In this episode of Secrets of the Top 100 Agents, host Tim Neary is joined by Jason Pantzer, the number-seven-ranked agent in the country for 2016. Jason says that real estate is much like a game of psychology, revealing his three surprisingly simple tricks that have seen him settle a staggering $219 million in the last year!
In this episode find out:
- How Jason increased his listings
- Why being unavailable is like throwing money away
- Why getting feedback is good for business
Tune in to hear all of this and much, much more on Secrets of the Top 100 Agents!
Tim: G’day, everyone, it's Tim Neary here. I am the editor of Real Estate Business and the host of the Secrets of the Top 100 Agents show. Thanks for tuning in. We're gonna continue to bring in and chat to the very best agents in Australia; it's the base of the show and it's why we created it.
Look, we're very excited about our guest on the show today, he's one of the top real estate agents in the country, ranked in the top ten of the REB top 100 agents ranking for 2016 at number seven, it's Jason Pantzer. Hello, Jason, and welcome to the show.
Jason: Hi Tim, thanks for having me.
Tim: It's a real pleasure, and as I said in the intro we're just talking little off air here as well, I mean we just want to have a general chat and just talk a little bit about the industry and your experience in the industry, so I guess just to get started, maybe you can just take us through how you got started as a real estate agent.
Jason: Yeah, sure. I got started in real estate at the age of 30 actually. I was a bit of a late bloomer. I was in the financial markets before that.
Jason: For many years abroad in London and New York and decided I wanted a sea change and I wanted to get involved in an industry that enabled me to be flexible with my work hours and responsible for myself and I knew that it was probably an industry where you were going to be as successful as you wanted to be, as ambitious as you wanted to be, and as disciplined as you wanted to be, so I got into real estate back in two thousand and...I think it was 2004 – I'm just giving my age away. It was 2004, and I got in and...I just hit the ground running. I came in as a licensed agent, went and did the course, and just sat down and started making calls and contacting my network and so forth, just trying to see how I can get that first listing.
Tim: That's interesting and also you say you came from financial markets, so you came from a background with some business experience, did you bring anything from...was anything you brought across into real estate that really gave you a leg up?
Jason: I think so. I think what differentiates myself from a lot of agents out there is I'm tertiary qualified, so I've got an economics degree...
Jason: I did work in the financial markets for Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch and Bloomberg, which would be American companies, and I think the experience that I gained in that field enabled me to have a conversation with vendors on a more macro basis and talk about the financial markets, the interest rates, all that kind of stuff that helps enable them to make decisions on when the right time to sell is.
Tim: Yeah, yeah, it's quite interesting you know, we speak to a lot of agents in real estate business and a lot of people come to real estate, come to being a real estate agent from different places, some a lot less...if I can put it this way, a lot less sort of ambitious than what yours was, but they all talk about one thing, and that is that it's about customers and the customer service and dealing with people and understanding...
Jason: Yeah, absolutely.
Tim: That this is a service, this is a service business. Did you find the same thing?
Jason: Yeah, absolutely. I think that the success that I've had over the years has probably been that I'm accessible 24/7. My clients can call me any time of the day, any day of the week and if I don't answer their call I certainly return their call as soon as I possibly can. So, accessibility is very important, and just providing them with a service and knowing that you can be a trusted advice to them as opposed to, you know, a cowboy agent out there, you know, real estate agents have often been dumped in the same category as used car sales people which I think is unfortunate because when people are selling million dollar assets they really need somebody that they can trust.
Tim: And it seems to come across as well that the trust element is...
Jason: It's really at the forefront, and it's becoming more and more so, I think the agents that are out there at the moment are a lot more educated and a lot more savvy, a lot hungrier. Than they may have been 20, 30, 40 years ago. Which is when the industry probably got its' name. So I think for those agents out there it's really important that they provide an incredible service to their clients. And that's how... their success will stem from there.
Tim: I just wanted to come back to something else that you said a little earlier when you came across, you thought that it would be a nice sea change, a lifestyle change.
