Gerard Gray – Setting Boundaries with Clients

Show Notes

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, Lindsay Favazza.

Lindsay Favazza: Welcome back to the Agents Who Crush It In Real Estate podcast, where every two weeks I sit down with great realtors and learn about their journey to success. Today I’m super excited to chat with Gerard Gray, a rising star in the South Shore area of Boston. Gerard’s passion for real estate was ignited when he started learning about financial literacy. Intrigued by the industry, he pursued his license and has been assisting buyers and sellers in achieving their real estate goals for the past six years, full-time for two. While Gerard may be new to the game, he’s already making major progress, consistently closing at least 10 deals per year.

He credits his success to his customer service experience and dedication to educating his clients. His approach is all about being informative and making sure his clients have a solid understanding of every aspect of the transaction. Gerard is also very active on social media, using his platform to connect with his audience and grow his business. While he does admit to being on the shy side, he’s learned to come out of a shell and thrive in this industry. Without further ado, let’s dive into it. Gerard, welcome to the podcast today.

Gerard Gray: Hi Lindsay. How are you?

Lindsay: I’m super excited to have you here. Gerard and I met a couple of years ago. We were on a boat coming back from Thompson Island and I don’t know, it was like, there was this magnetism. I was like, “He’s sitting by himself, I’m going to go talk to him, I don’t know him yet.” I sat down next to you and I think we belly stitch laughed for the next 45 minutes of that boat ride.

Gerard: We did.

Lindsay: Because you’re so much fun to be around.

Gerard: It was all about the butt text.

Lindsay: Butt texting, yes, because he had butt text a top agent in his office and I could not stop laughing about it. Bee Murphy, that was the agent that he texted. She was on the podcast a little while ago. Bee, shout out to you for accepting all the butt texts from Gerard. I love it. Gerard, let’s dive into when you started in the business, what piqued your interest about real estate and why was it important for you to get into this industry?

Gerard: I started about six years ago now. In May, it’ll be six years I got licensed. I got into it because I started learning about financial literacy. I was at a job where I was mostly just trying to figure out how do I get to that next level towards my financial goals and things like that. Through learning about how money works, what’s ways of building wealth. I knew that one of my goals was to buy a house myself. I was like, “Let me look into this a little bit further. Just seeing how real estate can change people’s lives, I realized it was like, “This is something that I want to learn about. I want to spread the information.”

I did my classes. Literally, here in Massachusetts, we need 40 hours of class, and then the test. I literally did all 40 hours in four days-

Lindsay: Wow. That’s dedication right there.

Gerard: -over two weekends.

Lindsay: Wow, that’s crazy.

Gerard: I took the test. Thankfully I passed on the first try.

Lindsay: You had all that knowledge just right there.

Gerard: Just sitting there.

Lindsay: Just sitting there.

Gerard: From there, I was just like, “Now that I have this, I want to spread that knowledge out to other people. My very first client was my sister and I helped her buy a house. It was very close to home. I did it with a purpose and I just kept going from there.

Lindsay: What was the company that you were working for and what were you learning about financial literacy and trying to establish financial goals for yourself? What were some of the things that you were doing there?

Gerard: I was really looking more at– I fell into a YouTube hole of financial literacy stuff, which took me to Rich Dad Poor Dad. I listened to that on audible while I was working or doing whatever. Then that even took me a little bit further into that hole. I was like, “At this point right now, it’s just the fact that I need to–” I was making an okay salary and was like, “I need to somehow supplement that.” I went into real estate part-time at that time.

Lindsay: Did you think, “I’m just going to do this part-time forever, just have it as a side hustle”? Or did you think, “At some point, I’m going to do it full-time”?

Gerard: At that time, I was hoping at some point I would get to be able to do it full-time. It was just a matter, once again this was six years ago, trying to figure out how I get from point A to point B.

Lindsay: When did you start to think, “I think I could do this full-time,” or “Maybe I want to try”?

Gerard: That was probably at the end of my first full year. I was just like, “Oh, this is the kind of money that I can make from doing this.” If I had the time to consistently do that, not only could it take over from my regular income that I was making at that time, but I could go so much further.

Lindsay: You were working a 9:00 to 5:00, technically.

Gerard: I was. I was a supervisor for an entire team. It felt like my job never stopped. [chuckles]

Lindsay: You were not 9:00 to 5:00, you were really putting in hours after the day too. You were already used to the hours of being an agent. That makes sense. At that point when you are already working that many hours, you want to get paid for all those hours that you’re working, and have more control. That makes a lot of sense. Tell me, what were your fears at that time of jumping in full-time?

