This Broker to Broker series profiles three individual broker-owners from a small, midsize, and large city to understand how they’ve built their businesses to accommodate their market and customers’ needs.
Anthony Vulin often meets people who don’t believe they can afford to buy a home, especially in a high-priced California city. But being in a position to help his agents and clients understand the market and build wealth excites him. Education is key for Vulin, broker-owner of The Collective Realty, a two-location boutique real estate firm in the Los Angeles area. You’ll commonly find him putting on a first-time home buyers’ seminar to talk about how to start the homebuying process. And over the past 19 years in industry, the joy he finds in his work has only grown.
“Every sale and every purchase affects people’s wealth. I like being that financial consultant to guide them into making the best decision at that moment,” he says.
People still believe the old myth that you have to have 20 percent down to buy a home, he says. Telling clients about FHA loans with a 3.5 percent down payment and other loan options gets them motivated. “In Los Angeles, the rents are so high. But when they realize they can buy, it totally changes their lives,” he adds.
Vulin began his career in real estate right after graduating from University of California, Los Angeles, in 2000. He started his own real estate company in L.A. with a business partner about a year later. That didn’t quite work out, but failure isn’t an option for Vulin. He joined Keller Williams Hollywood Hills and moved quickly into building a successful real estate team and then into managing Keller William offices.
In August 2013 he resigned, launched The Collective in West Hollywood, and then opened a second office two years later in the Silverlake/Echo Park area. In 2016, Vulin was selected by the Beverly Hills/Greater Los Angeles Association of REALTORS® as the REALTOR® of the Year. He now serves on the California Association of REALTORS® board of directors, and he has grown his brokerage to include about 50 agents.
“It’s hard to stand out in an area where the local board includes more than 11,000 REALTORS®. There’s a lot of competition. The [REALTOR® of the Year] award showed me that I’m doing something right, having the guts to start my own company,” Vulin says.
Vulin believes his ambition to be successful comes from his college days. He went to class fulltime and worked two jobs. “I’m honestly petrified of failure. I didn’t have enough money in college to maintain my life, didn’t have enough for food. It wasn’t fun, and I don’t want to be there again,” he says. Yet, he witnesses many real estate agents living paycheck to paycheck. That can be tough in a big city where rents and mortgages have skyrocketed.
Here are his five main tips for agents and newer broker-owners on how to succeed in a large metro real estate market.
Become a fierce negotiator. Some agents talk, talk, talk, but they need to focus on listening, Vulin says. His agents learn how to negotiate by improving their listening skills through role play. He also models what to say, allowing agents to listen in on his negotiation calls at their office—a building that doesn’t have private offices. “They hear how I say things. That’s how people learn,” he says. “I want agents to hear other agents negotiate to help build their confidence.”
Get involved outside the office and encourage your agents to do the same. As a director of his state association, Vulin encourages his agents to get involved. Several are now committee chairs, and three actively lobby at the state level as advocates for homeownership. “If you don’t know what these issues are in your state, you can’t educate your clients,” he says. Furthermore, Vulin founded the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce in 2004, where he continues to serve as president.
Hold more open houses. Agents should host their own open houses and attend other agents’ or team members’ open houses. It’s a great way to meet more potential clients, Vulin says, and it helps agents get better at greeting people and improve their communication skills.
Create open atmosphere in your office. For newer brokers, managers, or team leaders in any size market, it’s essential to create an environment where agents feel comfortable asking questions. “You have to help your agents succeed and having the right culture in your office in a small or big city can give them the edge,” he says.
Become a market expert. In a big city, competition can be fierce, Vulin says. He encourages real estate pros to develop a high level of knowledge about every neighborhood and micromarket in the area. Research is key to best meet clients’ needs and standout from the crowd.