Two Decades of Facilitating Home Ownership31 August 2019 Written by By Emilio Leypon
Published in September 2019 Articles
Riding the Real Estate Market Roller Coaster Through its Ups and Downs
For four years I have been an agent with Intero Real Estate Services, which is a reputable company serving our community from three locations. Bryan and LeeAnn Hogge, the broker/owners have given me freedom to run my part of the business with my own style and personality. Things went well from the beginning, and I have been one of their top agents every year. It helped that I had previously been a mortgage broker for more than ten years, so I brought a lot of satisfied clients into the business.
I have good communication skills and am comfortable speaking about our business with people of any social level or ethnicity. I tell people that my Spanish is better than my English, so I have a thriving Hispanic clientele. I build trust into my business model. Loyal clients come to me because they know that I won’t sell them something they shouldn’t buy. New clients come to me through word-of-mouth referrals, and I’m doing repeat property transactions with clients who wouldn’t go to anyone else.
MY PATHWAY TO SUCCESS IN MY PROFESSION
I started in the mortgage business right after college. I was exposed to the industry because several of my friends were successful in real estate. They shared my business-minded philosophy, so I thought it would be a great fit. I had just been married and was attracted by the possibility of building my own business and perhaps earning a good income right away. It turned out to be a wise decision because I joined a nationwide firm and was accruing wealth by the end of my first year. Some luck was involved because it was a good time to get involved in real estate, but success mainly came as a result of my work ethic. I am relentless; I push hard to meet my goals. Nevertheless, my main focus is on people not profits.
The bottom dropped out of the real estate market in 2006 and some mortgage brokers and real estate companies went out of business. However, I learned that you can earn a good income in real estate during bust as well as boom times. I continued to thrive during the down-turn by becoming the first sales person the local Bank of America ever hired to handle their management and fulfillment activities. I became a unit lead, managing the backend of mortgage underwriting and processing. I began with a team of 12 and by the end of the year had 65 employees reporting to me.
I am now in the position of bringing my ten years’ experience as a mortgage broker, six years managing B of A loan operations, and four years’ experience as a real estate agent to bear on servicing clients.
Another part of my success derives from my ability to improve the properties I’m handling. I have developed a “virtual staff” of vetted professionals in 15 trades, including such things as painters, landscapers, and general contractors, who can manage whatever renovations, remodels, and upgrades a project might require. Clients needn’t worry about preparing properties for sale. I handle everything from fixing a garbage disposal unit to managing a major remodel. I also flip properties — doing whatever it takes to transform a mediocre listing into a property that people are bidding for.
Managing these transformations comes natural to me. Fashion is in my wheelhouse. I have a passion for interior design and know what it takes to move a room from nice to memorable. I am constantly experimenting with my own home, which I’ve renovated piece-by-piece until each room looks like something from a feature in Better Homes & Gardens magazine.
“ I HAVE A PASSION FOR INTERIOR DESIGN AND KNOW WHAT IT TAKES TO MOVE A ROOM FROM NICE TO MEMORABLE. ”
They were upper middleclass in Nicaragua but left all that behind and were working hard to become successful in their new country. As a result, we were living in an affordable housing low-income neighborhood. Many of my friends and school-mates dropped out of high school before graduation, so college was certainly not on the horizon for most of them. Even though I was a member of that society, I gained my values and personal philosophies from my parents and not from my peers.
“ INTEGRITY IN OUR BUSINESS IS IMPORTANT TO US. ”
Through their teaching and example, my folks instilled within me their dream of a better life and the work-ethic that would make the dream come true.
As a result of my upbringing, I became a self-starter, always looking for ways to do a task right or to do it better. After high school, I attended San Jose State University (SJSU) for two years. The education was good, but SJSU is a commuter school, and I wanted the full on-campus college experience. I learned that the Business program at San Diego State (SDSU) had a good reputation, so I finished my degree there.
San Diego State turned out to be everything I had hoped it would be. I had transferred mid-semester as a junior, so I was a new face to the other students in Zura dorm who were acquaintances and friends with each other. I have an outgoing personality, however, and make friends quickly. One of the people I made friends with was a first-year student named Jennifer Boles. We started dating during that first semester and were married six years later.
When I enrolled in SDSU I had to borrow $12,000 to pay my first semester expenses. However, during my next five years as a student, I was able to pay out-of-pocket for every dime of tuition and expense and never borrowed another penny.
My first job, which I started during my first year of school was tending bar at The Charcoal Steakhouse. That was a good job, and I got nice tips. My quality of life got a big push upwards during my last two years when I landed a full-time position as a telemarketer with the school’s alumni fundraising program. My tuition was covered, and I had an on-campus office. It was a satisfying job.
All of the people I called were alumni, most of them had good memories about the school and were glad to talk to me. It helped that I had come to really appreciate the school myself and enjoyed working with the fundraising program. Many of the people I called ended up getting on board with the program.
As I grew into the job, I found ways to increase the percentage of alumni involvement. I began revising my scripts and finding ways to appeal to alumni’s sense of loyalty that would be more effective than simply asking for a donation. I made my appeals more specific, so an alum felt he/she was donating to a particular project rather than simply giving to the school.
Within six months I was managing a team and before the first year was out I had become the project manager with as many as 75 people reporting to me.
Because of the diversity of my upbringing, I had developed an easy manner in communicating with people whatever their status or ethnicity. I got the members of the team to focus on adjusting their appeal to suit the various populations they were calling in order to channel responses to the single goal of increasing contributions. Alumni were apt to write a big check for a specific project they could get behind if, for example, they knew it was to help a professor become successful with an important project that he/she was working on. Our efforts paid off. At the beginning the alumni program was taking in about $300,000 a year and by the time I graduated revenues had risen to more than $1,000,000.
I wasn’t in any hurry to graduate, so I took a number of extra classes and stretched my time as a student to five years, so my fiancé Jennifer Boles and I graduated in the Class of 2001. We were married in 2003 and moved to the Bay Area to be close my family.
Jennifer is the principal at Discovery Bay’s All God’s Children Christian School. In the evenings and weekends, Jennifer is an important part of my team helping with the creative process and providing ideas for marketing particular properties. She provides whatever resources the business needs. Jennifer is an extension of me; sometimes the better part of me. She is the ultimate people person.
People love her! After meeting for a short time with potential buyers, she somehow has the ability to make them feel like family. We run the business in order to ensure that no client ever has a bad experience with us.
Integrity in our business is important to us. We live in Discovery Bay where they say you will eventually run across every resident at the local Safeway. They are always glad to see us. We conduct our business to make customers satisfied.
People wonder about our success. Here it is: they say that people might not remember what you said or did but they will remember how you made them feel.
I’m good at that! Clients become friends; I deal with each of them as though they are family. We spend time together; they sometimes visit our home.
They are glad to do business with us.
“...MY FOLKS INSTILLED WITHIN ME THEIR DREAM OF A BETTER LIFE AND THE WORK-ETHIC THAT WOULD MAKE THE DREAM COME TRUE. ”
Photos By Ron Essex