S1 Ep 32: The Challenges for Returning Agents Relaunching A Career

Tune in today to hear what one agent is doing to rebrand herself in a new market after a 10-year hiatus. Today we’re joined by Malissa Call of e-Merge Realty as she shares her experience of relaunching her real estate career in a new market and a changing industry.


Contact Malissa at malissa.call@emergerealestate.com

We are re:Think Real Estate – The real estate podcast bringing you the best the industry has to offer.
Chris Lazarus – www.sellectrealty.com
Nathan White – www.linkapm.com
Christian Harris – www.sea-town.com

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reThink Real Estate Podcast Transcription

Audio length 28:39

S1 Ep 32: The Challenges for Returning Agents Relaunching A Career

[music] [Chris] Welcome to re:Think Real Estate, your educational and hopefully entertaining source for all things real estate, business, news and tech. 

[Christian]: I am Christian Harris in Seattle, Washington.

[Nathan]: Hi, I am Nathan White in Columbus, Ohio.

[Chris]: And I am Chris Lazarus in Atlanta, Georgia. Thanks for tuning in. 

[music] [Chris]: Everybody and welcome back to re:Think Real Estate. Today we’re talking about new agents in real estate and we’ve got a very special guest that’s gonna be telling us about the journey back into real estate. But before we get into that, I’m joined by my co-hosts Nathan White and Christian Harris. What’s up guys?

[Christian]:  Hey.

[Nathan]:  Hola. How are you?

[Chris]:  Doing well. Now Christian you just recently did a campaign. Mr. Christian Caris Harris. I didn’t get to make funny about this on the last episode. Maybe because you had to drop off. But tell us what…what you guys over at Sea town are doing. Because you’ve got something great that’s going on in the community.

[Christian]:  Remember the Community Partnership Program?

[Chris]:  Absolutely.

[Christian]:  Apartments, the local non-profit. Every quarter basically provide them…we have a podcast locally. Sea town podcast. So have them on as a guest. We pay for and produce, you know, a little two-minute co-branded video. So they have a platform to be able to tell their story. And with co-branded basically. So when we when someone comes to us, buys a house, buys or sells a house, we then donate 25 percent back to that partner. Specifically if the referral comes from…from them, you know, because someone comes to us and says “Hey I heard about you through such and such non-profit. I want to use you guys.” So it’s kind of a referral thing but, you know, really the goal is to be able double down on our giving back with every transaction. Percentage of the commission’s and stuff. So big involvement, community invested. That sort of stuff.

[Chris]:  That’s awesome. So for anybody in the Seattle area, if they’re a local nonprofit and they want to talk to you about opportunities, how would they get in touch with you?

[Christian]:  They can email me ChristianHarris@Sea-town.com. S-E-A dash town dot com. The same goes if you’re an agent and something like that resonates with you. Always happy to interview new agents that have good alignments and commitment to the community and doing…making an impact.

[Chris]:  Here we go. Well good work man. So Nate today’s guest is a colleague of yours. Why don’t you go ahead and take it from here?

[Nathan]:  Melissa you’re there?

[Melissa]:  Yes I am good.

[Nathan]:  Good. So everybody welcome Melissa to the show. You know, the guys we were talking about just some of, you know, we’ve talked about several times but new agent struggles are just getting into this game if you would. Or returning into this game. Melissa is a former client of mine. And it kind of popped in my head “Hey she returned in to…back into the real estate game”. And, you know, selling a house is a little bit easier. It helps a lot when your clients a former agent. It could probably go the other way. They could be a complete pain in the [censored] but she was not that. [laughter]. Melissa and I actually knew another from working in the food and beverage industry. 

