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 have on the show today Savannah Lavender. She is with RE/MAX Tru in the Metro Atlanta region of Georgia. She and I have known each other for a little while now. She’s one of our memorable faces that we see at different events and has been good friends with Anthony for quite a while. She’s someone who I’ve become more and more familiar with over the years. She got licensed about nine years ago, started on a team, and then since COVID, went out on her own. I can’t wait for you guys to hear her story today. Welcome to the podcast today, Savannah.
Savannah Lavender: Hello, everyone.
Lindsay: So excited to have you. Thanks for agreeing to this, at such short notice, by the way, too. I realized next week I was going to be on vacation, I’m like, “Crap, we need more episodes.”
Lindsay: I’d been wanting to get you on here, like I had mentioned to you, for a while, but you were on our previous podcast, so I was like, “Well, I’ll give it a little time,” but then this time I was like, “No, she’s got to get on here,” because I know that you’re crushing it, you continue to crush it, and who else to have on the Agents Who Crush It In Podcast than you?
Savannah: Thank you.
Lindsay: We’re so excited to have you here. Tell me, start from the beginning. When you first got into real estate, explain to our audience what were your thoughts about getting into real estate, what were some of your fears, what were some of the things that you had to overcome in the beginning?
Savannah: Oh Lord. Okay. My background is in marketing. Went to college for– I got my business degree. I’ve always been in sales, so it was easier for me to transition. It wasn’t like I came from somewhere where I didn’t talk to someone every single day and then going straight into something that you literally have to talk to someone every single day. My parents would tell you, if a tree could talk, I’d talk to it. I’m a very people person. I don’t meet a stranger.
I came from property management, in the realm of real estate. Back when we first bought our house was when the market was coming up in 2011 down here in Atlanta and didn’t think much of it. I was 24, just got married and I was pregnant with our first. After Beckham was almost two, we were like, “You know what? It’s time to sell our house.” The team that I went on, the lady that sold it, our first home, was my team leader, and she was like, “You’d be really good in real estate. Why don’t you come to get your license?” I was like, “[unintelligible 00:02:52] just got married, just had a baby. I don’t know if I want to go straight into–“
Lindsay: You were like, “This might not be the right time.”
Savannah: Yes. Just straight commission is scary for anyone. You go from– [unintelligible 00:03:05] I was probably back in 2012 making like 40,000, nothing crazy, but it was a set, something that I was bringing every month.
Lindsay: You knew what to expect.
Savannah: Yes. In real estate, you don’t, obviously. It’s a roller coaster ride of emotions is what I call it. It took a good about six months and I had a good conversation with my husband. I will tell you all, he was not on board at first. He was very nervous. Now he thinks he can be a stay-at-home dad.
Lindsay: Look how this has turned for him.
Savannah: An interesting turn of events. [laughs] This is funny, I actually decided to quit my job. Didn’t tell him because I’m such a great wife, but we were in the process of building. I was my real estate agent who worst nightmare because I quit my job before we sold our house, even before we closed.
Lindsay: Now you’re telling people every day, “Don’t do that.”
Savannah: Oh my God, every day, “Don’t do what I did [inaudible 00:04:10], but luckily, my boss was super cool, she was like, when they– I did it to where the closing date in my timeframe was two weeks before I started real estate school. I was nervous Nellie, I didn’t know what to expect. I was thinking, “I’m going to get in here and I’m going to sell all my friends and family’s houses,” but as we know, your friends and your family typically will not use a new baby agent.
Lindsay: They want you to prove yourself more.
Lindsay: than someone just off the street. They want to know that you’ve done this and can help them, for sure.
Savannah: Luckily, being on the team that I was with, the combination of the team leader and the years combined with everybody in the office, that we had so many people that had been in the industry prior to the market crashing and everything. They’d been through all the roller coaster of real estate. Yes, I was on the team for almost six years and then COVID hit. I would say probably by year three, I was really comfortable in my own skin with being able to say, “Okay, I don’t need to worry about having leads given to me.” I definitely was able to say, “Okay, I’m confident.”
Lindsay: I was going to say, you had mentioned to me before that it was only three years in that you felt pretty confident that you were, and you were still on the team, but now you were getting your own business and you are working off your own sphere, which, by the way, is an accomplishment, especially for someone that’s on the team, because sometimes they do rely a lot heavily on those leads, so it takes them a little bit longer to maybe build a business, but you did it in three years. That’s huge.
