Welcome to the agents who crush it in real estate podcast where you’ll hear the good, the bad and the ugly of how real estate agents overcame challenges and grew their business. Check out the Episode Notes at CrushItinRE.com/podcast. Here’s your host, Anthony Lamacchia.
Anthony Lamacchia 00:22: All right, I am excited to be here with a famous realtor. Christine Serafini from Albany, New York. Christine. Hello, my friend.
Christine Serafini 00:32: Hi Anthony.
Anthony Lamacchia 00:34: Great to be here with you. Are you come off all shy. They don’t know you’re not shy. Well, I’m thrilled to have you on here. You’re I mean, full disclosure, you’re at a friend of mine company, awesome company, Miranda Real Estate. And you are also an avid watcher of Crush It In Real Estate and our training and all those things that we do. And I said we’re going to kick off this podcast, Agents Who Crush It In Real Estate. I just did an interview with someone here at our company who by the way, lived in Albany for some period of time. that’s beside the point. But you were one of the first people that came to my mind and in Lindsay’s minds as we need to have her on. Because you my friend had 81 sales last year in 2020. During a pandemic. So 81 sales, and let’s go backwards. I mean, when did you start in the business?
Christine Serafini 01:23: So it’ll be 18 years in April. So April 2003, when I bought my first house, actually, Willie Miranda was my agent. I worked at General Electric. I was a financial planner for steam turbine union over there. And we said we wanted to find our first house. Willie asked me the question, have you ever thought about being a Realtor? I said no. And literally, from that moment forward, I never stopped thinking about not being a Realtor.
Anthony Lamacchia 01:52: Willie is very strategic with his comments and questions.
Christine Serafini 01:55: He was starting his business in his kickoff with his independent company and I couldn’t stop. So a year later, I one year, old three year old, working full time became a part-time agent.
Anthony Lamacchia 02:06: And then you built up from there. So we don’t need to go year by year. But let’s talk about like, Okay, that was 2003. Talk to me about where you were at by like nine or 10.
Christine Serafini 02:16: 2017 is when we went through a little change, right? It was easy coming in, in 2003, four or five. It was like, it was great. You know, part-time I did 19 transactions, I think in one year, as a part-timer. 2007, 2008, 2009 I really needed to make the decision on if I was going to go full time and wasn’t quite ready yet. I became a property manager while I was a Realtor did a little dabbling in real estate but was more property management side so that actually gave me a niche of the business. And I think that’s helped me sell investment properties, and just know what to look for and how to do it successfully. 2016 the year my daughter graduated high school, full-time Realtor, no stable income, full-time Realtor and college tuition was my why.
Anthony Lamacchia 03:05: Really? Let’s say from like 2010 to 17. How many sales a year roughly? 20?
Christine Serafini 03:13: No, not even 10, 12 homes. No systems in place. The early on years I was actually a certified mentor with Brian Buffini. I helped do a little recruiting with Willie in the beginning. 100 days to greatness. We had some noise between 2007 and 2008 and 2015. I was a PTO Mom, I was a softball Mom, I was baseball mom, my husband was a coach. So got to do all of that. So 2016 I hit the ground running! I had some financial commitments, you know, for college but also, I was ready to be a Realtor. I was ready to do what I’ve had that foundation leading into that. I was ready.
Anthony Lamacchia 03:57: So what did you change in 2015? In 2016, to make that incredible leap? Because that’s, I mean, and let’s walk through the years. So you really started focusing in 2016 and then how many sales did you have that year? And how many of the year after?
Christine Serafini 04:12: Going backwards – so 81 was 2020. 2019 was 78. 2018 was 72. 2017 was 46. So from 2017 to 2018. I think I went 47 into the 70s. Right?
Anthony Lamacchia 04:27: But here’s the thing that’s funny, you know this and I know this because I did it. It’s actually harder to go from 10 or 12. To what did you say 27 or 30 than it is to go from 60 to 80 because once you’re flying it’s easier, but it’s like the old saying the first million is the hardest. So getting yourself to top agent level is harder than going from top agent to like super top agent level right? And what did you do differently to change the outcome? That’s what I want to dig into. One thing I know you do like a champ is the social media presence. I mean, I’m here right outside of Boston and I feel like I know you like I mean, I do know you but I feel like I’m like, working with you. I see you so much I pay attention to your doing video.
