Real Estate Sessions Rewind -Sarita Dua, Principal Broker At Keller Williams Realty Professionals from June 2022
Are you goal-oriented? Are you sure you’re in the right place right now professionally? Develop the entrepreneurial mindset you need that can drive you to reach more success. Tune into this episode as Principal Broker Sarita Dua discusses her unique journey at Keller Williams Realty Professionals. She loves engineering and getting specific answers, but she realizes she wants something more as time goes by. She shares what triggered her to start a career in the real estate industry and the factors that contributed to her decision.
Sarita Dua, Principal Broker At Keller Williams Realty Professionals
Welcome to episode 323. Thank you so much for reading. We get to talk to an agent who has done something I’ve never heard of for a realtor yet in over 300 interviews. I won’t tell you what it is. You have to read to find that out but we’re going to be talking to Sarita Dua. She’s in the Portland area with Keller Williams. She has Ask Sarita, which is her website AskSarita.com. That’s been her branding for years. She created that prior to even getting her license. That gives you a hint about some of the things that Sarita does. Let’s get this thing started. Sarita, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much for having me, Bill. It’s great to be here.
I can’t wait to chat with you. You have a very interesting story. You know that. It’s unique for a realtor to have the background you have. Would you agree with that?
Yes and no. We all have crazy unique stories but I’ve never stopped and thought about them. I do probably have a little bit of a unique path.
There are only a 320 plus interviews. There might be 6 people who knew they were going to be a realtor when they were 12. It’s always that second path. It seems like it’s such a heavy influence there. You’re in Portland doing some great stuff. We’ll chat about that but you’re not a native Oregonian. Let’s start at the beginning. What was home for you? Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. My parents are immigrants. They got married in India and settled in Michigan in 1964. I was born and raised there.
I’ve had some people from Michigan but maybe not Detroit. I love the way these answers can go and never know. First of all, I want to hear a little bit about growing up there. Give me the biggest misconception about that area.
Detroit is not as crazy, rough or violent as some people assume that Downtown Detroit is scary. I had a great Midwestern upbringing. We did grow up in the suburbs and Detroit, the city, Downtown has changed a lot. There was a time when we didn’t hang out there and the biggest surprise in Detroit is Downtown Detroit itself. It is the place. We call it the D. It’s where all the sports teams play. It’s got a burgeoning food scene, great rooftop bars and craft breweries. It’s a fun place. Most people would not know or even assume that. They would avoid downtown because of some preconceptions from way back when.
Keller Williams: The cool thing with sports management is you can work with the team. You can do the ticket size and sales and sponsorships. There’s so many elements of it. And the idea is to kind of try different things out, to figure out what you like and what you don’t.
What part of the suburbs did you go to?
I grew up in this place, Shelby Township, Michigan. I was born and raised in Warren. My dad was 30 years in Chrysler. Back then, especially if you were from a different country like India, it was the Silicon Valley before Silicon Valley. A lot of young engineers from countries like India were able to get to Detroit, Michigan because companies like GM, Ford and Chrysler needed engineers. That was a way for my dad to get there, get citizenship, add value and provide a contribution to the companies. That’s how that started. We were always tied to automotive to the point where I couldn’t wait to get out.
We’re going to talk about real estate cycles. There were automotive recessionary cycles where my dad, uncles, other family members and cousins were always nervous if they were going to get laid off or not. I didn’t want my livelihood to be tied to an industry that was up and down. I went to a small college that was tied to automotive. It was called at the time General Motors Institute, GMI. It’s rebranded as Kettering University.
Although I didn’t work for automotive, I worked for a hospital and Intel. All of the students did a 5-year program for a bachelor’s instead of 4 but you did 3 months of school and work all 5 years and graduated with 2.5 years of work experience. Ninety-five percent of us graduated with good job offers.
I have to bring this up. I grew up in San Diego. I’m a huge fan of the San Diego Padres. I worked for them for twelve years later on but in 1984 and I don’t know if you remember this or not, the Padres played the Tigers in the World Series. There was this guy named Kirk Gibson who was a real pain for the Padres. We ended up winning one game. That was a year the Tiger started 35 and 5. They were an amazing team. Do you remember that at all?