Savannah: Yes. I’m a go-getter, for sure. I am in my own competition with myself. If there was a month that I did three closings, well, that month my dream board was going to be four. Every year, and I tell this, I think when I even came up there and spoke, I tell people all the time, “It doesn’t matter, do a vision board every single year.” When you can visualize and you see that dream board on wherever, I have mine in my bathroom, it doesn’t have to be about business, it can be about anything in your life, it really does help.
I will never forget my first vision board. I had a David Yurman ring, and I will tell this story until the day, I have worn this ring since I was like 16. I remember my first closing, I was like, “I’m going to buy that ring.” It was nerve-wracking because it was a fairly expensive ring.
Lindsay: “No, maybe I don’t need it.” [crosstalk]
Savannah: I don’t, but I did. I don’t even have it on today, but at the end of the day, it was something that was on that board and I just worked my butt off and I did it and I got it. That was the first thing I could check off. Here on out, it definitely helped having the camaraderie as the team. I tell people all the time when people are asking me like, “I want to get my license, how do I start?” I’m like, “You definitely need to find a team that you can learn from. You can learn the lingo.”
Not saying everyone needs to, but I know for me personally, there’s no way I could have gone out into this industry cold turkey. There’s no way. I know myself, I would’ve given up probably just knowing it’s– not the fact that it’s, “Oh, it’s too hard,” it’s just when you don’t know what you don’t know, and regardless of how many times I took that stupid state test, it doesn’t matter.
Lindsay: Yes. Those tests don’t prepare you for real life.
Savannah: Absolutely not. They don’t prepare you for anything for real estate. After COVID hit, unfortunately, obviously COVID sucked, as we all know, but at the end of the day, it really lit a fire. I think 2020 was still my best year so far because people were stuck at home and they either needed to downsize or upsize. It really was like, “I don’t really need the leads anymore. I need to see if I can do this on my own.” That was a goal of mine regardless. I think that’s with any real estate agent.
Every real estate agent, I think, that starts on a team wants to go to that next level. That next level for me was becoming an independent agent. I haven’t looked back. Honestly, that was– I think I left the team in March, the end of March 2020, right when COVID was at its peak. That was another smart decision.
Lindsay: Did you have a moment of like, “Oh, crap, COVID’s about to start-
Lindsay: -and I’m making this–” You’ve now made two big decisions in your life based on funky timing, but to be honest with you, you may not have stuck with it if it wasn’t for those decisions being made at those times, if it wasn’t for you saying, “I’m quitting my job and going full steam ahead regardless of what my husband thinks.” Imagine you may have gotten stuck in that job, gotten a promotion, and then been like, “Oh, I guess I’ll just stay.” You never know.
Savannah: Yes. No, and I wouldn’t have been able to– I look back at your past, you never know what the ifs, but I look back at being able– I grew up with my dad owning his own company, so that was huge for me growing up, always having my dad with me, and my mom owns her own company as well. I never had a parent that had a 9:00 to 5:00. Growing up with that, that’s really what I wanted. I wanted my kids to see me, I wanted to be able to go to field days, field trips, spring breaks. Things that I grew up on, I wanted to have my kids have the same feel for it too.
Savannah: Yes, COVID hit. I said, “Let’s see if I can do this.”
Lindsay: What were some of the challenges that you faced in the beginning of switching over to being an independent?
Savannah: The challenges I think were just in my own head, I was in my own head about things. I had the support of everyone around me; my husband, my friends, my family members, my clients saying, “Congratulations, I can’t wait to–” I had the business, it was just more or less like, “Who do I go to if something was to happen?” That’s where meeting with my broker, Tamara, was a great a great rapport because even though I’m not technically on a team, she has a team on her side of things because she’s new construction.
That was good to know, because regardless of me being not on a team, all of us independent agents on the resale side have each other’s backs. Yes, we’re not on a team, but it still feels like one. I think that’s when you find a brokerage that can support you on if you want to be on new construction, on a team, or resell, we have that team bonding. We have a lake [unintelligible 00:11:23], so we have a lake days and everything, and it’s 130,000 degree weather in Georgia.