Tim: We also hear from agents a lot that it's a pretty full-on industry, it's a pretty full-on business to be in and they work long hours, so how did that work out? Were you able to work the hours you wanted to work?
Jason: When I said I wanted a sea change and I wanted to create my own hours, I had been working the markets, you know, I would work 12-14 hour days for somebody else.
Tim: Right, yeah.
Jason: I'm more than happy to work 12-14 hour days, I work seven hours a week and have done pretty much for the last 12 years. And I do, I work seven days a week. I've worked every Sunday this year. I made three appointments yesterday so it was more so knowing that if I'm going to put those hours in, that I'm doing it for myself, and that I'm having a choice. And that I don't have to answer to anybody else but myself.
Tim: Yeah, and I mean I'd really like the way that you put that because a lot of people seem to... I mean, of all the top 100 agents that we've talked to that's the common theme, you know, it's long hours, it's hard work, it's putting the time in, but there's a return.
Jason: It's like any industry, you know, you want to be the number one tennis player in the world, you gotta sacrifice and do things that everybody else out there is not doing. And real estate in my opinion is no different. You know, everyone talks about having balance, and how do you keep your family life, and how do you stay fit and exercise and have this incredible balance, I've got zero balance.
Jason: You know, if you want to be in the top 10 agents in the country, and you want to have balance, then I need to speak to you and you need to explain to me how you get that balance. It's not possible. When you're doing 100+ transactions a year and you're receiving 100, 150 phone calls a day and you've got, you know, thousands of emails every week, it's very difficult to maintain balance so it's a sacrifice. It's no question.
Tim: It's topical that you say that as well because just in the press I think I read the day before yesterday - Novak Djokovic has just dropped off number one in tennis.
Jason: Yeah, I read that as well.
Tim: Did you? And Boris Becker said it's because he's got balance in his life.
Jason: Well, I figured it's exactly the opposite when you're hanging out with Boris Becker. I think there might be a common trend there, which you'd probably want to go into, but from what I've read between the lines there is that he took his eye off the ball, excuse the pun, and mentally he lost the advantage that he had over someone like Andy Murray in the last quarter of the year.
Tim: And meanwhile, Andy Murray is still putting in that time.
Jason: Yeah, putting in the time, he's making the sacrifices and you know, there's a really good example. That guy, he doesn't have the talent that say, a Djokovic or a Federer has, but he is just a work horse and he has never taken his eye off the prize which, to be number one in the world, and he's worked very, very hard to his credit. And look at him now. He's finishing the end number one.
Tim: Yeah, and I like the way that you put that as well, he's never taken his eye off the prize, he knows what he's going after.
Jason: That's right.
Tim: And does the work.
Jason: That's right.
Tim: Yeah. Mate, so tell me, you came into the industry, you obviously put the hours in, I like the way you said you put in and you get back what you want to get back out of it, was there a breakthrough time? I mean you don't start at the top of the industry, did something happen that was a breakthrough or was it just a steady general climb up the ranks?
Jason: I think it was pretty steady, I think the breakthrough was longevity breeds success in this industry. As long as you're doing a few of the right things. And I continued doing two or three things, which were part of my daily routine, and it's like a snowball, you know? As you start to sell... once you've sold fifty homes you've met fifty vendors, you've probably met another hundred people at each of those homes, all of a sudden there's 500, 5,000, 10,000 people that you're starting to meet and then you're getting into their networks and then they're referring people to you and eventually it just grows and grows and grows.
I think a problem with a lot of people in real estate is those who first get into it see that it's all glamorous and, you know, nice cars, nice watches, all that kind of stuff. But it's a long hard road to success and I think you need to have a long term view and I think when I got into it, I knew it was going to be tough, and I knew I had to subsidise myself particularly financially but I said to myself, I'm going to give it five years. I wasn't gonna give it two years and make it a decision, I was gonna make it five years, and if in five years’ time, I wasn't happy and I wasn't earning a living that I was comfortable with, then I would go back to the markets.
Tim: Right, right.
Jason: So I reckon probably after five years, my breakthrough came and I've steadily increased over the years.
Tim: So it's a cumulative thing? You just keep building, you just keep going on and...