Gerard: My biggest fears were, what if I don’t get a sale for a [chuckles] couple of months? I was like, “I would love to have a closing every day, every week.” That is the dream, but it doesn’t always work out that way. I was like, “What do I do in order to make sure that if that happens, if I go full-time, that I’m going to still be okay?” Because I didn’t want the pressure to be on my partner, I didn’t want the pressure to be on my family to try to help, financially that is, I like to try to be as independent as possible. That was my biggest fear, was coming up short at some point.

Lindsay: When did you buy your first house?

Gerard: I bought my house in 2020.

Lindsay: You’re buying a house in 2020 and then trying to make this whole real estate thing work full-time, that’s also got to be a little challenging and scary.

Gerard: It is, but through real estate, the money that I used in order to purchase my house literally came from me selling houses myself. It was like, “This is amazing.” This allowed me to take a giant leap and because of the timing at that point, I feel like I was very lucky to get the house that I did. I did it in the proper steps because I was still working “part-time”. I was dual careered. I like to say it that way better because there’s no such thing as a part-time agent.

I was able to get into that house, move out from our rental that we were in and I was paying less money at that time than I was for a smaller rental. That allowed me to also rent out rooms in my house and be able to have some supplemental income so that I could make the move into full-time.

Lindsay: Smart. Once you made the leap into full-time, was it also still a little scary? What were some of the things that you were thinking in the beginning and were you able to overcome and catch your footing and be like, “I’m going to be okay”?

Gerard: It took a lot of preparing. It wasn’t just about my house and then I quit my job. [chuckles]

Lindsay: Like, “That’s it, I’m done.”

Gerard: No, that didn’t happen that way. Thankfully, because here at Lamacchia, the place where I work at, that we are at,–

Lindsay: You can say Lamacchia, it’s okay. It’ll be in the show notes that you work here anyway. It doesn’t matter.

Gerard: Awesome. Here at Lamacchia, we have success guides. I’m very thankful for mine because I should have probably come over to the company much sooner than I did, but she was able to help me with coming up with a plan. She was like, “What is important to you in order to make sure that you can make that leap?” I was like, “I need to make sure that I’m financially okay [chuckles]because what if things don’t work out the way that I expect them to?” We came up with a plan together. Everybody’s sense of safety is different. Mine was financial wise. Once I had X amount in the bank, I was able to feel comfortable making that leap.

Lindsay: Absolutely. Now you’re able to ease into it, and you had someone that was a cheerleader for you. It was Mackenzie, right?

Gerard: Yes, it was.

Lindsay: She’s the best. Love you, Mackenzie. Tell me about how you were able to balance getting into real estate, doing it more full-time, and still have a little bit of time for yourself. Because I think a lot of agents have a challenge with this. How do you turn it off at the end of the day or do you have an end of the day or do you just turn it off at different times during the day when you’re like, “I need to have some me time right now”? How do you balance all of that in this crazy business?

Gerard: Like you know, our job isn’t a 9:00 to 5:00. Anything can happen, but something that I feel like I learned from my previous job that if it’s urgent, then it needs to be addressed right then and there. Otherwise, it’s something that can be addressed the following day when I’m back on working time. Normally what I’ll do is around seven-ish, that’s when I shut down for the day unless it’s something that is urgent that needs to be addressed. Otherwise, if it’s something that really can’t be addressed until the next morning, I’m like, “Okay.” I set those expectations with my clients.

Lindsay: With your clients upfront.

Gerard: Like, “Hey listen, I’m available. After a certain time, feel free to text me or if you call, leave a voicemail, and if it’s not truly urgent, I will get back to you first thing in the morning.” When I say first thing in the morning, my day starts around 5:30. [Laughs] I love when people go, “We can meet in the morning,” or “We can meet earlier, you can call me early.” I’m like, “What’s early for you?”

Lindsay: Because early for me is usually earlier than most people.

Gerard: Yes.

Lindsay: Some people early might be 9:00.

Gerard: I like to try to get up and have some me time in the morning, and handle things that are not phone related before people actually really start their day so that I can actually be fully attentive. I do, I have a stopping point. Then after that, I’m like, “This is my time for the rest of the night, and whatever’s non-urgent that may have come up, we address it in the morning.”

Lindsay: I think it’s so important that agents understand that they don’t have to be 24/7.

Gerard: Yes.

