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 your host Lindsay Favazza, and today we’re headed to Kentucky, my friends. I have with me, Derrick Stewart. He is sales manager and associate broker at Dream JP Pirtle Realtors of Louisville, Kentucky. Welcome, Derrick to the podcast today.
Derrick A Stewart: Hey Lindsay, how are you doing?
Lindsay: So good to have you and so great to finally talk to you in person.
Derrick: Yes, me too. I’ve been anticipating this since I heard from you guys a couple of weeks ago, so it’s an honor to be on the program here. Maybe I can share something with other fellow agents out there to maybe help them in some way, so I just really appreciated it. An honor to be on. It’s Derrick A Stewart, okay? [laughs]
Lindsay: Derrick A Stewart. Perfect. We’ll put that little a right on in there–
Derrick: Because there might be other Derrick Stewarts, but there’s minimal Derrick A Stewarts.
Lindsay: There’s only Derrick A Stewart when it comes to this podcast, so I love it. Derrick A Stewart was one of the top agents at JP Pirtle in 2021, I think, very close to the top, but we don’t want to say the top because we’re not 100% percent sure, so we’re just going to say that. Then ended the year with 56 transactions, which is such an accomplishment after only really truly being active in the business for what’s going into your fifth year, right?
Derrick: Correct, yes. I started in 2018 with JP Pirtle.
Lindsay: Amazing, so take us back to the beginning. I know you were licensed way before 2018, but take us back to the beginning, how you got into real estate and what that transition looked like for you?
Derrick: Well, it’s actually a long road, Lindsay. Actually, like I said, I started with JP in 2018, but believe it or not, I got my real estate license in November of 2001. I was literally 23 years old when I got my license. I actually grew up in a small town called Franklin in Kentucky. There’s probably two hours south of Louisville. That’s where I was born and raised. That’s my roots there, so I had just left out of college and I thought I would transition into real estate. I went to real estate school, passed the course, then I’m okay, I’m going at it. I’m going to start hard in real estate.
I did it for about six months, and at that time, it just wasn’t necessarily paying the bills like I needed to, so I had to go in different directions. Then what happened was in 2002 the following year, I moved to Louisville and I worked at a– called the Courier-Journal, which is our bigger newspaper here. I worked there, so I was a sales manager. I did ads for people and someone called in one day and wanted a property manager. I did ads, so I was there actually typing in ads for hiring this job, so they explained to me on the phone what they needed, what type of person that they needed for this particular position.
I’m thinking, ”Huh.” Then believe it or not, the person that I was doing the ad for said, ”You sound like you might be someone that would maybe do well in this type of job.” I thought to myself I don’t want– because all our calls were recorded, so I didn’t want my supervisors to hear me like interviewing for a job.
Lindsay: You got to be incognito?
Derrick: Yes, right there. Once I actually did the ad for them, on my lunch break, I actually called and I said, this is Derrick. I just did the ad for you and I would be interested in hearing more about the position. I explained to them I have a business management degree and also I have a real estate license. I only use them for about six months or so, but I was thinking maybe if I combine those two, maybe that’s property management, so believe it or not, I went out, I interviewed, I got the job right there on the spot. Then that’s what led me into property management side of the business.
Lindsay Got it.
Derrick: I did that for 10 years, and then someone may ask, ”Well, maybe why did you not do real estate sales while I was in property management?” Well, a lot of times your property managers, they feel if you have someone in the office per se, that is also in real estate sales, you’ll run the clients or the tenants off. The whole 10 years I worked in property management, I was not able to use my real estate license effectively because we had occupancy rates that we needed to be. They didn’t want–
Lindsay: It could be a conflict of interest for sure.
Derrick: Yes, definitely a conflict of interest but each year I would maybe ask the owner, do you think I can use my life because I just really wanted to do that. ”Derrick, we apologize, but unfortunately, we can’t do that.” For those years I was not able to do so, but I’ve used that from my experience there, in my probably relationship development with people, learning how to interact with people, a lot of that experience from property management, a lot of conflict situations just learning just how to deal with people even really helps me today. Like I said, I was 10 years into real into property management, from there, and then I’m going to get to it, from there–
Lindsay: Property management is a beast, too. You’re dealing with the headaches of the headaches, so that definitely could prepare you for the headaches of the real estate business for sure.
Derrick: It prepared me and then from there I had a small business where we had a repair store where we repaired cell phones. We sold cell phones, we repaired them. I did that just to make a living, but it just wasn’t for me and always had people that would always tell me, ”Derrick, you need to use your real estate license,” because they just felt like I just maybe had the personality for it. I would just have people, my friends, ”When are you ever going to use your real estate license?” I’d say, ”I don’t know, man, I’m not sure when I’m ever going to use them.”