And I actually have had some kind of crazy conversations. I thought of Melissa last week. It was that last week we talked. And then I talked to another colleague about a week ago. But I think there’s a big misconception and Melissa doesn’t have it. Because she has background in this because she did this for ten years. But I think there’s a big misconception that you…you just jump into this and people don’t realize the work they have to put into it. I think Melissa brings a unique insight that when she previously did real estate, she did it back in the days before there was Facebook and, you know, this live media hacky. There was no podcast and all these things that are prominent. So I just, you know, want to bring Melissa on and her talk about the differences between when she was an agent then, taking a break from it for a while and then coming back and saying “Hey I wanna get started in this.” So welcome Melissa. What brought you back? Why did you want to come back to real estate after leaving it and being gone for about ten years?

[Melissa]:  Well I think it’s just always been in my blood. I know what I got out ten years ago, back when the housing market was on a downward spiral in 2009, I knew that eventually this was something I would come back to. I enjoyed helping people. To me I’m in a helping business. Helping people reach their goals where they want to be. So yeah I did get out for ten years and did some commercial sales and actually got into the mortgage side of things. Actually what really brought the bug back was, I think once I got into that mortgage side and dealing with customers and loans and a lot of…a lot of people don’t know what they sign at the closing table. And that just kind of ripped my heart out a lot like. You know, where’s the agent, where’s the mortgage guys, where’s the mist that disconnect? So timing was right. And I said like, you know, if I’m gonna do this the markets good. It’s time to get back in. And I jump right back in.

[Nathan]:  Awesome. So you’ve been back in it what now? About what six months or so? Somewhere in there? 

[Melissa]:  Actually June 1st of this year.

[Nathan]:  Wow that’s a year already. Holy moly. Time has gone by. 

[Chris]:  No got back in in June 1st so you’re only a few months in.

[Melissa]:  Yeah. Yes.

[Nathan]:  OK. So you’re only a few months in. OK got it. I was gonna say wow. So you can talk a lot to the…you you can speak a lot to two differences. I mean big changes have happened to this very since you last were in it. What do you see is your biggest challenges to getting restarted and in getting a client base and in getting a name again from yourself? Especially in a different market. Because you were in Cleveland. Now you’re here in Columbus. So what’s been an obstacle I guess for you?

[Melissa]:  The obstacles are your…and I hate to say it but your Zillow’s and the websites that are out there that we never had before. When I was in the business before you couldn’t even get the MLS or the Multiple Listing at home. You actually had to go to physically to the office. Print up stuff and hand-deliver it to your clients. So I mean technology is a great thing. It’s a great way to find leads and connect with people but I think also on the other hand, you know, it’s kind of hurting us realtor’s as well. And, you know, things coming down the pipeline that they’re, you know, there’s gonna be these virtual agents. That’s scary I mean are we really gonna be replaced by a virtual agent? Helping someone buy a home or sell their home.

So I think that’s an obstacle. I mean it’s a good connection to have in terms of being able to reach your clients by sending a simple text or, you know, a message. But I still like that, you know, your face to face connection…[crosstalk] [Christian]:  As an agent coming back to your hiatus I mean where do you look for when you’re trying to figure out where to hang your license? And what’s gonna be valuable to your business as far as what a brokerage can bring? And kind of solving in those pain points?

[Melissa]:  Sure. Yeah originally I won’t name drop any…any real estate company names. But when I was in Cleveland I was with two great companies and I could very easily went back to that company here in Columbus, Ohio, just because it’s a well-known company. You know, they’re nationwide. And I didn’t have a bad experience with them, but I think what I was looking for was not only the technology being there, the additional training. You know, coming back after ten years, things have changed. So I was looking for that opportunity as well. You know, I don’t want to be treated like a new agent but a lot of things have changed.

So the technology and someone being very forward, aggressive, in the field of technology. Whether it be Facebook or Zillow or realtor.com [crosstalk] forward.

[Christian]:  OK. 

[Melissa]:  Yes a local independent brokerage. I mean we have several offices.

[Chris]:  Yes. That’s a win for the Indie. I love it. 

[Nathan]:  There…there…the office she’s with…and you can go ahead and mention it. We don’t…we don’t mind on this show.