I don’t mind outing my age. I graduated high school in ’87. We used to listen to a garage sale stereo component set. It was an AM/FM radio with two speakers. We still listen to baseball and games either on TV. We didn’t have cable back then. If someone else was watching anything else, we couldn’t watch the game. It was Kirk Gibson, Chet Lemon, Lance Parrish and Alan Trammell. I remember all of them.
Detroiters love their sports. Sometimes it’s tough to be a Detroit fan like the Lions. It is a curse to be a Detroit Lions fan. We had the Pistons, the Bad Boys regime of the Pistons as well. We’ll talk about my journey to Portland but I do miss having 4 to 5 major teams in your market. We only have one in Portland. We have MLS Soccer but we have mainly NBA basketball. Not to be a football fan and not having an NFL team is rough.
I discovered you posted on social about your son getting an internship with the Lions, which is fantastic. I had one year with the Chargers there. It was nice. My question is, first of all, did you and your husband, I don’t want to say, curse him with the Detroit Lions fandom but is that the case?
We all have crazy unique stories. We take that unique path to success.
We became less Lions fans when we moved from Boston and we were Patriots fans. I was less of a Lions fan in my adult years. I was a Lions fan growing up. I love the Vikings too. I was weird but my brother was a diehard Lions fan. All of my cousins are Lions fans. My son is at the Lions. I’m proud of him for getting an internship in the NFL. He’ll be a senior in the fall of 2022 at Syracuse Sports Management.
What was fun about this kid is he had sports in his blood. I pick him up from daycare at age 6 or 7. He would be like, “Mama, LaMarcus Aldridge got traded.” I’m like, “How do you know this? You barely can go to the bathroom by yourself. You are a questionable reader.” He didn’t have a phone but he knew who had a phone and who would know. Even when he was 10 or 11, he would work his way onto his cousin’s fantasy football team. My brother would text me. He’s like, “I don’t know if we should let him in. He’s persistent. It’s $100 entry and we do this thing.” I’m like, “Let him learn. Just do it.” The kid won in the first 2 or 3 years every year because not only is he a big fan but he will not let up. He would say to my brother, “Uncle, you got to do this.”
He would beat him down by battering him with trades until my brother would probably be like, “Go ahead and take them.” It’s fun to see this. It happened to be the Lions but he would’ve worked honestly anywhere in the sports team. The cool thing with sports management is you can work with the team. You can be in game-day operations. You can do the ticket size, sales and sponsorships. There are many elements of it. The idea is to try different things out and figure out what you like and what you don’t. He does love working for a team. He’s worked running the summer football camps and liaison between the team and the different high school organizations. He’s loving it.
Let’s talk about how do you get to Portland? You wanted to get out of the area because it was all automotive all the time for you. What led you to move?
A couple of the best things of my life are happy accidents but if you believe, there are no accidents. Maybe it was all by design. I went to college as a Management Major for the first three semesters. GMI was known for having Engineering and Management. Three semesters in, I switched to Electrical Engineering. You’re talking about a rare path in real estate. I bucked the trend.
A lot of people, not to say that there was anything easy or negative about management but some people switched from Engineering to Management and I went upstream the other way. I have always been strong in math and science. I love the exactness of engineering. If there’s a problem, you get an answer and put a box around it. It’s right or wrong.
I felt like even if I didn’t do Engineering, an Electrical Engineering degree would let me do probably anything related to computers or information systems versus MIS or Management Information Systems degree might limit me. I went and did Electrical Engineering. I ended up working for Intel. That was the company that I was working with at college.
It’s funny that I always called it the Top Gun program, even before this movie was back out as the redo. I joined what I would call the Top Gun program at Intel, which was about twenty of us that had to be double E or Computer Science majors. We did a two-year rotation program in different marketing and engineering functions to go into sales. I realized in my career that maybe I’m a BSer and that’s why but you can have that exactness of engineering of getting things right with the math, the answer and the problem that I described.
Keller Williams: If you could have an engineering mindset, but be able to articulate how a client would solve a problem either by saving time or saving money with your solutions, it’s a very consultative approach.
You could also be good at communication but there was a rare Venn Diagram’s liver if you could do both. Be engineering-minded but be able to articulate how a client would solve a problem either by saving time or saving money with your solutions. It’s a very consultative approach. When I call it the Top Gun program, we got into this program, did these rotations and got into at age 23, a company car and a bag-carrying salesperson for Intel.