Lindsay: Take some time for yourself. You know what, we just joked about this, whenever you take a vacation, your phone blows up. It’s important to take that time and it’ll help your business grow. [chuckles]

Gerard: It will. I love it whenever I go on a vacation. Because the moment I go, I’m getting on a plane, my phone blows up.

Lindsay: Everybody wants to go look for houses.

Gerard: Yes. I’m like, “Can’t look for houses,” or it’s usually, “I want to meet with you to go over the process.” I’m like, “Okay, I will be back on Tuesday, so we can meet Wednesday or any time after that.”

Lindsay: You should just have pictures of getting on a plane-

Gerard: I’m going to start doing that.

Lindsay: -that you can just post. Do it. That’s a great strategy. I know what’s also important to you is being in the office because I see you posting all the time that you’re in the office or you do a lot of your social media filming and things like that in the office. You’re working with other agents in the office. Why is it important to you and why do you think that other agents should be really focused on being in an office environment?

Gerard: For me personally, I love being in the office because the way that my brain works is I could work from home. It’s 2023, we have laptops, we have home offices, yadda, yadda. What that does for me, and I noticed this during the pandemic is, I need human interaction, and I learn a lot better when I’m more immersed in the subject. Listening to other agents around the office or even our admin talk about certain deals and what’s going on helps me navigate my business. Then also, I can just go to them and use them as a sounding board, or share ideas. That’s why I feel like it’s so important to be in the office. Monday through Friday, that’s where you can usually find me if I’m not on an appointment.

Lindsay: I know. I showed up ad hoc one day in the office and you were so mad at me, you were like, “The one time I’m not here.”

Gerard: I think I was doing a coworking stream or something. I was like, “Why the one day?” [laughs]

Lindsay: The one day. It’s true, you’re in the office all the time and those consistent habits lead to success. It makes sense that you would do that and that’s awesome. Then you build a lot of relationships with the agents in your office, and on top of that, you’ll have more opportunities for leads and call-ins and things like that. That also is helpful. Talk to me about social media because again, when I first met you and we sat down, you literally told me, you’re like, “I’m kind of shy,” and I could tell because you said, you were totally comfortable in that group of people that there was a ton of people to be there by yourself. That seemed like a comfort zone for you.

I am sure that in real estate, you’ve had to push yourself outside of that comfort zone a little bit. Talk to me about that because there’s a lot of agents that might be listening to this, they’re like, “Maybe I can’t cut it in this business because I am shy,” inherently shy. What are some things that you’ve done to get yourself out of that and to push yourself past it a little bit?

Gerard: How do I put this? I feel like I am an extroverted introvert if that makes sense.

Lindsay: Yes. That’s exactly what you said to me that day.

Gerard: My natural state is, I’m perfectly fine sitting by myself, doing my own thing. I’m thankful that I have the ability to turn it on when I need to, but if I’m in a group of people that I don’t know, it’s a lot harder to do that. The way that I normally go about it is, for one, [chuckles] I always cross my fingers and hope that there’s a familiar face. Because that usually leads to me making more connections. Over time, the more I become comfortable with people in my surroundings, it’s a lot easier for me to at least walk up and say, “Hey, how have you been?” Then that just opens it up for me to meet the people that they know and then to meet the people that those people know.

Sometimes you just have to swallow it, and just go for it and just at least say hi.

Lindsay: It helps to have that one or two people that you know, but sometimes it helps to just walk up to people.

Gerard: It does.

Lindsay: Then you start to build the connections like, “Oh, you work– hey, do you know so-and-so?” You can start to have some more deeper conversations with people that you don’t necessarily know, but it takes courage. It takes courage, especially when you do have that introverted side of you. I consider myself to be very extroverted, but there’s even times where I’m in a crowd and I’m like, “Oh gosh, this is a social situation. It’s uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable for anybody.” You definitely have to be more extroverted in this business and you have to work to overcome it. For sure.

Gerard: You do.

Lindsay: Some of the ways that you’ve also overcome that is by being more present on social media. I think that makes you more approachable. I think it makes people get to know you where maybe in a social setting they wouldn’t get a chance to get to know you as deeply because of the shy side of your personality. Talk to me about your social media strategy. Why you do it, why you think it’s important, and how you’ve overcome a little bit of the fear of being on social media too.