[Chris]:  Yeah give them a shout out. 

[Nathan]:  E-merge correct? 

[Melissa]:  Yeah E-merge real-estate. Absolutely.

[Nathan]:  They’re big. I mean they’re not big on a national scale but they’re still big. They’re a big agency. Another virtual, you know, hybrid agency, is that what which you would describe it as Melissa?

[Melissa]:  Yeah I mean we have, you know, a very, very tech-savvy development team. They’re always trying to get ahead of everything and keep us agents in the forefront providing us platforms that we can use. Whether it be a lead generation. We just came…they just brought onboard for this brand new lead generation for us, where we can keep all of our leads and databases. And you just go in and plug in your information. And it’s wonderful. I’ve actually set myself up on there. So I can see the notifications, my potential clients, my sellers and buyers are getting. And it’s, I don’t want to say it’s a no-brainer but you go in and plug in their information and the system is automatically sending them reminders or text messages and sometimes as agents when we’re out, you know, showing buyer’s or seller’s, sometimes that gets lost in the shuffle. Just know staying in touch with it with our other clients.

[Chris]:  Melissa first off welcome back into real estate.

[Melissa]:  Thank you.

[Chris]:  And so what’s this…what’s it feel like like do you kind of feel like you’ve woken up after like a period of time kind of like, you know, Captain America wakes up like 50 years later and the whole world’s changed? I mean we’ve had a lot of changes over the last ten years. What…how is that? How are you like structuring your day to learn this stuff and to build your business at the same time?

[Melissa]:  Oh absolutely I do feel like I’m in a totally different generation. I mean just the fact that you can text up from your phone to your clients or, you know, it’s amazing. It’s wonderful I mean it’s the best thing I think that it could have happened for this industry. Like I said technology is good. It fits the shoes correctly. And I think being able to get back in front of the customers, not just by calling them or dropping a letter in the mail, is wonderful.

I try to stay on track by just going in. I read articles. I…as an agent and probably you guys are where you get a lot of emails from a lot of companies wanting you to come on board with them. Whether through lead generation or training or, you know, different things like that. So I continue to read and absorb as much as I can. I’m still trying to rebuild my team. I feel like I’m rebuilding, you know, getting the right investors underneath me. Right mortgage officers. So just taking the time to really do my homework because I want to create a solid team not just for me but also for my clients going forward.

[Chris]:  I love it. So what…what is your primary focus right now as, you know, what three months in? Three months in? So…

[Melissa]:  Money money money.

[Chris]:  Money money money.  So was what kind of things are you doing to prospect and really build that database? Because if I heard right, this isn’t just coming back into the industry. It’s coming back into the industry and a new market. So really it’s like starting from scratch. Right?

[Melissa]:  Oh absolutely I mean when I first moved back to Columbus in 2009, a lot of my friends and family are like “Why don’t you just come down here and sell real estate?” I’m like “Well first of all, you know, there’s almost a three-hour difference from point A to point B. I don’t think all my investors and, you know, everyone’s going to follow me to Columbus.” So yeah it’s coming back in and just starting completely fresh. And getting myself back into the market. I’ve never used mortgage officers down here so I don’t have that go to that I had before, you know, I don’t have the home inspectors I had before. So again I think just getting back in it. Educating yourself. Meeting with, you know, the business side of things. See what other opportunities are out there that I might be able to give to my clients as it, you know, as a benefit of them using me. And then also, you know, educating my client of the different opportunities they have and homeowners and the benefits of that.

[Christian]:  What advice would you give to the other agents who are getting back into as brand new agents?

[Chris]:  That’s awesome. 

[Christian]:  The most important thing they should be doing getting started? 