My rotations were in Princeton, New Jersey, Chandler, Arizona, the Phoenix Area and the Bay Area. My final placement was in Boston. I was single, loving my life, working hard and selling for Intel, calling on accounts in Boston. I never thought I’d leave tech. The lightning struck and I met my husband there in Boston. I got engaged, got married and had my 1st baby and 1st house. That was our life then.
An interesting twist, my husband, is the reason we’re in Portland. Although, I’ll take some credit for it. Portland was a big campus for Intel, as was the Bay Area, Arizona and a few other places. I was traveling to Portland a lot with my client. My husband is a textile engineer. He does R&D for fabrics or materials R&D. He had an opportunity to interview with Nike. I told him, “We have this new baby. She’s eight weeks old. We haven’t slept for eight weeks since we had her. Go for the interview but don’t like the job.”
I wanted to be near Michigan. We had picked Chicago or I wanted to be near his parents who are in Raleigh. We had picked DC. The big city is near our hometowns but not in our hometowns because his family was based in Raleigh. I’m like, “Go for the interview. It’s a great city. I want grandma and grandpa to come to the soccer games, the plays or spelling bees.” You know how the story is going to end.
He goes to the interview and calls me from the interview. I’m dating myself. We had bad phones with StarTAC flip phones and a minute of batteries. He calls me and I’m like, “Why are you spending your minutes calling me?” He says, “I love it.” I made a joke, “I hope your new family loves it too. Send me Christmas cards because I’m not moving to Portland.” These are those accidents. Two weeks later, we were on our house hunting trip to Portland. It’s where we settled in 1999. We’ve been here for many years.
Our daughter was born in Boston and never took a step in Boston. We moved when she was two months old and my son was born in Portland. Interestingly, my husband is still at Nike. Years later, he’s in Art Materials Research for footwear. He has patents for some of the coolest technology that they have like Flyknit if you’ve heard of it as a type of fabric in the shoes. It’s all a team sport at Nike but he’s on the team that has come up with many of those technologies. I’m proud of him.
Somehow you decide it’s time for you to enter the world of real estate. This is a fun part of this interview every time. What was that trigger and thing that you said, “This is it. This is the time?”
I’ll tell you what it wasn’t. It wasn’t that I loved houses. It wasn’t like I was an architecture fiend, watched HGTV or any of that. It was having a 2 and a 4-year-old loving tech but being client-facing. My large accounts were in Dallas, Atlanta and Chicago. We have these large named accounts after Intel. I was at several startups but gravitated that 100-person type companies where it’s like, “We have a great idea. Do it. It was your idea. Go do that in addition to all the other jobs you have.”
The best things in life are happy accidents, but then if you believe there’s no accidents, maybe it was all by design.
I loved the energy, how hard we worked and sales in that. You could see your impact if you’re working on sales, marketing, biz dev and product marketing. Those were the things that I was doing and I loved it but we have a 2 and a 4-year-old and no family in Portland. My husband and I would play rock paper scissors because he was traveling to Vietnam and Germany. He’s on a seventeen-day trip to Europe.
Between the trade shows, the vendor visits and everything else, he was in Europe and Asia a lot. It wasn’t every day but every month and a half, you’d have a ten-day trip. Meanwhile, I would have quarterly business reviews. We’d look at each other like, “The kids were at daycare. If there was an ear infection, who’s going to change their schedule?” There were times when I was landing at 5:43 and daycare pickup was at 6:00. I had no room for error.
We looked at each other and said, “Something has to get.” We were both on these hamster wheels. We both loved our careers. This is going to sound like the most humble brag. I’m not trying to say this humbly but the reality is in my early 30s, I had no problem helping people but I had a problem asking for help. When you care about people and you think of your friends as family, asking them for help is a way of showing that you love and need them.
At the time, I was that person who would do anything for anyone. “6:00 AM, we’re going to the airport, let’s go. I got your Starbucks order.” At 4:40, I’m in the car. If you’re in my row on the plane and you live in my neighborhood, I wouldn’t ask you for a ride. It was weird. I don’t know if it was cultural. I don’t know what it was but I had a hard time.
