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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. I am sitting across the table. I’m so glad to be doing this live. I’m sitting across the table from Michelle Farrell. She is a realtor here at Lamacchia Realty. I am so happy to have you here today, Michelle. Thanks for joining me.
Michelle Farrell: Thanks for having me.
Lindsay: I’m super excited to talk to you because you came to us two years ago, actually, to me specifically. I was so excited as a referral to come in and join the company. You were working in a different business. Tell me a little bit. Let’s go back in the time capsule two years, why you decided to get into real estate in the first place?
Michelle: It was COVID times, and I had all this time on my hands. I was on furlough from my other job, so real estate was always something I was very interested in. I grew up with my dad owning a ton of rental properties, so I thought, “Why not get my license? I’ll start it as a side hustle.” Then I ended up getting laid off. I was like, “Okay, everything happens for a reason.”
Lindsay: Full-time hustle.
Michelle: Jump in full time, and now I’ll never go back. [chuckles]
Lindsay: That’s awesome. Good for you. Tell me, you also have owned properties or own properties now. I know that you were investing in real estate even prior to doing this, correct?
Michelle: Yes. As I said, I grew up with my dad, who owned a bunch of rental properties himself. I knew my first house, I wanted it to be a multifamily. That’s exactly what we did. I bought it with my dad. We rented out the first half. Upstairs, we renovated completely, and that was my apartment. Then I moved to Massachusetts, and my husband and I, we bought another multifamily back in Albany. That’s where I’m from. The prices were just so much cheaper. We were like, “Well, let’s just buy another investment.” [chuckles]
Lindsay: It totally worked out where you got good tenants in there now.
Michelle: Right. Yes.
Lindsay: That’s awesome. Tell us a little bit about that first couple of months starting out in the business. Obviously, it’s 2020, so things were rocky in and of itself within the industry. Tell me about how that went for you.
Michelle: It was scary, of course, because there’s no security, no set paycheck or benefits or anything like that. Really, I focused on just making sure everybody I knew, knew that I was now in real estate.
Lindsay: How did you do that?
Michelle: Big piece of it, of course, was social media. I created my own realtor Instagram instead of my personal because I wanted to be just blast that I was a realtor. I started my own separate Instagram for that. Then, of course, the Facebook business page and just shared it with everybody.
Lindsay: When you’re starting out, how do you come up with content when you don’t have sold properties? What are some of the things that you would post about in the early days?
Michelle: I’m fortunate to have my husband be a photographer. We did a lifestyle session. That way it’s with pictures of me, and then in the caption, I just gave home-buying tips that were oftentimes found on the Lamacchia page, the blog. I would just regurgitate things that the company was putting out.
Lindsay: Reality is most content that’s what it is. It’s what people have learned from other places. It’s just like you go to school, you learn something from a book, now you are the expert on it. It’s the same thing. It’s like, “Just learn what you can online and use that as content.” It’s so smart.
Michelle: Yes. Then the same thing with Anthony, too. Anytime he did market updates, I would just put it in my own words and do videos on my page. People would understand, “Yes, I’m new, but I know what I’m talking about because I’m getting this training information.”
Lindsay: Absolutely. Then you had the images that would go with it, so you’d have fun images to play. If you didn’t have a house to post about, you would just use the images of yourself, which I know some people are a little bit uncomfortable about that stuff, but you know what? They’re going to meet you in person. They’re going to see your face. They’re going to know you soon enough, so you might as well put it out there. Tell me a little bit about after that, your first closing, how did that all go? Tell me, take me back to that moment of excitement, nerves.
Michelle: Yes. I was very fortunate that it was actually someone, my best friend’s friend from college was my first client and my first closing. It was great that it was someone from my personal sphere that I knew. She was just fantastic. It was very exciting because, number one, I knew her, but also just to see her go through this process. It was just really fun and rewarding. Of course, there was a lot of stuff that I didn’t know, but that’s one of the great things about Lamacchia, is I had people to go to for help, which I did. I remember doing for the home inspection. I was like, “Okay, we have the home inspection. I have the report. Now what?”
Lindsay: What do I do with that?
Michelle: I actually met with my success guide, Mackenzie, and she walked me through, “Okay, this is what you should do after reading the report.” Then after that, I was like, “Okay, now I got it. Now I know what to do next time.”
Lindsay: When do you think you finally got to the point where you were like, “I got this completely.” How many deals in by the time you really felt confident in it?
Michelle: I would say after two, three deals, at least on the buy-side. Then, of course, there’s different obstacles that come up, but the basics, if everything goes smoothly, I got it pretty quickly.
