Winter 2015 • Volume 9 / Issue 4
Zillow Group CEO Spencer Rascoff:
People ERA FRANCHISE SYSTEMS: Sending Kids to Camp A supporter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association for 35 years, ERA recently challenged its brokerages to send kids to camp.
PLUS: Century 21 Everest Realty Group: Climbing to the Top Phil Herman: It’s Always Darkest Before the Dawn
Denise Andres: A True Winner Nicole and Tony Sarenpa: Fit for Selling Real Estate Mark Loscher: A Man on a MissionLORE
This issue of LORE magazine was brought to you by ERA and RE/MAX International
Winter 2015 Volume 9 / Issue 4
COVER STORY Spencer Rascoff: Passionate About People
With a laser focus on people, the CEO of Zillow Group, finds inspiration in living The Golden Rule.
Feature ERA Franchise Systems: Sending Kids to Camp A supporter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association for 35 years, ERA recently challenged its brokerages to send kids to camp.
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Brokerage Profile Century 21 Everest Realty Group With an eye toward personal development, George Q. Morris, John Ciet and Rob Ockey, founders of Century 21 Everest Realty Group in Midvale, Utah, never stop upping their game.
How I Got My Start: Phil Herman While his journey wasnâ€™t easy, Herman persevered and found success. Find out about his winding path.
Professional Profile: Denise Andres With a flair for business, Denise Andres built an enviable business as the new agent in town.
Personal Passions: Nicole and Tony Sarenpa This husband-wife duo use exercise to help them find their rhythm in real estate sales.
A Giving Heart: Mark Loscher Twelve years ago, Mark Loscher, a sales associate with Ron Brownell Real Estate in San Diego, went on his first mission trip. Now, heâ€™s hooked on helping. Read his story. LORE
GOES A LONG WAY
recently went on a 14-day, four city tour that included three gatherings of CEOs of realty firms from around the United States and Canada. In almost every case, two words dominated our discussions—culture and passion. Most leading CEOs understand that the best way to ensure success and enjoy a business is to be passionate about it and build an organization that has a strong,
enduring culture. We found some phenomenal leaders who have both passion and a clear company culture to feature in this issue of LORE. Some of these stories include a CEO who drives himself both professionally and personally to enjoy every minute in honor of a lost brother. A real estate professional who travels the world as a missionary helping those whose dream may be as simple as clean water and a dry place to sleep. A brokerage group that focuses on helping others achieve their goals. With each story, we find people who have a tremendous passion whether it is work, life or helping others, most often both. Their passion comes through powerfully in each story. Through these stories, you also learn that real estate professionals strive to surround themselves with others who are dedicated and passionate about what they are doing. They enjoy having others with them who believe in living for something more than the next closing. This forms the basis of a strong culture, which as my recent road trip proves, is at the heart of a successful business, whether you’re an individual agent, an industry powerhouse or a large brokerage.
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Lives of Real Estate
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WITH A LASER FOCUS ON PEOPLE, t h e C E O o f Z i l l ow G ro u p, f i n d s i n s p i ra t i o n i n l i v i n g Th e G o l d e n R u l e.
The Seattle headquarters of The Zillow Group is always buzzing.
AFTER COLLEGE, I followed the hordes of Ivy Leaguers to Wall Street and worked for Goldman Sachs in mergers and acquisitions. It was unfulfilling emotionally and professionally. — Spencer Rascoff
he day of REAL Trends’ interview with Zillow Group CEO Spencer Rascoff, he tells us he’s nursing some mosquito bites, scrapes and cuts and has multiple bandages on his hands. “I spent the weekend camping with my 10-year-old daughter. We had 20 dads and daughters. This is what I get for jumping off a rock cliff into three feet of water in Puget Sound,” he laughs. Risky, right? But taking risks is nothing new to this Harvard grad who co-founded, and then sold, Hotwire to Expedia when he was only 24 years old. “After college, I followed the hordes of Ivy Leaguers to Wall Street and worked for Goldman Sachs in mergers and acquisitions. It was unfulfilling emotionally and professionally,” says Rascoff. However, he did learn one lesson that has stayed with him all these years. He was working late on a deal with then–Goldman Sachs CEO Hank Paulson (yes, the Hank Paulson who was the 74th U.S. Secretary of the Treasury). “I was 22 years old. We were in his office, it was about 10 p.m. and a janitor came in to empty his wastepaper basket. Hank stood up from his desk, grabbed his basket, looked the janitor in the eye and told him thank you. That was incredibly impactful. Most high-level executives wouldn’t bother acknowledging a janitor, and he went out of his way to help him,” says Rascoff, who at that moment decided to model that behavior in business. After the 2003 sale of Hotwire, Rascoff stayed on with Expedia running several business lines. “In 2005, I left, along with most of the executive team, to start Zillow,” he says.
