Editor’s Note: This is the cover story in the March issue of RISMedia’s Real Estate magazine.
Discover the self-starters, go-getters and midnight-oil burners who bring the new mission to life every day: Defy Mediocrity and Deliver Extraordinary Experiences
Since coming to market in 1971 as the first franchisor of independently-owned and -operated real estate offices, Century 21 Real Estate LLC has consistently proven itself to be a leading global real estate business organization. Built by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, it has been an engine for both owner and agent growth for 47 years. Undeniably, the Century 21® brand has thrived alongside its system members through several real estate industry and market paradigm shifts, and now, the global franchisor is committed to leaving the “sea of sameness” behind.
Its current growth narrative is being driven by a unique recruitment campaign it calls, “CENTURY 21 #Relentless Wanted.” The campaign is a focused effort to highlight the mindset that defines the “relentless” CENTURY 21 agent, and it’s a natural progression to the branding work the company started in 2016 that focused on the importance of tech innovation, human knowledge and shared experiences. The campaign invites revenue generators across all industries to join the “go-getters” in the CENTURY 21® System, and speaks to the necessary skillsets entrepreneurs need to possess to compete and win in today’s dynamic real estate market.
With the conversation started and the iconic brand already having success building relationships with potential new agents, brokers and other like-minded entrepreneurs, we decided to address our readers’ curiosity and give you an inside peek into what it looks like to be “C21® #Relentless.”
CENTURY 21 Alliance
The phone rings and it’s another agent checking availability. “I can’t believe you really answer your phone!” “Of course I do,” is my delighted response. “If I’m available, I answer.” This spirit of cooperation is what sets top agents apart. When you want an answer, you want it now—not five hours from now. I strive to provide my clients extraordinary service 100 percent of the time. It’s not always easy, but it’s rewarding when past clients become current clients and refer friends and family.
A typical day starts with checking email, social media and my calendar. Before work can begin, a newer agent needs help with a contract, another one can’t get onto the MLS, and a third has jammed the copier. I’m not the managing broker but will always help out where needed. The beauty of the CENTURY 21 brand is that it ensures that resources and knowledge are available so agents can thrive in today’s changing marketplace. To that end, when a successful agent shares knowledge with a less experienced one, the synergy promotes success for all.
Years ago, before fax machines, I had a contract that I needed to have signed ASAP. I was in Northern California and my client was in Oregon. FedEx would take too long, so I hopped into our Cessna 172 and flew three hours to Medford. The client met me at the airport, signed the contract and gave me a peanut butter sandwich for the flight home. Fax and email is less costly, but it was a beautiful day, and the flight was great fun.
CENTURY 21 Vanguard
The phone rings and I answer it prepared to provide the best service possible. “Hello,” said a tired voice from the other line. “I’d like you to sell my house,” she said. “But please have an open mind.” We scheduled a listing appointment and I did all the research I could on the address the seller (Millie) gave me. In conducting the due diligence, I learned there was little information about the house or the 2.7-acre parcel it sat on. I showed up early for the appointment to scan the neighborhood and walk the lot. As I drove around the heavily-wooded lake, I found a small opening in the trees to Millie’s driveway. I backed in and drove through an overgrown 1,000-foot driveway to find a 5,500-sq.-ft, three-story estate near a lake. As Millie and I walked through the home, I took five pages of notes on its features and its problems. The house was stunning, but it also needed a lot of work to get it ready for the market. Over the next six months, we put down hardwood floors, painted cathedral ceilings, expanded ductwork, and groomed the landscaping to be ready for a May 5 listing date. Three days before our photo shoot, Millie called to explain there was no water in the lake. “Scott, there’s no water in the lake,” she explained. “We’re getting the dam repaired and it won’t be restored until August.”
After weighing our options, we decided on a unique, eye-catching way to list the property: “The Lakehouse With No Lake.” The home sold in 47 days at 95 percent of the list price. Prior to this transaction, I had never sold a waterfront home nor one that was a third of this price. Millie trusted me because I was a relentless ally, in constant contact, found solutions, and always stayed positive. Even if you’re a wet-behind-the-ears agent, be creative, be relentless, and do whatever it takes to get the job done. Jump in head first. The water’s just fine.
CENTURY 21 Results Realty Services
It’s the everyday passion and commitment to my clients that makes the difference; that shows, in action, how relentless works for them, and in the end, for me, my company and our global brand. For example, I just recently listed my first church for sale.
It is a property type that I had never marketed before, but I convinced the seller that my comprehensive marketing system and our global reach via the CENTURY 21 brand would expose the property to more potential buyers. He said he had complete faith in our ability to go “outside the box” to market the property, so that’s exactly what I did!
In fact, I found a buyer with a completely different culture than my seller, and the challenges of working together with two very distinct personalities resulted in a two-and-a-half month negotiation between the buyer and seller. Oh, did I tell you the buyer and the seller also had two dynamically different theologies between the churches they each ran? And to make matters worse, the buyer’s agent lost total control of their client? And to top it off, an appraisal came in low by $200,000? As you can imagine, the negotiations were long and fierce with a lot of emotional feedback being thrown at both sides. I kept my cool and remembered that every person negotiates differently and to leave my emotions at the door. I knew that I had to work with both parties to maintain a manageable level of emotion and expectation.
The inspection brought about many items that needed repairing, so I brought in subcontractors to keep the price affordable to get as many items done as possible. This action kept the deal alive despite a seller who was not willing to budge and a buyer who was willing to walk.