Then I closed the business in early 2018 and you know what I said. You know what? It’s finally time to do this. I had saw Dream JP Pirtle’s advertisements on TV, how they help you set you up success to become an agent and I went out. I interviewed with them, I liked with the company provided such as leads and all the marketing and networking and just JP’s expertise, so that’s what made me join their brokerage in 2018.
Lindsay: That’s amazing. In hindsight, everything happens for a reason and we all have to believe that, but do you think that you should have made the switch over sooner, or do you think that the time was just right for you now?
Derrick: I think the time was just right. It really was. The time was just right. Like I said, I’d got used to the area. I knew various areas once I really got into the real estate sales. I think that path just led me to where I needed to be at, it was just perfect timing as I’d gotten married in 2010 and I had a son in 2016. I thought about a lot of that as well as when it came in terms to the like backtracking like the cell phone business, I was thinking about my son and maybe something that like he could do or I could teach him and maybe he wants to be in real estate when he gets older and lay that foundation for him.
I just didn’t feel like cell phones was something that I could do so, but real estate, it’s always been here–
Lindsay: Always going to be here.
Derrick: It’s always going to be here, so a lot of it was about him when he was born to be able to establish something, to lay a path for him as well.
Lindsay: I love that. I love that you’re thinking that far into the future. I love that you’re trying to set him up for success while still setting yourself and your family up. All of that is fantastic, so way to go on that. Let’s start back to when you started then in 2018 with JP. In Year 1, you had six sales, and then Year 2, 21 sales, and for those of you who don’t want to do math, I did it for you.
That is a 250% increase in sales from Year 1 to Year 2. It’s incredible. We can talk about the additional years after that, but let’s hone in on that for right now, from your first year in the business, obviously getting your feet wet, understanding the processes and getting back into the business to Year 2. What changes did you make to have such incredible growth?
Derrick: Just incredible growth really. I always was very confident in the business as far as talking to people. The confidence was always there. It was just more so just continuing just to follow my leads, to continue to just talk to people and call them two, three, four times just to be able to communicate with them. Just let more people know that I did real estate. One of my biggest probably keys from those couple years was just establishing relationships with a lot of lenders. That’s been very helpful towards me.
I’ve worked with lenders that in the past that actually have even helped me personally own some real estate transactions and I started working with them and they just started trusting me to be able to take care of their clients. Once I really started doing that, then trusting me to take care of their clients then I started getting a lot of leads from, like I said, from the lenders and that’s been very beneficial even from Year 1 to 2 and even now, that’s probably one of the main things that’s helped me.
Also moving from that first year to that second year, just some advertising. Branding helped me as well. I had like a bench in front of the popular malls here in the Louisville area so I was able to get some business from that, and believe it or not, when I first started in ’18, I didn’t even have a personal Facebook page. I did not at all.
Lindsay: You just got to jump in and do when you’re a realtor, don’t you?
Derrick: You had to jump in and do it, so that year in 2018 I didn’t even have a Facebook page. Moving forward I got a Facebook page, I started friending people just going through and just getting people to know who I am. Just a combination of all of that is really what helped.
Lindsay: There’s probably agents that are listening to this right now that are maybe in that first year of their business. A lot of the times I think a lot of those agents will give up too soon because they think I’m putting in the work, it’s been three months and I’m not saving the sales. Well, you’ve got to put more work. You really have to expect that that first year will be that 1:10 if you’re lucky and then you’re laying that foundation for the following year. That sounds like that’s what you did. You really were working hard, grinding that first year and it laid the foundation for you to have those additional sales in the following year to come.
Derrick: Sure. I tell our agents you have to let everybody know what you do. My wife, she’s more of a introvert a lot of times so if I’m going through a drive-through, Lindsay, and I pay with cash or my card, I’ll give them my business card or I’ll go to local sporting events here and I’ll take maybe like a season ticket holder to the University of Louisville here. I’ll usually take 50 to 100 cards as I’m walking to the stadium on a Saturday morning or afternoon, I’m literally putting business cards on a lot of the windshields or sometimes I’ll–
Lindsay: That’s the hustle, you have to have it.
Derrick: I’ll drop them on the ground just thinking somebody will pick them up, and believe it or not, I was at one of our basketball games a few years ago and a lot of times I would go maybe a half-hour before the games and I would go to the men’s bathroom and I’d even put my cards on all the urinals.
Lindsay: I love it. It’s a captive audience, you know what I mean?