Jason: It's like anything. It's like building knowledge, right? The more you know, the more you learn about a product, the more you learn about psychology, the better you become. And the more people that you meet and the more properties that you sell the more experience that you get.
Jason: The better agent that you naturally become. And when you can pull all that together...and that doesn't happen overnight, I mean I'm 12 years in and there's been people been out there who have a lot more experience than me, who probably do things a lot smarter and better, and better than I do. Who have got twenty years’ experience, but experience I think is probably the most important ingredient to make the breakthrough that you mentioned.
Tim: And that's a great analogy as well in terms of learning, acquiring knowledge I guess is a reason why when teachers teach they teach basics, intermediate, and then experienced because you can't get the top stuff before you've built the blocks before that.
Jason: That's absolutely right.
Tim: And you made another point as well which I just want to go back to which is also an important one is that if you keep doing the right things, and you said that there were things that you used to do all the time and started from the beginning, I suppose you get that and then they grow but what are those things? What are the things that you always do and then conversely what are the things that you never do?
Jason: Yeah, yeah, okay, so when I first started I wrote down on a sheet of paper, I wasn't very good with computers back then, so I wrote down on a sheet of paper every person that I knew. Whether they loved me or whether they hated me. I wrote all their names down on a paper and then I contacted them.
Tim: This was on sort of day one?
Jason: This was day one. And then I contacted them. And I got their phone numbers, I got their emails, I got their addresses, I called them, I just let them know that I changed careers, I let them know that yes I'm very green, but I'm a fast learner and I'm going to do well, and if they had any needs or any requirements then come and give me a call and let me know and if I'm not the right man for the job then I'd put you on to someone in the business that I'm working in who will be able to help you. I then focused very... then I sent them an email and I sent them a letter with my business card, just letting them know where I was at.
Jason: And my first listing actually came from an ex-girlfriend.
Jason: Yeah, I wish I had more ex-girlfriends. I tell you what, I wasn't so good in the girlfriend department but I did, my first listing was from my ex-girlfriend who I'm still very good friends with. She was a girlfriend when I was sixteen years of age.
Jason: And she entrusted her property with me which is amazing, and I was in Darling Point, I remember selling it very quickly for her which is great, and then she wrote me a referral and a testimonial and then I used them in my marketing materials and slowly but surely I started to build up my database that way.
Jason: But I think in the early days I very much focused on buyers, so I tried to build up a network...a database of buyers that were looking out there to purchase apartments or...it was apartments back then, I didn't quite get into the housing market for a good five years, but it was definitely apartments.
And what I used to do was, I used to try and establish what these people were looking for, and if the business that I was working in didn't have the stock that they may be looking for I would then go out to the marketplace and look at what other agents had, then I would call these buyers and ask, "Have you seen the property that 'A, B, C' realty's got? I think that's gonna be a great one for you, it ticks every box that you mentioned you were looking for."
And then I'd get them in there to have a look, then I'd offer to handle the negotiation for them, I'd go and attend the auction for them, the reason I would do all this is because I wanted to build up my relationship with them, I wanted them to...to let people talk about me at dinner parties and go, well "This guy's helped us out, he's been amazing." But also they had something to sell.
Tim: Right, yeah, yeah.
Jason: So I knew if I could find them something to buy whether it was from my agency or another agency...
Tim: Smart move, yeah.
Jason: That they're gonna feel a sense of loyalty towards me, so when they had to sell, they were gonna call me, and I think that's how I got my second listing.
Tim: Well that's fantastic. I mean, there it is folks, that's real estate 101. First of all, it's a people business, so write down all the people that you know. Two, stay on good terms with your ex-girlfriends...
Jason: Yeah, definitely.
Tim: And three...
Jason: As many ex-girlfriends as possible.
Tim: And three, never stop thinking. Because if they're selling, they're buying. And it's all connected. So...
Jason: And I think I went with the rule of thumb that every person that I meet knows twenty other people.
Jason: And, you know, if you can meet a thousand people and you multiply that by twenty, away you go. That's how you network right.
