged marriage; it was a marriage of choice. Having said that, I thought it would be easy. I dreamed of a bright journey ahead, but soon, I realized that there were all kinds of problems, from family interference to unreasonable expectations of each other,” she says. “I thought love was enough, but it wasn’t. I worried that when romantic love vanished, our marriage would be doomed.” However, she says, coming to America was a big break for the couple. “We were able to focus on ourselves without the families around. We made it our mission to commit ourselves to love and marriage.”

Victim’s Advocate After helping the young woman, Singh felt compelled to learn all she could about services available for domestic abuse victims. In fact, so many people had heard of Singh’s help that victims began to confide in her. “People started calling me, In my real estate thinking that I was the solution. I wasn’t the solution, but I joined the Virginia Victim Assistance Network (VVAN) to business, I learn about the available resources,” she says. She took VVAN’s encounter many three-day course, and once a week she would staff its 800 which is available to those in trouble. “I would receive families. I build number, tense calls—calls that kept me up at night, especially during the relationships holidays,” she says. Many times, the victims would want to with them that meet with Singh, which was not possible. “In my real estate business, I encounter many families. I go beyond the build relationships with them that go beyond the transaction,” she says. In fact, her clients have confided in her as well. “One transaction. couple I was working with told me about their concerns about – Sukh Singh their daughter,” she says. “They told me that the daughter’s husband kept her isolated and didn’t allow her to spend time alone with her family.” Because of Singh’s role as a real estate professional, the girl was allowed by the husband to have tea with her. “She was sitting there like a shy girl, all crumpled up,” says Singh. “I asked her how her husband was doing. She told me that everything was OK. But I knew better.” Singh kept in touch with the woman and explained that she was involved with the VVAN. “I told her I see abused people who are scared to speak up. That’s when she opened up. He didn’t physically abuse her, she said, but he mentally abused her by checking her car mileage every day and controlling who she could speak with and where she could go,” says Singh. “She had changed from a bubbly woman to someone who had lost control of herself and gained 30 pounds from the stress.” Slowly, says Singh, the woman started getting help, pushing her husband away and taking charge. “It took her about a year to turn things around, but they are still together and happy now.” It’s not just women who come to Singh for help, she says. “I had one case of a client who was abusing her husband. She was quite aggressive and wanted to buy a lot of real estate. She was emotionally abusive to her husband.” Eventually, the husband left her and moved out of state.

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Writing the Book on Marriage While Singh keeps abreast of the resources available to domestic violence victims, she no longer handles the hotline. “I had to taper off those calls as they weighed on me for days after I took a call,” she says. However, her real estate career gave her firsthand exposure to the interpersonal relationships of families that she represented. She could see the troubles brewing in many families and would later learn that separation or divorce had devastated the family. She could see it coming, knew that it could have been avoided with the right attitude and guidance, and yet hadn’t been able to do anything about it. That’s when she decided to write a book, “Marriage and the Love Myth,” available on Amazon.com and at AuthorSukhSingh.com. In the book, Singh, who has her master’s degree in English from Punjab University, offers tips for committing one’s life to the right person. “I come from a time and place in which arranged marriages were common practice—and no dating was allowed. It seems to me that our society today should have more successful marriages since singles can date here and get to know their future spouse before taking the plunge,” says Singh, who has been married to “I come from a time in which arranged marriages were common. It seems that our society today should have more successful marriages since singles Malkiat for 35 years. can date and get to know their future spouse,” says Singh, with family at She says that in the book she doesn’t say that everyone should oldest son, Lally’s wedding. get married, but that those who want to do so should look deep inside themselves to see what kind of person they can deal with and that they should have reasonable expectations. They should establish a mission, she says, because it’s a business partnership, romantic love withers and this is a deep type of love. And, says Singh, she learned a lot about herself in the process of writing the book. “I found that my problems weren’t with my husband or our relatives. My problems were a result of my expectations of everyone else. That insight changed everything for me.” While Singh has taken a break from actively working with domestic violence victims, she still keeps her training up to date and hopes to get back to it someday. “I feel strongly about helping others and will never turn down someone who comes to me asking for help,” she says, “but my real estate business is very busy right now.” There’s no doubt that Singh will impact many families down the road.