Derrick: Yes. I had a few people that actually reached out to me to say, “I’ve seen your card at the Yum Center on the urinal.” Just anywhere I can let anyone know what I do, it’s just beneficial.
Lindsay: Your wife being so shy, she’s probably like, “Oh God, he’s doing it again.”
Derrick: Oh, God. Sometimes we’ll go places and she’ll give me before we go, “Do not do this.”
Lindsay: This is not the place for it.
Derrick: It’s not the place for this. I said my job is to help people, I have a responsibility to do so, I just want to let people know what I do. Sometimes she’ll say, “Please do not do that,” but a lot of times I have to do it anyway.
Lindsay: You can do it on the side. Drop them in the men’s room, she won’t know. [chuckles]
Derrick: Yes. Like I tell her, at the end of the day it’s about just truly, Lindsay, just actually just helping people. It’s not necessarily always about just all the deals and being financially set, it’s a lot of times I just enjoy just really helping people because they don’t understand it, that’s what I’m here for is to help them to do things they do not know how to do.
Moderator: 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: I’ve found the three biggest barriers to potential home buyers when getting preapproved are your budget, your down payment, and your credit. We work with our clients to understand what their potential future budget’s going to be for their new home, making sure they understand the difference between principal and interest, things like home insurance, private mortgage insurance, property taxes and condo fees, and accounting for all those and what they’re going to be comfortable with.
Also, there’s any misconceptions regarding down payment. A lot of clients think they need to put down 20% or that aren’t ready to be a home buyer. In fact, you can put down as little as 3% or 5%, there’s also lots of many different options out there for down payment assistance. We can talk to you through all those things, we can also help you factor in a proper budget for closing costs in addition to what you need for a down payment making you fully prepared and ready. Lastly, maximizing your credit score is the utmost importance. The higher your credit score is, the more loan products you’re going to qualify for and the lower interest rates you will get.
Moderator: Thanks, Shant. Now, let’s get back to the show.
Lindsay: I can feel that from you, it’s genuine. There’s some salespeople out there that they’re in it for the sales and you can tell, the way they talk, the way they conduct business, it’s all very salesy. I could feel that your true desire here is to help people and then the sales come and that’s a natural progression.
Derrick: It’s natural because when people ask me sometime, personally I don’t even see myself as a sales maybe naturally, maybe I am but I never really say I’m a sales. I’m more of a customer service-driven type person, and maybe with that, it could feel like sales or maybe, but honestly, it just feels like I’m just an advanced customer service person really wanting to assist people as best that I can.
Lindsay: I feel like realtors sometimes too are like life coaches in a way. You get so personal with these people during these transactions you’re coaching them on.
Derrick: They tell you everything.
Lindsay: They tell you everything.
Derrick: They literally tell you everything and–
Lindsay: Like it or not.
Derrick: It’s a personal relationship that you build because you meet them and they share these experiences, their families with them, you meet their families and you just basically become– A lot of contracts are 30 to 45 days. Within a few months, you’re constantly every day talking and texting to people, meeting them at various houses to show them, inspections, appraisals, things such as that. You really build a connection with them and then even after fact sometimes once the deal’s over with, I’m like, ”Are we still going to talk anymore because–
Lindsay: Can we still hang out?
Derrick: Can we still hang out because for two months every day we was going back and forth and discussing and strategizing things and sometime when it’s like, oh, it’s actually over now, but a lot of my customers or clients I’ve developed relationships further and it’s not all about real estate. We text, “Hey, did you watch the game last night?” Because you have to be able to get on that personal level with them instead of just always just real estate.
I think that’s a lot of times what helps me too is just having the personality to be able to communicate with people and I’ll have a client and I may just text them, “Hey, did you see the game today?” Not even necessarily real estate, so it just builds that and makes that relationship go even stronger sometimes even when you can get out of real estate a little bit and just form that personal relationship with them.
Lindsay: Absolutely. We went from 6 to 21, you went from 21 to 30 between Year 2 and Year 3. Then from Year 3 to Year 4, which last year was Year 4 from 30 to 56. Again, it’s just you are exponentially growing your business every single year, so what are you doing now? What are the things that in 2021 you focused on to grow your business to get more leads? What are those leads, sources, the marketing that you do? Tell me a little bit about that.
Derrick: Like I said, going back, Facebook’s been big just trying to focus on any time I have a closing, put that out there. Also, Facebook ads such as– I do a lot of boosting of posts sometimes if I have a sale sometime I’ll boost it or if it’s like property that I have listed I’ll boost. That’s really been beneficial for me. Also, as we talked earlier, I got a billboard. I don’t actually have a current billboard, for I did have that for about a year. I got various deals through that. Basically, what I did nothing was rocket science, Lindsay, I just put myself in a position.