[Melissa]:  Just get a good group around you. I think if you…I know there’s a lot of real estate companies out there. Get in where you feel comfortable, where you can mesh. You can have that support. Do a lot of studying. I think if you’re not study or reading, if you’re not growing, get out there on the, you know, get out there on Facebook. Don’t be shy. Zillow, Realtor.com. I know there’s a lot of debate in my office whether you should pay for leads or not. And I’ve been filtering back and forth is that something I want to do. Again I’m only in three months. Do I want to take that solid investment now? And hopefully, you know, floor…flourish going forward. Or do I want to slowly build this business? And then, you know, look at that opportunity later.

So there are opportunities out there, you know, you don’t have to just go knocking on doors. You can buy leads and be present that way. But sometimes with those lead companies, they’re selling those leads to three or four agents so you…if you do do something like…[crosstalk].

[Christian]:  I am gonna go ahead and say if you’re a new agent that’s the last thing you should do to spend thousands and thousands on leads. You know. 

[Melissa]:  And…and that’s where I’ve kind of been just because not that I’m this expert agent, but I’m thinking old-school. I keep going back to, you know, how I did it before so that’s the method I’m trying is my own way of doing business in this new industry that I’ve come back into. And so far it’s been working. I’m currently not buying leads but I think something later down the road, you know, as I start to grow my business more and as, you know, sales and they come in…[crosstalk] [Christian]:  As a new agent there’s so many other things that are more effective and more cost effective to be doing.  Because even if you have…even if you have a rockstar team…yeah even if you have a rockstar team, all they’re doing is calling on Zillow leads. Like a speaker if you’re killing it, you know, as a call center you’re doing five percent conversion. I mean like that’s that’s expensive but the very low ROI as an individual agent. If you’re not spending thousands you’re not gonna be getting…

[Melissa]:  Right.

[Christian]:  They’re not gonna be filtering any quality leads your way though.

[Nathan]:  Yeah.

[Melissa]:  Right. Exactly.

[Nathan]:  Yeah I agree and, you know, knowing Melissa and what I know about her, you know, I would say that what Melissa should focus on are couple things one is her prior history and experience lends itself to a lot. Yes you’re new but you’re not. You have experience. You understand how to negotiate and the work that goes into it. The other side of it is the people that don’t know you or, you know, what I would use that I know you have is your experience in hospitality and to me that lends itself well into this world because you know how to take care of people. And that’s important. So that genuine care and concern and, you know, as the guys hear me say on the podcast all the time, people like people who like people. That will yield a better return alone in the long run.

But, you know, everybody…everybody is different but I will go with Christian and Chris on that. You get all these new agents to come in and they start, you know, making it rain on Zillow. But they have no idea what they’re doing.

[Chris]:  Melissa what is…what is your biggest frustration right now as a new agent?

[Nathan]:  Good question. 

[Christian]:  So people [crosstalk].

[Melissa]:  Can I say the fickleness of buyers and sellers?

[Chris]:  You can [laughter]. 

[Melissa]:  I just…

[Nathan]:  You can say anything you want on our podcast. Yeah.

[Melissa]:  I just did. I mean I know it’s people. Or peoples. That sounds horrible English. I know that purchasing a home that is a individuals largest financial obligation that they’re ever gonna normally make in life. It’s a big deal and it’s not something just to jump in, you know, and say “Oh well let’s go buy a house this weekend”. You know, it’s you gotta plan and stuff like that. So I think with the market right now just because people are getting, you know, a lot more just because for their, you know, for their home than they would have say two three years ago. But also I think the hard part for me is like setting myself apart. Just differently than I did before. Before Facebook and all that. I used to have a little tagline I used to use. And it worked for me all the time and, you know, people kind of like, you know, “Do I want to go back and use that?”

[Chris]:  What was it?

[Melissa]:  It’s kind of cheesy. So you guys can’t laugh too much. So my name is Melissa Call. So it was “Melissa Call, your person only real estate call.” Or “Your one and only Call.” So…

[Chris]:  I like it. I really like it. Yeah I mean I would say that you got blessed with name that you could market. [laughter] I’ll raise your transaction from the dead. 