Lindsay: [laughs] I’m like, “You better have a lake and a pool.”
Savannah: And a pool.
Lindsay: What it comes down to when I hear you saying here is that having a team was super necessary for you when you began, but really, throughout your entire career, you need some mentor and support. It’s like no matter who you get that from, just making sure you have those people that you can turn to if things are tough, or some kind of coach, or someone that you can rely on to help guide you, even just mentally, through a difficult market or a difficult time. It sounds like you’ve been lucky enough to have some of those people around you.
Savannah: Yes. Here’s the thing, I think we all need it regardless of how long we’ve been in the industry. From new agents to agents that have been in the business for 20 years, I think we all have one of, sometimes, those transactions that you need to vent. When I vent to my husband, he’s like, “Oh, yes, sorry that happened to you,” and you’re like, “No, you need to be more mad,” because they don’t get it.
If you’re not in the industry, I feel like people don’t– and you don’t want to feel like you’re complaining, but that’s when you have that support system that I can call Anna or Cynthia and be like, “Can you believe what this person–” You know what I mean? It’s easier to have that when you do have the support.
I love mentoring now, too. It’s great. These newbie agents come into the office and it’s fun to see when they get that first transaction or they get that first deal under contract. I remember that so vividly, when I got my first deal under contract, and I will always remember that client, I will always remember that address, and it’s so fun to be nine years into it and seeing the new agents come up and being able to help them just like someone else helped me. That helped.
Lindsay: Absolutely. You’re paying it back?
Savannah: Yes, a hundred percent.
Speaker 1: Let’s take a quick break to hear from the number one loan originator, Shant Banosian of Guaranteed Rate as he gives us his latest mortgage tip.
Shant Banosian: When you’re going into a pre-approval call, it’s very, very important as a potential home buyer that you walk away with the information that’s important to you. In my opinion, as a buyer, being prepared for this fast-moving, competitive housing search and home buying market, you should walk away with the following information after you’ve been pre-approved; you should understand your max pre-approval, your comfort zone, what your monthly payments are going to be, what your down payment options are, what you should be budgeting for closing costs, and also, the rates and products that you qualify for. If you’re not getting that information, you’re not prepared. If you have that information, you’re totally prepared and ready to win in this housing market.
Speaker 1: Thanks, Shant. Now let’s get back to the show.
Lindsay: Tell me now that you’re on your own, you’re doing it. Things have been challenging, obviously, for a number of different reasons over the last few years, but how are you drumming up this business? How do you continue to drum up this business either with your sphere or brand new leads? What are you doing to keep that business coming in?
Savannah: Social media. I think I tell this to so many people, if people don’t know your success, how are you going to present yourself? I tell people I don’t want to be one of those agents that just post every single day, just house after house, “I’m a real estate agent,” dah, dah, dah, but if I see something that I know, regardless if you’re buying or selling, I’m going to post about it on all aspects. Here’s the thing, the first thing most people do when they get up in the morning, what do they do? Check their phone. I’m a firm believer, well, I know me, I check social media. That’s my go-to. I wake up, I sit with my cup of coffee.
Lindsay: Mine too. I try to change it, but I can’t.
Savannah: I did too. Everyone’s like, “Oh, well, I don’t do that.” Well, no, you do.
Lindsay: Yes, you do.
Savannah: You can’t sit there and tell me that you all don’t go to the bathroom and what do you take with you? You’re phone.
Lindsay: [laughs] Exactly.
Savannah: You’re either on TikTok or you’re on Facebook or Instagram or all three.
Lindsay: Or all three.
Savannah: Or all three at the same time.
Lindsay: Just checking them at random, yes.
Savannah: Social media has been huge for me. I will say that I have had more clients contact me through social media that I’ve been friends with, people that I went to elementary school with, people that that I might have not talked to for many years that have used me and seen my success. If you don’t show your success, that’s where I think a lot of agents sometimes can get lost in this world because there’s thousands of agents, let alone in the county that I used to live in, I think there was at least 14,000 agents. You got make yourself stand out.
Lindsay: I know that you do a lot as far as your success-based marketing of like, “I sold this home and this client’s happy,” and blah, blah, blah, and, “I have this listing,” and so on, but what kind of things do you do that are more on the personal side that you also add to business accounts so that people can get to know you on a deeper level?
