The 2021 Real Trends "The Thousand" and "America's Best" Rankings

Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty is pleased to announce the success and recognition of its top individual agents and small agent teams who made the 2021 REAL Trends “The Thousand” and “America’s Best” rankings. The annual reports published by Real Trends are a summary of the top 1,000 independent real estate agents and teams in the United States (“The Thousand”) and a state-by-state ranking of top agents in the country (“America’s Best”). Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty is the No. 1 represented Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliate in the United States on the prestigious industry lists for Individual Agents and Teams by Sales Volume, with 68 agents and small teams recognized.

The REAL Trends “The Thousand” comprises four categories: the Top 250 Agents by Sides, Top 250 Agents by Sales Volume, Top 250 Teams by Sides, and Top 250 Teams by Sales Volume. Two agent teams from the San Francisco Bay Area brokerage made the list of top 250 Small Teams by Sales Volume, including The Dreyfus Group (#30) and the Applegarth + Warrin Team (#61). Four individual agents made the top 250 Agents by Sales Volume list, including John Shroyer (#112), Mary Bee-Thrasher (#125), Jill Levy (#227), and Olivia Decker (#240).

“The recognition of our agents on the “The Thousand” rankings is a result of hard work, extensive market knowledge and the support of the Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty brand, which enables our agents to effectively market and sell extraordinary residences,” said Bill Bullock, President and CEO of Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty. “We are proud to have The Dreyfus Group, the Applegarth + Warrin Team, John Shroyer, Mary Bee-Thrasher, Jill Levy, and Olivia Decker represent our company on this prestigious industry list. I am equally proud of all of our agents who made the “America’s Best” rankings and I commend them for their commitment to excellence.”

Congratulations to our exceptional agents and teams.


The Real Trends 500 Brokerage Rankings are in

The Real Trends 500 Brokerage Rankings are in. Golden Gate Sotheby's International Realty ranked among the nation's best in a variety of metrics including, #1 in Average Sales Price in the U.S. and the #4 Largest Sotheby's International Realty Affiliate by Sales Volume. Congratulations to our exceptional agents and incredible staff. Discover the full list of rankings here.

Real Trends Rankings

The $30 Million Island Mansion That Twitter, Netflix, and Kayak Built

Set on Belvedere Island just north of San Francisco, the contemporary house took venture capitalist Todd Chaffee five years to build. Featured by Bloomberg, and listed by Bill Bullock, Lydia Sarkissian, and Magda Sarkissian of Golden Gate Sotheby's International Realty. 

Aerial of house

By 2007, Todd Chaffee had already lived in two houses on Belvedere Island when he decided to buy a third.

The venture capitalist first moved to the tiny, affluent community off the coast of the Tiburon Peninsula in 2000. “Our first place was on the lagoon, a supercool little waterway within the island. Our second house was on the very top of the island, but then we wanted to be closer to the water, and this lot came up,” he says. “I was like, I’m grabbing it.”

Chaffee, an advisory partner at Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), has led investments in Twitter, Netflix, and Kayak. “Most VCs are down in Silicon Valley or the city, but I elected to build on Belvedere because it’s such a special place,” he says. “It’s one of the wealthiest communities in the U.S., but who cares about that? It’s nice because it’s an understated, friendly, conscious community.”

Chaffee says it takes him 20 minutes to get to downtown San Francisco, 30 minutes to wine country, and two minutes to downtown Tiburon. “It’s also one of the safest communities in the country,” he says. “Our newspaper’s police blotter is so funny—some lady is calling about a dog barking too loud, or the fire department is deployed for a cat.”

It is also, in Chaffee’s telling, a very difficult place to build a house. He hired Joshua Aidlin, a co-founder of Aidlin Darling Design, to build a 7,500-square-foot home, and Blasen Landscape Architecture to design the grounds of the 0.6-acre lot. After permits were approved, Chaffee says, the building process took a staggering five years.

patio and kitchen

“The codes are so restrictive that everything gets overengineered,” he says. “We have a commercial-grade fire suppression system. It drove me nuts. It’s cool now, but it wasn’t cool then.”

Now, after five years of living on the property, which also includes a separate 800-square-foot guest house, Chaffee has decided to sell it. He’s listed the house with the Sarkissian/Bullock Team of Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty for $29.5 million. 