Christine Serafini 05:10: It’s the presence right? Toma: Top of Mind Awareness. I have to keep a vibe. It’s consistently doing that, you know, you don’t want to be forgettable. You want to always put forth buyers and sellers are coming in the market every day, people looking for the education of buying and selling are coming into the market every day. We can’t get old with it and say, oh, everybody knows how to buy a house. Everybody knows how to sell a house. We don’t we have new people coming in. And now every day, we need to stay relevant. We need to have focus, we need to have activities, we need to have the drive of success. You know if anything else I wanted my kids are starting college and my husband, I was the mom. I did all the school stuff. I wanted to be successful for once for myself. Now I don’t want to say sound selfish with that, but also between 2007 and 2016, I lost my dad lost both my in-laws, we took care of them. And then all of a sudden I was like, free to choose what I could really Yeah. Wow. And it, it. It gave me a leg. I was very liberated with that. And I said you know what? There’s no, not being in success in real estate.
Anthony Lamacchia 06:25: When you made a decision and 2016 ” this is it. I’m going for it”, was your goal 27 homes that year or 47? And then it sounds like the big decision you made is I’m going to be more present. I’m going to be more out there. Right?
Christine Serafini 06:39: Yeah, I will say in 2018 the goal, and I’d have to go back to my notes, but the goal was 60 or 70 transactions. And I got the calculation down to the number of conversations I needed to have per day, by the week, by the month, by the year, because I took a class on the number of conversations are going to transfer into leads and into opportunities for transactions. So it was all about getting in front of people, getting those relationships going and showing what added value I had for them.
Anthony Lamacchia 07:15: You sound like you’ve been hanging around with Willie. But that’s smart. Because you went at it backwards. And I just talked to the previous interview about that exact thing, looking at how many appointments you needed to have and then out of those, how many do you need to take and blah, blah, blah. But okay, so social media was like the biggest area that you put yourself out there more and more consistently and stuck with it. What about postcards or letters or mailers or gifts? Let’s talk about some other things.
Christine Serafini 07:40: It’s social. I have a huge COI where I live staying relevant with them, but also my attorneys, my home inspectors, you know, just I’m always in the business. You know, how’s business? Business is great. There’s always buyers and sellers entering the market every day. I did buyer seminars. Right before COVID, I did a great our casino had a home show, I did a home show I did a presentation at the home show that was my last public appearance and then COVID happened. Knowledge! You got to feed the need, what they don’t know, they don’t know. And you have to keep telling yourself that because as much as I see it over again, I’m like, why doesn’t everybody know this already?
Anthony Lamacchia 08:25: Well, they don’t know tell they have a reason to know. And that’s when you have to be there to educate them. And it’s so funny this interview is so similar to the one we just had, but it goes to show that top agents to a lot of the same things you’re educating, you’re putting yourself out there you mentioned TOMA which you know I love talking about you know achieving Top of Mind Awareness, the previous interviewee said that and you know, it’s key to do that so you’re educating you’re filling that void.
Let’s take a quick break and hear from the number one loan originator Shant Banosian of Guaranteed Rate as he gives us his monthly mortgage tip.
Shant Banosian 09:05: Hey Realtors, it’s Shant. I just wanted to give you a quick tip for the market and what’s going on in a fast-moving market, it’s super important to make sure you’ve set your clients up for success. How to do that is make sure they know their finances inside and out and get them set up with a mortgage professional who’s going to get them pre-approved. What they need to know coming out meeting is what their max pre-approval is, what their comfort zone is, what their monthly payments are going to be, what they should be budgeting for in terms of downpayment and closing costs, what type of loan products and rates are available to them. All those things are super, super important because when they’re ready to make an offer, knowing that information is going to put them in a position to act and hopefully win and it eliminates a lot of stress, anxiety, and just slow-moving. Whereas you got to be super fast-moving in a market like this. So want your clients prepared, knowledgeable, empowered, and confident.
Anthony Lamacchia 09:52: You’re putting yourself out there on social. I noticed you’re using your Facebook business page, your personal page, you’re doing a lot of video. That’s a differentiator! How consistent are you with the videos?
Christine Serafini 10:06: I haven’t done one in two weeks. So I’m due for a couple at least once a week, right?
Anthony Lamacchia 10:11: At least once a week.