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Marriage and the Love Myth

3 Tips for Committing to Your Marriage “If you truly want to commit your life to a future husband or wife, but haven’t found him or her yet, there are many things you can do to ensure a successful marriage while testing the waters via dating,” say Singh, author of “Marriage and the Love Myth: From Turbulence to Marital Bliss,” (authorsukhsingh.com),who offers tips for committing one’s life to the right person. • Don’t ignore the parallels between business and dating/marriage. Just like marriages, businesses fail all the time. Both demand your best effort and resources, including an inexhaustible amount of time, dedication and, usually, as much money as you can spare. As the fate of your business or romantic relationship goes, so goes your fate. While the experiences of business and dating/marriage are often different, both require self-awareness, sound decision making and the willingness to give if they are to be successful. Of course, this means finding the right niche in business or the right person for love. • Follow the 80 percent rule regarding compatibility in the “big stuff.” No two people are exactly alike, so where should a single person start measuring compatibility with another? Define the big stuff, which for many, may mean religion,culture and ethnicity. Another take on big stuff could be personality traits, physical characteristics, social skills and more. Still another take could mean the stage in life where the two people are in matters like profession and education. Define the big stuff; if you’re compatible on about 80 percent of the list, you should strongly consider buying a warranty for a great relationship. In other words, get married. • Communication skills form the glue of a lasting relationship. While establishing a relationship, take note of the conversation. Does it flow and is it enjoyable, or do you find yourself bickering frequently? In a business, you can have the ideal partner or employee, who may look stellar on paper, but if you do not work well together, it’s not good for business. The same follows for a sweetheart, who may seem perfect in every other way. Make sure communication is a two-way street, and watch out for frequent sarcasm toward you, which is a sign of disrespect. You should be able to talk and listen with care, respect and proper appreciation. For more information or to buy Singh’s book, go to “Marriage and the Love Myth.” L 20

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Lives of Real Estate


How I Got My Start

Going, Going,

Sold!

This young entrepreneur is a force to be reckoned with on the Miami luxury housing auction scene. Lives of Real Estate

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How I Got My Start

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hen Trayor Lesnock was a premed major at Cornell University, real estate was the furthest thing from his mind as a career path to follow upon graduation. “I graduated in 2004 and wanted to take a year off before I went back to preprofessional school. I was already transitioning out of a career in medicine and was considering law school,” says Lesnock, president and founder of Platinum Luxury Auctions in Miami. “I tend to have my moments of clarity late, so while in Florida with my sister, I realized that I just didn’t want to go back to school,” he says. That’s when he decided on a career in real estate and worked in traditional sales at a Fort Lauderdale brokerage for a year.

Building a Business How much better? “The frustrating thing about the auction business is that some components can be advanced and evolved and others can’t,” he says. “What makes auctions work is a proven method that’s been around over 100 years.” So Lesnock knew he had to stay true to that method and “tinker with everything else.” That meant improving on the capture of buyer information and having a state-of-the-art website, feedback loops and better marketing materials, not to mention presentations that were as luxurious as the properties themselves. “Many people assume these are distressed

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From top: Lesnock with his neice, Ryland. Bottom: Lesnock founded his auction company in 2011.

The frustrating thing about the auction business is that some components can be advanced and evolved and others can’t. – Trayor Lesnock

Young Entrepreneur By 2006, Lesnock had been recruited into the auction business by a friend. Before very long, “If there was a multimillion dollar auction, I was there working it,” he says. After working for a large auction company for five years, Lesnock decided to open his own auction company in 2011. That’s not surprising if you know Lesnock’s past experience. While in college, he and some friends founded a specialized indoor marketing firm, CoolWaveAds. “We developed a marketing campaign that brought high-impact ads into local bars and clubs. The ads were on bathroom doors—not high glamour, but it worked well at college,” he says. They sold the company after a year and a half to one of their best clients. That experience prompted Lesnock to go out on his own. “Creating a company is so energizing. CoolWaveAds and its success gave me a comfort level to build a business on my own,” he says. After all, he says, part of that job was walking the streets, cold calling and looking for advertisers. “Nothing you do at school prepares you for that.” By starting his own company, says Lesnock, “I thought I could do it better than the company I was working for.”