“When I was 15 years old, my 18-year-old brother passed away. That had a huge impact on my life,” he says. In fact, he says, his brother’s death helped “to create my personality, which is driven and focused on my profession.” — Spencer Rascoff (above)
It’s a move he’s grateful for every day. “When we looked at online real estate [around 2005], it had many of the same attributes as the travel industry. The consumer lacked information, and there was no leading website that empowered the consumer.” Finding His Passion With Zillow, Rascoff found his passion. He credits it to his wife, Nanci, a pediatric rheumatologist. “Nanci and I have been married for 22 years. She is someone who helps me with critical career decisions. My wife told me I was unhappy on Wall Street before I even realized it,” he says. “She also realized I was unhappy in private equity and then with Expedia—again, both before I realized it.” Now, Rascoff, is in a position that makes him very happy, as CEO of Zillow Group. And over the years he’s learned a lesson or two about what it takes to create a thriving company. “I feel my biggest accomplishment was creating the type of corporate cultures that we have across offices with more than 2,000 employees. I’ve hired many of them, and those I haven’t, it’s because I’ve acquired their companies. I’m very proud that all of our offices have won ‘best places to work’ recognition in their respective cities,” he says. Now 40 years old, Rascoff describes his culture as high performance and high fun. “One of our core values is ‘move fast, think big.’ We have a team-oriented culture. Individuals realize that no accomplishment is theirs alone, because we all rely on the contributions of our colleagues, me included.”
ONE OF OUR CORE VALUES is ‘move fast, think big.’ We have a teamoriented culture. Individuals realize that no accomplishment is theirs alone, because we all rely on the contributions of our colleagues, me included. — Spencer Rascoff
Lives of Real Estate
Brotherly Love Finding his passion was vital, says Rascoff. After all, he owed it to his brother to do so. “When I was 15 years old, my 18-year-old brother passed away. That had a huge impact on my life,” he says. In fact, he says, his brother’s death helped “to create my personality, which is driven and focused on my profession.” His brother was exceptionally accomplished in high school and was headed to Princeton. He never made it.
“He passed away the summer before [he was to start] college. I guess I decided to achieve enough success for both of us,” says Rascoff, who, in addition to being a high-achieving high school student ran cross country and played tennis and soccer. (Incidentally, he also has a younger brother, who graduated from Dartmouth.) Rascoff’s brother’s death also highlighted to him the importance of family. In addition to his wife, he has a 10-year-old daughter, a 7-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter. “We do a lot of outdoorsy stuff, like horseback riding, hiking and more,” he says. He also believes in being disconnected when he takes a weekend to be with the family. During a camping trip, he “put an out-of-office message on my email and didn’t check it all weekend. I’m serious about going offline, and I encourage my team to do the same,” he says. It’s a lesson he learned while at Hotwire. “At Hotwire, we had an hourly email to the executive team about how much revenue we had booked in that hour. This was in 1999. I came from investment banking, where the company doesn’t earn revenue unless investment bankers are working on a deal. But with ecommerce, the cash register rings all weekend, whether you are plugged in or not,” says Rascoff, who notes that he doesn’t disconnect every weekend. “But it’s liberating for an executive to go offline for a day or two.” Helping Others Rascoff is quick to point out that he is motivated by his peers, so connection is vital. “I am motivated by trying to help my colleagues become more successful. They give of themselves to this crazy company, and I want to make sure I’m contributing as much as possible to help them,” he says.
WORDS OF ADVICE LIKE MOST EXECUTIVES, I SPEND A great deal of time at work. It’s important to surround yourself with people you like and whose work you respect. Hire people who inspire you. A good example of this is that of the 15 or so founding employees (of Zillow), most are still together. We’ve all been in the same jobs for 12 years working together, and we like each other. — S p e n c e r R a s c o f f
With the interview winding down, Rascoff is asked about his future. Where does he see himself in 10 years? Since he just turned 40 years old, he says, “I’ve been asking myself this question. I hope to be at Zillow in my current role. If not that, I’ll be on a horse somewhere ranching or riding. My only regret about my current job is that I have to do it inside. If I could do it outside, I would never leave.”
Get to Know Spencer Rascoff Three Things He Can’t Live Without My family, iPhone and music “I like all kinds of music—80s, 90s, classic rock, everything except jazz.”
What’s On Your Bucket List? • Attend all three of my kids’ college graduations • Travel to Patagonia and Alaska
Favorite Sports “Soccer and football because I can be absolutely certain of when they will end.”
Hardest Part of Leadership Haters: “Dealing with the haters. I’ve had to develop a thick skin. Social media has made it easy for people sitting in front of a keyboard to type hateful things. I care deeply about my company, so my instinct is to take it personally. Ten years ago, CEOs didn’t have this experience.” Retaining great employees: “As a tech company based in Seattle, we get a lot of great people from Seattle and San Francisco. They are all talented and getting called by recruiters constantly. I created a culture of autonomy. I set a clear vision, and I have leaders who help employees succeed by removing roadblocks and not micromanaging.”
Lives of Real Estate
Together is better.