My husband looked at me and he’s like, “We got to do something. This is not working.” I pushed hard. I’m like, “If you want me to put my job and make dinner and stuff, I’m nothing against anyone who does that but that isn’t me. You’re going to starve because I don’t know how to cook.” He’s the chef of our family. I need to do a lot of things. That’s how I’m wired. Daycare was great for my kids because they would have butter week. We’re going to make butter. I would never think of doing that.
I love that there were people that knew how to do this thing better than me but I knew that something had to give. I looked at different careers. I had done my MBA in Entrepreneurial Management. I love the startup scene. How could I have my business and not have to go as Mark Cuban or Barbara Corcoran on Shark Tank for money? I didn’t invent the newest draw and needed money but it had to be service-based. I looked at mortgages, financial planning, insurance and real estate.
I was pretty methodical about it. I interviewed brokers and wrote a business plan. I asked them all, “What would it take to succeed?” I was making good money in tech even back then. They would say to me, “You’d be lucky if you make $40,000 in your 1st year. As a family, you had a ramen noodle only in number and it was higher than $40,000.” I’m like, “How is this going to work?”
I did my homework and chose real estate. The irony of the whole thing is real estate. I do love houses and architecture. I lived in a beautiful 1910 foursquare that we remodeled and fixed up but real estate is people in the project management. That is the common theme that I had throughout my whole career. Even large-scale account management, product management and product marketing, it is people and project management.
Keller Williams: Real estate is for people in project management. It’s figuring out what’s going to happen next and solving problems before they become problems.
Telling people what’s going to happen. What happened? What’s happening now? What’s going to happen next? Solving problems before they become problems, risk management. That’s what this is. The way I look at it as every problem that we came across was an opportunity to bulletproof our system. We’d have a different problem but we wouldn’t have that same problem over and over because we account for it. It was in line with what I did, even though it looks like a huge sharp left that I took or a sharp turn off course. It was off course.
Join a team. That’s the best way to do it. Everyone told me to join a team and I’m learning-based. I would have joined the team but the reality was I was on a team, my company. I felt like I would have to call in sick. If there was anything that went wrong with our family, I couldn’t do it. My whole thing was that freedom and flexibility that everybody wants when they’re a realtor. I did need that. Therefore, I went out on my own.
If I was going to be on a team, I’m not going to let my team leader down. I also wanted to be the mom who maybe took an afternoon and went to the bowling party with the second grade, which in the tech environments I was in, I remember the one time I did that, all hell broke loose. We had to roll it back, not to say that I was the reason. I had my phone off when I turned it back on and I had 50 unread messages. We were scotch-taped together sometimes and didn’t have the flexibility to go do things for fun.
Your version of, “I want the job because of the freedom to do what I want to do,” is quite different than 99.9% of realtor’s versions of, “I want the freedom to do what I want to do.” If you think about it, you’ve laid out the exact way to become a realtor and very few have followed that path. There are some.
It’s interesting to see people put like, “This is a business. I’m an entrepreneur. I’ve got a startup here. It’s called XYZ Realty. I’m going to apply these business standards to my business.” That doesn’t happen. Let’s talk about this. You help others. That’s who you are. You’ve coached, trained and teach. You must talk to people about the fact that you’ve got to treat your business like a business. There is an exit strategy if you have a real business. If not, you don’t.
I’m a coach. I love coaching and training. There is a method to this madness. People think, “You moved to Portland. You have this great sphere-based business.” Portland is known for having green carpets at the airport. When we landed at PDX and saw that green carpet, we knew one person who was my husband’s hiring manager. It was Christmas week, which was our house hunting trip. Our dear friend of ours, still, Ed, felt bad for us. He invited us for Christmas dinner with his family because we were in a hotel.
I landed in Portland, not knowing anywhere. I didn’t go to college here or have a bunch of friends. We built our life here. I did work for four startups. I was part of the Indian community. I had my neighbors. When I started, I created my domain name Ask Sarita and my brand prior to getting my license. I came up with a list of people I knew. I did a mailer like, “You know me from this tech committee or startup but this is what I’m doing. I’m here to help you buy or sell your house. If you even have any questions at all, maybe it’s just, ‘Do I need a new roof? What type of material should I use on my deck,’ call me. I’m your real estate resource. I’m here to help.” I love that connection piece.