“For family reasons, we’re moving to Southern California,” he says. “And believe it or not, I’m going to start another build-up in Tahoe.”

kitchen and family room

The House

After buying the property, the first thing Chaffee decided, he says, “is that we wanted to take advantage of the view, which drove us toward contemporary design.” A more traditional architectural style, he explains, “could have big windows, but you’re kind of fighting the design. With contemporary you can do massive glass windows all over the place.”

His actual requirements for the house were straightforward: “We knew we wanted two offices, one for myself and one for my wife, and I have four kids we wanted to accommodate.”

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As a result, the main house has five bedrooms and six baths, with another bedroom and bath in the guest house to round things out. “We built it based on what we needed as a family,” he says.

The main floor has a series of indoor-outdoor spaces, some of which front the water with views of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Mount Tamalpais; there’s also an interior courtyard on the other side of the property in case “the wind kicks up,” Chaffee says. “There’s a fire pit right off the living room and dining room—no matter what the weather is, we can always entertain.”

Aidlin Darling incorporated a combination of steel, stone, oak, leather, and bronze into the home’s interior fittings.

“Friends come here and admire the intersections of wood steel and concrete,” Chaffee says. “The architects were obsessing over that.”

There are also engineering feats, he continues, that he has to remind himself not to take for granted. “There’s a huge 10-foot-tall, 4-foot wide leather-and-metal door integrated into the wall between the media room” and another living area, he says. “You just push on it, and it pops out and seals the room off.”

outdoor patio

There are also two storage rooms built into the ground. “We haven’t done anything with those, but if things get weird, you could easily turn them into bunkers,” Chaffee says.

All of the furniture was custom-made for the house, and “comes with the house if someone wants it,” he says.

Chaffee says the cost of the land, plus the cost of construction and landscaping, cost him about $25 million. “It’s expensive,” he says, “but think about it: We had one of the top architects in the country, one of the top landscape designers in the Bay Area, which wasn’t cheap, and then we hired one of the top construction firms.”

Read the rest here. 


How to Sell in 'Hidden Gem' Markets

See how top performers market lesser-known locations that are no less delightful for buyers, as featured on Inman News.

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For many of today’s luxury buyers, the perfect vacation property may be closer than they think. As international travel remains restricted, buyers are taking note of the second-home markets that have always been in their backyards — world-class treasures hidden in plain sight.

Perhaps your primary market is near a resort town, a seaside paradise, or a region of pristine natural splendor — or maybe you represent a second-home market and are seeing buyer interest increase. Now is the time to show your clients the value of a dream vacation home that’s within driving distance.

We connected with three luxury agents who have built their business selling exceptional real estate in lesser-known locales: here’s their advice.

1. Focus on the factors that make an unassuming market unique

Allison Richards, Sales Associate with Scenic Sotheby’s International Realty, has grown her business in Northern Florida along the Emerald Coast, which boasts the incredible beauty of coastal dune lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. Richards notes that one of the main benefits of operating in what she calls a “boutique market” is that there’s such a range of real estate offerings. “We can show highrise condos, beachfront homes, and bayfront estates all in the same day,” she says. “This also provides a wide array of price points, allowing people to find the perfect property in our stretch of paradise.” Knowing her market is unique for its breadth of available listings, Richards focuses on showing her clients that a vacation market isn’t out of reach, no matter their starting price point.

Jody Lovell, Owner and Broker at Highlands Sotheby’s International Realty, discovered Highlands, North Carolina through her husband, and they pioneered the practice of enjoying weekend escapes from the big city. Lovell makes sure her clients know that her market not only features a charming town with five-star dining and shopping, arts and culture, and outdoor activities, but a remarkable landscape that boasts a simultaneously subtropical and temperate climate. “Our messaging includes the natural beauty of the area, emphasizing that the Cashiers-Highlands Plateau will never be overpopulated since 70 percent of the land is National Forest,” she says.

Kiley Flint, Broker Associate with LIV Sotheby’s International Realty, focuses her practice on the ski resort town of Crested Butte in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

“How do you begin to describe a town that has everything?” she says. “In winter, the best skiing and winter sports; in summer, unmatchable biking, hiking, and golf. Buyers are drawn to the relaxed, casual, friendly nature that Crested Butte offers. Dress is casual, and sunshine is plentiful. Basically, people live a no-frills, genuine way of life in the mountains.”