MOVERS & SHAKERS At RE/MAX, you’re among real estate agents who take themselves seriously. We’re talking forward-thinking professionals who do anything but ride on the coattails of others. We’re a talented league of agents – and you’re a perfect fit. Join our team. ©2015 RE/MAX, LLC. Each RE/MAX® office is independently owned and operated. 150244
ERA FRANCHISE SYSTEMS
Sending Kids to Camp
A supporter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association for 35 years, ERA recently challenged its brokerages to send kids to camp. 12
Lives of Real Estate
AT AN EVENT, C HARLIE YOUN G THREW DOWN THE GAUNTLET, g a ve u s a challenge to send one child per office to the M DA S u m m e r C a m p , w h i c h c o s t s $ 1 ,0 0 0 p e r c h i l d . We h a d 2 0 a g e n t s a t t h i s eve n t , a n d we l o o ke d a t e a c h o t h e r a n d s a i d , ‘ O n l y o n e? ’ ” — G l o r i a F ra z i e r
Gloria Frazier, president of ERA American Real Estate of Northwest Florida
n 2014, Charlie Young, president and CEO of ERA Franchise Systems, was at the franchise’s annual convention when he spoke with Abbey, a teenager with muscular dystrophy and a past ERA/MDA child ambassador. “I had met her five years earlier when she was a young child ambassador. I was blown away seeing how much she had grown and how much ERA’s commitment had impacted her life,” he says. “She mentioned that she was able to have a normal summer camp experience because of us.” That was the spark Young needed to drive a whole new movement in the ERA organization—a challenge to send 1,000 kids to camp by collectively raising $1 million. “ERA brokers responded, and we have 35 percent of our offices participating in the challenge. We raised enough to send 350 kids so far,” says Young. In fact, 10 of those children are going because of corporate office employees’ giving. Throwing Down the Gauntlet One broker who jumped at the challenge was Gloria Frazier, president of ERA American Real Estate of Northwest Florida in Shalimar. At ERA’s national event, “Charlie Young threw down the gauntlet, gave us a challenge to send one child per office to the MDA Summer Camp, which costs $1,000 per child. We had 20 agents at this event, and we looked at each other and said, ‘Only one?’” she laughs. Frazier decided that her brokerage, which comprises six offices and 85 sales associates, would raise $20,000. “We raised $21,000, which actually sends about 21 kids to camp,” she says. They did it by challenging the top producers to donate. “Many of them came through with checks for $1,000. Then, through an email campaign, we got the agents involved and asked our preferred vendors for support,” says Frazier. “We did some traditional things as well. Our rental department made 500 LORE
tamales and sold them. Honestly, we used the same type of marketing techniques we use for selling our listings,” she says. On a smaller scale, Jeannie Bailey, owner of ERA Home Network Real Estate in Westerville, Ohio, used the challenge to bring her office closer to the community. “We are a small brokerage with 12 agents, and we’re very team and family oriented. We have already raised over $1,000 to send one child to camp this year, and we did it by participating in the MDA Muscle Walk and MDA Lockup,” she says. “It helped us get to know the great people at the local MDA office.” Fundraising Ideas While many offices had already been raising funds for MDA, many hadn’t been raising money specifically to send kids to camps. Such is the case of Mark Joyner, vice president and managing broker of Napier Realtors® ERA in Richmond, Va. “When I heard ERA had a goal of sending more kids to an MDA Camp, I was excited,” says Joyner. “We have a good number of agents in our office who have children. They know the positives of sending children to a good summer camp,” he says. A brainstorming session with Zoe Mouris, the career development coordinator at Napier, came up with a few unique ideas. “Patterned socks for men are superpopular right now. We bought a bunch of those socks in crazy patterns from a wholesaler and sold them as a fundraiser to people in the office,” says Joyner. In addition, he sat in MDA jail and called professional friends and high school friends asking for donations to “get him out.” Between the socks and the MDA jail, the office raised about $1,100. “Napier has always believed in helping the community. If you take care of your community, it will take care of you.”
Lives of Real Estate
[ We h ave] al ways b e l i eved i n h e l p i n g t h e com m u n i t y. “ If you t ake care of you r comm u n i t y, it will t a ke c are o f yo u.” – Zo e M o ur is , N a pie r Re a lto r s ® ER A
THE ERA/MDA SUMMER CAMP C H A L L E N G E i s m o re t h a n j u s t a f u n d ra i s e r.
“ I t c o n n e c t s w i t h w h o we a re a s a b ra n d . W h e n yo u l o o k a t o u r o rg a n i z a t i o n , e a c h o n e o f o u r f ra n c h i s e s i s i n d e p e n d e n t l y ow n e d by a m e m b e r o f a l o c a l c o m m u n i t y. T h i s c h a r i t y a l l ow s b ro ke r s t o c o n n e c t w i t h f a m i l i e s a n d t h e re a l i s s u e s i n t h e i r c o m m u n i t i e s .” — Ke l l y B r e s n a h a n , E R A L a n d m a r k
Lives of Real Estate
Fundraising ideas run the gamut from traditional bake sales to “one broker who let his hair grow and then shaved his head to raise money,” says Young. “That was the craziest thing I’ve heard.” For ERA Landmark Real Estate in Bozeman, Mont., a bake sale wasn’t going to cut it. “For five years, the agency has held a carnival to raise money for MDA,” he says. The Agents for Hope Carnival is more than just a fundraiser, says Kelly Bresnahan, operations manager of ERA Landmark. “Some 45 different organizations sponsor a game or donate goods or services,” she says. “It’s a huge, old-fashioned carnival with games, inflatables and more.” This year, Bresnahan estimates, about 400 people attended. “Attendees purchase tickets to play the games, but we give away a lot of free tickets to nonprofits in our area, such as the Boys & Girls Clubs, Haven (a local women’s shelter), Thrive (which supports families in need) and Big Brothers Big Sisters,” she says. “The bulk of our money is raised through sponsors. We don’t want anyone not to be able to afford to play a game, so we walk around with a stash of tickets in our pockets and hand them out.” The brokerage raised $16,000 at this year’s carnival. “It’s enough to send 16 kids to camp,” says Bresnahan. For these brokers and for Young, the ERA/MDA Summer Camp Challenge is more than just a fundraiser. “It connects with who we are as a brand,” he says. “When you look at our organization, each one of our franchises is independently owned by a member of a local community. This charity allows brokers to connect with families and the real issues in their communities.”
