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This article was published on: 05/01/2002


30 under 30

By Leslie Cummings, Robert Freedman, Michelle Hofmann, Chris Leporini, Elyse Umlauf-Garneau

They’re owners. Sales associates. Team leaders. Innovators. Men. Women. True newbies. And family business scions. This year’s “30 under 30” is a diverse group of young people with a common talent: the ability to maximize their early career experiences and natural gifts in order to make their mark in the business. Patrick “Trey” Salatto built his business using contacts he made working for a large developer. Bernadette Hurley, inspired by her experience as a pre-marriage counselor, launched a marketing campaign aimed at rides. And Nathan Anderson’s education gave him the insight he needed to create a niche market identity for his company. Our 30 rising stars are using what they know to build successful careers. Their ideas might inspire a new chapter in your career, too.

Industrial strength marketing
Nathan Anderson, 29
Tip: Pursue higher education within your specialization. It gives you an edge with clients.

Nathan Anderson used his communications background to help successfully reposition his company within the Kansas City commercial market. Anderson, a salesperson with J.P. Fogel & Co. in Kansas City, Mo., studied sales and marketing while majoring in journalism in college. He says his education helped him view the industry from a communications standpoint, rather than strictly a financial one. When he saw his company was pursuing a losing strategy by trying to stand toe-to-toe with larger, full-service brokerages, he came up with a solution.

Anderson created a niche market identity for the company that emphasized its expertise in industrial real estate. This involved a redesign of the company’s marketing materials and print advertisements with the company’s new slogan, “Industrial. Strength. Solutions.” “Every time we send something out, it reminds people that we do one thing and one thing well,” he says. The strategy has paid off, for the company and for Anderson. He made more than $5 million in sales for 2001. And the company has seen annual increases in its overall business for the past five years and boosted its share of the local industrial market.

The mentor
Jeffery Beggins, 27
Tip: Find a positive work environment, define what you want to achieve there.

At an age when many young real estate professionals are still learning the ropes, Jeffery Beggins has taken an active role in developing the next generation of salespeople.

For Beggins, manager of Century 21 Beggins Enterprises in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., real estate is in his blood. His father started Florida’s first Century 21 office. Today, Beggins and his brother share the family business along with their father.

As a broker and manager, Beggins relishes mentoring a young, aggressive, high-producing office of 32 full-time salespeople. “I love taking people with absolutely zero real estate knowledge and helping them reach whatever level they want to achieve,” he says. “But they really need to want it. I always say that I desire people with desire.”

His personal desire is to help earn his family’s business a place among the top 10 real estate companies in the nation—in terms of per-sonal production—within the next five years.

He’s off to a good start; his team earned $40 million in sales in 2001, with Beggins bringing in $4.9 million.

On a roll
Raejean Belsaguy, 23
Tip: Don’t waste energy on frustration and disappointment. Keep your head up and move on.

A positive attitude makes all the difference for Raejean Belsaguy, a salesperson with Century 21 Cal Oaks Realty in Murrieta, Calif. “You can’t let problems with one client affect relationships with others.” Her positive approach and high energy helped her close $8.1 million in sales in 2001.

Belsaguy says her personal touch helps propel her to success. She straps on her inline skates to deliver marketing materials in person and touch base with prospects. “Sometimes people look at me as if to say, ‘What are you doing?’” she says, “but I think people appreciate that I’m out there doing it myself.”

Keeping a cheerful disposition isn’t always easy. Recently, a seller asked her to reduce her commission because she sold a house too quickly. Belsaguy convinced the seller to pay her the full commission by pointing out that it was a good thing to find a buyer quickly—and bringing in the buyer constituted just part of her job.

Belsaguy says she enjoys working with sellers, but she really loves finding buyers their dream home. “It’s a good feeling to go out and help people, then give them their keys and say, ‘Welcome home.’”

No money down
Darryl Bodle II, 24
Tip: Follow through on promises you make to clients or it will reflect badly on you.

Darryl Bodle knows what it’s like to want a home but to be unable to save for the downpayment.

