Salvatore Ventre felt pretty cocky when he inked his first deal three days after passing the real estate exam in 2012. He showed a man who wanted a beach house a few properties and wrote an offer two hours later. Colleagues seemed envious, and why not? Ventre kicked back and prepared to glide through the closing.
“I was like, that’s it. I’m going to be a real estate mogul. This is easy!” Ventre recalled recently. For the next 60 days, Ventre did nothing to drum up new business. He blew through most of the $7,000 commission that he was set to make on the Ortley Beach bungalow. Then Hurricane Sandy hit. “The house literally washed away,” Ventre says. “Gone, along with my commission.”
For the next couple of years, deals didn’t come easily for Ventre. He’d show homes wearing shorts and a t-shirt and wonder why some friends and even some family members would refer people to other agents to buy or sell homes.
Ventre finally figured out what was wrong. As a real estate professional, you are your brand, but he realized that everyone looked at him “as a kid.” So he purged party photos from his social media accounts and replaced them with real estate content and photos of homes for sales. He also changed his mindset, deciding to be “on” all the time and to look at every person he saw or talked to as a potential client.
“I completely changed my presence to be ultraprofessional,” Ventre said May 29 at Adapt + Grow Agents 2019, a networking event for brokers and sales agents in Asbury Park, N.J. One way was by trying to “hack” attention when people were least expecting it, he says.
“I turned into the guy who'd show up at your Fourth of July barbecue in a suit and I’d be like, ‘Oh, I just came from clients, I was just showing homes,’ even if I wasn’t,” Ventre explained. “After a little while, people were like ‘That guy Sal, he’s always working. He’s always selling real estate. He’s killing it!’”
Before long, perception turned into reality. With the lessons learned after seven years in the business, Ventre leads The Ventre Team at RE/MAX in Middletown, N.J., which largely serves Monmouth and Ocean counties, and is on track to gross nearly $1 million in commissions this year.
The Road to Real Estate
Ventre is a native of New Jersey and has always hustled to make a sale. At 9, he burned CDs and sold them to classmates. Later, he hung around boardwalk arcade games and sold prizes to kids who hadn't won them as they walked away with their parents.
After graduating from West Virginia University with a degree in entrepreneurial and small-business operations, Ventre launched an ice cream business but shuttered it two years later when he realized it was never going to make him rich.
After Ventre’s first home sale tanked, he didn’t get a potential seller or buyer for months. He studied top producers in his office and sought help from a veteran agent who was at his desk at 7 a.m. every day wearing a headset making calls. Social media was basically nonexistent at the time, so the agent encouraged Ventre to “pound the phone,” call expired listings and FSBOs, and join networking groups. Ventre did all those things but admits he still “wasn’t majorly successful.”
Changing His Ways
When some friends and family members weren’t sending him business, Ventre was hurt but says he didn’t blame them for not hiring “a kid” who, at the time, was living in his mother’s basement. That's when Ventre decided to change the way people saw and perceived him. He immersed himself in anything he could about positivity from motivational speakers and top-producing agents.
Ventre also knew he was being too picky by not wanting to do smaller deals like a referral from someone whose aunt wanted to buy a retirement home, rather than waiting for the big million-dollar home sale. He was letting too many opportunities slip through the cracks. As he transitioned into Sal 2.0, Ventre decided he was going to be “on” all the time and set a goal to try to pick up one or two clients a year everywhere he went—the gym, the grocery store, a networking group.
He says he finally realized, “I’m not going to get rich quick. It’s not a sprint. It’s a marathon.” Before long, he went from closing about 15 deals a year to closing nearly 40.
Enjoying the Rewards
“Fortunately, I didn’t give up,” Ventre says. In January, Ventre posted on his Instagram account a photo of a Maserati he got to reward himself for reaching goals he had set two years earlier. Ventre wrote that it was his 30th birthday present to himself. Today he’s always thinking about where his next deal and client will come from.
“Each one of those is what’s going to make me successful—it’s every little deal,” Ventre told attendees at the Asbury Park event. “There is no get-rich-quick scheme in real estate.”
Sure, Ventre says, some people get lucky. “But I think for the majority of us, you need to grind it out.”