F O R M O R E I N F O R M AT I O N
about the E R A / M DA S u m m e r C a m p C h a l l e n g e o r t o m a ke a p l e d g e , c l i c k h e r e . LORE
B R O K E R A G E
P R O F I L E
Century 21 Everest Realty Group:
Climbing to the Top
With an eye toward personal development, John Ciet, Rob Ockey and George Q. Morris, founders of Century 21 Everest Realty Group in Midvale, Utah, never stop upping their game.
Lives of Real Estate
eorge Q. Morris, John Ciet and Rob Ockey, co-founders and owners of Century 21 Everest Group Realty in Midvale, Utah, share one common goal—to help their agents succeed. You may think, “Sure, every broker wants to do that,” and you would be right. However, says Morris, “It’s not about what we train; it’s how we train them. Every morning, a good one-fourth of our company gathers and practices skills, reads affirmations and works on positive mindset. You can have all the tech in the world but if you can’t communicate, you’re done.” Growing Pains Founded in 2009 as an independent, the brokerage went through some growing pains before joining the C21 franchise in 2013 and finally becoming the 2014 No. 1 office in the world for Century 21. However, for most, the rise to the top would be considered meteoric, but not for Morris. “It was a lot harder than I expected it to be,” he says. “Having built a large brokerage in 2002 (sold in 2007 before the crash), I thought it would be easy. I thought we would do it in 18 months,” he says. However, the group had some growing pains. “Six months into the business, George had to go in for heart surgery, leaving Rob and me to run the business,” says Ciet. “It didn’t go well for me. I didn’t perform at the level I needed to. That was my aha moment. I realized that I would do whatever it took to figure out how to be a phenomenal leader and a great communicator,” he says. For Ockey, the market crash was a blow. “We started when the market was crashing. I wasn’t the person I needed to be then to be able to do what we needed to do. I had to become a whole new person to take on the responsibility of everything that goes along with growth,” he says.
From top: The Morris family John Ciet and his wife, Kay
Joining C21 The three then decided to join Century 21. “I didn’t recognize how much the brand would have to do with our growth,” says Ockey. “We were having good success, but once we joined the franchise, we were finally able to compete, and we LORE
B R O K E R A G E
P R O F I L E
had more opportunity.” Ciet agrees. “The fact that we decided to go C21 was a significant thing to grow our business and achieve our goals,” he says. For Morris, the shift was even more profound. “I said no to Century 21 three times before deciding to evaluate some core business propositions. So I looked at a few things such as the fact that a national franchise could get us to a higher-end price point, help us recruit more easily, give us a back office that we didn’t need to re-create and more,’ he says. “We chose to partner physically and emotionally with the brand to see what would happen. Everything changed—our relocation business quadrupled, a couple of banks we were trying to work with immediately said they were
John Ciet enjoying the great outdoors.
Lives of Real Estate
ready to go. Our challenge ended up being our best success story. My whole world changed, and I’m not just saying that. I wish I could have figured it out a long time ago.” Core Values In addition to joining the franchise, the three defined their core values. “At the core of everything we do is the focus on the individual,” says Morris. “The great challenge in the marketplace is that most brokers are focusing on the money or the saving of money, such as commission structures. We decided to focus on helping our agents and managers get to that next level of success. That help becomes invaluable, and agents are willing to accept the commission structures and the splits because you’re bringing value to their lives.” For Ciet, “What makes us different is that we are a personal development company that happens to be working with real estate professionals.” Ockey notes, “Ultimately, the company is a direct reflection of who we are as leaders. We take our message and interpret it in a compelling way so that our agents will see the value and importance.” Everest Realty Group is currently expanding its footprint along Utah’s dynamic Wasatch Front and throughout the state. “We have some significant goals. Our expectation is that in the next five years, we’ll have 5,000 agents,” says Ciet. According to Morris, “As we expand our influence in neighborhoods throughout the state, our commitment to attracting, keeping and developing the best talent in the industry to serve the needs of Utah home buyers and sellers will remain constant. It will be an extraordinary shared adventure.”
FUN FACT: O c key a n d M o r r i s h a ve been friends since junior high school.
G e t t i n g t o K n o w Yo u M E E T
T H E
C O - F O U N D E R S
E V E R E S T.
GEORGE Q. MORRIS
Family: John has been married to wife, Kay, for 18 years. They have three children, Gabrielle (15), Caroline (13) and Jack (8).
Family: George is married to wife, Jennifer, and has five children, Makenzie (19), Ashley (16), Isaac (13), Ethan (10) and Bella (8).
Family: Rob is married to wife, Jhoana, and has two children, Megan (14) and Jake (10 months).
Greatest Lesson Learned: We all have blind spots. We don’t know what we don’t know. During my experience with Everest over the last six years, I realized that I had a lot to learn. Lesson One was to set aside my ego. I had to admit that I didn’t have it figured out. So I had to set aside my ego and be coachable. I realized that everyone has something to teach me. Everyone is fearful. We must recognize it as part of the human experience. It doesn’t make you odd, bad or broken. But we can’t let that fear control us. It’s like a dance; I’m going to lead in the dance. Hobbies: Travel, hiking in the arches of the Mojave Region, boating
Wasatch Mountain State Park, Utah.