After he and his wife sought help from the not-for-profit Nehemiah Corp. of California to buy their first home, Bodle realized his friends could also benefit from Nehemiah, the nation’s largest privately funded downpayment assistance program (nehemiah The program allows sellers to give 3 percent of their home’s sale price to be used as a downpayment for the buyer.

Once Bodle began publicizing the program, he says he had clients lined up to buy houses with no money down. Bodle racked up $6.9 million in sales in 2001 as a salesperson with John L. Scott Real Estate in Lake Oswego, Ore. “I sold to some friends; then it seemed as if friend after friend was calling about the program.”

After a television show ran a story about Nehemiah, the local Catholic archdiocese asked Bodle to speak about the program at several churches. Soon he was conducting seminars at community centers throughout the area. Now, about 50 percent of his business is from people interested in Nehemiah loans.

“The referrals have just snowballed,” he says.

Playing the name game
Toril Buller, 25
Tip: Put a system in place and stick with it, so you provide what you say you’re going to provide.

What’s in a name? If your name is Toril Buller, the answer is, more business.

Since starting her career at 19, Buller has made the slogan “Toril Sells Houses” ubiquitous throughout northwest Washington. She’s had it written by skywriters above Lake Tapps on the Fourth of July, on billboards around King County, across TV screens as part of a local real estate show, on her license plate, and at “Having a unique name has made it easier for me to set myself apart,” says Buller, co-owner of ERA Premier Realty Associates, in Sumner, Wash. “I’ve had a lot of fun with it, too.”

Sometimes, people call Buller and ask, “Is this Toril of ‘Toril Sells Houses’?” she says. “Some people think my last name is ‘Sells.’”

Of course, getting your name in front of people is only part of the job; the other part is converting those people to customers and referral sources. She’s done plenty of that. She closed 87 transactions in 2001 for $16.5 million, making her the top ERA associate in Washington.

“I’m just genuinely interested in people,” she says. “If there’s a message waiting for me, I can’t wait to see who it is and how I can help.”

Best of both worlds
Amber Burke, 27
Tip: Treat your business with the respect it deserves by investing in it with money and education.

Sales associate Amber Burke, ABR®, closed almost $5 million in home sales last year. It makes you wonder what she could do if she worked Wednesdays.

Since her son was born three years ago, Burke has made Wednesdays her “Mom day,” the day she puts her business at Century 21 at the Rockies in American Fork, Utah, on the back burner.

That leaves the other days of the week to market properties at a Tamarak Homes new-home development for which she’s the exclusive listing salesperson and to tend her growing practice helping buyers, many of them first-timers.

So far her schedule has worked well: Burke was named top sales associate at her company in 2001.

Burke started her real estate career in new-home sales, but now she’s expanding into existing-home sales, giving her more flexibility with buyers. “It boils down to helping them decide what’s best for them,” she says. “I can give them advice about both markets.”

Investment guru
Peter Chiarkas, 26
Tip: Give money-saving advice to potential customers. They’ll remember your help.

Peter Chiarkas uses the element of surprise to impress his clients.

The young Chiarkas wows them in listing presentations with advice on how to save thousands on the purchase and sale of investment property. His confidence comes from growing up in a real estate family that gave him early exposure to structuring complicated transactions, including tax-deferred 1031 exchanges. “I love meeting with investors who have no idea I can help them on an exchange,” says Chiarkas, a salesperson at Kissinger, Bigatel, & Bower in State College, Pa.
Having a finance degree from Penn State, with a concentration in real estate, helps. But the four-year veteran practitioner also relies on the strengths of youth: enthusiasm and energy. “If I’m on a listing presentation, I’ll bring the whole tax assessment book and show the sellers their name, who their neighbors are, and how I’ll work the area with mass mailings and follow-up calls,” he says.

Last year he closed 42 transaction sides for almost $5.5 million in sales—twice as much as the year before. “Every client brings a potential for future business,” he says, “so you have to treat each one with care.”

Matchmaker, matchmaker
Yoel Damas, 26
Tip: Avoid negative people who say you won’t make it in the business.