[Melissa]:  There you go. There you go. 

[Chris]:  No. No it didn’t work out too well. No people don’t want to think about that. But so that…that’s interesting. So the…as a new agent one of your biggest frustrations now is just dealing with the fickleness and how much information is out there.

[Melissa]:  Right absolutely. And, you know, where do I want to spend my money? Not necessarily buying leads but where do I want to invest right now as a new agent in terms of, you know, getting myself up and going. You know, do, you know, do I want to, you know, go over here? Or do I want to go over there? There are so many options out there that we didn’t have before so that’s where I’ve been like, you know, trying to do my homework. You know, where do I want to invest my time, investing in myself and where to get my, you know, where I want to be to reach my goals.

[Chris]:  Good for you. That’s…On this podcast we call that the shiny object syndrome. There’s lots of shiny objects out there.

[Melissa]:  Yes.

[Nathan]:  And the one thing you probably do to figure out, you know, what’s gonna work is just listen to our podcast. I mean…

[Chris]:  That’s a good one. Yeah. Rtrepodcast.com. Everybody listen.

[Melissa]:  I am gonna add it. I listen to podcasts all the time. I’ll add you guys for sure.

[Nathan]:  We’ve got some awesome guests that we’ve had on here that have really good ideas. You know, and again I would encourage you just to be who you are, but be different. I, you know, Christian and Chris, myself we’re all different. But don’t be the agent who does what everybody else does. You know, I actually had a call with somebody the other day and I…the question was, I said”Wwhen you’re doing these open houses, you know, what are you trying to…what are you trying to ascertain or get?” He’s like “Well clients. So I can get their information.” And I said “Once you get their information what do you…what do you tell them?” He’s like “Well I just I want to be able to provide my services.” And I was like “What services?” And he’s like “Well my real estate services.” I’m like “And?” And he’s like “Oh”. I’m like “Yeah like you sound like every other agent”. 

And so don’t be like every other agent. Be a little different. Be the guy that drives a truck and has tattoos or whatever it is, you know

[Melissa]:  That’s what I’m trying to do. Trying to get my truck.

[Chris]:  Here you go. 

[Nathan]:  Get your truck girl.

[Chris]:  Make it a big one. Awesome. Melissa if…if people want to reach out to you for business or networking how can they…how can they find you?

[Melissa]:  Absolutely you can email me directly at Melissa, M-A-L-I-S-S-A dot call. At E-merge Real Estate [Melissa.call@emergerealestate.com] and I can also give them my phone number. We’d like to do that.

[Chris]:  Absolutely. Go ahead. 

[Melissa]:  Thank you. My phone number that you can reach me directly, my mobile is 6143713734.

[Chris]:  Awesome. Melissa thank you so much for joining us.

[Melissa]:  Oh you guys are welcome. Thank you for inviting me.

[Chris]:  All right, guys stick around. 

[Nathan]:  Stick around.

[Chris]:  That was awesome. And I think that having a new agent coming in like that is…I think we should hear some more different stories. So to our audience if, you know, a new agent who’s doing something great or if there’s something that we should showcase please let us know. You can go to our rtrepodcast.com. Click on the little contact us section and submit your story and we’ll get back with you.

Guys this is…that’s the stuff that people should be doing. Don’t you think?

[Nathan]:  Again I go with what you just said. I’d like to hear different viewpoints because I think they’re all very different. As much as we have different viewpoints none of our ideas are necessarily the best or the worst. But interesting to the question. 

[Chris]:  Yours are the worst. Now Daylan’s [phonetics] the worst. 

[Nathan]:  I mean like, you know, you hear her talk and she’s like, you know, you know and I hate to use the word “old Melissa”. I know that you’re listening to this now. I’m not calling you old. [laughter] It was in a different world. Right like 99-2009, you know, she comes in and like [crosstalk] [Christian]:  Smartphone. 

