Federico Rolon is well-known for his aptitude on the court as an intercollegiate Division 1 tennis player. But in the two years since he retired from playing professionally, Rolon, 33, has transitioned into real estate, working the high-end luxury market and closing deals above the million-dollar mark.
He thinks of his former career as a sort of training ground that prepared him for his new venture as an agent. “Competition in tennis has taught me the biggest lesson of all: Either you win, or you’re learning [to win],” says Rolon, adding that he was “proud, confident, happy, and broke” with no career path until a friend introduced him to real estate shortly after college. Now an agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Beverly Hills, Calif., Rolon says his sports background has helped him understand the challenges of setting and executing goals.
Bring High Emotions Down to Earth
“Learn to use your emotions to your advantage instead of against you,” he says. “In real estate, if you have to make a deal that is stressful or you’re dealing with a client that’s difficult, it is vital that you do not carry that energy into the next deal or activity.” Practitioners may have to detach from difficult situations, learn to get back to a level-headed state of mind, and gain emotional control by looking at the problem with a different attitude.
That was the way Rolon dealt with his first real estate negotiation, working with a client who demanded an additional $15,000 discount on a home’s price that had already been reduced by $85,000. After hours of negotiating, the developer on the other end of the deal refused to drop the asking price further. “It was a frustrating situation,” Rolon says. “My client kept relating angry messages to the seller through me.”
After speaking to his client, Rolon attempted to craft an agreement under which his client would purchase the property at the original $85,000 discount — only if the seller would include the staging furniture in the sale. Taking this as an insult, the developer was ready to walk away. ”It became more of an ego war than a negotiation deal,” Rolon explains. “I understood emotions were running high from both parties, so I explained the strength of my client’s first offer — an additional cut of $15,000 off the asking price — and that giving us the staging furniture would cost him more.” The developer ended up agreeing to an additional discount of $9,000 to keep the staging furniture.
Aim to Maintain Control
“Everyone gets upset,” Rolon says. For example, during a transaction, escrow can become hectic, so it’s vital to show your client that you have everything under control. Still, even if you need to seek more answers yourself to better serve your client, it’s OK to say, “You know what, I’ll have to get back to you shortly on that,’” he adds.
Remaining positive is an important component to achieving success, a rule of thumb that helped Rolon in his tennis career during challenging matches and now drives his momentum as a real estate professional. “Momentum is very much alive in business as it is in sports,” he says. “In real estate, the best time to call potential clients is right after a deal is made; you have to ride those positive emotions after a good deal to build momentum. But don’t be discouraged if you lose a deal. Just like in tennis, you never know what you will win down the road. Go back to the goals and vision you have set. Be motivated. Embrace the challenge. Keep your eye on the bigger picture.”
Look to Champions for Knowledge
Rolon says it’s good practice to keep up your energy and not to look wounded. If you appear lethargic during a tennis match, it gives your opponent the opportunity to control the ball and dictate your next move. So to sharpen his real estate game, Rolon remains alert and aware of the industry by taking advantage of digital books, videos, audiotapes, mobile apps, podcasts, webinars, conferences, and, most of all, mentors and coaches.
Top real estate professionals are teachers, not competition, Rolon explains. Put your ego to the side and learn from those who have been where you want to go. “Truly successful people are willing to share the way they have made it,” he says. “When you get to a point where you are not scared of the competition, but instead you give out the information for people to run away with, then you’ve succeeded and helped people grow. It’s the ultimate form of wealth.”
Confidence Is Crucial — Even If You’re Pretending
“Whether you’re confident or pretending to be confident, no one can tell the difference,” says Rolon. “If your client asks a question, but you don’t know the answer, say so with certainty: ‘I don’t know the answer right now, but I will get back to you.’ Clients will otherwise get a sense that you are insensitive to their needs. Feel confident about the value you provided. Remember, you have all the tools to get the answers you need.”