“You’re only 21. Will you even be around in six months?” It’s the question Yoel Damas faced continually when he was recruiting salespeople for his new company. Five years later, the broker-owner of Realty Executives Miami International has more than 100 salespeople, who together brought in $130 million in sales last year.

After selling for a couple companies, Damas was itching for a challenge and bought the Realty Executives franchise. Creativity and hard work have fueled his success. One source of business stems from marketing and selling foreclosed homes. He established relationships with institutions selling REO properties and with investment companies interested in buying them. Playing matchmaker on REO deals nets him about $10 million of his annual sales.

An early marketing success—one that his salespeople still use—involved finding names of everyone getting married in Miami-Dade county and sending letters outlining the benefits of homeownership. He’s already sold some of those couples their third home. “It built a clientele, a lifetime source of business, that was on the way up the financial ladder.”

Professional diversity
Scott Desbiens, 28
Tip: Obtain market knowledge by researching properties and trends in your area.

So what do you do with a sociology degree? If you’re sales associate Scott Desbiens, you use it to read people. His 1995 degree from the University of Oregon has helped him become a good judge of people, he says. He can quickly figure out what clients or customers want and the best way to talk with them.

Desbiens, a salesperson with RE/MAX Equity Group Inc. in Clackamas, Ore., combines real estate sales with development and construction of new homes. The combo helped him rack up $7.4 million in sales in 2001.

The two vocations complement one another, Desbiens says. It’s not unusual for him to first oversee the construction of a house and then find the home’s buyers. Buyers appreciate his building knowledge. “I’m a one-stop shop,” he says. “I can deal with questions about construction and buying and selling. I don’t have to make multiple calls to get answers.”

Sellers can benefit from Desbien’s knowledge, too. He can give them a leg up on the competition when it comes to the latest home design trends and consumer desires.

Mastering the basics
Jason Edwards, 27
Tip: Master the basics—cold calling and dealing with objections.

Jason Edwards stumbled into real estate during a high school work-study program with the Texas Association of
REALTORS®. On a whim he took—and passed—some GRI exams that were sitting in the office. Could he be a natural for the business, he wondered?

He wasn’t. He says he could barely make ends meet for the first two years he practiced. Then he attended Sweathogs, a well-known sales training program, where he mastered the basics and learned to work the phones.

Edwards, now a salesperson at Keller Williams Realty in Austin, focused his new skills on a 300-unit condo complex where he lived. Using calls, mailings, and a fair amount of schmoozing, Edwards turned his business around. In just a year, he had the majority of the complex’s market share. He then farmed two nearby townhouse communities and captured huge market shares there.

“I did what others weren’t willing to do—make calls,” he says. “The contacts I made are still a vital part of my business.” His efforts netted him $10 million in sales last year. Despite the fact that most of his business is now from referrals, Edwards says, “I still schedule 20 cold calls per week to keep my skills sharp.”

Hometown helper
Anna Fernandez, 26
Tip: When you’re new you need a lot of support; find an office that fits your values and needs.

Anna Fernandez closed $4.1 million in sales in 2001, up from $2.6 million in 2000, making her the youngest top producer at Rancho Real Estate in Hacienda Heights, Calif., for the third year running.

Fernandez credits her bilingual marketing—and the extra care she takes with Spanish-speaking clients—for her success.

Selling real estate in her hometown has helped Fernandez build a referral base. Many friends are entering their homebuying years, so she keeps her name in front of them, sending them holiday cards and information about listings.

She showcases her expertise every other month at homebuying seminars she conducts in Spanish. “I get a lot of good feedback from people who attend,” Fernandez says. “Sometimes, even if they don’t buy a home from me—maybe because they have a family member selling real estate—they’ll send me a referral.”

She sends flyers in English and Spanish and advertises in local Spanish-language magazines. And she goes the extra mile to overcome language barriers. “It’s challenging because you have to translate and explain everything,” she says, “but once I do a good job for one person, the person trusts me to help other family members find homes.”

Knowing your market
Matthew Garabedian, 24
Tip: Persevere. Remember the worst thing a prospect can say is no.

When he was a kid, Matthew Garabedian loved visiting open houses and dreamed of a real estate career. Today, he’s putting in 12-hour days—and it’s paying off. His sales volume jumped to $4.7 million in 2001, an 81 percent increase from 2000.