Aha Moment: The big aha for us came when the growth wasn’t happening as fast as we wanted it to. I realized that the organization was built between 5 and 7 p.m. I say that from the standpoint of there sometimes not being enough time during the day to recruit and reach out to outside agents. The aha came when I realized that if we were going to build this brokerage, we would have to do it after hours. Every broker or manager in the company was expected to set one appointment a day. We now bring in more than 14 agents a month. As long as brokers and leaders do this, it all comes together. It’s fascinating how many brokers don’t do it. They send out emails, but they don’t do the one thing that builds great brokerages— pick up a phone, call someone and meet him or her face to face.
Biggest Mistake Turned Opportunity: The big mistake was underestimating our agents during the worst economic disaster I’ve ever experienced. When we walked into this, we knew we were going through a recession, but we underestimated what our agents were capable of doing. It’s been humbling to see everything we’ve accomplished. We tend to accomplish goals and move on. But you need to celebrate the victories and recognize the lives being impacted by what we’ve developed and created. Many people have put their faith and trust in our brokerages. They’re the ones making it happen. Hobbies: Golf, waterskiing, hiking, camping, basketball, family time outdoors, paragliding, traveling
Hobbies: Boating, golfing, family time, faith-based activities with his church
It’s Always Darkest Before the Dawn
While his journey wasn’t easy, Herman persevered and found success. Find out about his winding path. 22
Lives of Real Estate
hil Herman is accustomed to fighting his way to the top; he’s done it all his life. As a high school wrestler, he knew that his only way to college was as an athlete. “There were six kids in my family. I wore hand-me-down clothes. We didn’t have much money,” says Herman, now with RE/MAX Real Estate Specialists in Dayton, Ohio. “I was driven to do more. As the youngest, I had to bathe in the used bathwater. I didn’t want anyone else’s bathwater anymore,” he says. As a high school wrestler, Herman knew his only way to college was as an athlete. He worked part-time after school to earn money so that he could train with a champion college wrestler which enabled him to win 32 matches in a row and become a district and regional champ before he finally lost in the second round of the state tournament.
I WAS A BIT COCKY. I a s ke d t h e c o a c h , ‘A re yo u a f ra i d a wa l k- o n is going to beat a s c h o l a r s h i p p l a ye r ? ” — Phil Herman
A Detour Instead of going to college, however, he joined the Marine Corps. “I was intrigued by the advertising,” he laughs. “They were looking for a few good men.” However, his mind was never far from college and wrestling. “Fresh out of boot camp, I got myself ready to walk on [to the wrestling team] at an Ohio University, which was ranked seventh in the nation at that time,” he says. So he ran five miles a day, lifted weights two hours a day and trained with an ex–Ohio University wrestler who was “three years my senior and two weight classes above me,” he says. “I was a bit cocky. I asked the coach, ‘Are you afraid a walk-on is going to beat a scholarship player?’” Herman chuckles. The coach gave him a try out. “I beat that kid, and they gave me a partial scholarship that helped with housing and books.” Herman wrestled for two years. Despite the initial financial help, he was having trouble making ends meet and decided to take the civil service exam. “I was having trouble financing college on my own. I had two years left and needed money. I scored very high on the civil service test and was immediately offered a position,” he says. Herman got a job with the U.S. Postal Service, where he worked for five years doing various jobs, including mail carrier, clerk and airmail expeditor. Wanting More While Herman liked working for the Postal Service, he didn’t see a future there. He was renting a home from a man named Pat McAllister, whom he considers a mentor. “He was a master appraiser, a finance major, a land developer and both a residential and a commercial builder. You might say he was a jack-of-all-trades,” say Herman. McAllister sold the home in which Herman was living for a profit, and Herman was hooked. “That was the spark that lit my fire,” he says. McAllister encouraged Herman to get his real estate license.
“He believed in me,” says Herman. In October 1977, he left his job with the Postal Service to sell real estate. But, like much in Herman’s life, it wasn’t easy. He didn’t have his first sale until February 1978. “I was begging for money from friends; I maxed out my credit cards. I bought Camaros and Firebirds (sports cars) to fix up and sell to pay back friends. I was meeting only Maslow’s basic hierarchy of needs: food, shelter and clothing,” says Herman, who admits that at one point he didn’t even have $5 in his account. “I was down and out and questioning if I was suited for real estate,” he says.
1968 Pontiac Firebird
Sunshine After a Storm Finally, at his lowest point, in early 1978, Herman sold his first house, to a first-time homebuyer. His career continued on an upward path. In 1988, he became a licensed broker and was made a partner/owner in a real estate I m a xe d o u t m y c re d i t c a rd s . company with about 10 offices and 300 agents. In 1992, he opened his I b o u g h t C a m a ro s a n d current RE/MAX office, recruited 25 sales associates and had 1,000 F i re b i rd s ( s p o r t s c a r s ) t o transactions in a 12-month period f i x u p a n d s e l l t o p ay b a c k with that small team. Since then, he’s earned his CCIM designation, had f r i e n d s .” — P h i l H e r m a n over 6,000 transaction sides and led a field of 3,000 agents. “On my car license plate it says, “Kaizen,” which is the Japanese practice of continuous improvement,” he says. “Learning and improving never stop.”
“I WAS BEGGING FOR MONEY FROM FRIENDS;
We’d say that all that hard work paid off.