Aerial Pool

2. Establish your local expertise and community connections

When you’re selling outside a major center, it’s up to you to fill in the details of your market for your buyers. By being an authority and maintaining local connections, you demonstrate to your buyers the benefits of putting down roots.

“By definition, a smaller market allows a broker to become more informed and knowledgeable of each home for sale,” says Lovell. “The broker provides a more meaningful and valuable service to both buyer and seller.”

Richards agrees. “Being active in your community and embracing being a local ensures you are your buyer’s go-to professional when it comes to investing in property and planning the experiences they wish to have.”

While bigger cities can sell themselves, for agents in a niche market, enthusiasm is key. “The advice that I would give other agents operating in smaller second-home markets is that it is all about the love you have for the area you are in,” says Flint. “You are selling a lifestyle, and you have to be passionate about that.”

Read the rest here!


Can AI Keep Real Estate Agents Relevant?

Written by Anton Danilovich, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder at TopHap, Inc., and Broker Associate at Golden Gate Sotheby's International Realty. Originally published on Forbes.

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Hey, real estate agents, guess what? The world has gone virtual. Have you?

We were lulled into a complacent comfort that we would always be needed even as more technology flowed into the real estate market. But quietly, Zillow, Redfin, Opendoor and the like have been enabling buyers to do their own legwork online while the rise of iBuyers has begun to erode the role of the real estate agent further.

Buyers and sellers are increasingly realizing the only thing they need from a real estate agent is paperwork. Unless we start thinking differently, the world is going to wake up and realize that when they hire a real estate agent to draft a purchase and sale agreement on a $1 million transaction, they're basically spending $50,000 on a fancy PDF. Real estate agents need to provide more than just a real estate license, but a strong brand that conveys knowledge, expertise and the invaluable intangibles.

Harnessing The Power Of Deep Data Analytics For Modern Agents

The answer isn't exclusively about data. It is also about how we analyze, understand and present that data. The most powerful force on earth, the human mind, is limited in its ability to process mountains of data simultaneously. If someone asks you to figure out the cubed root of pi, you'll immediately turn to a calculator, a machine, to help you out. And that's OK. We need to embrace our limitations and partner with technology.

AI can do much more than this. It can use machine learning to take a series of changing data points, compare them with historical trends, uncover correlations that we might never have seen, and tell you what a house is actually worth — and how much it will be worth next year and the year after that. Machine-learning algorithms can observe both static and evolving trends and factor them into calculations of a property's value in real time. Similar methods can reveal neighborhood trends, how they shift and how they may change in the future. They can reveal how much to invest in a property or how to renovate it to maximize the specific preferences of a neighborhood.

The data is out there. A real estate agent could, theoretically, visit every town hall, building department, records department and treasury office and get the data they need. If a real estate agent did this every day for a year, then entered the info into a series of interactive spreadsheets, they would have a fairly robust dataset. But technology enables us to do that in seconds. Furthermore, with AI, data can be compiled, organized and run through trend-based modeling software to produce the kind of information buyers and sellers need — and will increasingly demand.

For buyers and sellers, it will become a right​, ​not a privilege, to have access to this information. As a group of committed professionals, we can and should provide our clients more than just surface information; we can provide the deep information they need to make an informed decision.

So, real estate agents can stay relevant. But we must accept this reality: ​data matters​. The modern agent doesn't need to become a data scientist, but we do need to deliver the data-driven insights that clients want. To make this happen, we need to embrace technology with one hand and the client with the other. If we use data to help buyers and sellers make the best decisions of their lives, we can do better than make money — we can deliver the trusted advice clients deserve.

Read the original article on Forbes here.


Overcoming the Sales Hurdles of Outdated Design

Strategies for making an imperfect home into an appealing retreat, written by Sierra Sotheby's International Realty agent, Katherina Haug, and featured on Inman News. 

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Properties with dated design can be a challenge for luxury real estate agents, but they can also present exciting opportunities for agents willing to think creatively. Whether you’re revisioning a space from the studs up or staging a home to play off of unique features, even the most eclectic property has appeal for the right buyer. The trick is identifying a home’s hurdles and keeping lines of communication open with your sellers and buyers.