Perhaps that’s why Garabedian, a salesperson with Kurgan-Bergen, REALTORS®, in Rutherford, N.J., was named REALTOR® Associate of the Year by the Meadowlands Board of REALTORS®.

Garabedian says his success comes from being entrepreneurial and aggressive. “Every week I go door to door, handing out information about my marketing plan and qualifications,” he says. “I select a different neighborhood each week, which gives me a chance to meet the people in the neighborhoods.”

Recently, Garabedian was named director of marketing at his company. One of his marketing hits: a new program for marketing high-end homes. The program includes special signs and refined promotional materials. “You can’t hand out photocopied flyers to someone looking for a $3 million house,” he says. “I want people to see my packet and say, ‘Wow, he knows his business.’”

The plan man
Jason Gorman, 28
Tip: Spend more time planning and you’ll spend less time working.

Jason Gorman, GRI, has mapped out his road to success. Gorman, co-owner (along with seven other salespeople) of Keller Williams Premier Realty in Woodbury, Minn., says his yearly business plans helped him grow his sales from $8.8 million in 2000 to $17 million in 2001. Part of his 2002 plan included his exit from sales at Coldwell Banker Burnet in January to become a partner in a Keller Williams franchise. Gorman says he made the move to have more control over the direction of his career. “I wanted company profits coming back to me, and Keller Williams’ work ethic matched mine,” he says.

Part of his work ethic includes goal setting—and not just for his business. Before Gorman sets his business goals each year, he and his wife set family goals. “We write down how much time we want to devote to vacation, spiritual pursuits, charity, and family,” he says. “Then I create a business plan, which outlines what I need to sell to meet our financial goals while leaving free time to reach personal goals.”

Gorman breaks down his plan into monthly, weekly, and daily activities. “It helps me see what I need to do today to make the bigger goals,” he says. “If I need to get five listings this month, by mid-month I’d better have more than one.”

The converter
Gary Hand, 29
Tip: Always strive to improve your results.

It’s cheaper to own than to rent. That’s one of the most well-worn adages in real estate. It’s also the foundation of Gary Hand’s business.

Hand, a co-owner of Alliance Real Estate Group in Walker, La., started his real estate career with $34 to his name. He’s emerged less than two years later as a team leader overseeing three salespeople and a steady flow of business: He had $6.7 million in sales last year.

Hand discovered no one in town was converting apartment dwellers to homeowners. So he found an aggressive lender willing to work with first-timers, and he set out to show prospects how to buy homes with zero-down financing. Hand builds name recognition by sending 6,000 postcards each month to the same apartment complexes. Then he tracks his results. The cards, along with follow-up calls, yield an average of two transactions per month. A simple classified ad urging people to stop paying rent brings in a lead every day. His long-term plan is to convert his first-timers into lifetime customers.

“There’s a lot of hand-holding and counseling,” admits Hand. “I answer the same questions over and over. But I think the results are worth it.”

Getting to “I do”
Bernadette Hurley, 29
Tip: Develop a business philosophy and a plan to reach long- and short-term goals.

As Houston couples contemplate saying “I do” to each other, they also consider saying it to Bernadette Hurley. She’s turned four annual bridal shows into a source of 4,000 leads.

Show attendees complete a form about their homebuying plans for a chance to win wedding-related prizes. Hurley, a salesperson with Keller Williams Realty in Sugar Land, Texas, then invites them to a comprehensive homebuying seminar. “On the showroom floor, I have 30 seconds to make a first impression. In class, I have a captive audience, where they have three hours to get to know me and I can assess their needs,” she says.

Another source of business is seminars on homebuying and investing she conducts at Lowe’s and Home Depot. Hurley set up the seminars by pitching the idea to store managers.

She manages the leads and business through Houston Home Buyer Resource, a team of five licensed practitioners, a licensed assistant, and an office manager, that she formed in 1999. “Every year we fine-tune our systems, and every year we’ve doubled our business,” says Hurley. In 2001, HHBR had $9.8 million in sales volume.