The more people know you, the more business that you would do. Anything that I could do for– I had the billboard, actually, there was five of them at one time in the Louisville area. Even though a lot of times I had people just even agents or friends, “Hey, I’ve seen your billboard,” but it still helped me with clients. Even if they didn’t see it that day, they would say, “I think I saw you somewhere.” It was like, ”Well, maybe that billboard–
Lindsay: You look familiar.
Derrick: You look familiar. Maybe it was that billboard. Everything just kept happening where just more people just kept knowing about me and then all the deals from deals 6 to 20 to 30, all those people, that’s where the referrals came. That’s where I’m starting to get at now. First few years there wasn’t even any referrals, but now in Year 4 or 5, there’s where a lot of the referrals is coming. On any given day, I can wake up and I’ll have a text, “Hey man” or ”I got somebody that recommended you for my job, you helped him, you helped his mother, you helped father.”
I’m reaping the benefits of the referrals. The more sales you do, that’s a lot more referrals and that’s very beneficial. A lot of my other coworkers, they’ve been in the business 10 or 15 years so they primarily just work off referrals, but I’m still fourth for fifth year and already starting to really get their turnaround with those referrals, so that’s really been beneficial to me.
Lindsay: As far as the referral business that you’re getting and those clients that are referring you, are you keeping in touch with them in any way, shape, or form? I know you were just mentioning how you’re friends with them, so like you have these mutual connections and stuff like that, but what’s keeping you top of mind with those sphere or those past clients that are now making it so that they are throwing your name out all over the place? What are the things that you’re doing to keep up with them?
Derrick: Normally what I do, I have lots of spreadsheet just every couple of months, just any prior client that I had just to reach out to them say, “Hey, how are you doing? This is Derrick. Hope the family is well.” A lot of times I keep a personal touch with that as well. If I’ll work with someone, just little things like remembering what their kid’s name was. That’s very important to people and it makes it like you really care. “You truly remember me. You remember Little Tommy and Little Jerry.” [crosstalk].
Lindsay: Even if you don’t.
Lindsay: At least their names are in the spreadsheet so when you go to call them, that’s what makes you remember.
Derrick: Yes. Like I said, I always just have a little calendar of notes. I keep personal notes so when I do reach out to these people, it’s always I want to make sure from conversations of our experience different things about their family or their job they worked out or things that was maybe having trouble with at that time. Just hoping everything is okay. Periodically do that. Especially I just did that with the holidays. I made sure Thanksgiving. I reached out to everybody in my client base that I previously worked with. Christmas reached I out wishing happy holidays to everybody. ”If anybody needs any assistance in the new year, please let me know.” All of that is really beneficial to help.
Lindsay: Amazing. What other things have been keys to your success? Is there anything else? How do you stay on top of market-changing trends? Obviously, the last two years with the pandemic it’s been a lot different than the two years that you were in the business prior. Tell me how you keep up with that kind of stuff. What do you do to stay on top of the ever-changing market?
Derrick: One thing just to backtrack there of what’s also helped me as well. I have started working with a lot of out-of-state investors that buy primary houses in the Louisville market. It’s one company that’s a national company. I won’t use their name, but I’ve become their primary listing agent. Every property they have in the Louisville area that they remodel or turn around, I’m fortunate enough and blessed to be able to market and list all their properties for me. That’s been very beneficial to me as well.
Lindsay: How did you get that? What are some of the things that you did to make that relationship happen?
Derrick: What happened, it was maybe two years ago, Lindsay. I had a property listed, lower pricepoint property. I had a gentleman reach out to me a couple of times wanting to make a sight-unseen offer on the property.
Lindsay: You’re like, “Who is this guy?”
Derrick: Yes. I got an email. I didn’t respond to the email. Twice emailed me, I never responded to it. Then he called me and he wanted to make a sight-unseen offer. Now, historically, I’d heard from other agents really be careful with these, so I really didn’t want to do it. I got the property under contract, and it fell through, then I still had this gentleman reach out to me about offering on the property. I spoke to the seller and I said, “You know what? There’s an out-of-state company that wants to make a sight-unseen offer on your property.”
I said, “I’ve heard some horror stories about these situations.” I said, “But you want to give it a shot. What could hurt?” He says, “Derrick, you know what? Let’s do it.” We did it. I was a dual agent in that circumstance. I worked both sides. I worked with the buyer and I had the seller of course. We close that deal. That’s when I started developing that relationship with that particular gentleman that represented the out-of-state company. I just said, “I know you primarily deal with a lot of listing agents.” I said, “But I would love to help you guys on the buyer side.”