Tim: I mean, there's a very famous saying, and somebody said it way back, one of the original real estate agents in Australia said, you know, real estate business is not about property. It's about people. And we just hear that over and over and over again and it’s...
Jason: Well that's important too, but it also is about property, I think one of the most important parts of our job is to have product knowledge and understand your marketplace. You know, when you're going in to see a listing on a listing appointment, you need to know every single house and every single apartment that is comparable to the one you're about to see and be able to just have those apartments and those sales just roll off the tip of your tongue to the vendor, because that will instil confidence in them and it gives you credibility.
Tim: Nice, nice, is that...that's the thing that builds the trust, is it?
Jason: Absolutely. You need the product knowledge.
Tim: And Jason, just on the flip side of that same coin, what are some of the things that you never do? And maybe some lessons that you've learned over the years, things that just haven't worked that you just stay away from?
Jason: What do I never do? Well, never say never, I don't... What do I never do? That's a tough question, I mean, I've made plenty of mistakes in my career.
Jason: And I continue to make mistakes.
Jason: I think one thing that I never do is make the same mistake twice. That's for sure. But you live and learn in this business, it's a tough game because you are dealing with the general public, and the general public are very judgmental. And they can be quite tough. And they've all got different personalities, so I never judge people, I never ever judge people, and I try to be as honest and as credible as I possibly can to both buyers and sellers.
Jason: And act more of a medium. To try and get deals together.
Tim: Right, right. You also mentioned something earlier which we hear not all the time from all the agents, but certainly the top agents talk about it, it's about buyers and it's about sellers and it's about getting them together but it's also about negotiating and being a negotiator. So you get a fair deal for the buyer and you're obviously looking after the vendor's interests.
Have you found that's something that just came naturally to you or is that something that you learned over...
Jason: It's something that I've learned over the years. I mean, we are negotiators, that's why we get employed. You know, we're employed to try and drain every last dollar out of a buyer.
Jason: The key is not so much that we're not... as you just mentioned, insuring the buyer gets a good deal, that's not what we're doing. We're insuring that the vendor gets every last dollar. But what we are doing from a psychology standpoint is making the buyer feel like they've had a win. Trying to make them feel that they haven't paid way over. When we know in our heart of hearts that they have.
Tim: Yeah, yeah.
Jason: But it's trying to make them feel like, you know, they've done okay, it's a great property, they're picking it up for a fair and reasonable price...
Tim: There's still something in it for them.
Jason: There's still something in it for them, they can add value here and there down the track, so it's very much a game of psychology almost. I think, you know, as I said earlier I've got an economics degree but in my first year of university I had to do psychology. And it's funny, you know, I thought 'this is all just such a waste of time'...
Jason: But being in real estate now, I know that I've...a few of those things that I learned, I've gone back to.
Tim: That's interesting.
Jason: They just popped up in my head. And I've used them to my advantage to try and help me get the result that I want. And that may be, it may not just be convincing a buyer to buy a home. It might be convincing a vendor that now is the right time to sell a home.
Tim: Right, yeah.
Jason: Because they may not be thinking that way. So if you can throw out, I guess, topics to discuss and converse with your clients by buyers and sellers, you can invariably try and find a way to put a deal together.
Tim: Yeah, yeah, nice. So the vendor is the big winner but the buyer is also winning at the same time.
Jason: Well, you like to think that they're not always the winner, right? But that really depends on the marketplace. Back in 2008 when the GFC hit...
Tim: Tough times, yeah.
Jason: Really tough market for vendors and you know, the buyers that bought in 2008 they were absolutely winners. There's no question. The vendors were the losers back then. Particularly those that had to sell.
Jason: You know, the ones who didn't have to sell, you could hold on, probably doubled their money. So it's not always in the favour of the vendor but one thing is for sure, whether it's a tough market or a really poor market, it's our job to make sure that we drained every last dollar for the vendor. And whether that's a good price or a poor price, it's the best price. And that's the main thing.
Tim: I mean, just talking with you this morning Jason just really strikes me that it's not just a long game but it's also a wide game, and it's also something that you need to be light on your feet about because the market, the conditions are changing, everything’s changing, dynamic...yeah.
