|This article was published on: 06/01/2004|
COVER FEATURE: Thirty Under Thirty
BY JANE ADLER, BARBARA BALLINGER, PAUL BEAKLEY, MARGARET CRANE, and CHRISTOPHER WRIGHT
Esaul Alatriste, 27
“I was surprised at how poorly informed most people are when it comes to selling their home. They have no clue what’s involved.”
Alatriste was working at a construction equipment rental business when a customer, a real estate salesperson, suggested that he switch careers because of his savvy sales and phone skills. He was scared but took the risk when the salesperson offered to mentor him. He’s worked full time in real estate since February 2003, reaching $8 million in sales in his first year.
ANDREW M. ARROYO, 26
“I’m a face-to-face kind of guy. Not being behind a desk is what attracted me to real estate.”
Experience as a music producer who had set up sound-recording studios inspired Arroyo to create a high-tech mobile office in his car. He has all the tools needed to work, including a satellite Internet connection for his laptop, fax machine, printer, and flat-screen video. The results are great efficiency on the road and a strong “wow” from his clientele and their kids. Wee ones watch movies while parents look at listings.
J. STOTLE BAIRD, 23
“Being young doesn’t always work for me. I’m associated with an experienced partner, which provides legitimacy.”
A year after graduating from Southern Methodist University at age 21, Baird got into real estate. In his first year at Keller Williams Realty Inc., he became its youngest general partner and branch owner, he says. His volume hit $8.5 million that year. He left after a year to form a partnership with Dallas real estate maven Betty Abio, who knew about him from his “ridiculous number of billboards and advertisements,” he says. “We hit if off, and formed a partnership by opening Abio AHK this year.”
TREVOR W. BENN, 29 ABR®, e-PRO®
“First-time buyers are my favorite. I love showing them how to do deals. Invariably they call me back in a couple years.”
Having graduated from a top prep school in Hawaii, Benn has a strong circle of contacts for his upper-end listings and investment properties. His first commercial transaction, a Japanese-owned golf course, came through a prep-school contact. About one-third of his volume now is commercial but if several hotel projects work out, that could zoom to 90 percent.
ALEXANDER BETANCES, 29
“I see how happy they are when they move in. That’s the reward for me.”
His niche has become relocating Spanish-speaking families to his Pennsylvania community from New York and New Jersey. He translates their sales contracts and other documents. In 2002, the first year he was licensed, he won a company award for being a top 100 salesperson in the Pennsylvania/Maryland region with a volume of $2.25 million.
KATRINA S. CAMPINS, 24
“Don’t stop until you achieve what you want five times over.”
Campins made it into the final six out of 215,000 applicants this year on NBC’s “The Apprentice” with Donald Trump as her potential boss. To participate she took off several months from work. She worried that doing so would negatively affect her image and business but has found the reverse.
CHRISTOPHER J. CURRY, 23
“Offer a guarantee: Your home sold in 60 days, or I’ll buy it for cash.”
Curry uses a team approach to work two markets, Gainesville and Lake City. Having grown up with nine siblings, he’s used to being part of an extended group. He brought two brothers, a sister, and his father into the company over the last few years.
MATTHEW I. DIFANIS, 27
“Harness technology to make day-to-day operations efficient.”
While attending law school full time in 2003, Difanis managed to close 40 transactions worth $5.3 million. He graduated from the University of Illinois College of Law last month.
DAN ESTEY, 27
“I’ve made every possible mistake on my fixer-upper. I feel good when I help others avoid that.”
Estey has hit paydirt—$8 million in annual sales—targeting parents of University of Colorado students who’d rather buy than sink money into rent. His booklet “The Student and Parent Guide to Campus Property” is also available in PDF format on his Web site. Parents aren’t his only target; he also focuses on homebuyers eager to buy and fix up a first home then trade up.
“I want to be sure people are treated right.”
Farhat and two of his brothers decided to build an investment business that would give them financial freedom. He focused on real estate; his brothers concentrated on management and construction. He posted more than $27.5 million in sales volume last year.