89 steps to success
Curtis Johnson, 29
Tip: Use a database program so customers don’t slip through the cracks.

Curtis Johnson’s climb up the ladder of success took just 89 steps.

Those steps are included in the “89-Step System” he created to give top-notch service to his customers and clients. The program helped Johnson, CRS®, GRI, ABR®, reach $8 million in sales volume during 2001.

The Chandler, Ariz., practitioner intends to double the figure in 2002 with the help of his team at RE/MAX Achievers—two buyer specialists and a transaction coordinator—and his 89-Step System.

One of the more important marketing ideas from the system is putting virtual tours on floppy disks and attaching them to flyers in front of homes. “Nosy neighbors tend to take them and share them with friends interested in the area. It’s ‘viral’ marketing,” says Johnson.

His system also includes a toll-free number, which tracks incoming calls, as well as weekly feedback reports to clients. An automated phone system alerts interested colleagues and buyers when a home’s price is reduced. “Everything is about differentiating ourselves.”

There’s one step in Johnson’s system that clients love—and it hasn’t hurt his wallet, either: Johnson pays to have homes cleaned before they’re listed. “Our listings sell faster,” he says, “and for more money.”

Finding her niche
Nishika Jones, 28
Tip: Be organized and develop a time management system.

When she studied for her real estate license, Nishika Jones already owned a successful cleaning business.

Her goal was to learn about real estate investing. But a funny thing happened on the way to becoming an investor. She decided to try her hand at selling, and she’s never looked back. Jones, a sales associate with Tenant Buyer Homes in Baltimore, reached $3 million in sales in 2001.

Jones works a time-intensive niche: first-time buyers of HUD and VA properties. She finds the rehab process interesting and doesn’t mind the extra hoops involved in seeing such transactions through to the end. “It’s worthwhile to help people buy something below market and see it fixed up,” says Jones. “Long after the settlement process, I stay in touch with buyers and stop by to see how they’re doing.”

It’s not surprising that she’s developed a strong referral business. But she can’t depend on referrals alone. Jones lands new clients through homebuying seminars. “It’s important to make a quality contact,” she says. “People have so many questions, and it’s helpful when you can answer them in an informal group setting. It’s an ideal way to introduce myself and my company’s services.”

Exceeding expectations
Amy Luetke, 25
Tip: Soak up knowledge from people who are successful in the real estate business.

Amy Luetke believes strongly in the power of mentors. Hers was JoEllen Nash, of JoEllen Nash & Co., in Vail, Colo., for whom she worked when she entered the business. “Jo Ellen has this drive to excel and exceed customer expectations. She showed me a world I hadn’t seen,” Luetke says.

Employing Nash’s philosophy, Luetke made the bold move last October of launching the Property Shop with five partners in Glenwood Springs, Colo. “I like the independence and the feeling that I don’t have a ceiling imposed on my success or income,” she says.

Luetke studied marketing at the University of Colorado in Boulder. And she’s using what she learned to set her company apart. She and her partners launched The Perfect Solution, a magazine for and about the community that also features real estate information, stats, and listings. To connect with area residents in a more personal way, the company organizes casual Friday-night get-togethers, first-time buyer seminars, and lectures by architects and builders.

“I have a sincere drive to make dreams happen for my customers,” she says.

If you build it, they will come
Tony Marshall, 29
Tip: Be passionate. You assist people with one of the most important decisions in their lives.

Sales associate Tony Marshall says one of the surest ways to get listings is to develop them yourself.

The former UPS driver started buying commercial and residential real estate at 20. Today, Marshall owns 12 rental units and develops approximately 30 homes each year.

He earned his license in 1999 and founded a land development company the following year. In 2001, he made $5.5 million in sales at Coldwell Banker Lewis Kirkeby Hall in Rapid City, S.D. Success is a choice, he says. “That’s how I proceed in life. If I want it, I’m going to get it.”

To avoid common pitfalls, he talks to experienced developers through the Service Corps of Retired Executives (, a non-profit association dedicated to education of entrepreneurs.