Christine Serafini 10:12: You should do it at least once a week, if not do it twice. It’s not all about talking about real estate, right? You want to talk about your community, you want to talk about, maybe you want to talk about market stats, you want to go into a house and feature something about a house. You want to talk about a restaurant that you went to, you know, the last three years number one agent, Schenectady County, not tooting my own horn, I hold that in regard, because I like to share what I know. You know, this is what I can tell you in Schenectady County, by school district. This is this is what homes are selling for and there’s a different market for each school district in our area. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I study stats, you know, I just showed on to this morning on a call. I had to look at the first quarter this year because inventory is so dry, it’s so you know, it’s our biggest nightmare right now. What were we into 2020? The first three months, were down 25% in our inventory, first three months versus last three months. We also have and I’ve got the numbers right here. We’re also last year, first quarter, we were averaging nine showings a listing for the whole 32,815 single-family homes. Now we’re down 25%, but we’re up three buyers per listing. So the demand on those listings is we have to know this and we have to prepare ourselves to be ready for this. You know, you have to want to, you know, be knowledgeable, stay on top of things. Don’t just say things. Know them, have a backup because you all you can just say oh, I read a report today it’s a 10 to 12. Well, what does that mean? That means Mr. seller, when you go on the market right now the pool of buyers, that is going to come to your home and want to number one, get in it and present offers is going to be very high demanded in the first three to five days, we’re going to have to make a decision. What’s our plan of attack? How many showings do you want to allow? What’s your timeframe? You know, for allowing showings? What do we want to deadline? You know, all of that what’s your obviously sellers are fearful right now they don’t know where to go. They’re afraid of being homeless, a lot of opportunities about that, you know, you really have to study national and local. You have to know what’s going on.
Anthony Lamacchia 12:34: That’s right. And you’re making sure to be that knowledge source, that educator because you understand that the more you educate, the more you attract. You see me do it with Realtors. And for years, we’ve been doing it with buyers and sellers years, over a decade. Now, Wow, that’s a long time. I just thought about that.
Christine Serafini 12:54: One thing I will say is key to success, key, accountability. Not accountability, you know, to a broker, but accountability to your activities, whether you’re in a small group, whether you’re being coached, whether it’s a one on one accountability. Holding yourself accountable to the activities that are going to get you to where you want to go. Many times we get busy in this business, right? We’re working in it, but we always need to be working on it. What are we going and it always gets pushed aside. So even as busy as we get and as you know, number of transactions i’m doing i’m still taking part in accountability, a six-week accountability, I think we do it four times a year.
Anthony Lamacchia 13:37: Tell me about that. Within your own company? Or explain how that works.
Christine Serafini 13:41: Yeah, within our company, and actually, I’ve done it with people outside of the company, too. I’m doing one right now 30 days, it’s a 30-day program in March. But within my own company six weeks, whoever signs up, signs up. Once a week we meet for one hour, we set a macro goal, and then we set three micro goals per week of what we’re going to do to get to that macro goal at the end. And if I didn’t do that, I make sure that that accountability group is the macro goals that aren’t going to get done while I’m working in the business. So seeking and attracting listings, you know, my macro goal, this one was 12 listings. In six weeks, I had 18 in the pipeline. So I was focused on the activities and where I was reaching out to people. Sending out market evaluations telling sellers, someone just listed something just listed down the street. Do you know how much equity you have? This is how much they had. You know that’s really really important.
Anthony Lamacchia 14:39: I love it and we were talking about that on an update last week I saw you comment that and then I said it I mean you’re 100% right. Again it goes back to educating. Now, tell me some self-discipline habits you have. Do you get up wildly early? When do you make the work on the business time?
Christine Serafini 14:58: I go to the office every single day. I get up, I go to work, My makeups on, I never know now when I’m going to do a zoom, when I’m going to do, you know, I have sweat pants on the bottom, but I’m always ready on the top. When I’m never afraid to say, Hey, I’m going to throw you a zoom link, you know, let’s get on, take me a tour of your house, you’re not comfortable yet, but let’s get comfortable together and I can do a market evaluation. I never say no to an appointment right now. But the things that I do consistently, I get up and go to work.
Anthony Lamacchia 15:27: You know, it’s funny, we started preaching that a lot around our company, late in 2019, because we noticed in one office in our company, the office, that’s number one, like the last three years, everybody goes to the office like every day. And I said, you know, there’s a pattern here that people are feeding off each other, it’s camaraderie, it’s culture, it’s a number of things. And we were pushing it. And we started seeing many more people go to the offices, and then COVID hit. So it’s like, I can’t wait till the summer when we can start beating that drum again, because it makes a difference.