AT HIS LOWEST POINT,
i n e a r l y 1 97 8 , H e r m a n s o l d h i s f i r s t h o u s e , t o a f i r s t - t i m e h o m e b u ye r. H i s c a re e r c o n t i n u e d o n a n u p w a rd p a t h . I n 1 9 8 8 , h e b e c a m e a l i c e n s e d b ro ke r a n d w a s m a d e a p a r t n e r/ow n e r i n a re a l e s t a t e c o m p a n y with about 10 offices and 300 agents. 24
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2016 GATHERING OF EAGLES APRIL 20-22, 2016 FOUR SEASONS RESORT DALLAS AT LAS COLINAS 4150 N. MACARTHUR BLVD. IRVING, TX 78038 REGISTER AT: BIT.LY/GOE2016
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A True Winner With a flair for business, Denise Andres built an enviable business as the new agent in town.
014 was definitely Denise Andres’ year. Not only did she win the ERA Distinctive Properties Sapphire Award for the third year, but she was also named ERA’s No. 1 top-producing real estate professional for total adjusted gross commission. But the crème de la crème was receiving the Brenda W. Casserly Memorial Award, the brand’s highest honor for an independent sales associate, presented annually to the system’s top all-around agent. You might say Andres, a sales associate with ERA Landmark Real Estate in Bozeman, Mont., is a natural at real estate.
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Coming from a high-paying corporate job in Los Angeles, Andres found that the low-key lifestyle of Bozeman was an adjustment, but only because she couldn’t find corporate opportunities similar to those in Los Angeles and decided to try her hand at real estate. “I was new to town and didn’t know anyone. I started in September 1997 and didn’t have my first closing until April 1, 1998,” she says. Despite that rocky first year, she eventually won Rookie of the Year the following year. “I was a financial officer for a small chain in LA. I received my Master’s of Business Administration from the UCLA Anderson School of Management,” she says, “I am an analytical person, and I knew I needed to gear my business to my strengths,” she says.
ANDRES KNEW she needed to f i g u re o u t h e r m a r ke t i n g n i c h e , h ow t o p re s e n t h e r s e l f a n d h ow t o scale her business t o c re a t e re p e a t a n d re f e r ra l c l i e n t s .
Being a self-proclaimed real estate “looky loo,” Andres says, “(A career in) real estate was the best of both worlds.” It satisfied her fascination with open houses and the Parade of Homes, but also gave her a business challenge. She knew she needed to figure out her marketing niche, how to present herself and how to scale her business to create repeat and referral clients. Trying It Out For Andres, that meant doing anything to get her name out. “I think I tried
Denise Andres (middle in red) with colleagues at the ERA International Business Conference in Los Angeles.
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everything at first,” she laughs. “I volunteered to do open houses to get my face in the newspaper. I didn’t have any inventory, so I helped other agents. I ran ads in homes magazines available at grocery stores. I would pay for an ad and get permission from other agents to advertise their properties,” says Andres, who notes that the other agents were shocked. “Many of them refused. It’s normal now with the Internet,” she says. She also networked at local events and introduced herself to different employers in town. “I told them, ‘If you have [relocating employees], I can show them around Bozeman,’” she says. Her Big Break “In 2001, I got my first break in luxury sales, listing a $2.2 million house because my son’s best friend’s mother owned the house. It was luck,” says Andres. However, what came next wasn’t luck.
“Once I got that listing, I heavily advertised in that neighborhood,” she says. In 2004, she joined with a competitor to start a luxury real estate group. “We selected top agents who were selling, not just listing, and started a group that met once a month in the winter and twice a month in the summer to network and brainstorm about marketing ideas. While I am the leading luxury agent in Bozeman, this isn’t a place dominated by luxury properties. Our median price is $316,000, and out of 1,400 homes that will sell, there will be fewer than 50 that are over $1 million. If I chose to be luxury only, my business would be very small,” says Andres, who also sells condos and raw land. Finding the Key The key, she says, is to be self-driven. “You can’t wait for the phone to ring. You must believe in yourself. Go to the office and make a plan for that
Y O U C A N ’ T WA I T F O R T H E P H O N E T O R I N G . Yo u m u s t b e l i eve i n yo u r s e l f. G o t o t h e o f f i c e a n d m a ke a p l a n f o r t h a t d ay, c a l l F S B O s , g e t re j e c t e d a n d d o n ’ t g i ve u p .” — D e n i s e A n d r e s
ANDRES’ TIPS FOR SUCCESS 1. Treat real estate as a profession. “It’s not a part-time hobby. Take all the classes you can, earn your Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) designation, and take more continuing education than what your state mandates. 2. Hang out with other successful agents. Learn from them. Ask questions, such as, “What are the first three things you talk about at an open house?” 3. Put your listings on tour. We have an active MLS, and we always have Thursday MLS caravans. As a new agent, have a house on tour every Thursday. If you don’t have any listings, offer to sit in one for a busy agent. Build good relationships with fellow real estate professionals. They are your sales force. Andres, with Charlie Young, president and CEO of ERA Franchise Systems LLC, when she won the 2015 Brenda W. Casserly Memorial Award for Top All-Around Sales Associate
day, call FSBOs, get rejected and don’t give up.” In addition, says Andres, “You have to come up with new ideas and exploit your successes. You have to make the public know you’re successful.” By the looks of things, Andres has done just that.