We’re connectors but it’s listening to somebody what’s their problem, finding the match and even pulling or crowd sourcing that answers with my community, vendors, database and past clients, asking if someone wants to know about a school and my kids did go to that school like, “I know someone in my database which went to that school. Let me connect you.”
In real estate, you need to help people, and there’s that energy in you that loves how hard you worked. You love to see making an impact on other people’s lives.
I love that piece of it but you’re right. It wasn’t by accident. It was deliberate and a lot of work. I did a lead group, BNI, for the first seven years. Every Tuesday, I went to a leads group. Let’s be honest. They’re trading haircuts, housecleaning and car details more than they are homes. I gave more referrals at lower price points than they gave to me but it wasn’t about that. It was building that Rolodex so that I knew, “You want your car detailed, go to this guy. Do you want insurance? Eric is your man.” I did that.
I also had this other lucky thing happen. Lucky is an interesting word but my in-laws ended up moving to Portland. This is why it’s not necessarily all good. My mother-in-law’s health was deteriorating. We wanted her near us. She had memory loss and eventually passed away of Alzheimer’s. When she was here from 2001 to 2007, my oldest at that time was about six. That was right around when I was starting real estate. My husband said, “You’ve got this. Go do your thing. No offense. They do love you but they love me more. I’m going to take them shopping. I’ve got my parents and the kids on the same nap schedule on the weekends. I’ll go do that. You go do what you need to do.”
I did 2 open houses Saturday and 2 open houses Sunday for probably the first years of my career. I put in the work but I was also fortunate to have a family situation where I could be around for the kids a little bit more during the week. I could crank and grind in the weekend. The kids won because there was always a parent around. If you want a referral-based business, you want to call that a mountain and get climbing. It’s a beautiful thing to have a referral-based business but it doesn’t happen by itself. You have to put in the work, build relationships, give great service and do that. Rather rinse, repeat over and over.
You ended up joining Keller Williams after you become successful in the industry. This is no knock on Keller Williams. You can’t not Keller Williams. They’re an amazing operation but it seems like people go there first to learn because they’re well known for their training and education. It’s baked into them. What drew you to Keller Williams? Who you’re still with?
I went backward on that and had no regrets. It was a perfect way to do it. I had an Achilles heel I felt, which I didn’t have experience with. I was new to the industry before Keller Williams. I was a brand new agent and didn’t have experience. I aligned myself with a boutique firm that didn’t take a lot of new agents. They did take a few and were known as experienced agents.
Their average agent had seven years of experience. Many of them had decades of experience. I felt like I’m going to be an advisor here and I don’t know real estate. I want to hang my shingle with a brand that means experience. I loved it. I was there for five years. Some of my best friends are still from those years, whether they’re at my brokerage or a different brokerage.
I went to another boutique brokerage downtown because I’m also an urban girl. I love downtown. We’re big travelers and Nike gives a sabbatical to their employees. After 10 years, you get 5 weeks paid and every 5 years, you get 5 weeks paid. You can add that to your four weeks of vacation and go somewhere awesome, clean your house, move, jump in an RV or do whatever you want to do.
We decided to do an Asia trip for seven weeks. I was still at this boutique brokerage, the second one and had a great colleague that covered my business. I wasn’t doing that many transactions at the time. I was around the 50 transactions a year mark. I took off for seven weeks. I came back and didn’t have the greatest year.
Keller Williams: Freedom and flexibility that everybody wants can be attained if you’re a realtor.
This was ’09 or ‘10. We had come back. We had the boom and the bust. ‘08 and ’09 were tough years in real estate. I was coming off. That trip was ’09. In 2010, I was blaming my business results on the market. I was like, “Let’s the market. I have based downtown. Condos are not selling and the tax credits aren’t working. They stopped those tax credits.” I’m never a victim mentality but it was pretty easy to blame. We can translate that to what’s happening. It’s easy to blame results based on outside factors instead of looking inward.
Keller does the one thing about me that’s consistent. I love training, coaching and learning. I am an education junkie. I do believe if you are a PhD at something, you are a kindergarten or at the next thing. The minute we stop learning, we start dying. You never get to the destination with regards to learning. Whether it’s reading a book, TED Talks or at age 50, going back and getting another MBA, which I did. It’s not just talking. I walk the talk on that.