Outdated homes may mean taking on a larger design or restoration project than you’re accustomed to, but they don’t have to be daunting. Here are some of the steps I take to minimize complications and achieve results when an out-of-fashion listing comes across my desk.

Find the treasures amongst the tasks

Many of the homes in my Lake Tahoe market have generations of history behind them — and though they tend to age with grace, their architecture and décor do get dated. As with any listing, preparing the home for sale begins with a process of decluttering — but be mindful of what you opt to set aside.

Are you selling a home that vividly invokes the 1970s? Don’t be afraid to lean into that. Yes, contemporary design dictates that you’ll have to turf the Formica in the kitchen and the valances on the windows, but the modernist lighting fixtures and shag carpet might just be the wow factor that sets your property apart.

When a home is antiquated, that just speaks to its staying power. When was your listing built? Turn that impressive age into a selling point, and as you declutter, show buyers that the home has good bones and genuine handcrafted appeal. Is your property from the 1920s, but was poorly renovated in the 1960s? Replace the now-obsolete renovations with beautiful new furnishings, but leave the authentic, century-old details intact.

Go the extra mile to understand your buyers

Lake Tahoe largely caters to clients from the Bay Area who are looking to purchase a second home. These buyers already have contemporary primary residences in places like Palo Alto, and they’re looking for something different: a cabin or cottage where they can unwind with a meditation retreat, a digital detox, or an outdoor adventure.

These buyers will often see the value of one-of-a-kind, vintage properties that retain their original charm, and I prepare my listings accordingly. The reality is that not all buyers want the vaulted ceilings and smooth white surfaces you see in magazines — rather, they want a genuine piece of design history whose authenticity makes the home timeless.

Stage to sell

cabin living room

Staging a property has always served me well. A new paint job and tasteful pops of color enable clients to envision what’s possible in the space. Even when a property is a teardown, beautifying it can elevate the price point and make all the difference when closing a deal.

But many buyers aren’t looking to sink time into establishing a new home — in a vacation market like mine, they want a turnkey property that they can enjoy tomorrow. There have been numerous cases where my buyers have purchased the staging décor along with the property.

There are also certain must-haves that today’s buyers are looking for, and it won’t matter how much character and charm your older properties have if they lack these types of features. Have a practical conversation with your sellers — accompanied by contractors and designers, where possible — about how basic structural changes, such as widening the windows or removing dated archways, can decrease time on market and yield a high return on investment. When casting a vision, augmented reality tools can help you show a client what isn’t yet in place.

Seek inspiration from your networks

Agents have access to a wide range of social and professional networks to keep ourselves sharp. I like to scour Pinterest and Instagram to see what is possible for bringing challenging spaces up to date, and I stay in touch with other agents. If I’m at a loss as to how to remodel an older property, for example, I look to Shay Millheiser of Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty in Austin, Texas, whose social media channels are full of fresh perspectives on renovation and design.

Selling a home with an outdated design is a real estate challenge that even luxury agents face on a regular basis. Prepare unique homes in a way that modernizes the interiors while turning its deep history into its most marketable asset. The demand is there — now it’s up to us as luxury agents to leverage our knowledge, contacts, and creativity to connect clients with features they didn’t even know where available to them.

Read the original article here.


REAL Trends Names Bill Bullock a 2020 Game Changer

San Francisco Bay Area Broker makes Prestigious List of Top Growth Brokerage Firms. Featured by PR Newswire. 

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SAN FRANCISCO, June 4, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- REAL Trends, Inc., the Trusted Source in residential brokerage, named Bill Bullock, President and CEO of Golden Gate Sotheby's International Realty, to its second annual REAL Trends Game Changers list of esteemed industry professionals changing the game of real estate.

This year, REAL Trends targeted the top growth brokerage firms (between 2014-2018) and picked the 13 leaders from the national networks and independents, including Bullock, who ranked 5th on the list, having grown his San Francisco Bay Area brokerage by 190%. Today, Golden Gate Sotheby's International Realty has 500 agents, 24 offices and over $5 billion in 2019 sales volume. The brokerage also topped the 2020 Real Trends 500 national rankings in a number of metrics, including #25 in Sales Volume, #5 for Highest Average Sale Price, and #20 for growth in closed escrows. Bullock's exclusive "Game Changers" podcast with REAL Trends just debuted, highlighting how he grew his brokerage and the cornerstones to his success.