Gerard: The way that I like to use social media is to try to be as informative as possible. Also, showing my personality because you can spit facts at people all day long, but at the same time, it helps them to see at least a bit of who you are. Me, I love to laugh. I love comedy. I just like to be goofy. You’ll see on my page a mix of, “Okay, this is how this works within the industry,” but then you also might see me lip-syncing and dancing to something a little bit goofy. [laughs]

Lindsay: Love lip sync videos. I love them. They’re the best.

Gerard: What that has helped me with, even with my shyness, I’ll go to an event and somebody that I’ve never met in person walks up and goes, “I love your videos,” and we talk about that. It’s not me having to go out of my way to find somebody to talk to. I just walk by somebody and they’re like, “Hey, Gerard.” I’m like, “Hi.” [Laughs]

Lindsay: “How do you know me?”

Gerard: “From Instagram” I’m like, “Oh.” Then we kick off a conversation from there and it’s just wonderful.

Lindsay: That’s awesome. How do you come up with the content? How do you come up with what you’re going to lip sync and what you’re going to– do you plan it or do you just go after it each video? What’s your strategy?

Gerard: Whenever I’m on Instagram and I’m just scrolling through videos as we all do, I save and I bookmark. Instagram allows you to put those videos that you save or bookmark into folders. I put them in my content idea folders.

Lindsay: Love it.

Gerard: Then when I’m ready to go make something, I go, “What am I feeling today? Am I feeling goofy? Am I feeling informative? Did something happen this week that I feel like people need to know about?” Then I go from there and I try to post as often as possible working on getting that set schedule of doing that, but it’s often enough that it just doesn’t go stale.

Lindsay: Do you have to do multiple at a time that way you just have things ready to post or do you just do it one-off, post it, move on with the rest of your day, and then the next day come up with another idea? Or do you time block and do it in chunks?

Gerard: It all depends on the day. Sometimes, if I’m feeling really creative, I’ll batch out three or four of them, and they’ll just be sitting in my drafts. If it’s something where it’s just like a one-off, like, “I need to do this,” I’ll just go into the office. You’ve seen the ring light in the office.

Lindsay: Yes. He’s got a nice little ring light in the office. I went into the office and I saw the ring light and I’m like, “This has to be Gerard’s”

Gerard: [laughs] I set that up, I do my video and when doing them, I don’t like the way that I sound, I don’t like the way that I look, but–

Lindsay: Everyone has those feelings about themselves.

Gerard: I know but I put it in my head that I was like, “People look at me already, people hear me already. Nobody’s ever said, ‘Oh my God, I can’t stand to look or hear you.'”

Lindsay: No one would ever say that.

Gerard: If they did, I’m like, “Just unfriend me and keep it moving.” [laughs]

Lindsay: Yes, exactly. That’s what they would do. What’s the worst thing that happens? Someone unfriends you because they don’t– they’re not going to buy from you anyway.

Gerard: Exactly. I just do it. I try not to make too many individual takes. It’s just one long video and then I just chop the pieces that I need out of it and then put it all together and it looks good.

Lindsay: Yes, it looks great. You always have a little fun twist to it, but you need to laugh more in your videos. You have one of my favorite laughs.

Gerard: You’re trying to make me laugh. [laughs]

Lindsay: Now he’s going to have silent laugh on the podcast, but he has the great– it’s the most infectious. I love your laugh. You need to do more videos where you laugh. You post up the videos, you batch out the content, you do whatever you’re going to do. Then what have you seen from it? Have you had meaningful conversations? Do you follow up? Do you engage with people? How do you actually get business from your Instagram channel?

Gerard: I’ve seen people just interacting, going, “Thank you for saying that. I didn’t know this information.” Then me responding to them. I’ve even gotten a lead from it where it was, they’re a friend of a friend, so this one friend, he shared it on his page onto his story, and then their friend saw it, requested me, and I was like, “Okay, yes, we’re friends now.” Then messaged me and said, “Hey, me and my partner have been looking to start buying a house.” I was like, “How did you find me?” [laughs]

Lindsay: Yes. How did this happen?

Gerard: I was just like, “Okay.” I’m not saying that that’s the only reason that I do it. I want to get the information out there, but it feels so good when you see it being seen. People actually do reach out. It makes them feel a little bit more comfortable to at least reach out to you and ask you a question.

Lindsay: Absolutely. That’s what you’re doing it for. You want to educate, and then attract people to you, and then have them reach out to you. I’m sure you’ve had people too that maybe they haven’t mentioned the videos, but that was a part of it because they’ve been watching you for a period of time and then they email you or they– there’s definitely more people that have come to you for sure. What kind of groups of buyers and sellers have you worked with or buyers, specifically, have you worked with? Is there a specific group? Do you have a range of people that you work with from all over different demographic, areas, or do you tend to have a specific group that you work better with?