Lindsay: Excellent. Well, you definitely got it quickly, but you also were in training all the time. I know that that is a huge component of it. It’s just making sure that you have the right training to really help you cross that bridge, which you put the work in there. Nice work, my friend.
Lindsay: Tell me a little bit about after you had those first couple of deals under your belt, did you have any times over the preceding two years, really, since you’ve started, where you’ve been unsure of yourself or slipped back and not had as much in the pipeline? Talk me through some of those fears and then how you overcame them.
Michelle: Yes, absolutely. I think I got a little too cocky last year because I was doing really well, and I had a bunch of deals closing, and then I was also getting married in October. I know August, September, I didn’t really prospect that much. I definitely slipped into closing mode and just focused on the clients that I had, and the deals that I had under agreement, and I paid for it in the fall. I had one closing in November, and that’s it. [chuckles]
Lindsay: Because you didn’t put that work in the summer months, it then dried you up after that.
Michelle: Yes. Then I learned my lesson, so in December and January, I really prospected. It’s paying off because I have 15 deals closed so far this year.
Lindsay: You also have a bunch under agreement, correct?
Michelle: Yes, I have eight under agreement.
Lindsay: Eight under agreement. Your fall this year will be a much different beast.
Michelle: I’m also aware that I did that last year, so I haven’t stopped prospecting this year. I know that that’s something I always have to do no matter how busy I get, I’m continuously getting leads.
Anthony: Let’s take a quick break to hear from Dave Kelly, the master of objection handling, as he teaches you how to overcome buyer and seller concerns.
Dave Kelly: Mr. Seller, pricing your home is certainly very important, and one big factor in that is what’s happened over the last six months or so with interest rate. I know it can be difficult to put into terms, but remember, when you bought this home, you didn’t just decide to spend $400,000, you talk to a mortgage broker. You figured out about what you are comfortable paying every month, and then you figured out what that home price was going to be based on that. When we look back last year, at this time, rates were at about 3%. Now they’re almost and in some cases, are over 5½%. That 2½% increase is a difference in payments of about $600 every month.
What’s happened is that’s caused some buyers to have to adjust their budget down. It’s even caused some other buyers to no longer be able to purchase based on the increase. I know when you look at your neighbor’s home and see what it’s sold for, it might even be a little bit frustrating for you. Again, that $600 payment every month. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes back to when you want to purchase. It’s having a dramatic impact on what they’re able to actually afford every month and be willing to offer on a wonderful home like yours.
Anthony: Thanks, Dave. Now let’s get back to the show.
Lindsay: Explain to me how you then do that. How do you make sure that you have time for prospecting so you don’t miss out on doing that? Then what is your day? What’s your schedule look like?
Michelle: Well, obviously in real estate, no two days are the same, [chuckles] but I’m prioritized, so there’s a few things that go into it. I make sure that I prospect calls once a week, and part of that is getting the leads from the company. I’m consistently on company leads, and then I make my own calls to lists from the company every Thursday. The reason why I have time for that is because I’ve also set expectations with my clients from the start. That was something I learned.
I feel like I actually have more time in my schedule now, even though I’m busier than I was last year because I set the right expectations. I’m also paying for coverage. The help that we’ve have also at Lamacchia, I have people cover my home inspections. That’s 3 hours of a day that I really don’t need to be there. I have people cover those things and then also showings to be able to manage more clients. I have more help with showings and double bookings and things like that.
Lindsay: If you’re an agent out there that is sitting here going, “Well, I don’t have that. Well, try to see if there’s any resources that you can find either that your company has, or sometimes brand new agents would be willing to do those things for very nominal fees.” Definitely look into that stuff because again, it comes down to time management. You’re one of those agents we were just doing a training earlier where I was talking about, “There’s going to get to a point where you have to let some stuff go.” Now, if it’s something that you love like there’s agents in our company that they love to write blogs.
Most agents, they don’t need to write a blog, but if someone loves to do that, then of course you don’t take that off your plate. If there’s– you love doing reels, you love doing all the Instagram stuff, don’t take that off your plate. When it comes down to doing a home inspection and if you can send someone else, and then have the time to do what you want to do, it’s just more valuable for you. That’s awesome and it’s great that you’re taking advantage of those services and it’s showing now because you’re able to do more with less time, have a little bit more free time. You also are quite the runner.
Lindsay: She just completed this past year. She did the Boston Marathon. Is this their second time doing it, third time?
Michelle: It was my second time but the first one was the virtual from 2020.
Lindsay: Not the same.
Michelle: It was definitely– I ran the course because I’m in Boston. If I’m going to run the virtual Boston Marathon, it had to be the course.