Savannah: I do a lot of things with the family, posting about the family. I think if people see the mom side of me too helps. I’m not a car salesman, I say this to my clients all the time, “I don’t care if it’s going to take you a year to find a home. I don’t care if you’re not going to sell for another two years. As long as you know me, I am not going to rush you through this process. It’s not my house that I’m selling, it’s your home. I want you to be a hundred percent comfortable.” Personal things, my son plays soccer. His name is Beckham. He was born into having to play. At least he’s good.
Lindsay: That’s good, yes. Everyone would be like a little bummed if he wasn’t.
Savannah: Yes. [unintelligible 00:17:15] Obviously getting to know those parents, and then I ask if I can sponsor the team with my own business. Now that I am on my own, I’m able to do that, which I love, being able to give back. I do another program called Homes for Heroes. I post a lot about that. Anybody in the military, teachers, police department, fire department, and medical field, especially the medical field.
Ever since COVID, I think a lot of people realized how important nurses and doctors have been. That has been huge because a part of my commission will go back to them at closing. If it’s on the sell side or if they want to have it on the buy side, they pick and choose. That’s been really big. I love giving back to the community because the community has given me so much. That’s how I differentiate myself, social media again. I think Anthony always told me that, “You don’t have to post every closing.” Yes, you do.
Lindsay: Try to stop me.
Savannah: Yes. Not post every closing, I think he said, “I don’t go to every closing,” and I’m like, “I feel bad if I don’t.” In the nine years that I have been in the industry, I think I have missed only five closings. One I was in the hospital giving birth, so that is- [crosstalk]
Lindsay: That is an excused absence.
Savannah: Yes, I did, I think, regardless of it.
Lindsay: I was as going to say, because he seems like the person that would want you to post every single closing, but it makes sense that [crosstalk] say you don’t have to go to every closing for time management. If it’s a client experience, then I get that too.
Savannah: I tell people all the time, that’s not the end all be all. If you need something after closing, [crosstalk] just because we close doesn’t mean this is the last time you hear from me. Then that has a lot to do with what I do on anniversaries. I get their birthdays, I get their anniversary. That’s another thing, when I post their closing, I know when their anniversary is because it’ll come up on my social media. I always send a card. If I know they have little ones, I’ll see if I can get their birthdays, send them a gift? That helps to remember, even if it was a client I just met. I had a client, I’ve bought and sold now three houses with him. He was a Zillow lead seven years ago.
Lindsay: Didn’t know him at all before you got the lead.
Savannah: I didn’t even know his last name.
Lindsay: Now you guys are besties?
Savannah: Yes. Here’s the thing, when you do a little bit more, not just, “Let’s get him to the closing table,” just do a smidge more than you think someone else, even if you think it’s silly, I bet you that they won’t. Like I was telling you, I post those TikToks. I know people think I’m probably really silly, but I think it’s funny. I’m sure people got a laugh out of them, and guess what? I’ll probably get a client out of some of them, which I have.
Lindsay: Tell me about the different platforms, because I know social media’s big for you. I know you’re on Facebook because I think that’s where I first got introduced to you. Then I know that you’re huge on Instagram. You’ve always done really well on Instagram, but now you’re doing some TikToks too. Explain to people that are listening that are like, “Oh my gosh, do I have to be on all three?” or what’s your strategy between posting between all three?
Savannah: Facebook and Instagram, obviously that’s a given. Facebook owns Instagram, so when they merge them together, to me, it’s just one platform. When you post on Instagram, goes straight to Facebook or vice versa. TikTok’s been huge, as we all know. If you haven’t downloaded the app, don’t because it is-
Lindsay: It’s a time suck
Savannah: Time suck. I think last night I– like an hour and a half and then I got the little guy that says, “Stop, you can go to bed now.” Like, “Great.”
Lindsay: You were like, “Ugh,”
Savannah: I’ve learned more off TikTok than I have in my four years of college.
Lindsay: Recipes, iPhone hacks.
Savannah: How to cut an onion.
Lindsay: Just so much. An avocado. I have a whole new wild way of taking a pit out of an avocado now that- [crosstalk]
Savannah: Yes, and a peach. Yesterday, I found out how you take the thing out of the peach.
