Isabel Affinito of Austin and Hunter Carter of San Antonio are the latest Texas REALTORS® recognized as rising stars in the industry as part of REALTOR® Magazine’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2018. Here, they share their advice, tips for getting new business, and what they’ve learned in their careers so far.
What’s your advice for Texas REALTORS® just starting their career?
Isabel Affinito: The most important thing any REATLOR® starting out can do is talk to people. My husband and I moved to Austin with no network and set about trying to build a real estate business. Our success was directly correlated to how many people we talked to in a given month. It can be strangers, acquaintances, or friends. It can be on the phone, in person, at a party, walking your dog, and at the gym.
The unique thing about residential real estate is that every adult person you come into contact with is a potential client. So, my advice is to talk to them. Not just about real estate, but about whatever feels right. Make conversation. And a harmless question like, “What area of town do you live in?” could easily lead into a substantial real estate conversation.
Another lesson I learned is to let go of perfection, and not be afraid to fail. I learned a lot by going out and trying things, and failing. I have some tendencies toward perfectionism. I’ve mostly learned to let go of that and be willing to get rejected, be wrong, and look silly. That’s freed up a lot of time and energy for me to have fun with what I do.
Hunter Carter: Finding a mentor is important. Shadow, watch, and learn from your mentor.
You should find a mentor who is good at the piece of the business you are going after. But, there are a lot of pieces. Sometimes trying to identify which path you would like to take is the biggest hurdle. Talk to your broker about his or her core competencies, and match yourself with a broker who mimics paths you choose. These networks are so important to the start of your business.
Lastly, regardless of any of the above, hard work and persistence pays off more than anything else I see in the industry.
What do you wish you’d known when you first started your business and what have you learned from that time?
Isabel Affinito: I can’t say I would change anything about my business, because everything I didn’t know then landed me right where I am, and I don’t regret a moment of it. I’m glad I didn’t know how hard it would be, because I might not have ever started! I jumped into the business with blind optimism, trusting that everything would work out, and it did … eventually. It was just harder than I expected.
My advice to anyone else starting out, though, would be to account very carefully for your time. See talking to people (also known as prospecting) as your job. Property tours aren’t the job. Paperwork isn’t the job. Selling real estate isn’t the job. The job is to find people who want to buy and sell real estate. If you do that job well, you get the privilege of helping them get to the closing table. But talking to enough people every week has to be the top priority. It took me a long time to accept and internalize that lesson.
Hunter Carter: When I first started the business, I was 18 years old … I didn’t know anything. Since starting the business, I have learned a lot more about the financial side of the business. I am always hunting down a specific type of lender for a specific deal. I didn’t think I would need to know so much about that side of the business, but since having the knowledge, it has benefited my business tremendously. I am a better dealmaker. My agents who have the most financial and lending knowledge are the agents I see creating stability for themselves.
What’s your most effective way to generate leads?
Isabel Affinito: My favorite way to generate leads is to hang out doing things that I enjoy doing. I love my Crossfit gym in Austin, and I can’t count the number of closings that are a direct result of working out there. In fact, as soon as I’m done answering these questions, I’m writing a contract with a couple I work out with. I’ve also met many clients sitting at restaurant bars, walking the dog, going to friends’ house parties, and other such delightful activities.
I ignored this reality for a long time. I used to see sitting in the office, hammering away at emails and trying to get strangers to answer my calls as “work” and time at the gym or dog park or with friends as “not work.” It took me awhile to realize that a lot of my business was coming from people I already knew, and that that was easier than turning strangers into clients.
I still work with lots of strangers. I love holding open houses and cold calling and door knocking. But I’ve learned not to ignore the people I already know. When you spend time with people who you like and share interests with, they’re already inclined to trust you, and that makes the whole process so much easier.
Hunter Carter: I am all about recurring business. I want to work hard at gaining a business partner who is going to do multiple transactions with me. These people for me are investors and new homebuilders.
Flipping houses has been working well for a good amount of time, and I don’t see it going away any time soon. Auction Caddy is a platform I started developing four years ago to process the massive amount of data we needed to make a purchasing decision at the foreclosure auction (properties that are sight-unseen, most of the time). At that time, it took two people two-and-a-half weeks to get all the data we needed, and we were only gathering about 40 different data points.
We now have a system that aggregates 250 data points (and gaining) for each property using 15 different distributed data team members, and it takes four days. All data are given to our investors to make decisions. Auction Caddy has been a great springboard into the retail side of the business, all while supporting recurring business partnerships. We have a constant stream of listings, investors, and buyers because of the connections, networks, and services we create with the system.