Andres recently sold this luxury home at 450 Star Ridge Road in Bozeman, Montana.
4. Keep going. If you want to break into the luxury market, you have to work your way up the food chain systematically. Bring your sales point up higher and higher each year. As you do so, your reputation will take hold. Once you hit prices above the median sales price, you have a chance at the luxury market. 5. Work the listings that don’t sell. If you still can’t break into the luxury market, go for the listings that didn’t sell. They are probably overpriced or have difficult sellers. With good marketing, excellent photography and an agent event, you may be able to persuade the seller to reduce the price. A fresh agent’s enthusiasm can make the difference. You have to spend money to make money. 6. Keep an ear to the ground. Watch social media and listen to friends to find out who’s moving. Hint: A good source of information is people at carpet stores and painters because they’re called in ahead of time to spruce up a house that’s about to be put on the market.
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NICOLE AND TONY SARENPA:
FIT FOR SELLING REAL ESTATE This husbandwife duo use exercise to help them find their rhythm in real estate sales.
Lives of Real Estate
he parallels between running a real estate team and the success of a sports team are obvious. Both take a great coach, a common vision and determination. Nicole and Tony Sarenpa, of The Sarenpa Team/Keller Williams Premier Realty—Lake Minnetonka in Wayzata, Minn., have all of that in spades. Nicole and Tony started personally investing in real estate in 2001. They became licensed in 2005 and started their team in 2007. Both athletes, the Sarenpas realized early on how to translate that background into real estate. “I’m finding my gymnastics coaching background is very applicable to real estate,” says Nicole. “I learned how to challenge myself and grow out of my comfort zone, and now I can do that with my team,” she says.
Gymnast Extraordinaire Discovering her passion at an early age, Nicole started competing in gymnastics at age 9. “I had Hungarian coaches who were very strict and competitive, so I trained long hours,” she says. At age 11, Nicole spent a summer in Budapest training at a Hungarian Olympic training facility. She competed until college, when she was recruited to join the team at the University of Denver, a Division 1 program, where she met Tony. Competitive gymnastics can be hard on a person’s body and cause many injuries. “My body didn’t make it through college,” says Nicole, who had to give up her college scholarship after her freshman year. “It was a process to fill the void left when I retired from competitive gymnastics,” she says.
“I’M FINDING MY GYMNASTICS COACHING BACKGROUND i s ve r y a p p l i c a b l e t o re a l e s t a t e ,” s a y s N i c o l e . “ I l e a r n e d h ow t o c h a l l e n g e m y s e l f a n d g row o u t of my comfort zone, a n d n ow I c a n d o that with my t e a m .”
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So after college, she coached gymnastics at a private school, all the while helping husband Tony with his real estate business. She also discovered BarreAmped, a combination of Pilates, ballet, stretching and strength training. “Now, I go four days a week, and it keeps me healthy,” she says. She is also going through certification to teach at her local studio. CrossFit Mania For Tony, who grew up playing hockey and downhill skiing, physical activity was a part of his life except, he says, “Even though I taught skiing at Keystone [Resort in Colorado] for a couple of years in high school and college, I never considered myself an athlete, but I wanted to be one.” He lived across the street from CrossFit SISU Wayzata and decided to try it. “My waist was up to 40 inches, and I weighed 225 pounds,” he says. Like many who try CrossFit, he’s addicted—in a good way! The program helped him change his condition and become, in his mind, a true athlete. He now weighs 185 pounds and is in such good condition that he easily finished a spur-of-the-moment 30-mile bike race in 2.5 hours. “I had a bike, but never rode it [before this race]. I didn’t even know how to click in the pedals,” he laughs. Tony has now competed in four CrossFit competitions.
M Y WA I S T WA S U P T O 4 0 I N C H E S , a n d I we i g h e d 2 2 5 p o u n d s ,” To n y s a y s . L i ke m a n y w h o t r y C ro s s F i t , h e ’s a d d i c t e d — i n a g o o d w ay ! T h e p ro g ra m h e l p e d h i m c h a n g e his condition and become, in his mind, a true athlete.
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Fit for Real Estate For both Nicole and Tony, fitness helps them be better real estate professionals and parents. They have two daughters, Halle (5) and Amelia (3), and a six-person real estate team. “With CrossFit, I push my body to the limit,” says Tony. “It’s physically taxing. But real estate is mentally taxing. Working out gives me more stamina during the day.” Nicole agrees. “The more balance I have in my life, the more focused I am,” she says. “If I can be disciplined with my schedule, I can be more purposeful about fitting in what’s important.” In addition, both know the value of coaching and being coached. “About five years ago, Tony and I started working with a coach in the Keller Williams MAPS Coaching program,” says Nicole. “Now, I am starting to do more coaching within my team. I would like to become a MAPS coach with the goal of becoming a master at holding my team accountable and providing them with the tools they need to achieve success. I am in the early
process of becoming a MAPS coach.” In 2009, Nicole and Tony took the AVA (Activity Vector Analysis), a KW work-style behavioral assessment. “We started to understand ourselves and our roles,” says Tony. “It strengthened both our business and, more importantly,” says Nicole, “our marriage.” For both Tony and Nicole, the KW belief system and perspective of God, Family, Business and Results Through People is core to their business and personal lives. That means living life to the fullest by staying fit, keeping God and family as their main focus, and taking what they learn through coaching and sharing it with others. “We see working together in our business as one of the greatest gifts,” says Nicole. “We are able to conquer challenges together and work through to higher levels of communication every day.” With their athletic successes and high-level personal achievements, it’s obvious that the Sarenpas can conquer those challenges with ease.