"When you have a vision that's so strong that you know in your heart that it cannot fail, then you do everything you have to do to push that vision forward, including if you have to mortgage the farm," says Bullock. "Recognize that there are real risks associated with growth and you have to be willing to take them, if you want to grow. Do your due diligence and seek advice, but in the end, trust your hunches — they're almost always right. Then, feel the fear, and do it anyway!"

The Game Changers rankings took years of collecting data through the agent, team, brokerage and website rankings, CEO groups, and consulting work, positioning REAL Trends like no other to know the inner workings of real estate brokerages. "Bullock is among a truly outstanding group of broker-leaders with impressive growth achievements," says REAL Trends Founder and President Steve Murray.

"We sincerely believe in measuring performance over multiple years, because it's the truest way to find out who is leading in the brokerage business," says Murray. "This year's group of Game Changers led their respective brands and models in growth of closed sides over a five-year period. We believe this is a mark of consistent persistence—how a leader establishes a culture of achievement and gets buy-in from the whole team and then gets it done."

Read the original article here.

 


Bill Bullock Named 2020 Game Changer by REAL Trends

REAL Trends. Inc., the Trusted Source in residential brokerage, has named Bill Bullock, President and CEO of Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty, to its second annual REAL Trends Game Changers list of esteemed industry professionals changing the game of real estate. Bullock ranked 5th in the nation, having grown Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty 190% between 2014-2018.

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Join editor in chief of content for REAL Trends, Tracy Velt, as she sits with Bullock for an exclusive interview for the “Game Changers” podcast, or read their conversation below:

TV: This is Tracy Velt, editor in chief of content for REAL Trends. REAL Trends 500 data shows that there are a handful of brokerage owners who consistently achieve high growth year after year. These brokers were selected to be 2020 REAL Trends Game Changers. Today, we're speaking with Bill Bullock, president, CEO and co-owner of Golden Gate Sotheby's International Realty in the San Francisco Bay Area, to find out how they managed 189.9% growth between 2014 and 2018. Welcome, Bill.

BB: Thank you, Tracy. Thanks for having me.

TV: Yeah, great. We'll start from the beginning. Tell me a little bit about the brokerage and some of your growth initiatives as well.

BB: Well, we began this company almost 30 years ago with a couple of owners and five agents and one little office. And over the years, we gradually became larger, primarily in Marin County, California, the county just north of San Francisco, just over the Golden Gate Bridge. And in 2007, we affiliated with Sotheby's International Realty and then we began a program of consolidating the Sotheby's International Realty affiliates in the Bay Area. And we've now consolidated the five largest affiliates and we're now 27 offices, over 600 agents, and we're in seven Bay Area counties.

TV: Okay, great. Obviously achieving that type of growth over the past four years is incredible, and growth comes in different ways. Tell me about how you built the company. Obviously, there were some roll-ins, mergers, acquisitions; and then how much of that growth is organic and has your focus changed to more organic growth over the past couple of years?

BB: I would say most of the growth has been through mergers and acquisitions, acquisitions mostly. And our organic growth was in Marin County. When we affiliated with Sotheby's, we were 35 agents. Within a couple of years, we were over 200 agents and two billion in sales and nine offices from that very modest little start we began in 2007. That was all organic.

BB: But since then, most of our growth has been through acquisitions. Although interestingly, a lot of our growth now is organic because some of the glitter from the bright, new shiny object is beginning to wear off a little bit and some folks are either coming back or want to join a little larger and more traditional real estate company.

TV: Yeah. You obviously have a lot of the competition in your market. And so obviously in every entrepreneur's life there's kind of an aha moment and that is the moment you realized that you needed to change the way you were doing things in order to scale and grow or needed to stop your current business plan and get creative. What was that kind of turning point for you or that aha moment?

BB: Well, there were two. I would say one was in 2007 when we were invited to become a Sotheby's affiliate. That was a big moment for us. Had we not done that, I don't think that we would be the company that we are today. But even then, the real aha moment for me was in 2009 when after the 2008 economic meltdown, everybody including real estate companies were heading for the hills. Everybody was terrified. I was sitting in my office one day and I said to myself, "Bullock, if you are ever going to be anything but a single county company here, you have got to come out of this downturn better than you went in it."