“I learned early on about the power of association and communication,” says Marshall, a three-time state public speaking champion. Closing deals is great, but Marshall’s reward comes from being part of the big picture. “This business is about more than the money,” he says. “It’s about knowing that I helped people achieve the American dream.”

The hand holder
Charles Martin, 29
Tip: Explain the process in detail to first-time buyers, and see them through every step.

Charles Martin and his team doubled their sales volume and transactions between 2000 and 2001 by turning a daunting task into a remarkably smooth one for first-time buyers.

Martin, a sales associate with RE/MAX 100 Real Estate in Camp Springs, Md., heads a team of 10 that patiently walks first-time buyers through everything from finding a home to ensuring they begin their homeownership years on sound financial footing.

Each of Martin’s team members has special, narrowly focused duties. The client service manager oversees the process to make sure buyer clients have every need met, whether it’s changing the phone and gas service or arranging for a moving van. The loan officer takes care of preapproval. The buyer specialist keeps a file and helps with the home search process. And a contracts compliance officer writes contracts, negotiates, and orders inspections.

After buyers are settled in their home, Martin’s team offers one more service–a complimentary financial plan that helps clients lay out a program for investing, life insurance coverage, college savings, and reducing taxes. “We want to help people gain financial discipline,” says Martin, “so we’ll be seeing them again in the future.”

A virtual change
Robert Meneses, 25;
Tip: Always prospect, even if it’s only for one hour per day.

For seven years, Robert Meneses has sold industrial and commercial real estate from a traditional vantage point as a broker and vice president of Westvest Associates Inc. in Miami.

These days, he’s also checking out the view from the online outback via Inc., a Web-based real estate company that specializes in luxury high-rise condominium sales and rentals in South Beach, Fla. Meneses, who cofounded the online venture last year, says embracing technology and exploring new ways to service the client are part of the fun of selling real estate.

Meneses puts in a lot of hours: He estimates 80 per week. But systemized follow-up methods and Web-based leads and marketing programs enable him to work smart, he says. He pushed his sales volume from $10 million in 2000 to $15 million in 2001.

Born in Miami of Cuban parents, Meneses says his Spanish fluency gives him an edge in the community and has helped him develop lifelong relationships with his clients and other professionals.

Meneses advises newcomers to stay focused on the bread and butter of their business. “Everybody tries to shoot for big fish,” he says. “Focus on doing a deal, not on doing big deals, and the business will follow.”

Leading by example
Tom Morgan, 26
Tip: Network with other practitioners and learn to adapt to their work styles.

Sales associate Tom Morgan says there’s a point in every transaction at which someone must take the lead. Chairing a committee for his local board of REALTORS® and participating in a Real Estate Academy of Leadership training program have given Morgan ample opportunity to cultivate that skill.

“Just because you’re younger than the average sales associate doesn’t mean you have to wait your turn for leadership,” says Morgan, who received the 2001 Donna Stevens Award for his work with local charities. Being visible at the board and community level, he says, is good for business. “Other salespeople know the type of person you are. Sometimes that makes a transaction smoother. [Clients] realize you’re a professional and someone they can depend on when things get tough,” says Morgan, who closed more than $3.1 million in sales last year with Carpenter GMAC Real Estate in Indianapolis.

Although it can be tough to juggle both professional and personal commitments, Morgan likes the challenge. “You have to set an example that it’s possible to balance a sales career and professional involvement.”

Reaching their dreams
Sean Moudry, 28
Tip: Don’t overbill yourself. It’s good to be confident, but never arrogant.

For people who thought they’d never achieve the dream of homeownership, Sean Moudry finds a way to make it happen.

The Lakewood, Colo., broker-associate’s interest in investing led him to research FHA and VA loan programs. He started advertising the programs to prospective buyers. “I found that when I advertised a great loan program, I got a larger response than when I advertised a specific house,” says Moudry, now in his seventh year in the business. In 2001, he did $16.7 million in sales volume and closed 100 transactions at RE/MAX Professionals Inc.

Moudry offers a one-stop shopping experience for buyer clients, helping them determine how much house they can afford, what type of mortgages they qualify for, and where to find good local contractors. Not surprisingly, 90 percent of his business comes from his loyal client base.

