In this Live with Lisa: Candid Conversations Series, I interviewed Aaron Lebovic as we reviewed the topic: Success in Real Estate & the Virtual World.
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Featured Speaker Biography
Aaron Lebovic is a 3rd generation Realtor and Investor. Since graduating from the University of Denver, he has invested over 130 homes, served on the DMAR Board of Directors, personally helped over 175 families buy or sell a home, and has taught thousands of Realtors and investors on how to build and sustain their business. He also is continuing to play an integral role in expanding the number of Realtors joining eXp Realty throughout Colorado and the nation. Aaron also loves to travel and spend time with his wife Sarah and his two kids Ben and Abby.
Lisa: You started in real estate in 2002. Tell us a little about your journey in real estate.
Aaron: I grew up in the Chicago area and went to college at the University of Denver. After graduating, I realized that two of the most important things I wanted to do with my life were 1) to help people, and 2) to make a lot of money. Well of course real estate would be the best business for that! I started as a lender with a newly opened mortgage company in Denver in 2002. A few months later my dad called me to let me know that my older brother, who he had partnered with to buy at foreclosure auctions in Chicago, was going off on his own. So my dad asked if I wanted to come back to Chicago and partner with him and my uncle as real estate investors. Fast forward 5 years and about 120 property investments later, I knew that Chicago wasn't the place for me, and it was time for me to come back to my happy place - Denver.
By 2008 I was back in Denver, and I became an active foreclosure auction buyer here. By early 2009 (the heat of the great recession), there were tons of people in the auction room and many were asking me all sorts of questions (basically asking me to teach them how to compete against me). So business 101 is "find a need and fill it" and I did! With two hard working and smart business partners, we created www.Renav.com - a foreclosure tracking company that offers foreclosure leads to Realtors, Investors, and title companies. My role was to teach classes and demo the product.
I loved it. From 2009 when we started the company to 2014, I had taught thousands of agents and investors, and we acquired hundreds of monthly subscribers. But then the foreclosure numbers started going down and traditional sales started going up. I knew it was time for me to "re-invent" myself again, which frankly I was tired of doing. I wanted to do something, where, whether markets go up or down, I could succeed. So I decided to be a full-time real estate agent. In late 2014 I joined a fantastic team based in Arizona and I was their first and only agent in Colorado. In my first full year (2015), I closed 72 homes. Then I took a leadership role and helped many other agents to join the team, build their business, and find success. After about 5 years with the team, it was time to go off on my own. In 2020 (my first year as a solo agent) I'm set to close 53 homes. I still co-own Renav.com and teach often because it's something I love to do, but my primary focus now is on helping home buyers and sellers in the Denver metro area, and helping real estate agents excel in their career with me at eXp Realty.
Lisa: eXp Realty is an all-remote real estate company. It was very forward-thinking of them. Now most of us are working virtually due to Covid. What originally drew you to that platform?
Aaron: Two guys who I have a tremendous amount of respect for had asked me to sit down and chat about the company. I see real estate brokerages as platforms that agents can plug into in order to grow their businesses and get the support they need. I'm always open to talking about what people love at their company because ultimately I want to be at the brokerage that puts me in the position to make the most amount of money possible, while giving me the best collaboration and support for my primary focus, which is helping people buy and sell homes. As for the virtual component, it's kind of cool, and kind of weird. It took a little getting used to but didn't take long. The first time I was wanting to take a class but there was a major snowstorm, and yet I didn't have to drive anywhere, it clicked that this format is actually awesome. And there are departments that are well-staffed with specialists and open 11 hours a day, 5 days a week, including offices that handle anything to do with money, and our tech support office which is like having our very own Geek Squad to help with all the tech eXp provides. There are 50+ live and interactive classes every week in eXp World, and most are taught by agents in the field that are doing big business, or running big teams. I've never seen that at any other brokerage before...
Lisa: In your opinion, what are the benefits to virtual work?
Aaron: I still get the benefits of collaboration and support, but instead of having to drive somewhere and waste gas and time, it's instant. It gives me more time with my family. It's better for the environment. And because eXp has hundreds of staff members that are available 11 hours a day, I get answers and help right away. eXp isn't 100% virtual though. We get free membership to the world's largest co-working space - Regus Executive Suites. So I can pop into any one of their 3,000 office spaces around the world and work from a desk with fast internet, and be around people anytime I want.
Lisa: What are the down sides?
Aaron: Many critics would say that the biggest downside of eXp Realty is that there's no central office for agents to go to, but frankly, I've visited a lot of real estate offices and they're almost always a ghost town. Most people think when they get into real estate that they're going to be in the office every day, but that doesn't end up happening. That being said, I myself am the kind of guy that needs to be in an office every day. So I've been renting my own private office space in co-working spaces, where, whaddya know, there are a ton of people who are gainfully employed, and none of which are real estate agents, but all of which need a roof over their head. I've acquired multiple clients and referrals from the people I meet in co-working spaces.
But if I was the kind of agent that loved talking in person at the water cooler with other real estate agents, then that would be a downside. Maybe when COVID is over I'll go to Realtor events for that.
Lisa: Tell us some of the biggest mistakes you see people doing in a virtual working world?
Aaron: Leaving their microphone on when they should have it muted. Luckily it's not like Zoom - we can't see you eating a sandwich, going to the bathroom, or your kid walking around in their underwear in the background. And the presenter can easily mute people.
Lisa: Give us some tips on how to be successful in a virtual world?
Aaron: Just like in the real world - work hard and add value to people's lives! Adapt to changes in technology just like we have to adapt to changes in the market.
Lisa: How do we successfully lead a team virtually?
Aaron: Just like you lead a team in person - by setting expectations, making sure people get the training and resources they need, and over-communicating.
Lisa: What can we do to create trust with our clients through a computer?
Aaron: When it comes to out-of-state clients, I've been working virtually for years. I've held plenty of buyer consultations and listing appointments via Zoom and Facetime, well before COVID. I'm sure many of us have shown homes by recording video walkthroughs or WhatsApp video calls. One of the many ways we create trust with clients is to meet them where they're at. If a client doesn't have email, that's fine. I'll print listings and they can come to pick them up at the office. If they don't like to text, then I'll pick up the phone and call them. Ultimately, though, this is still a belly-to-belly and face-to-face business. For listing consultations I'm still meeting people at their homes and going over everything at the kitchen table. When helping buyers, I'm meeting them at the properties and offering guidance.
Lisa: How do you deliver genuine customer service, virtually.
Aaron: Calling a friend, technically, is virtual. Email. Texting. Facetime. All virtual. But when it's time to see a home to list, or show homes to buyers, that's typically not going to be virtual so the normal customer service strategies would apply.
Lisa: What can we do to stay connected?
Aaron: Call, text, email, visit. Lately, I've been texting people when I think of them, just to let them know I'm thinking of them. I don't often get that kind of text from people, but it feels good when I do!
Lisa: Tell us what success looks like to you?
Aaron: I'm not one of those people that have a quick answer to "what's your why?" But if I did, I think that's what success would look like to me. Until then, I just want to show up, work hard, and do right by people. I want to provide a great life for my family, leave a legacy, and have some fun along the way.
Learn More about Aaron Lebovic with Seasoned Real Estate Agent with eXp Realty here:
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