properties, but we aren’t doing distress auctions, and the sellers don’t want to see ads that make the property look like a bargain basement sale.” Lesnock uses a “trumped-up version of Google Drive for Business” and keeps transaction information in the cloud, yet stays true to the simple metrics that make auctions work in selling. Ready for His Close-Up Lesnock says that his youth, compared to other auction company owners, is a distinct advantage. “We’re extremely transparent and able to adapt quickly. It’s rare in this industry to allow clients open access to information on all the funds we spend and information we’ve collected on buyers, but we do it as a matter of policy.” Lesnock’s age and tech-savvy ways also helped him catch the attention of producers of Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing Miami.” “Chad Carroll (who stars on the show) and I are friends, and we featured one of my properties on the show. They stretched the transaction over two shows,” says Lesnock. “It was fun. I got calls and messages from people I hadn’t seen in years who saw me on the show.” More than his just making a single appearance on a show, Lesnock says, he considered filming his own reality series at one point. “There was a period in 2013 where we fielded about one inquiry a week from production companies looking for a show,” he says. In the end, from a business perspective, Lesnock didn’t feel comfortable doing it. “We work with a lot of wealthy people, and I was concerned about how we’d look on TV. The only reason I worked with Chad [on “Million Dollar Listing Miami”] was to put my name out there. We may consider a show now if we can find the right production partner.” When Lesnock isn’t working, which is rare, he spends time with his girlfriend, Niki, and his older sister and her family. “My niece, Ryland (3) is my favorite person in the world,” he says. He and Niki recently bought a silver Labrador puppy and named him Sammie. “I’m a workaholic by nature, but family comes first,” he says. With his booming business and creative auction marketing ideas, this young entrepreneur’s future looks bright.

From top: Lesnock with girlfriend, Niki, (far right) have a fancy night out with Lesnock’s sister and her husband. Family comes first for Lesnock, seen here with Niki. Life has gotten a little crazier since Sammie, Lesnock’s silver Labrador puppy joined the family.

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Giving Back

Building a Culture of Giving

Realtor® Tami Pardee, at right, built a giving-back program at her brokerage.

Find out how one giving back program is reaping many rewards. 24

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Lives of Real Estate

y goal is to open up people’s eyes to the importance of the nonprofits in our community,” says Tami Pardee, of Pardee Properties in Venice, Calif. And that’s exactly what she’s doing with her giving-back community campaign. After working for a large corporate entity, Pardee, who is No. 14 Individual by Volume on the REAL Trends The Thousand, as advertised in The Wall Street Journal, felt strongly about creating a business where she could give back to the community in which she was living and working to help it thrive. That’s why she got into real estate in 2009 and immediately created the Giving Back Program at Pardee Properties, which allocates 10 percent of net sales (on the sale of each property) to the charity of a client’s choice. “We benefit


so much from our community. I want to embrace our community by giving back,” she says. “I love real estate, but if I was a zillionaire, I would support our nonprofits full time.”

A Way of Life Giving back is a way of life not just for Pardee; but also for her family. Her daughters, Taylor (11) and Bailey (8), run lemonade stands and donate their profits to local dog shelters. Unexpected Benefits “We’re going to have dog adoptions at our office Many clients have charities that are important on the first Saturday of every month. That was to them. Pardee cuts them the check, and the my daughters’ idea,” says Pardee, who with her clients give it to the charity. “It’s the client’s husband, Michael, also has twin boys, Jack and choice,” she says. Pardee has seen an unexpected Tanner (3). benefit to this as well. “Once people start giving, In the past three years, Pardee Properties has they’re more apt to do so on their own. Once donated more than $400,000 to local charities. they give that first check, they feel united with “Since 2009, my business has quadrupled, and I that cause and the community. It opens their believe it has a lot to do with our support of the eyes,” she says. community. It’s not why I started the program, For others, who don’t have a special charity in but it’s proof that when you give, you get.” mind, she says, she encourages them to choose For Pardee, it’s not about a legacy. “It’s about The Harvest Home, a place for homeless living on purpose and living right now. In 150 pregnant women. “Our office is very involved years, I don’t think anyone will say, ‘Oh, that with this cause, so we suggest it if the client isn’t Tami Pardee. Look what she did.’ I just hope to sure about a charity,” she says. “It’s such an inspire people right now.” impactful charity, and the home is right down the street from our office.” The Boys & Girls Club of Venice and Venice Arts are also charities of choice for Pardee. “We helped build a back deck for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Venice,” she says. Many of the clients who donate get involved as volunteers for the charities. “I’ve had a lot of people who volunteer at the Boys & Girls Clubs,” she says. “Several have become board members. I’ve also had a lot of other agents from other companies start this donation program.”

It’s about living on purpose and living right now. Lives of Real Estate

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LORE Winter 2014  

LORE (Lives of Real Estate) Winter 2014 Edition

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