THE KW BELIEF SYSTEM AND PERSPECTIVE of G o d , Fa m i l y, B u s i n e s s a n d R e s u l t s T h ro u g h P e o p l e i s c o re t o t h e i r b u s i n e s s a n d p e r s o n a l l i ve s . T h a t m e a n s l i v i n g l i f e t o t h e f u l l e s t by s t ay i n g f i t , ke e p i n g G o d and family as their main focus, and taking what t h ey l e a r n t h ro u g h coaching and sharing it with others.
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n o i s s i M (Make that 6 missions!)
Twelve years ago, Mark Loscher, a sales associate with Ron Brownell Real Estate in San Diego, went on his first mission trip. Now, he’s hooked on helping. Read his story.
When the pastor at Mark Loscher’s church, Gateway Community Church in North San Diego County, said that it was time the church got involved in mission work, Loscher was excited. “He fired up the church about it. I had never been on a mission trip,” says Loscher. His first trip, in 2006, was to Belize. “There are two aspects to Belize, the tourist areas and the other half, which is made up of very poor communities of Indians who live in squalor,” he says. “Ships would dump drugs into the ocean to hide them from pirates, 34
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“I REALIZED THAT PEOPLE ARE THE SAME eve r y w h e re yo u g o. T h ey n e e d food and clothing, but t h ey a l s o n e e d a smile and a hug, especially t h e c h i l d re n .” — Ma rk Losch e r
and then the drugs washed up on shore, where the locals would find and use them. So drugs were a big problem there.” He says he and others in his church decided to help missionaries who were already there. “We wanted to go into villages and develop relationships, introduce [the residents] to Christianity and work with the youth,” he says. It was on that trip that Loscher knew he was making a difference. Making a Difference About two years later, Loscher joined a group through World Vision to go to Malawi, Africa. “That took us out of our comfort zones. This area is among the five poorest in the world.” There was a youth camp that served thousands of children, but living conditions were poor. Loscher and his group built an 80-bed facility to house some of the children. He ended up going back the next year and helped develop a program to provide training and food to about 100 children in the area. “When we got off the bus and started setting up for a movie, a few people were milling around. Then, all of a sudden, 200 to 300 people started walking through the cornfields. They were dancing and singing, and they watched the movie we brought. I thought, ‘I’m halfway across the world, and we can still reach out and touch someone in a meaningful way.’ These people realize that the world understands their plight,” says Loscher, who adds, “I realized that people are the same everywhere you go. They need food and clothing, but they also need a smile and a hug, especially the children.” He continues to support the Malawi Africa Youth Center for Peace financially. After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, when the country lost 340,000 people in one day and thousands more after, Loscher knew where his next mission trip would take him. “On the first trip to Haiti through Gateway Community Church, the group met with a pastor who had a small orphanage for girls,” says Loscher, who didn’t go until the second mission. The church agreed to provide monthly funds and visit once a year to provide help, love and companionship. “Over the last five years, I’ve gone on three trips. The last one was in March 2015,” he says. The group built a school with living quarters for the girls. “They have 32 girls now, and the program is strong. The girls are LORE
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healthier, and they have food and clothing.” Loscher and his wife, Maureen, sponsor a girl named Christella. “She came to the orphanage when she was 5 years old. Her older sister was there as well. She had an elderly father, and her mother had fallen out of a tree and died in front of her,” he says. The girl was very shy when she first met Loscher but now, he says, “she’s come out of her shell. On our last visit, she was a totally changed girl. She laughs more and interacts more with people from our group. Our relationship grew over those four years. That’s why I do what I do.” He also “does what he does” because he loves kids. “My daughter, Jennifer, was 13 years old when she died,” he says. She died when the school bus she was riding in was hit by a motor home at a busy intersection. (He also has a son, Steve, who is 33 years old.) “Jennifer was a soccer player with a ton of friends. Twenty-three years later, my wife and I still email or talk with some of her friends. I guess that is a part of the reason I want to help children,” he says. “I do this because it’s what I was called to do. There’s nothing greater than seeing a smile on a child’s face. Your heart explodes. The truth is, I receive tenfold everything I give through missions and community service. We are called to give back and spread what we have. It’s our obligation.”
Loscher’s daughter, Jennifer, (at left) was 13 years old when she died after the school bus she was riding in was hit by a motor home at a busy intersection. 36
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Helping Out at Home Loscher doesn’t help only those in other countries; he also participates in charitable functions at home. In 2001, his company started doing one community service day a year. “We went to the city of Carlsbad, Calif. and asked what we could do. We ended up scraping bubble gum off of public parking lots, pulling weeds and painting numbers on curbs.” In 2007, Loscher got involved with Operation Hero at Camp Pendleton through the YMCA. “It’s a special program for children of deployed military. About 100 agents pair up with the kids, and we have a fair with games, prizes and tons of gifts for the parents too.” In addition, Loscher was chairman of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Marcos between 1984 and 1992, helping raise $1.5 million for a building. The building was ultimately named for Loscher’s daughter. Loscher says it’s part of his company’s culture to give back to the community. “My goal is to touch people’s lives in positive ways.” LORE
Lives Of Real Estate Magazine | Winter 2015