I said, “For example, if you can’t get ahold to these listing agents to write these offers, because I know I was apprehensive in the beginning, I didn’t really respond to you so I know a lot of agents are the same way.” I said, “I would love to write some of the deals for you just to represent your company as a buyer agent.” He talked to a couple the heads up, they allow me to do it so I started writing tons of offers. I was writing like sometimes 20 offers a week for the company. Just sight-unseen offers. I did well with that.
Maybe six months after that I get a call from maybe one of the other higher-ups in the company to say, “You know what? Thank you for helping us purchase all these properties.” Like I said, ”We do use numerous buyer agents to buy the properties. We use you as well as other agents, but Derrick, when it comes from a listing side, we do not want to use multiple agents. We want to use one person in a particular market who understands our goals, what we’re trying to accomplish, knows about our house, and knows how we do business. Would you be interested in being our primary listing agent in the Louisville area?”
Lindsay: “I’ll think about it.” Was that your answer?
Derrick: Then, of course, I agreed to do so. That’s probably been maybe a year and a half ago. Since then I’ve been their primary listing agent and they do keep me really, really busy. I’m really fortunate to do so.
Lindsay: Talking to you over the last 20 minutes, half an hour or so, it makes me realize that you are someone who seize opportunity. When I say seize I mean, S-E-I-Z-E
Lindsay: Seize. You’re seizing opportunities. You’re looking for the opportunities that are coming up and you’re just taking it. No questions asked, just full steam ahead. If it means putting your business card in the bathroom or if it means trying to convert someone that you didn’t know was even convertible and having that long-term relationship. Hats off to you, my friend. It’s been a wild ride for you so far. I am sure you have more growth ahead of you. Tell us, what are the goals that you have over the next year and a half? Can you keep up with this 80% growth every year?
Derrick: I know.
Lindsay: What’s in store for you this year?
Derrick: I know. Like I said, I had 56 deals last year in ’21. Goals for 2022, I would like to get probably maybe 60, 65 deals. If I can do that, I will be happy to do so. Other goals for me would be to put someone else in a position maybe to assist me. Maybe even have a real estate assistant. I would for that as well. Just maybe to help someone else financially as well being that I have so much business and sometimes it gets a little difficult to handle. Just someone that could assist me and help me along the way. I’ve actually been already thinking that way, maybe fellow agents looking out seeing who would maybe want to do that, but I’m picky with that.
Just not going to let anybody do that. Anyone that would do that would definitely have to share the same core values that I do. I know that they’re going to give the clients the treatment that I also do. Anybody that represents me or is a part of me, I do know that they have to do that. That’s just to say high integrity, really wanting to help people. Like I said, I sold 56 houses but I wake up every day. I have the same ambition and motivation as if I had never sold a house at all when I get up in the morning. It’s getting up trying to meet somebody else, letting them know what I do. Just proud to sell real estate and just another day that I could just help people.
Hopefully, if I can do all of that I can surpass that 56 and maybe get into 65, maybe 70 houses. Do more advertising, potentially maybe even I was thinking maybe even into some television this year. Just really market with maybe some TV with some more branding. Sometimes I go to closings, Lindsay, and I’ll see an agent across, and maybe they don’t know who I am, so it’s like, “I want you to know who Derrick A Stewart is. It’s not boasting or anything like it. It’s just the more agents know me, the more people know me, the more recognizable I am in the city of Louisville, it all just makes me get more business if I do all of that.
Lindsay: Well, Derrick A Stewart, if you are a agent out in the Louisville, Kentucky area, and you are thinking you want to be partnered up with someone that is going to help you grow your business, then this is the guy that you need to impress. I love this. Thank you so much. This has been so much fun. I think our agents that are listening are going to get so much from you. It’s going to be wonderful. I wouldn’t be surprised you’ll have a couple of new friend requests after this podcast. They’re going to want to hook up and be like, “I need to impress this guy so I can start to be on his team.” Thank you so much. Best of luck next year. I hope we can reconnect and make sure that you’re on track and I can see all the growth that you have over the next year. I’m super excited to see it, my friend.
Derrick: Thank you. It’s been a pleasure and honor to be on this podcast today or Zoom meeting per se. Maybe we can touch base six months to a year. Let you know how everything’s going. Just great things for 2022. Let’s go.
Lindsay: Let’s do it. I love it. Thanks so much. We’ll see you all on the next episode of the Agents Who Crush It In Real Estate Podcast. Have a great day.
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.