It took two weeks to work through negotiating on behalf of the seller. The buyer demanded owner financing for the difference, but we held firm. The final answer: We got the deal closed without any owner financing for the full price that we negotiated. The buyer paid the $200k difference in cash at the closing. Now that is C21 RELENTLESS!
CENTURY 21 Yarlex International Realty, Inc.
Rodrigo and Michelle arrived in Miami from the Northwest and they didn’t know anyone in the Greater South Florida area, especially real estate agents. They didn’t have any idea about the city or the people or the many advantages of living in, what I call, “paradise.” Before meeting them in-person for the first time, my associate María and I set the couple up with a temporary apartment so they could settle in right away. Before starting with them on the home-buying journey and understanding what they were looking for in a home, we made every effort to learn about them, their family, their preferred language (Spanish) and cultural backgrounds (both from Mexico). This approach made an immediate, highly-positive impression that Rodrigo and Michelle appreciated. From the start, we were able to openly communicate, answer their many questions, calm their nerves and guide them through the transaction process. Not only did we find them the home of their dreams, but we were able to negotiate a much better price. Knowing that they felt understood made the couple feel valued, and the experience, in their own words, “made us feel like we were home.” They trusted us, and we them, and today, I’m proud to say they’re building family memories, and both María and I consider Rodrigo and Michelle friends.
Editor’s Note: Melva Garcia served as the official spokesperson for the brand’s “Empowering Latinas” program where 70 award winners received a scholarship to help offset the costs of earning a real estate license in Florida. Plus, CENTURY 21 affiliated brokers in the Greater South Florida region have agreed to mentor the scholarship awardees and offer them an opportunity to hone their craft with a local franchise affiliate. For more information, go to www.C21empoweringlatinas.com.
Mike Ferrante, MBA
CENTURY 21 Homestar – 21 Mike Team
I’m a huge fan of comics, especially superheroes, so when I think about great stories, I think of heroic feats. In real estate, while you’re not saving the world from annihilation, you are advising clients who are involved in life-changing decisions, from something as simple as picking up a buyer who has no transportation to view potential houses to talking a client off a ledge. These sorts of everyday acts are special to me and are my way of acting like a superhero, because I know most salespeople wouldn’t go that extra (relentless) mile. I’m proud to say that some of my best stories involve some of my smallest sales.
Let me tell you about Doug and Luellen, a referral from another client whose home we sold in a suburb of Cleveland. Because of this particular client’s extraordinary experience with our team, she convinced her friends Doug and Luellen to have us sell their home. You see, their home had been a rental for a few years and the property was distressed, at best. Plus, Doug and Luellen lived out-of-state and felt a bit helpless to manage the process of selling. They had placed their faith in a contractor who not only performed shabby work, but also accepted payment for work that was still incomplete. Due to the poor condition of the home and the low values in the area, I coached the sellers and set proper expectations based on their goals: to pay off the mortgage, to unload their liability and responsibility of a house they owned 1,000 miles away from their current home, and to hopefully walk away with some profit.
No matter the price or location of a listing, we put forth the same effort we would exert for all sellers, and, in effect, we had to sell this home three times. The first two deals fell through due to financing issues after months and months of waiting for rehab loans that never materialized. Determined to make this sale happen for our new clients (and our referral), we sold the house to a cash buyer for under $50,000. Along the journey, we had to arrange city inspections, orchestrate unexpected repairs due to plumbing issues, and give encouragement to a wonderful senior couple who were ready to give up hope that their house would ever sell. Doug ended up in the hospital due to heart issues (non-related to the house sale) during the process, and Luellen fainted in a parking lot, giving her daughter a scare and prompting an ambulance ride.
Both of them are thrilled with the service and attention to detail we provided in selling their home. The journey of more than one year to sell this house made us feel like we were part of their family, sharing their frustrations and finally the success of completing the sale. The result of being relentless? We’ve made friends and lifelong clients in Doug and Luellen.
CENTURY 21 American Homes
With over 15 years of experience as a real estate agent and the last five with the CENTURY 21 brand, the difference between this company and any other is culture, and the emphasis on collaboration and growth-building. Recently, I had the opportunity to potentially list a $2.5 million oceanfront property, knowing this would be the highest-priced listing of my career. I was nervous, especially competing against the other top agents in Long Beach. As I began preparing my listing presentation, I went into autopilot doing my due diligence as I would with any other listing presentation: inquiring about the sellers’ financial situation and motivation for selling, researching for liens on the property, getting a general condition of the home and what is necessary to get it into “show shape,” and securing relevant comps for the market analysis, to name a few. When I met with the sellers, I was confident in my preparation. The sellers appreciated the 121-percent effort, and I earned the listing. What I learned from this experience, looking back on it, is that I needed to approach this listing the same way and with the equal effort that I gave my first rental. Bottom line: I always need to be relentless in showing potential clients that I am the best person for them and their specific real estate needs.
As a result of this level of passion and commitment, the TV show “Island Life” on the HGTV network approached me to film an episode that aired this past January, and then again for a future episode airing this spring. Besides being a very proud moment in my career, it was even more exciting to showcase our city of Long Beach. Ultimately, I take pride in my consistent, professional, and honest work ethic, but also my partnership with the CENTURY 21 brand, which has led me to these successes that I never dreamt possible—and that continually motivate me to this day.
For more information, please visit www.century21.com.