I went to a Keller Williams conference and remember feeling sorry for myself because I didn’t have the best year but blaming all these external things. I am watching at the time Gary Keller has a panel of three. They were all weren’t Keller Williams agents but this is showing you that in my age of the market, it would be best of Craigslist, short sales, open houses and luxury. You would hear these people all having their best year ever. I said it under my breath and even said out loud, “It’s not the market. It’s me.”
I knew I wanted to be in an environment that values coaching and training at every level. That was my thing. I’m brokerage agnostic like, “Everybody did, do you?” I don’t unfriend people based on what brokerage they went to. You’re the brand and logo. A culture that’s education and productivity based was a great fit for my personality and it still is.
You get a certificate. I’m not sure what they call that out of Harvard Business School. You go there and attain that but you got an MBA from MIT. I understand that dedication but that didn’t take a lot of time.
It did take a lot of that. It might be one of my craziest ideas ever. I’d like to chalk it up to maybe a little bit of a midlife crisis but I have no regrets. I love that I did it. The reality was I was involved with working closely with Gary on some technology initiatives. I was reading books about platform strategy, AI, business intelligence and machine learning. I have a daughter that’s a data science biomedical engineering double major. There’s all this stuff in the world that we do not know. The more I read about it, the more I realized I didn’t know.
I’m like, “What is all this?” When I did my first MBA, we were faxed to get our homework. We didn’t have any of this. I missed learning. This executive MBA is a real MBA. It’s a twenty-month program. It involves 26 trips to Boston plus 5 one-week modules. It’s a lot of travel. It wasn’t online. You were in Boston on a Friday and Saturday, which means I traveled Thursday and Sunday. Every 2 to 3 weeks, when I wasn’t in Cambridge, Ma, I was doing 15 to 20 hours of homework.
Some people were sponsored by their companies. I paid every dollar of it out of my pocket. I could have bought multiple rental properties probably with it. The reality is when you pay for something. Whether it’s with time or money, you’re going to do it. I wasn’t skating by. I wasn’t there for the mixers and skim through the questions. I did the work and I loved it.
Don’t regret your crazy ideas. Sometimes, they are the ones that lead you to your destination.
The reality is I didn’t do it to change my career but you change. It’s like when you see the light, you can see it. When you think big, you can’t think small again. I have 125 classmates from around the world that are all VPs, CEOs, founders and lead administrators in their companies. I also applied. I was sitting there in class. We were doing a case study on patients that were going to the doctors and emergency room.
When we were doing a case on how to manage efficiency and minimize inefficiency, I did that paper on how I do reviews. What’s my review process? What is it now? Where are the bottlenecks? Where are things falling? Where are we inefficient? I would take every course and apply it to my business. I couldn’t wait to get back on Monday and real-time apply things.
One, I changed as a person. Two, I ended up interviewing and getting exciting opportunities that I probably wouldn’t have even approached if I hadn’t done my MBA. I looked at the business even differently. Third, this is a state too but I want to take my lessons learned and find a way to coach and train people with those. You’re right about the rare piece. I don’t think there’s a bunch of people that are agents and are going to take 2 years of their life and $200,000 and go to MIT. How can I provide them with the Cliff Notes?
I’m not saying that I can give them the same experience but are there some nuggets that we can take that people can apply? I took one for the team. MIT would know this too. There’s no way of duplicating that experience. Can I share some lessons learned so that people get a taste of it for the light version? Some of what I’ve learned can trickle into how people can better their business if there’s interest.
I love what I did. I have no regrets. I’m a better leader, person, wife, mom and community member because of what I did. Plus, let’s be real. The busier you are, the busier you are. It’s that way. The more I have on my plate, the more I can take on. I ended up in the middle of that, losing 70 pounds and doing the New York Marathon. I’m not even a goal setter. I am a goal-getter.
The more I crave it, the more I do it. That’s me. The joke with all of my friends is we know why you do all the training and all the travel because we all know that the day before a trip is the most productive. It’s the day you don’t eat lunch. It’s the day that you are the most productive because you’re going out of town.