Jason: You need to be aware of what's going on both domestically and abroad because it really does affect our market and it affects the mindset of buyers and it affects the mindsets of sellers.
When Donald Trump got elected, I had just signed up this property to put it on the market, and the vendor called me up, the day, that afternoon, Sydney time I think it was that we realised that Trump was getting in, and he ran me up freaking out on the phone. And I believe the question to me was "Am I making the right decision putting my property on the market right now with Donald Trump being elected?"
And talk about having to think on your feet. You know, I had to come up with a response to that. And I did come up with a response on that, and we successfully sold that property now, but it's interesting that something that happens abroad can have such a psychological event on your customer. Here in, you know, our little island in Australia.
Tim: Absolutely. Especially at the time when it was so against the run of play, nobody was expecting it. Certainly around here, nobody was expecting it.
Just talking about mindsets and a lot of our listener base here are younger guys, younger people coming into real estate, what makes a good real estate agent? From the mindset point of view, from a detailed point of view, in a couple of words, what is a good real estate agent?
Jason: A good real estate agent is somebody who listens. Somebody who listens to what a buyer wants, and then doesn't try and sell them something that they don't want. Somebody who listens to their vendor, and what their concerns are. And often when you listen to the people that are talking to you, you can find a gap and an ability to plug that gap. So, I think listening is one of the key ingredients that I've learned throughout my career. Just to be silent sometimes, the quieter you are, the more opportunity that you can see. So, that's probably one of the very important things, and then the other thing that I would say to people who are just starting out there is product knowledge.
Jason: Get out there, see as many open homes as you possibly can. And it's not just to have an understanding that home down at 10 Russell Street sold for X, it's not just that. But when you go to all these open homes, you're seeing other agents, you're seeing how they conduct themselves, you're seeing what marketing materials they might have on display, you're just growing as a person and getting a better understanding of how the whole industry works. And I think those two things, if you can get product knowledge, you can listen to your clients, and then you can try and find out ways to appease them, then you're on the right track.
Tim: Then you're going okay. Terrific. We've come to the end of the show now and I always just like to wrap it up with a couple of what I would call the top tips. What is your top sales tip for getting more listings? What's the one thing you do when you go in there that works for you?
Jason: The one thing that I guess works for me when I have a listing is, put the client first. Don't try and sell them advertising in a medium that you know isn't gonna generate the exposure that they need. And a lot of agents do that because all they're worried about is exposing themselves as agents because they feel that it might give them an opportunity to have the vendor pay for their own marketing. So, that's something that I've never done. The other thing that I... That's a really tough question because it evolves over the years.
When I first got in the industry I was terrible at listing properties. I was a disaster. I lost so many listings. But each one that you lose, I ask the question why after I've lost it, I wished my client the best of luck with... Well, not my client, but I wished the vendor the best of luck with their sale, but I would ask them, you know, why did you decide to go with another agent? Just to get some, I guess some constructive criticism back from them and to make sure that I can improve in that department for my next one.
Tim: I mean that's encouraging as well, you know, without a listing you can't make a sale, so you're not in business, so you know, gain for people starting out, if you're losing listings, even the people that... the real estate agents that are at the top of their games, they started out by losing listings.
Jason: I still lose listings.
Tim: Still? Yeah.
Jason: And I still get very upset when I lose a listing.
Tim: I guess that's important to be upset by it.
Jason: Yeah, very upset. Well, if you're not getting upset then your time's probably up.
Tim: Yeah, you don't mean it.
Jason: But I get upset with myself, I don't upset at the vendor. You know, so often I hear stories about agents missing out and then ringing up the vendor and ripping into them and telling them what a big mistake they've made. You know, I'll ring up the vendor and say "Listen I'm disappointed, I wish you the best of luck with the sale, if things don't work out feel free to give me a call, don't call another agent, feel free to give me a call if things don't work out.' And I also ask them also why they decided to list with somebody else.
Tim: Jason, what about marketing? What's your top tip for marketing?