BB: We only had one office at that time, and we went out and leased a 7,000 square foot building, the best commercial building in Marin County, which we could not afford. And I hired a chief operating officer, whom we could also not afford. I bet the whole company on that decision to come out of that downturn better than we had gone into it, and it's interesting everybody thought I was crazy then. But that was really the time that changed the company because when we came out of this downturn, the market came back in 2010. We've had almost 10 years now of uninterrupted expansion in the economy and in the residential real estate market. And we've been at the forefront of that since that 2009 decision to change the way we were doing things.

TV: Yeah. A lot of brokers learned a lot of lessons through that downturn.

BB: Well, and I did too. Yeah, we all did. I learned some lessons too, but I glad I did it. And of course, I was scared as hell about doing it, but I'm glad we did it. That was the smartest thing we could have ever done at that time.

TV: Yep. It was a good risk. Let's talk specifics about your growth. What did you and your leadership team do to create such growth? Obviously, you talked about acquisitions, but tell me a little bit about your recruiting, your business practices concerning those acquisitions and your culture.

BB: Well, when I looked around the Bay Area, there were 10 Sotheby's affiliates and most of them were... and at that time our predecessor company, Decker Bullock Sotheby's was the largest. And then when I acquired Dreyfus Sotheby's down on the peninsula in Silicon Valley in Menlo Park and Palo Alto, we changed the name then to Golden Gate Sotheby's, and we began to contact all of the three remaining large affiliates and have now assimilated them all.

BB: There are a few Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates remaining that are not particularly large except for the San Francisco office. That's a big place and it has satellites. But we just started acquiring those companies, and cultures... This is a company that's really focused on agents and it's a company owned by agents. The owners are still active agents in the business. The owners still sell every day. I think we're possibly a little more focused on what agents need and why they need it and how they need it delivered and what agents are willing to do.

BB: For example, I mean one of the most difficult things we have to do is to just get agents to log in to a program, and so we've tried to create an environment that we send small teams out to teach agents how to use the great products and the technology that we've developed. I won't call myself a technology company because we're not, but we are a service company and we support that service with some very strong technology. But our culture here is, it's about the agent and our business practices are like everybody else's, I suppose.

BB: I mean, we're still, and I think we'll continue to be a traditional real estate company. We tend to operate in the high end of the business out here. And generally, we're the high-end brokers for all the counties that we're in. We tend to focus on the high end and we tend to focus on the agents that we have in the company.

TV: Okay. If you could offer other brokers some advice on growing their businesses, what would it be?

BB: Well, I think what I would say is, is don't be afraid. As a manager at every level in an organization, you have to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are, but then don't let them talk you out of your vision. And they'll try because no one likes change, especially when things are really going well. When things are going well, nobody wants to stretch.

TV: Right.

BB: And you'll always have self-doubts, that little devil that sits on your shoulder and tells you something really bad is about to happen. You've just got to shut that chatter box down and refill your thoughts with positive outcomes, and don't allow negativity to creep in to your thinking. And yes, as a visionary, I'm talking about now, yes, you have to be prudent and, yes, you have to pay attention. But when you have a vision that is so strong that you'd know in your heart that it cannot fail, then you do everything you have to do to push that vision forward, including if you have to mortgage the farm.

BB: Don't be reckless, but recognize that there are real risks associated with growth and you have to be willing to take them, if you want to grow. Do your due diligence and seek advice, but in the end, trust your hunches — they’re almost always right. Then, feel the fear, and do it anyway!

TV: Yeah, definitely.

BB: If you want to stay the way you are then I think that's okay. And I think within the next couple of years we're going to... And I don't particularly like this word, but this "disruption" that we've heard so much about in the last two or three years, my prediction is that that's going to settle down and then we're all just real estate companies again. And the main thing now is to just hang on again and keep doing what you're doing.

TV: Yeah, I agree. Once everyone has the technology, what sets you apart?

BB: It's interesting, Tracy, I hear that. And of course that's all we've heard for the last two years is about the technology company, but they don't have anything that we don't. And in fact, when I compare our programs, our programs are better than theirs and we've developed them. We didn't buy them.

TV: Right.

BB: And they're specific to us and I believe they work better.