Lindsay: Cutting watermelons. Literally, our fruit game has totally changed.
Savannah: Totally changed. That’s so funny. I think TikTok, you– Here’s my thing, I don’t like to do live videos. I am a person where I have to have some sort of script or something that makes it a little bit different. I don’t think I’m confident enough, I know I probably can be, and I’m not saying everybody needs to do a live video, but I think it does help. I’m on YouTube as well, but I only post my videos of my homes or if I’m doing an open house of some sort.
LinkedIn is really good for business referrals. I think that that’s huge. I always suggest LinkedIn just because you never know if someone is going to get on LinkedIn first when you’re agent to agent. My four main ones, would be Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and probably LinkedIn.
Lindsay: Awesome. We’re going to put links to all your socials in the show notes. If anyone wants to go and check out, now that you’ve said that you’ve made silly videos on TikTok, we’re going to want to go see them or something. We’ll make sure to put the link in there- [crosstalk]
Savannah: Just watch me have to climb through my window. I wish that I would have done the bloopers because it took me all of 40 tries just to-
Lindsay: The bloopers would make a great video.
Savannah: Yes. That’s probably-
Lindsay: Next time. Opportunity missed. All right, in closing up, because this has been absolutely wonderful, but in closing up, what would be your biggest piece of advice to an agent who is maybe at that point where they’re about to think about going out on their own? What is the advice that you would give to that person at that moment?
Savannah: Just do it. If you come from somewhere that has supported you for X amount of years, you never want to have– I never have regrets. I don’t want to ever have regrets or mistakes or anything. I think the biggest regret would’ve been if I would’ve said, “No, I’m just going to stay because I’m too scared.” You’re going to have support from anywhere you go. If you don’t, then you need to find somewhere else. That’s my honest opinion.
We’re living in a world where you never know what can happen. Not to be morbid and not to be scared, but you just never want to look back at your life and be like, “I should have done that.” Just do it. Take the vacation, go to the concert, do things that make you happy, and if this is going to scare you, it should because it is a scary transition, but at the end of the day, I can tell you coming from somewhere that was– being in the industry for nine years and most of it was in a team, and now two years, almost three years into being on my own, I’m looking forward to the next step. I want to then create my own team. That’s my next goal. That’s where I want to be in my 5 year plan, 10 year plan.
I think that if you are even thinking about it, do it. Seriously, why not? Hey, God forbid, something goes wrong and you feel like you still need that support, I can guarantee you if you came from a team that supported you, they will want you back. Why not? If not, then move to Georgia and come with me. [laughs]
Lindsay: It’s like, “I’m signing people up, building my team.” It’s so funny that you say all that because, honestly, we could play that for pretty much anyone in life and that would be good advice. See what I mean? Like, “Take the jump and don’t doubt yourself or second guess it, because if it’s something that you want, you got have to just go for it.”
Savannah: You really do. Unfortunately, in my lifetime, when I spoke at the Christian Real Estate Event– When was it? 2019?
Lindsay: Yes. It feels like- [crosstalk]
Savannah: I don’t know, where it was just cold. That all I know, it was cold.
Lindsay: [laughs] Well, took the girl from Georgia and made her come here.
Savannah: Oh my God. It was February. Never seen so much snow. I had to go buy a winter coat that I’ve still yet to have to wear here.
Lindsay: I hope you don’t have to ever wear it again, my friend. It was, I’m sure, a beautiful coat, but I hope you never have to wear it again.
Savannah: No, that’s why I’m really excited about September because we’re going to Lauderdale.
Lindsay: Yes. What she’s talking about, just for any listeners who are listening now, so between now and September 23rd, we have a Christian event happening down in Florida at Fort Lauderdale. She will be there with the other two agents that you were giving props to too. I already told her those are going to be our party people. I can’t wait to hang out with all of you guys. We’re going to have an awesome event down in Fort Lauderdale, so we’ll put the link in the show notes for that as well. If you’d like to join us, we’d love to have you.
Speaking of loving having you, thank you so much, Savannah. This has been so great. I know our listeners are going to get so much out of this as they always do when they listen to you. I really appreciate you taking the time today. Thank you, everybody, for listening. We’ll see you on the next episode of the Agents Who Crush It In Real Estate. Bye.
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.