Brokers are no longer sticking to one revenue stream, but instead are starting ancillary businesses to help clients in multiple ways.
Chip and Joanna Gaines have shown that branching out can be a good thing. The HGTV hosts of “Fixer Upper” went from owning a real estate company to creating the Silos retail store, wallpaper and furniture lines, a quarterly magazine, luxury vacation rentals, a restaurant and a product line for Target, as well as authoring books.
It takes faith to combine multiple careers into one life, says Kelly Hite, broker-associate in Valparaiso, Ind. She also is owner, designer, and interior painter at Kelly’s Interior Painting.
Here’s how Hite and three other brokers have integrated ancillary services to enhance their real estate business and how they deal with the challenges of wearing different hats.
A Hobby Turned Business
As a child, Hite watched her mother help family and friends paint and wallpaper their homes. As Hite got older, she helped her mother, and finally the hobby grew into business.
When Hite first got into real estate, she went back to her roots to start her own interior painting business to add a revenue stream as she built her sales business. “I really think that the two go hand-in-hand. Having an eye for color and space is very helpful,” she says.
Hite is up front with her clients from the start about the two careers. Some houses need a little freshening up before listing, which has given her the edge when working with sellers. And when a client is buying a house, she can advise them on how to make changes. “I am very happy to take the small jobs when most painters want the large, brand-new homes,” she says.
From Construction to Inspection
Every business venture Spencer Prodromos takes on enhances his others. He is a broker-associate at in Highland Park, Ill., and managing partner of The Prodromos Group, which works on new residential construction, land acquisition and development, and property management. He also serves as a licensed Illinois home inspector.
“I am often asked questions about every aspect of real estate, and I can usually get clients a pretty accurate and thorough answer on a lot of topics having first-hand experience,” Prodromos says.
Selling real estate provides important information for his construction business, helping him make educated decisions for development projects. Being able to connect his skills and help clients in as many ways as possible opens a lot of doors, he says, allowing him the ability to assist clients on different issues.
“There is no doubt my bottom line has been helped by having these multiple careers,” Prodromos says.
Staying Busy and Creative
When someone hires Bob Felderman, CRS, MRP, to sell their home or to find them a new home, they have many of his talents to pick from to assist on the journey.
Felderman, a retired brigadier general for the U.S. Army, offers his skills as a professional photographer at General Bob Photography in Dubuque, Iowa. He also serves as managing broker, senior appraiser, and review appraiser at Continental Realty Dubuque & Felderman Appraisals. He just happens to also be a commercial drone pilot. Oh yeah, and he writes.
“In real estate, I’m a certified residential specialist and military relocation professional,” Felderman says. “In a smaller community like mine, having additional skills and education will often benefit and help reach clients.”
Organization is essential to balance his roles. Felderman is very particular about his checklists, calendar, and contacts. His wife helps manage his time and provides good feedback on everything from business ideas to taking photos.
Staging Someone’s Dreams
When Carla Myers, AHWD, SRES, used to go on weekly listing tours with other agents in her area, she noticed the way homes were presented—the good and the bad.
“It was an easy decision to seek training in the art of staging,” says Myers, legacy broker-associate at RE/MAX 100 in Mishawaka, Ind., and owner of Silk Purse Staging.
She learned about the emotions associated with decluttering and subscribes the idea that staging can be done with the furnishings already in a person’s home. She became an expert in the art of editing and rearranging a space.
The majority of her time is spent working with first-time buyers, followed by helping those who are leaving their family home to transition to assisted-living environments. Myers believes being a home stager has helped her be a better sales practitioner.
The typical buyer can’t look past all the items that are found in a lived-in home. “Every day, I go into homes that are packed to the gills, closets overflowing, and cereal boxes stored on the top of the refrigerator,” she says.
One client was hesitant to let Myers stage her house. But after Myers arranged a deep clean, helped pack up every extra possession, and spent a day rearranging, her client was so excited with the results that she moved to her fiancé’s home so she wouldn’t disturb the perfection. The home sold the day it hit the market.