If you do that a lot, you end up being very productive. I time-block the tickets. When I’m in town, what are the meetings I need to have? It took us a while to even schedule this. I’m very deliberate on how I spend my time because I want to make sure that I’m doing everything I can and maximizing FaceTime when I’m in town so I can also enjoy it when I’m not.
Offline, we have to talk about your review case study. I’m with my agent. I have a lot of questions for you. It’s going to be great. Let’s talk about what’s happening. The shift word is back. It always pops up every year. Listing inventory is coming back. You got interest rates gone. There’s all this stuff happening. What’s your take? What would you say to somebody who said, “Sarita, what’s going on? What should I do? Should I buy, sell or sit tight?” What do you say?
Keller Williams: At the end of the day, we don’t know where rates are going, but we do know the financial market is creative. When it comes to rates, there will be programs. We also know rates go up and down. So the rates that go up aren’t going to stay high forever.
Everything happens in cycles. We’ve been enjoying hyper seller’s markets. It’s pretty much in our market on the West Coast and Portland, Oregon since 2013. The message for buyers is, “The market is stabilizing. Let’s talk about what your goals are because there may be more opportunities for you now than there ever were.” Offline, speaker note is we used to have A, B and C buyers. Those eight-plus buyers were the only ones, to be honest, who were successful in a hyper seller’s market. Everything was multiple offers and how much over. Let’s waive everything, no inspection, no appraisal and all this stuff.
There were plenty of great people. They had 20% down, had FHA, needed to close the cost, needed some concessions or whatever their story was. We were not successful because of how competitive the market is. I am going back to those buyers and saying, “We have a window that’s opening up that may provide an opportunity for you that didn’t before. Let’s talk about what your goals are and figure out what you want now more than ever. With the market that’s stabilizing, we may be able to help you.”
I fully believe this. You’re paying a mortgage, whether it’s yours or your landlord’s. I am a strong believer in the benefits of buying, appreciation, tax benefits and everything else. My daughter hugged me for no reason because she bought in February 2022 at 3.25% and rates have doubled. She says, “Mom, I’m a Millennial. We don’t like to settle down.” She says to me now, “I am thankful. I went to a mortgage calculator and looked at what my payment would have been.”
At the end of the day, we don’t know where rates are going but we do know the financial market is creative when it comes to rates. There will be programs. We also know rates go up and down. The rates that go up aren’t going to stay high forever. My first house was 8% in 1996. I remember in ’05 and ‘06 paying top dollar as we were booming and I remember doing an ARM at 6.5% and eventually getting down under 4%. Under 5%, we were happy.
Everybody I know has ReFi. This is a cycle. The message to buyers is there is an opportunity. This is where I love the gray hair that we bring to the table because I’ve seen this before in several years. We’ve seen ups and downs. The agents that have been five years or less, unfortunately, are not used to price reductions and a weekend with a listing on the market more than a weekend.
The dialogue of price reductions is all expectation setting with the sellers. We used to use the phrase, “It’s a price war in a beauty contest.” Your house needs to look the best but it also has to be competitively priced. Sometimes we’d give something for free. We’d give this work footage for free and the view for free. That’s how we price it.
The reality for sellers is those that are trying to get their house perfect. You do have to be perfect and have to look good but get on the market sooner than later for a couple of reasons. One, the meaner might have to run longer than before. If things are going to take months, as opposed to days or weeks, we need to be ready for that. Second, you never know when your neighbor’s going to screw you up. Somebody is super motivated and they drop their shorts on pricing sometimes. It is a price move, price drop or price war to the bottom.
For the sellers, it’s not about why you’re selling the house. It’s where you are going. What is their motivation? What does this sale represent? What does their next chapter look like? If they have the pain, it’s not usually the pleasure of what they’re going to. It’s what problem are we solving so that you can get to that next chapter? Let’s talk about that. If they don’t have a problem, don’t do it.
When you pay for something, whether it’s with time or with money, you’re going to do it.
There are two sets of agents. There’s the optimist that is like Sarita. Inventory is still like a month. I don’t know what these people are talking about. The reality is market stats are lagging indicators. They’re not leading indicators. Showings are the leading indicators and talking about people every day about what happened to your listing yesterday.