TV: Yeah.

BB: And we do not claim to be a technology company. We are a service company. And I continue to believe that the market, particularly the high-end market, will continue to pay for that service.

TV: Yeah.

BB: I hear there's going to be a huge commission restructuring, and maybe that'll happen, but I don't think on my watch.

TV: Well, Bill, thank you so much for your insight and congratulations on being named a 2020 REAL Trends Game Changer.

Listen to the original interview here.


Use These 4 Social Channels to Grow Your Business

How to connect with clients and extend your network on social media, as featured on Inman News.

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Real estate agents are already fluent in the art of storytelling, whether through well-crafted words, compelling images, or dynamic video. And these tools have only become more important as more client interactions take place online. But choosing where to spend your time online can be a challenge. Which channels are most worth your investment? And how do you stay ahead of the social media curve?

“Social media is an excellent tool for homebuyers,” says Vlad Popach, Founding Member and Broker at Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty. “They’re able to take a glimpse into a real estate agent’s business, experience, and lifestyle, all before inquiring for services.”

Today, leveraging Facebook and Instagram to share images and insights is table stakes for many luxury agents. The question has become: which channels should you be using when? And where can you find your next social lead? Here are specific strategies for four channels, from the perspective of three top-producing luxury agents.

1. Facebook

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Luxury agents are familiar with Facebook, and there are many tried-and-true strategies for maximizing the platform’s effectiveness. It’s one of the channels most conducive to sharing written content and is more likely to connect you with mature prospects rather than emerging affluents.

“We differentiate our content between Facebook and Instagram to cover a lot of ground,” says Popach, “With the former being more business and finance-centric, and the latter being more business marketing.”

Glenn Norrgard, Senior Global Real Estate Advisor and Associate Broker at Sotheby’s International Realty in New York, also recommends the Social Ad Engine, a proprietary company tool custom built in partnership with Facebook for placing ads and generating leads. “I find this to be a targeted approach to focusing each piece of content to a specific audience.”

2. Instagram

It’s hardly news that Instagram is a popular platform with millennial homebuyers. Norrgard recommends diving into the existing Instagram audience by using “a mix of personal and professional posts with hashtags that try to reach out to new audiences to increase that following.”

He follows a rule of thirds: “One third of my posts are personal — photos of my hobbies, which include cooking and skiing. One third relate to real estate in general: I post links to articles that may be of interest to those looking for real estate content, and I highlight other agents from my professional network and their listings. And one third are related to my endeavors in real estate, such as my own listings.”

Even though Instagram may be less popular among more seasoned real estate buyers, content can still reach them through their own social networks. “My largest sale to date came from a teenager watching one of my Instagram videos and sharing it with his parents,” says Dylan Tent, Sales Manager at Signature Sotheby’s International Realty. “That’s why it’s important for me to be represented on all platforms.”

3. YouTube

Your clients are using YouTube — whether or not they’re aware of it. Buyers and sellers may not intentionally begin their journeys searching for video content online — but many will engage with video content that’s embedded in the other channels they browse. That’s why YouTube is an important platform to keep active as you lay the breadcrumbs across your customers’ feeds.

Maintain an active YouTube channel, and incorporate your videos into your personal website, your real estate listings, other social media accounts, and your email marketing campaigns to maximize reach. Even without a high number of direct views, your YouTube channel is an effective repository for video content that can be embedded elsewhere.

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4. TikTok

The more established channels aren’t the only worthwhile places for agents to spend their time. Newcomer TikTok has seen a meteoric rise as one of the most popular channels for video sharing, particularly among younger prospects. “Recently, I’ve seen a lot of engagement on TikTok,” explains Tent. “My page grew rapidly from zero to 22,000 followers. I have a video with over 1,000,000 views, and several others in the hundred thousand range.”

While real estate videos on your Instagram account or YouTube channel may be expected to have a certain level of professional polish, Tent has found that TikTok is more open to raw, authentic footage. He often syncs his clips to popular music tracks, promoting not only his properties but the luxury lifestyles they help make possible.

“The most important thing is using the platforms consistently,” says Tent. “Many agents try to post things a few times and stop when they do not get immediate results. It was two years before I had a transaction that resulted from Instagram.”