[Nathan]:  Right yeah, you know, and, you know, lots happened since then. There’s some ambiguity, you know, in her statements. Kind of from the fact that “God this technology is a pain in the [censored] but I need this technology.” So, you know, like literally it was almost like she was locked away and then came out and it’s boom. You know, so…

[Chris]:  You know, the interesting thing that I thought is when for her frustrations she didn’t immediately go to technology. Like her frustrations are around, you know, the fickleness of buyers and how like all the information that they have available to them now just makes the transaction that much harder. It wasn’t about software. It wasn’t about anything like that because guess what, building a real estate business hasn’t changed. It’s the exact same principles, it’s just a little bit different application. Right. We’re communicating in a different manner but we’re still doing the same things. Build relationships, nurture relationships and get more business out of the relationships. It’s not that hard.

[Christian]:  But you can make it really hard if you’re committed to technology. 

[Chris]:  Shiny object. 

[Christian]:  People haven’t changed. The technology and processes will change.

[Chris]:  Yeah.

[Nathan]:  Who was it Joe Rand that we had on, I think he was. But, you know, he talks about the keys to the kingdom and how things have shifted and discounters just shrug and doubters. Right. So she was in that period of time where brokers and I…they held all the keys. Right. Now she comes back and it’s like “You don’t hold anything”.

[Christian]:  The doors have been unlocked. 

[Chris]:  Yeah she got out the same year that I got in basically. She…she got out…here’s my Fitbit telling me I’m lazy. She got out in 2009. I came in in 2010. And so right then, at least in Georgia like you still couldn’t use a Mac. Like if you wanted to use a Mac in Georgia you wouldn’t be able to access both the MLS’s. Because the software didn’t work. You couldn’t pull things up on your phone. I mean we’re in such a different world now than we were then. Like in 2010 I had this little tiny PC. I don’t know if you remember those little netbooks. I had one of those tiny printer and a power inverter, and I kept it in my car. It was in my trunk. So that if I’m out showing a property I could just print out a contract and I’ve got it right there.

We have come so far from then when she left that there is basically a decade worth of stuff to get caught up on. And, you know, I’m gonna commend her because it’s…it’s not easy to do.

[Christian]:  Yeah I would imagine that to be intimidating getting back in and having the way things done totally change. 

[Chris]:  I’m a millennial and I don’t want to go and learn that [censored] all over again. 

[Nathan]:  Yeah even just realizing that like the role the real estate agent, you know, from the MLS going from book to being online, or Zillow coming on the scene, you know, having the information out there. Like the value in being an agent is no longer providing that information. It’s the service, you know, what you bring to the experience, you know, etc. So that’s a big shift by itself. 

[Chris]:  Yeah because estimates still sucks but it’s a lot better than it was in ’09. Well guys any final thoughts before we wrap up this episode? 

[Nathan]:  No. You know, again I really want to have some more newer agents on.

[Christian]:  We’ve talked about everything.

[Chris]:  There is nothing more to discuss. Everybody thank you so much for tuning in. This has been another episode of re:Think Real Estate. Where we are bringing you the agent to the masses. If you know somebody that needs to be on air or has been doing something great, go to our website rtrepodcast.com and contact us. And check out all the other episodes and subscribe. Because we have a weekly newsletter we’ll let, you know, when the episodes are coming out we’ll remind you of that. So thank you so much for tuning in. This has been re:Think Real Estate. I’m Chris Lazarus here with Nathan White and Christian Harris. Have a great day everyone. 


[Chris]: Thanks for tuning in this week’s episode of the re:Think Real Estate Podcast. We would love to hear your feedback so please leave us a review on iTunes. Our music is curtesy of Dan Koch K-O-C-H, whose music can be explored and licensed for use at dankoch.net. Thank you Dan. Please like, share and follow. You can find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/rethinkpodcast. Thank you so much for tuning in everyone and have a great week. 


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