Jason: I've always focused on mail and I've always focused on... I've always done letterbox drops in the past. They're probably a bit antiquated, a bit hit and miss now, so now I'm sort of re-using, we're taking to social media a little bit now. We're still working on that. Work in progress. But certainly every property that I listed, and from day one from my first listing until today. Every property that I listed, if it were in Bondi beach, every person that I knew in Bondi beach would receive a letter from me saying that I've just listed it, and then when I've sold it, everybody would receive a letter saying that I've sold it. And I have done that for the last fourteen years.
Tim: And that goes back to what you said on day one. On day one you said you made a list of everybody that you knew, so you just keep... Obviously you know more people now than you did then.
Jason: That's right, but I still do it.
Jason: So, every sale that I list, every property that I list, gets send-outs. And now I might have 2,000 people in Bondi beach at the moment, but every time I list a property, 2,000 letters get sent to them just to let them know I've listed it, and every time I sell the property, 2,000 letters get sent to them, so I'm hitting them twice. So they're constantly aware that I'm still in the marketplace and I'm still doing business.
Tim: It's a top of mind thing.
Jason: Now if I had more time what I would also do is every person that I knew who owned a property in Bondi beach I would call them as well. I would call them and say, just a courtesy to let you know I've just sold the property down the road from you, I thought you'd be interested to know.
And if I get their voicemail I'd leave it. A message for them. When you're selling 20, 30, 40, 50 properties a year in that same area, they're gonna hear from you 20, 30, 40, 50 times each year, eventually, when they decide to sell, how could they not call you and have a conversation?
Tim: And earlier we were talking about the cumulative effect of the work that you do and this is examples of that.
Jason: It gets bigger and bigger, and as it gets bigger and bigger that's when you know you need to put your first assistant on, your second assistant on, your third assistant if need be, to ensure that you continue to do the things that worked for you, just cause you're growing doesn't mean you should stop doing those things.
Tim: And that's a very important point, the reason why you're growing is because you did something right. So when you're growing, you don't wanna turn your back on the things that you did right.
Jason: That's right.
Tim: To start out with. That's really important point that, yeah, yeah.
Jason: And that's the way that I've done it. If I had my time again, I probably would've picked up the phone and been more active on the phone. I see guys in my office who are really active on the phone and they are constantly having conversations and building up and developing relationships with people over the phone. And again, that's just so valuable.
Tim: One last question and we've sort of run out of time, we're hearing a lot about technology, about disrupters coming into the marketplace, what has been your experience with tech? How do you use technology to enhance what you're doing?
Jason: You know, as I scratch my head here, I'm not very good with the technology side of the business if I'm honest.
Tim: You come across as being really people person, so yeah.
Jason: I am more focused on that, look, technology is gonna take over, we are headed there, you know we're in the digital world I see that. I see the younger guys in my office and they're all over social media and picking up listings that way. I'm probably a little bit more old school where I think having a conversation with somebody will outweigh the social media platforms, in my opinion. I could be completely wrong, but I'm gonna continue building relationships with people via the post, by mail, and over the telephone. And I'll continue to do that until it is...I will continue making phone calls and sending mail out, until it is just completely unproductive to be doing that.
Tim: Yeah, yeah.
Jason: And I don't think I'm at that point yet.
Tim: It's been great to have you in the studio and it'd be good to get you to come back some time in the future and see how things are developing for you as 2017 rolls through, the way that you do your business it's very obvious that you like to get a broad view of the market, understand people, understand how property rolls into that and really be that expert and connect with people on a personal level.
Tim: It's been a pleasure to have you in the studio, Jason. Thanks very much for coming in.
Jason: Thanks for having me.
Tim: Remember to follow us on all the social media stuff. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn... You can follow me on Twitter @TimothyNeary if you wanna do that, please keep those reviews coming in on iTunes, we do appreciate it. Please leave some feedback as well if there's anything we're not doing that you'd like us do more of, remember to tune in next week, remember also realestatebusiness.com.au is where you'll find us. Plenty of stories there on all the business of real estate across the hall of Australia, and on my guest today, Jason Pantzer.
Thank you again for tuning in, we'll see you next week.