For Popach, connecting with prospects through online channels comes down to delivering exceptional service. “Key takeaways for agents wanting to engage with clients on social media regardless of channel: be of value, provide quality content, post frequently, and interact with your followers.”


Japanese-inspired off-the-grid compound with winery for sale for $20M

Listed by Golden Gate Sotheby's International Realty Agents Stephanie Lamarre and B.G. Bates. As featured on SF Gate.

If a totally off-the-grid compound with multiple houses to spread out in is sounding pretty good right now, be prepared to swoon over this property that just went on the market in West Marin for $20 million.

aerialBlu Sky Films

West Wind Estate at 333-345 Willow Road in Nicasio includes 32 acres on Black Mountain, which the current owners purchased in 1985 when it was vacant land. Owner John Klock and his wife wanted to build their vision of “Japanese zen living” and enlisted renowned architect Len Brackett, who also designed Larry Ellison’s iconic Japanese teahouse in Atherton. Each structure utilized Japanese construction, meaning there are no nails, custom wood throughout and an emphasis on indoor/outdoor living.

GateRed Gate Photography

“Japanese philosophy is you build the house to integrate it into the environment,” Klock said. “Everything is really harmonized.”

Living SpaceRed Gate Photography

All materials used are sustainable and energy-efficient, such as old-growth Port Orford cedar, copper roofs and cherry wood floors. There’s also a hidden solar grid that produces so much power for the estate that Klock said they get money back each year from PG&E. It also has its own water and septic system.

Wine CellarRed Gate Photography

The property also includes a small vineyard growing Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc grapes and a 2,400 square foot wine cave believed to be the only cave of its kind in Marin.

AerialRed Gate Photography

There’s also a small orchard of Italian olive trees and fruit trees, which produce olive oil for the estate.

WorkshopRed Gate Photography

You’ll also find an art studio/workshop, a greenhouse, a Japanese Kura or treasure house (construction to be completed June 2020), and a barn on site.

PondRed Gate Photography

The sprawling grounds include formal Japanese gardens and Koi ponds, as well as a swimming pool and bocce ball court.

PoolRed Gate Photography

A view of the pool and the bocce ball court.

Living spaceRed Gate Photography

Klock said he and his wife are getting older and its time to pass the property on to someone else, while they move on to something simpler.

Living spaceRed Gate Photography

The property is listed by Stephanie Lamarre and B.G. Bates of Golden Gate Sotheby's International Realty.

Read the original article here. 


1898 Historic Gold Coast Original in Alameda Hits the Market for $2.69M

As featured on SF Gate.

Front of house

Built-in 1898, by A.W. Pattiani, a prolific Bay Area architect/builder, the historic Alameda home at 1421 San Antonio is asking $2.69 million.

Throughout the first half of the 20th century it housed some illustrious Alameda residents. In the 1930s, George Wright (head attorney at S.F. law firm Wright Wright & Larson) lived here. Later, the Krusi family, the son of whom made news in the Oakland Tribune in 1942 for barely escaping the war with his life. Then the Murphys, a family who had “14 kids, conducted political meetings in the living room, and Girl Scout meetings in the basement,” listing agent Herman Chan told SFGATE. After that it was the Moonies (Barbara Moonie raised her family here while also running Jay’s Coffee, Tea, and Treats a block away).

Today, the current sellers present a home they've “re-envisioned for 2020 while paying homage to its historic past.”

That past is shown in the colonial style still intact with the hardwood floors, leaded glass, built-ins and exquisitely carved banister and stairwell.

New features include an additional 1,000 square feet, a transformed backyard, updated baths, a modern chef’s kitchen, and a refinished attic and basement. The 4,500 square feet also features a library, six bedrooms, three full baths and two half baths.

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There's also a one-car garage on the .25 acre lot.

The home is adjacent to Franklin Park and a short hop to Alameda amenities.

In 2017, the property listed for $1.799 million and sold three months later for $1.6 million. Three years later, it's asking $1 million more.

See the complete listing here.


NapaStat | $2.05 million: That's the price of the most expensive home sold in Napa city in March.

As feature on the Napa Valley Register.

18 Buhman Ct exterior

Golden Gate Sotheby's International Realty Agent Jill Levy sells the most expensive home sold in Napa city in March for $2.05 million. The property is located at 18 Buhman Ct.

Read the original article here.