These days, Moudry’s also teaching his clients about the benefits of property investment and how to use home equity to buy rental property. “It helps them financially, and it’s fun and profitable for me,” he says. “I don’t think people realize that the business that comes to you is the business you work. You don’t have to sell million-dollar houses to be successful.”

Recruiting for success
Paul H. Pruitt Jr., 29
Tip: Find a mentor instead of trying to reinvent the wheel.

As a successful sellers’ representative, Paul Pruitt sold customers on the winning ways of his company. Today, he uses the same principle to recruit top talent for his fast-growing company, Century 21 Towne Centre in Wilmington, Del.

To attract top sales associates, Pruitt combines his personal powers of persuasion with a recruiting CD-ROM that touts the company’s benefits. More than 90 percent of the salespeople who interview with Pruitt come aboard, he says.

Pruitt started selling houses right out of high school in 1992. Although he didn’t have a car, he sold 23 homes in his first year. By 1998, he owned the two-office company. And by 2001 he’d expanded to three locations and 84 salespeople, closing $75 million in sales last year. Since then he’s opened two more offices and expanded to 123 salespeople.

Pruitt no longer actively lists property, preferring to spend his time supporting his growing cadre of sales professionals. “If you’re looking for Paul’s office, I don’t have one,” he says. “I’m constantly moving between each of my offices and seeing my salespeople. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be here.”

Making his mark
Andy Reisinger, 28
Tip: Evaluate your results regularly to see if your marketing is producing income.

Andy Reisinger, e-PRO®, CIPS, is a long way from his hometown of Munich, Germany–but speaking the language of his clients isn’t a concern. In 2001, approximately 80 percent of his business involved international clients. The broker-associate with Coldwell Banker Preferred Properties of Lee County Inc. in Lehigh Acres, Fla., had more than $5.6 million in sales last year, capitalizing on his roots to helped secure a niche in Florida’s second-home market. “You have to be sensitive to certain issues, such as culture and business habits,” he says. “Punctuality and patience are very important.”

Reisinger moved to Florida in 1996, earned his license the following year, and began looking for a way to make his mark. He created a letter in German and mailed it to European prospects. “I sent about 120 letters and received 29 responses from potential sellers. The leads, listings, and sales were unbelievable,” he says, “well worth the money I spent on postage.”

To further differentiate himself, Reisinger has created a 700-page Web site, featuring news, weather, interest rates, local and regional information, and, of course, listings. Reisinger says the site accounts for one-fifth of his business, which increased 150 percent in 2001.

Developing success
Patrick Salatto III, 25
Tip: Free your time by hiring a property manager to maintain investment properties.

When Patrick “Trey” Salatto, ABR®, and his wife opened Century 21 Paramount Real Estate Inc. in June 2000, they had a head start building their database of potential clients.

Salatto and his wife had both previously worked for large developers—she in commercial and he in residential. “Our previous work gave us credibility. I don’t think we’d have done as well without the experience,” he says.

Salatto’s Auburn, Ala., company closed $10 million in sales in 2001. Salatto now has 14 full-time salespeople working for him and has expanded into property management. He plans to open his second office in June. “At first I wasn’t sure I wanted to do property management, but it’s been very lucrative for us,” he says.

His company manages six shopping centers as well as a homeowners association and is now branching into selling condos and multifamily units.

His expansion plans mean Salatto is putting increased focus on recruiting. He’s creating an in-house training program with hopes of attracting new salespeople and teaching them what he knows about the profession. “I want to take them beyond the licensing class, so they realize there are systems to back them up.”

The go-getter
Scott Shine, 27
Tip: Develop a system for every phase of the real estate transaction.

Scott Shine, ABR®, isn’t letting life, or potential clients, pass him by. The Killeen, Texas, sales associate is out every day trying to rustle up business for Coldwell Banker Richard Smith, REALTORS®.

Last year, Shine closed $15.1 million in sales as part of the Shine Team, headed up by his mother, Jean, a top area salesperson. He attributes his success partly to the pavement pounding he did at a local 1,000-unit apartment complex. Shine walked the complex, writing down addresses. He later mailed each renter a package containing information about the costs of renting versus buying; the local housing market; the benefits of homeownership, including tax benefits; and, of course, information about the Shine Team. “So many renters were amazed they could afford to buy a house,” he says.