JOSEPH HOYT FELICIANO, 29 CIPS, CRS®
“The personal touch and professionalism are the keys to success in this business.”
In his early 20s, Feliciano resurrected the family business—founded by his father and mother in 1970—after his father became disabled in a 1996 car accident. The young Feliciano diversified the company’s operations to include relocation and foreclosure departments. Meanwhile, his personal sales volume climbed close to $8 million last year.
BILLIE FRANKLIN, 29, e-PRO®
“I’ve always been big into giving back to the community.”
Soon after entering the business at 23, Franklin caught the attention of industry veterans. William Bass, past president of the North Carolina Association of REALTORS®, says her dedication, education, professionalism, and volunteer work have helped her overcome age bias. Franklin’s broker-owner, Alice L. Mosteller, also lauds her as “a gifted young lady with a bright future in the real estate industry.” The financial proof: The two-person team she manages closed $10 million in sales last year.
MANDY GARDNER, 28
“I’m single. My career is my life right now.”
Gardner’s personal sales volume of just under $10 million last year placed her at the top of her 90-salesperson company and second among all Century 21 associates in her state for 2003.
MATTHEW G. GARRISON, 28
“Working for yourself can be a liberating thing.”
Shortly after he started working in June 2002, he recognized he needed help and hired nine salespeople over a 20-month period. He attributes his success to the healthy niche he spotted in new construction and to providing developers with market research about homebuying wants. Last year his team generated sales of $27 million.
YANNI GEORGAS, 24
“Treat people with respect now for a good future return.”
Georgas had an auspicious start in real estate, representing the buyer and seller in a strip shopping mall, which sold for $2.35 million. The buyer, an investor, had supported Georgas in his high-school wrestling career. Once Georgas got involved in real estate, this mentor supported his professional career as well, he says. Besides earning his broker’s license, Georgas is a partner in two development companies, both of which build single-family townhouses.
KEVIN W. GLENN, 29
“I’m trying to put people in a better situation than they’re in now.”
Glenn’s a true entrepreneur. He started as an apartment manager while working his way through college but added real estate sales when some early contacts were ready to buy. His real estate business took off, so he opened a brokerage office five years ago. He became a loan officer last year. He’s now thinking about adding commercial listings and sales since he owns two income-producing properties and a convenience store.
KIMBERLY GOMBERG, 28
“I believe people can accomplish anything if they have ethics, perseverance, and the willingness to learn.”
Gomberg had a great 2003—selling more than $20 million in real estate—but made time for philanthropy as well. She’s on the board for the Coldwell Banker Community Cares Foundation, which contributes to neighborhoods where its salespeople work; a volunteer for the ALS Recovery Foundation, which works to eliminate Lou Gehrig’s disease, an illness her grandfather has; and a volunteer for the annual Huntington’s Disease triathlon.
WADE HANSON, 27 ABR®
“Vince Lombardi said, ‘The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but a lack of will.’”
Hanson took over his family business after a tragedy. His sister, the victim of a sexual assault, committed suicide four years ago. Instead of becoming embittered, Hanson was inspired to make a difference, donating office space to a sexual assault program. He has also participated in an adopt-a-highway program, gathered toy donations for needy kids, and sponsored boys’ and girls’ basketball fundraising events. His parents still work part time in the business.
LESLIE A. HOPKINS, 28
“I look at myself as a role model for other single parents, helping them to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Hopkins, a single parent, moved from property management to real estate sales in 2001 to have more flexibility with her daughter, then 3. This year she established Extraordinary Single Parents (ESP), a program that provides up to $6,000 in downpayment assistance to other single parents. She supports the program through fund-raising and a portion of her commissions. So far ESP has helped three people. Hopkins also formed a support group for single parents and is involved with Habitat for Humanity.
MARA ACKERMANN KLOPFER, 28 ABR®
“I brought a different generation’s perspective to the market, particularly about the necessity for technology.”