We’re changing all of our methods. We used to be Thursday on the markets. Sunday, close showings and offer review Monday or Tuesday. Now we’re not doing any of those things. We’ll do them if we have multiple offers but we’re going to see price moves. We’re seeing brokers up in earlier listings. We need people that notice that the house is on the market.
There’s a lot. This is where the creativity shines and we get to sharpen our skills. It’s a contact sport. I have this phrase, “If buyers and sellers are swimming in a pool, we don’t need to find people on the edge of the pool. They are on the diving board and push them in. We have to find the people that are already in the pool and have more conversations to find those people.”
I don’t need to convince anyone it is the time. I need to understand what their story is, understand what their motivation is, let them know what their options are and have that conversation over and over with them so when they are in the pool, we’re there for them. You have to have more conversations. Everyone should be doubling and tripling down on the number of conversations they’re having.
All those offers they wrote that didn’t come together, those are the people we need to talk to. All those CMAs we’ve done that didn’t list, those are the people we need to talk to. Any inquiry, “At one point, you were looking to buy or sell a home in our local area. Are you still out there? Let’s have a strategy session,” let’s have a conversation about what your needs are.
Sarita, this has been amazing. I wish we had an hour and a half. Maybe there’ll be a part two somewhere down the road with you. The final question I’ve asked every guest from day one is what one piece of advice would you give a new agent starting?
For the record, I didn’t get any questions off. I’m thinking off the cuff here. For any agent but especially new agents, the advice that I would give is advice that an agent gave to me. There are a couple of things. One, you control your mindset and get to control how positive you are and your activities. There is a lot of noise and negativity out there. Stay positive, control your mindset, whether it’s your self-care, meditation or whatever you need to do to align yourself around positive people and stay positive.
The best advice someone gave me when I was a brand new agent is to have fun with this and do it. I’ll riff off my Nike affiliation. We can spend a lot of time getting ready to get ready and getting to be perfect. I remember going into the office, setting up my desk and making sure I went to staples every other day to get my office supplies. My broker yelled at me, “What are you doing here? Go out there. Go talk to people, visit houses, adopt a client and work with an agent. We’ll figure it out.”
Keller Williams: You don’t need to convince anyone. You just need to understand what their story is, motivation, let them know what their options are and have that conversation over and over with them so that when they are in the pool, we’re there for them. But you just have to have more conversations.
The advice was the agent told me, “Do it. There’s little you can screw up in this business. Almost everything is one day away from a correction.” You can screw up a few things. For the most part, there are one million people out there that will help you and give you the listing presentation. You can plug into all coaching and training. You can become skills-based in that you’re doing all the training but you’re not doing the doing. You have to learn. Your license is your license to learn.
You have to go out there and do it and know that there’s little you could screw up. Once you have that confidence, everything is one a day away, even if you have a typo on the address or price, there are a lot of things you can do to correct things. Have faith in doing it because that’s where the magic happens and where you learn.
Sarita, if somebody wants to reach out to you, what’s the best way for them to do that?
My handle on almost everything is Ask Sarita. Back to my tagline for real estate questions, big or small, Ask Sarita. I’m Ask Sarita on Instagram and Twitter. If you look me up by my name, Sarita Dua, my maiden name is Lahoti. Sarita Lahoti Dua on Facebook. You’ll find me there. Friend me on anything. I’m also accessible. That number that you usually see on everything is my cell. You can text me or reach out to me. I’m happy to help and connect with you in any way I can.
Sarita, this was so much fun for me. First of all, to be able to talk sports is always cool. Your ability to be in all these different parts of life and make all that work is a fascinating story. One day, maybe that story should be published. I’m going to throw that out there and give you one more thing to do. You like being busy. Is that okay?
I’ve been challenged. Thanks a lot.
Thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it.
It’s an honor to be here. I appreciate you having me.
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About Sarita Dua
I am hard-working, dependable, resourceful, and have advanced technology/internet skills – which all lead to maximizing results for my clients. My business is built on referrals… it means the world to me that clients call on me for repeat business and send their friends, family, and co-workers my way too!
Whether you have a real estate question big or small – please askSarita.com.
Specialties: Negotiations, sales/marketing, client development, closing deals, building partnerships, internet marketing, helping clients understand market economics and systems dynamics, and helping others
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