Michelle: At least I was familiar with it, but this was the first real people lining the course and everything like that.
Lindsay: You’ve closed 15 deals. You have how many under, 10?
Lindsay: Eight under and on top of that, you had time to train for Boston Marathon. Again, it’s very impressive and only two years into the business. Give yourself a big pat on the back because you’ve done an amazing job. That’s why I was looking at the numbers of our agents and I’m like, “I need to talk to Michelle because there’s obviously something that you’re doing that other people just aren’t doing.” Maybe it’s the time blocking, or maybe it’s figuring out the schedule, or maybe it’s realizing that they can’t let up on the prospecting side of things. That’s super valuable. What other ideas and things do you do for your social media? What has worked for you to generate more business?
Michelle: I also time block to create reels. That’s just part of reaching that bigger audience. I know that you have to do video. My husband again, he is in the business. He was like, “You have to do video. You have to do video.” I did video from the start and now have transitioned into reels, as they’ve gotten more popular. I time block for that and I’ve had huge success just reaching people.
Lindsay: How much time do you block for it and how many do you get done at a time?
Michelle: I do typically every Tuesday, I would say maybe from 10:00 to 12:00, so maybe two hours. Sometimes more if I get on a roll. [chuckles] Then it really just depends on which reels I do and how quick they are, and also just my flow. Of course, sometimes some are harder than others, but I would say I make, at least, three, and that way I’ll post those throughout the week, and then the next week do the same thing.
Lindsay: About three, four, maybe a week?
Michelle: You do it just all in one chunk of time?
Lindsay: Now it doesn’t feel like homework because it’s like weighing on your week, “I got to do another one. I got to do another one.” You just have it set up for the week. That’s amazing. How do you generate ideas of things to post as reels?
Michelle: A lot of times it’s for the sound. There’s different trending sounds and the most recent one I did was, “I have a brilliant beyond brilliant idea and then a light bulb sound.” I was like, “That’s so easy to just pick something like what’s a real estate tip that I can put with that.” That’s probably the biggest thing is just put sounds and being like, “Oh, how can I relate that to real estate?”
Lindsay: That’s huge. You go through the sounds that are on there that are trending or do you watch other people’s reels?
Michelle: I watch reels to see what’s trending [crosstalk]
Lindsay: You watch other reels get the trend and then you pick out their sound and you’re like, “I can use that.”
Lindsay: That’s so cool. Awesome. Well, any advice that you have for an agent who’s just starting out and they’re getting their feet wet. They’re nervous. They’re not sure if they’re going to make it. What advice do you have for that person?
Michelle: I would say definitely keep pushing through because they’re– Last year it was just a roller coaster of emotions. I would break down and cry when my first deal fell apart and now this year it’s like, “Whatever, I’ll get it back.-
Lindsay: Moving on.
Michelle: -There’s no problem.” Stick with it but also you just have to hustle. You have to put in the work. There’s a lot of agents that ask what’s the secret sauce? There really isn’t. It’s just you have to work hard. The other thing too is set the expectations for your clients as if you’re an expert upfront because that has created so much more time for me. The first year, I would be going to open houses with clients and then they get used to you doing that. Then on the weekend that you’re away, you have to pipe or coverage or whatever it may be. You have to get coverage when you can’t go to the open house for them.
Now I just set the expectation like I prioritize private showings on the weekend because naturally, that’s when I’m pulled in the most direction. [chuckles] I remember there was this one weekend in March or April when everyone was saying, “Okay, spring market’s here. I’m so busy this weekend.” I remember thinking to myself, “I have nothing scheduled and I was freaking out.” Then Sunday, Monday, I had seven of my clients reach out to me saying they wanted to put an offer. They all went to the open houses without me.
Lindsay: I didn’t have to go.
Lindsay: I didn’t have to spend the time driving all over the place and the gas money now, which is also expensive, and yet I still have these other agreements. It’s like magic because you set that expectation with them upfront.
Michelle: Exactly. Now I just say, “Tell me when you’re going to an open house if I can make it great if not–” Now I know, at least, when people are going and I don’t freak out if I don’t know everything.
Lindsay: What houses are you seeing? That’s great. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for doing this today. I know that there’s going to be so many people that are maybe in that. A lot of the people that listen to this are probably agents who are starting out, so they’re going to get a lot of valuable information from you. I know that our agents even learn so much from you. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much.
Michelle: Thank you for having me.
Lindsay: Continued success. We’ll see you guys on the next episode of The Agents Who Crush It In Real Estate Podcast. Thanks for listening.
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.