Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ryan Rogers

"I met Ryan a few years ago when my oldest brother first moved to Orlando. At that point he was in the beginning of his transition from mortgage broker to realtor. Since that time he’s developed a successful real estate practice based on some simple principles; listening well, responding quickly and intelligently, and doing the right thing. This has allowed him to serve his clients well and ultimately grow his business substantially...even in one of the most troubled markets of the real estate downturn, Orlando, Florida. It is truly a pleasure to feature some of his thoughts today!" - Joseph Norman

Being a realtor in one of the markets that was dramatically hit by the real estate downturn, how has that affected your business? And, what are a few of the ways you’ve tried to add value to your clients?

My biggest advantage with the real estate is my knowledge of the mortgage industry. I worked for a bank for many years, so I have a distinct advantage in helping my clients through the closing process. Where I add a lot of value is helping my clients save money with their mortgages.

That’s a big thing. Say you go to a closing and your client is getting charged an extra two points for an origination fee when the interest on the loan is already very high. That’s something you can actually alleviate.

I’ve actually been at the closing table before and noticed that my client was being charged an additional 3 points, or 3 percent, up front. I said to them, “You’re not closing.” At that point I told the bank that we wouldn’t close unless they took those points off because I knew the bank was getting 2 points on the backside already. I won’t let a client close if I see something that I wouldn’t accept personally. Or, at least, I give them the option to make a decision either way. As long as they know the consequences, they have the right to make their own decision.

A lot of times realtors are treated poorly by the banks because they don’t necessarily know a lot about the mortgage process. I feel that you provide your people a better service if you can bring more knowledge about the transaction to the table. That has helped me get more clients.

With my internet advertising, potential clients that call me are talking to at least 3 or 4 realtors. So, my knowledge is a key way I can differentiate myself. And, about 50% of the questions I answer are in regards to mortgages.

Also, when I sell a house I actually listen to people. I don’t sell them the house that I want them to buy. I’ll send them a sheet and the first question is, “What is your wish list for a house?” Then I take that and start showing them houses that meet their desires and one they can afford.

If I have a client that can afford a $250k house, I’m not going to show them a $350k house because they’ll never want to settle for a $250k place then.

In terms of Customer Relationship Management (CRM), what are some things you do?

I have a comprehensive system that I use which funnels clients down into two categories; short term buyers and long term buyers. I consider three to six months a short term buyer. The software I use, called House Values, is a program that helps me automatically send valuable information to clients or potential clients periodically. It’s expensive, but I’ve probably closed about 5 deals from it in the last year.

I have actually increased my marketing expenses in the last year to stay competitive in this economy. The leads you get in Orlando real estate are interesting because half of the people I’ve worked with before are stuck in properties that are upside down. I knew I needed to generate more leads, so I’ve taken the necessary actions to do that.

You definitely have to spend money right now to make money. I know people that have been in the business for ten or twelve years and they are calling me now to ask me how I’m getting all of my clients. We’re talking people that are closing $7-10 million in business a year.

It’s sort of odd to have people at that level asking me those questions. But the marketplace has changed and my systems are working.

What are some things you’ve done to help you personally handle the current economy?

In terms of purchasing a house, I bought within my means. I could have afforded a lot more house when I bought, but if I had done that, right now I would be in big trouble.

A surprising fact I came across was that the top 1 percent of individuals in this country only make about $388k a year. That’s really not a whole lot of money in comparison. That means many of these people that have bought million dollar homes are actually living paycheck to paycheck.

If you’re going to buy a house, you’ve got to get into something that you can logically afford. But, that’s not always easy to do. When I was in the mortgage industry, I would tell people when they couldn’t afford something but they wouldn’t necessarily listen to me. They might even say, “If you don’t do the mortgage for me, I’ll go somewhere else.”

Be knowledgeable about what you’re making and be reasonable. Don’t live at an income level that isn’t realistic with what you actually make.

What are some of your hobbies?

I do a lot of things. Play a lot of tennis, golf, and softball. I also enjoy a variety of water sports; wakeboarding, jet skiing, etc. It’s important to stay active. It keeps you young!

You’ve also got to enjoy what you do. As for my line of work, if you don’t like being with people you shouldn’t be in this business. I meet some realtors that say I don’t like answering the phone. So, I ask them, “Why are you in the business?”

You have to run your own business and you have to run it smart. If you need structure and you can’t do it yourself, then this isn’t the business for you. In real estate the best thing you can do is talk to everyone you can. If you’re at the mall and somebody is talking about houses, give them a card. They may never call you, but they also might! You’ve got to take that chance.

What is your definition of success?

You know I think it is different for everyone. I don’t think success is measured by money, per se. It’s loving what you do and being able to make a living at it. I think that is really the key.

What your perception of living is, is what you make it. If you’re in real estate and you make $50k per year and you’re happy - it fits your income level and pays your bills - then you probably feel successful.

I must say, I have a lot of freedom in my job so I can do a lot of things. And, I make a very good income in respect to a normal job. I don’t have to answer to anyone as I’m my own boss. If you look at cost per hour what I make, I do very well. But, I also have to be available.

I may take a call at 9:30 PM on a Friday, because I’d rather have a client get an answer from me immediately then have to wait a few days. That’s another key for me. If I get a call on a Saturday and a client is freaking out, some people might not respond until Monday. But, if you let them wait until Monday morning to get them an answer, then you have probably shot their whole weekend if they’re a stressful person.

In this business, you have to answer the phone. That has to come first. All your other free time is what you want to make of it!

Final thoughts?

It is what it is. You’ve just got to keep going. If you’re self-employed like I am, you’ve got to figure out a way to do it and just do it.

Ryan can be reached by email at