Real Estate Marketing Academy

How 10 Successful Real Estate Agents Built Their Brands

By Matthew Bushery

About

successful real estate agents branding tipsIt’s okay to think small with your real estate branding ideas at first. But as you learn how to be a successful real estate agent and continue to build your business you need to start thinking bigger with your brand promotion and reevaluate your business goals and vision.

Look at the established and rising stars of real estate, and you’ll see the benefits of aiming high.

From agents who land prestigious positions with the most respected firms in the country to agents who have transitioned into executive roles or branched out into other business opportunities, there are many top producers whom you can glean real estate marketing ideas and career insights from — starting with the widely known and esteemed ones below.

Barbara Corcoran

Career Background:

Brand-Building Highlights:

  • Corcoran appears as a regular on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and invests in up-and-coming ventures.
  • She books numerous public speaking engagements at major events and conferences worldwide.

Barbara CorcoranIn short, for Barbara Corcoran, real estate was just the start of something bigger. Without even trying, odds are you’ll see her, or companies affiliated with her, on a daily basis. Just look online or turn on your TV.

The savvy real estate executive and investor has not only worked in the industry for a few decades, she has also expanded her personal brand by providing capital for others’ ventures — most notably through the TV show “Shark Tank.” Add in the fact she regularly speaks at some of the biggest conventions and forums associated with real estate, entrepreneurship, and the business world at large, you can see why she’s arguably the most famous name in real estate.

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Paula Del Nunzio

Career Background:

  • Del Nunzio has worked in real estate since 1990, a period during which she has sold numerous multimillion-dollar properties.
  • In 2013, she broke the record for selling a townhouse for highest price-per-square-foot amount ever at $4,754 per square foot.

Brand-Building Highlights:

  • Del Nunzio has received press coverage in notable news publications and outlets, including The New York Times, CNN, and NBC.
  • Due to her work in the field, The New York Observer has featured Del Nunzio on its Power 100 list every year since 2008.

Paula Del NunzioDel Nunzio is another agent who specializes in a distinct market. Instead of a certain demographic, she works mostly in deals revolving around townhomes and penthouses — luxury properties that tend to sell for a pretty penny. Accordingly, Del Nunzio’s career differs from Caballero’s in that she doesn’t have to close thousands of transactions to generate high income.

Since beginning her career in real estate, she has helped finalize deals for just a shade over 100 listings. The total sales volume for those homes, however, comes to roughly $2 billion. Developing an “encyclopedic knowledge” of the townhouse and penthouse markets has not only helped Del Nunzio achieve unique success, but also recognition from her firm, Brown Harris Stevens, on multiple occasions.

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Ben Caballero

Career Background:

  • Caballero has been a real estate broker since age 21 and has worked for several firms.
  • Annually, he closes hundreds of millions of dollars worth of deals, including a total of $747 million in 2014.

Brand-Building Highlights:

  • Caballero’s work has been recognized by Real Trends, which named him the U.S.’s top producer since 2011.
  • Named 2014’s Most Innovative Real Estate Agent by Inman News.

Ben CaballeroCaballero epitomizes hard work and has a deep understanding of the intricacies of being a real estate agent. Instead of focusing his real estate marketing and sales efforts toward a large swath of his market, Caballero instead specializes in a distinct niche — the home builders market — and develops connections within this subset. By networking with home construction firms, Caballero has generated thousands of sales, as he completes many of his transactions in bulk.

As he explains in a post on his official real estate blog, “Through my specialized services, builders increase revenue, buyers purchase homes at competitive prices, and agents save time and sell more new homes.” Less time selling and more money pouring in — that’s an agent’s dream.

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Kenny Truong

Career Background:

  • Truong began his career in 2011, but has quickly gained a hefty market share in the East Bay area of Northern California.
  • The Climb Real Estate agent has sold more than 100 properties over the last two years in Oakland.

Brand-Building Highlights:

  • Truong has a strong real estate social media presence and uses a simple yet effective hashtag (#FastAgent) to broaden brand awareness.
  • His blog entries have appeared in publications like Inman News, Yahoo, and Realtor Magazine.

Kenny TruongThough just a handful of years into his career as an agent, Truong embraces the modern real estate marketing strategy of getting found everywhere online. This approach — including his unique promotional tactic of plastering his branded hashtag on physical spaces across the Bay Area — has helped him own his niche and make a name for himself as a sharp Bay Area agent.

Truong clearly understands the concept of mastering your local market: the East Bay has served as his hunting ground since beginning his career, and it’s paid off handsomely. An intimate understanding of the most popular neighborhoods in the Cali community has established Truong as the go-to, modern agent, including promotion of clients’ homes for sale via responsive real estate websites and other digital marketing channels to gain maximum exposure for their listings.

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Dottie Herman

Career Background:

  • Herman purchased Prudential Long Island Realty in 1989 and now serves as President and CEO of Douglas Elliman Real Estate.
  • Today, her firm works with 4,000 real estate professionals, has nearly 700 employees, and conducts business through more than 70 offices.