Klopfer got into real estate to help her mother, Marty Ackermann, out of a jam. Ackermann, a practitioner for more than 30 years, had an assistant quit. So Klopfer, who had recently graduated from college and planned to attend law school, agreed to help for a short period. Six years later, she’s running the Ackermann team as broker-owner of a RE/MAX franchise and serving as president of an association of Central Ohio RE/MAX franchisees. Her sales volume last year was $8 million.
“Work smarter not just harder to exceed your clients’ expectations.”
When she was just 7, Le immigrated to this country from Vietnam with her father and brother. Her mother had died the year before. The young Le grew up with a determination to succeed—and where else but in real estate, which she says “epitomized the American dream”? After six years in the business, she was No. 2 in her company, with $17.2 million in sales, up from $13 million in 2002. She recently formed The Nga Le Team with a buyer representative and coordinator.
RAYLENE LEWIS, 27
“Find a niche and build your business from there.”
Lewis is a rainmaker in the competitive FSBO market. She looks FSBOs squarely in the eye, she says, and convinces them that she knows more than they do. Last year she closed 97 units—more than 30 percent of which were FSBOs—for a total of $13 million in sales. That was good enough to rank her No. 4 in commissions out of almost 2,800 Century 21 practitioners in the surrounding South Texas and South Louisiana region.
“Listen to other professionals for ideas and feedback.”
Matteson started as a sales assistant eight years ago, earned her license a year later, and soon began teaching a CE class on buyer representation. Later she added classes for brokers and salespeople. “Teaching gives me the opportunity to help others. I define my success in my ability to see their progress,” she says.
THOMAS S. MCCORMICK, 25
“Technology saves time and legwork.”
McCormick’s foray into real estate began during his freshman year in college, when he bought a “kiddie” condo, after which he made a specialty of buying these units and selling them to parents, eager for a good investment. McCormick went on to law school but not before he formed a property management business. After earning his law degree, he merged his company with Action Realty, which now employs 25. He personally sold nearly $11 million worth of real estate in 2003.
JACQUELINE A. MILLER, 29 GRI
“Delegate the details so you focus on dollar-productive tasks.”
Miller courts first-time buyers because they typically represent the potential for quick repeat business—many move within three years. Cultivating this niche helped her close 73 transactions last year, she says.
RICHARD E. PARADISE JR., 27 ABR®
“If you want to work with investors, you’d better be an investor.”
Paradise moved from Connecticut to Phoenix—with no professional contacts there—to get in on the Arizona capital’s booming real estate market. His fiancé built him a top-notch Web site with a catchy name. And he began building business by calling FSBOs in the evening and offering to list their homes on the site at no fee unless a sale resulted. In his first month, he listed $1 million worth of properties (one listing was $500,000). Many FSBO owners turned out to be investors, so Paradise began to focus on that niche. At the end of last year, his closed sales volume was $9.5 million.
MARKETA POSPISIL, 29, e-PRO®, GRI
“The most important client is the one you’re with.”
Six years after moving to Oregon from the Czech Republic and three years after getting into real estate, Pospisil is the top producer in her office, topping $5 million in sales in 2003 with a better 2004 underway, she says.
RYAN J. STYLES, 29
Styles joined his father, John, in the business but didn’t want others to think success was being handed to him. To prove he had “the right stuff,” he set a goal to be a top producer within two years. He put in 10-hour days for 11 months, closing 29 transactions worth $9.6 million last year and winning the company’s award for rookie of the year.
RAMELIA D. WILLIAMS, 28
“Pay attention to the details.”
For all the struggling new licensees out there, Williams is a reminder that success often requires perseverance. She didn’t get her first sale for seven months. But she stayed the course, tapping into savings and working 60-hour weeks. After she made her first sale, two others came fast on its heels. In 2003, she closed nine transactions with a volume of $2.15 million.
“Pick one high-dollar listing and set a goal to sell it within a year.”
This small-town pro racked up 105 transactions last year, worth $14.2 million in sales, by expanding his territory to cover two counties.
Stay tuned . . .
An application for the 2005 “30 Under 30” will be posted at REALTOR® Magazine Online in September.