To market to other areas of his community, Shine and his team offer their moving van, featuring the Shine Team logo, to nonprofit organizations to use free of charge. “That’s been a huge hit. We actually have a waiting list to use the van,” he says.

Shine gives clients at closing a certificate for $100 to $200 off their next transaction with the Shine Team. The beauty of the certificate is that it’s transferable, so clients can give it to friends or family.

On-air personality
Todd Stock, 29
Tip: Follow up with potential clients by calling them one week and mailing them information the next.

When Todd Stock, of RE/MAX Tri-State Realty in Angola, Ind., decided to try radio advertising, it wasn’t hard to select the station.

Only one radio station serves his northeast Indiana county, comprising three towns of about 10,000 each—so Stock’s got the market covered. He began placing ads three years ago, with his spots running about 10 times per month. Now his ads run about 55 times each month.

“It’s a little scary to go into the studio and know your voice is going to be played over the air,” he says. “But it’s been worth the results.” Indeed, his sales in 2001 topped $9 million.

“I’m selective about when I run spots. I don’t run them when I’ll be out of town,” he says, “because I know I won’t be there to respond to calls.” He also avoids running ads when locals are likely to be traveling, such as during spring breaks.

An advertising rep at the station helps Stock write focused ads. “He asks questions about what I want people to know about my company, which really makes me think about what I want to say,” Stock says.

What makes a good radio ad? Conviction. “If you’re going to say it’s a great time to sell,” he says, “you need to believe it, so that comes across in your ad.”

Kindred spirit
Ashley Spurlock, 25
Tip: Use a team car as a rolling billboard to drive clients to and from showings.

A support group helped Ashley Spurlock more than double her sales volume, from $2.7 million in 2000 to $5.7 million in 2001.

Spurlock, a sales associate with Locations Real Estate Group Inc. in Baton Rouge, La., attended a seminar in January 2001. But it was the people she met, more than the content of the session, that made the difference for her business. Many of the attendees were mid-career professionals, so the young people in the audience were drawn to each other, she says. The new friends connected as they described their experiences and frustrations of being young and fairly new to the business. “It was as if we were kindred spirits.”

The group decided to keep in touch, despite living in different corners of the United States. “There are people from Chicago, Arizona, Dallas, and Minneapolis. We use e-mail to share ideas, marketing and selling tips, and daily concerns,” Spurlock says.

One member shared his idea to use sign riders stating how low a monthly mortgage could be on a house. “A lot of potential clients call about those,” Spurlock says. The group members also keep one another motivated. “They help me remember I’m not the only young salesperson in this business.”

Undercover agent
Anthony Testani, 29
Tip: Arrive at showings 10 minutes early, and be prepared to answer questions about the area.

Anthony Testani has learned how to peg his customers. He knows how to identify the meek from the decisive. That skill helped the former stockbroker, now a salesperson with RE/MAX Millennium in Flushing, N.Y., increase his sales volume nearly 400 percent in one year, jumping from $2.8 million in 2000 to $13.5 million in 2001.

Testani credits his broker and mentor, Judy Markowitz, and Howard Brinton’s Star Power Systems with helping him learn how to service customers and clients as individuals with unique needs. Now, when he’s in the field with prospects or clients, he runs through a series of questions in his mind. “I can discover their motivations by asking myself such questions as, ‘Why are these people looking for a new home?’ ‘Do they like this home?’ and ‘Why do they like this home?’” Testani says.

He also comes to the point with waffling buyers. In the hot Flushing market, properties may have several offers in one day; salespeople who don’t prepare people will end up with disappointed buyers. “I train them from the start that they’ll have to make a decision on the spot,” he says. “It helps them be mentally prepared before they find a property they like. They appreciate that.”

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Where are they now? To learn how past “30 under 30” participants are faring, visit the Current Links at

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I just thought I would sa...Adam Poehlman, Shorewest Realtors, Grafton, Wisconsin - 04/29/2002