Gerard: I try to work with anybody that I feel is a good fit, but I mostly work with first-time home buyers. I enjoy that so much because most of the time it’s somebody who felt like maybe they couldn’t do it, and they just need the encouragement and the first starting of the building blocks in order to get there. Then they realized, “Oh, this is achievable.” Seeing somebody go through that. I’ve been through that with family. I am one of the board committee members for my old elementary school. I had put on a first-time home buyer workshop or info session for them and the families. Just from that, I helped two generations.

It was a parent and then their parent, so the child’s grandparent. No, actually three. I’m sorry.

Lindsay: Wow. Three generations.

Gerard: [laughs] I just realized it was a child’s parent, their grandparent, and then their great-grandparent-

Lindsay: Oh, no way.

Gerard: -all needed help with stuff. I was able to help them with just all their real estate needs.

Lindsay: That’s all different levels at that point.

Gerard: Yes. It’s wonderful.

Lindsay: Must be nice though working with the first-time home buyers because you are so close to that too because it was you and you see yourself in that. You were so recently in that same boat. It probably has a better payoff to you.

Gerard: It does because it’s not just a transaction. You’re truly helping people get to where they want to be. I think that sometimes you really just need somebody that believes in you. It’s a lot of pep talks. [chuckles]

Lindsay: One of my questions that I was actually going to bring up to you today is, real estate is very emotional. It’s very emotional for the clients, and it’s very emotional for you guys, and you guys sometimes are acting like therapists. How do you navigate some of that? How do you try to not let the emotions overtake you as far as getting too involved, but at the same time keeping them calm, getting them to understand that this is part of the process? What are some of the tactics that you use to keep the emotions in check?

Gerard: Empathy. Just a lot of empathy. Just as a story. One of the people that I help, they really wanted to do it all on their own, and they had been divorced and really wanted to just do everything on their own, but they needed some help. It took a conversation of, “Listen, I want you to get this home. You know that you can do it on your own once you get in there, but just to get to this point, we all need help sometimes. I’ve been there. I don’t like asking for help. I will admit that outright. You have to admit to yourself just like I have to, if you really want this, you’ll do what it takes in order to get there, and I’m here to help you.”

I think from putting myself in their shoes, and not forcing them to do anything that they don’t want to do, and just giving them all the information that they need and just– sometimes it takes a little handholding and it’s just like, “You got this.” That’s all somebody really needs is, “You got this and I’m here with you.”

Lindsay: We got to get you some pom-poms, my friend, because you’re the biggest cheerleader. I love that. What parting words do you have for the audience? Advice that you would give to people who maybe they were just like you were a few years back where they’re part-time, they’re not sure if they’re ready to make that leap. What would you tell that person? What advice would you give them?

Gerard: I would say sit down and map out what your actual goal is and try to reverse engineer it. If you know that you want to be full-time by, I don’t know, X time or point of time, what is it that matters to you to make sure that you’re comfortable once you get to that point so that you can fully focus and throw yourself into your work in order to really succeed without feeling like the world is coming down around you? Then something that I always say whenever I end one of my streams is just be kind to others, but most importantly, be kind to yourself.

Lindsay: Don’t beat yourself up. You are going to have hard times. I’m just really excited that you were able to come in today and get this done with me because I think that calm guidance, advice is just super important for people and I think they’ll get a lot from this episode. Thank you so much, Gerard. We are going to link all of Gerard’s stuff, so you can go watch his videos. You have podcasts and things that you do as well, right?

Gerard: I do. I haven’t done them in a while, but they might start back up.

Lindsay: I think that you should, maybe this was a nice little exercise to get you back into it.

Gerard: I think that was your plan.

Lindsay: We’re going to put all of– it absolutely was. We’re going to put all of your links and all of those things so people can follow you. They can ask you questions. I am rooting for you, my friend. I think that you are on a great track and I can’t wait to interview again in a year and see all the awesome things that you’ve done.

Gerard: All right. Thank you.

Lindsay: Keep it going, my friend. All right. Like I said before, whether you’re a seasoned vet in the biz or a new agent just starting out, you’ll find valuable insights and inspiration from our guests just like Gerard. Go back through the episodes and explore stories of many other amazing realtors, and we will see you next time on the Agents Who Crush It In Real Estate podcast. Thanks, everybody.

Learn more about Gerard Gray

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.