Christine Serafini 15:58: Yeah, and, you know, COVID, I had a turning point with that to March 31, I did a video and Willie knows, I was fearful. I was like, Oh my god, I have 17 pending, we can’t go anywhere. What’s happening in our world? My daughter was you know, Bentley was closing down, we were on the softball field, it was a senior year dealing with all of that and then here I am, where’s my business going? And I had my little lull, Willie and Brian knew I was having a little hard time and March 31 I said no way, no way, we’re gonna sell safely, we’re going to sell successfully and we need to promote that we can do this, and make everyone else feel better, too. So all that nurturing came in. And it’s actually amazing that I think I’m doing more. With zooming, not driving, I think we can be more substantial with our activities than with all that time that we had in our car and going here and going there. We’re thinking outside of the box, and we can get things done.
Anthony Lamacchia 17:00: I have more recruiting appointments or appointments that I simply drop into for 10 minutes when our business development people are doing, I think I have double in a week that I used to. You know, I can pop in for 10 minutes, say hi and drop off, or do two of them in the morning instead of one and it makes a world of difference. And, you know, that’s just an example of you, and this is your personality, you found a way, like many of our top agents, to say how am I going to do even better because of this and unfortunately, a lot of human beings, they use things as an excuse to do less. That’s why I was pumped to have you on here. I’m impressed by the business you’re doing. And I think that helps. So why don’t I give you the floor for the last two minutes? Tell me something, some takeaway that you think would really help people, either a beginner really get off the ground, or someone who’s maybe halfway through their career, get off the ground? Or here’s another one, I guess I’m asking two questions. You know, what should top agents be doing to manage their schedule better, so they have time with family? There are like four questions in there. I’ll shut up now.
Christine Serafini 18:08: New agents or agents that want to go to the next level, get an accountability partner. Know where you want to go. Like, what does doing better or doing more mean? Have a specific and measurable goal. Okay, so last year, you did 10 deals, what do you want to do next year? Do you want to double it? We could probably most certainly work towards that double, double your deals? What are you going to do to double your deals? How many listings, how many buyers? What are you going to do to generate listings? What are you going to do to generate buyers? How many open houses are you going to do? Set that benchmark because if you have that set, you have something to aspire and attain. It’s measurable. It’s a SMART goal, right? Smart.
Anthony Lamacchia 18:48: What isn’t measured, can’t be improved,
Christine Serafini 18:50: Can’t be improved. Right? So and then also, what’s even more important than to know what your goals are. What were your lessons learned from last year? What didn’t you do right? What do you want to do better? And if you can acknowledge and write that down, you’re going to be even better that next year, take away the numbers, you’re just going to be a better agent, because you should be able to identify you know what? I did a dozen open houses. What follow-up system did I have? A lot of agents don’t have a follow-up system? Did I enter everyone into the database? Did I follow up with them? Did I see okay, that wasn’t the house, did they buy a house? Are they still looking? Are they still in need? You know that’s something that it’s always identify a lesson learned and then make it better next year. So I would say that for new agents and agents that want to go to the next level, you know, the question I’m asking myself now, what’s my top level? Where am I going to go? You know, we don’t we have so much success, right? What is success in real estate? Is it to make 40,000 50,000 100,000 200,000?Everybody’s success is different, but you want to feel it, you want to feel it. And I feel it through transactions and I feel it through referrals. I love the referrals they just don’t stop the pipeline has been really good to me. I can’t complain at all.
Anthony Lamacchia 20:13: There’s a reason for that though. You know, you’re creating, you’re magnetic in you’re magnetic because you’re doing a good job, you’re out there, you’re in touch with people you’re educating, and that attracts.
Christine Serafini 20:25: And do I do everything perfect? No, oh my god, I’m not and I always want to learn. This past year was 100, it was 100 before COVID got 81, but I had 19 pending. So I had 100 at the end of the year, and everything was slowed down and that screwed me. But everything closed. I’ve already you know 22 this year, and you know I kept the goal kind of open up the same this year. I’m not aspiring, still sharing, still working the lead funnel and I don’t know might want to help other agents too.
Anthony Lamacchia 21:02: Well, listen, I’m impressed. And I’m happy to know you happy to have become friends with you and I have no doubt that you’ll get to 100 sales if not this year, next year. So keep doing what you’re doing. And let’s stay connected. Thanks so much for being on the Agents Who Crush It In Real Estate podcast, my friend. Thank you!
Christine Serafini 21:21: Thank you!
Thanks for joining us on the agents who Crush It In Real Estate podcast. We hope you’ve learned some valuable takeaways. Be sure to take action and grow your business. You can check out the Episode Notes and more content from the show at Crushitinre.com/podcast. And if you’d like this episode and you’d like to hear more stories, please share with others, post on social media or leave a rating or review. To catch all the latest from Anthony, you can follow him on Instagram at Crush It In Real Estate on Facebook and YouTube. Thanks again and we’ll see you next time.