Brand-Building Highlights:

Dottie HermanThe highly ranked real estate agency is in good hands under Herman’s direction. This is evidenced not only by the company’s stature in the real estate industry, but also in its embrace of emerging technologies. Take Elli, the Douglas Elliman smartphone app, for instance. Herman and her management team made sure assisting their agent teams was a top priority, and thus created the useful tool to help them keep in touch with clients throughout the home buying or selling journey.

Moves like this set Herman and her firm apart from the competition. Welcoming the changes that have come with the digital revolution have only helped Douglas Elliman seamlessly transition into the 21st century, and Herman has been at the helm of the business during these changes. Expect more interesting real estate marketing plays from the CEO and her successful New York–based agency in the future.

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Laura Brady

Career Background:

  • After forays into the worlds of commerce and commercial real estate, Brady joined the Sotheby’s residential sales team in 2008.
  • Four years later, she founded her own unique luxury real estate firm, Concierge Auctions, which she has turned into an industry powerhouse.

Brand-Building Highlights:

Laura BradyDisrupting the real estate industry is a goal shared by agents and brokers far and wide. Brady and her high-end home sales business aim to disrupt the luxury sector by turning what is often a long and difficult deal-closing process into a swift and simple procedure.

By having its seller clients provide a set, final price for their properties, Brady and her team put in the work to create demand for those listings and find the right buyers willing to pay the fixed price — not exactly the craziest business model.

In fact, it’s made lots of sense for Concierge, since the firm has sold roughly $750 million in properties since its inception in 2008. The bold brand move has led to high praise for Brady, and, in turn, an array of media coverage and speaking engagement opportunities.

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Mauricio Umansky

Career Background:

  • Umansky co-founded The Agency more than 10 years ago and hasn’t looked back since, turning the brokerage into a revered player in the industry.
  • His firm conducts billions of dollars in transactions, and Umansky is no slouch himself, having personally closed nearly $2 billion in real estate sales.

Brand-Building Highlights:

  • Naming your real estate agency The Agency is a pretty bold move, but one that’s paid off for Umansky and his firm.
  • Umansky and Co. have gotten their names in countless national publications, like Variety, Architectural Digest, and The New York Times.

Mauricio UmanskyPersistence and dedication to the craft of selling properties is a requisite trait to become a real estate top producer. Working with like-minded pros, including his father, Eduardo, and respected architectural specialists Billy Rose and Blair Chang, has benefited Umansky and helped The Agency master the art of closing deals for “the world’s most distinguished architectural estates, new luxury developments, and design-centric homes.”

Traveling overseas to meet with prospective clients has helped build Umansky’s personal and professional networks and gained the business and trust of buyers throughout the world. This can’t-slow-down mindset keeps him and his brokerage moving full speed ahead. A comprehensive online real estate marketing presence certainly aids this growth as well.

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Maria Babaev

Career Background:

  • Since leaving her job on Wall Street, Babaev has spent more than a decade working primarily in the luxury real estate sector.
  • A fluency in Russian has helped Babaev develop relationships with foreign investors interested in the high-end New York market.

Brand-Building Highlights:

  • Real estate listing video tours of the premier listings Babaev represents distinguish her online marketing efforts.
  • Regular appearances on CNBC to discuss the state of Long Island’s luxury market have gained Babaev considerable media exposure.

Maria BabaevThe international market is arguably one of the best niches in real estate today — particularly in the hotbed that is the North Shore of Long Island real estate market. Selling homes in the Hamptons is one of the premier ways to make a name for yourself in the industry, and that’s exactly what Babaev has done for the past 10-plus years.

The connections she has formed in the New York Metro area and in the Russian community have sparked her career, leading to a still-growing real estate brand trusted by the Big Apple’s elite and foreign buyers alike. Her participation in business and cultural groups, such as the Russian Nobility Association, has also bolstered awareness of Babaev’s business and helped her stay active with her heritage and primary audience.

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Dolly Lenz

Career Background:

  • Lenz was employed with Sotheby’s International Realty and Douglas Elliman for 25 years before starting her own firm.
  • Based solely on the numbers, Lenz is one of the most successful real estate agents in the industry, having closed $8.5 billion in deals.

Brand-Building Highlights:

  • Working with Donald Trump may not sound enticing, but doing so has done wonders for Lenz’s real estate brand.
  • MSNBC, CNN, Fox News — name a media outlet and Lenz has been a featured guest, dispensing her real estate insight.

Dolly LenzPlacester customer Dolly Lenz has changed things up with her career by founding her own real estate agency a few years ago and forming a team of some of the best and brightest agents in the business. Adding in financial advisory and general consulting services has set her venture apart from others in the industry, and Lenz’s sales haven’t suffered one bit since the transition.

Simply search Lenz’s name on Google and you’ll get an endless stream of search results related to the prominent deals she’s closed in the past couple of decades.

Her business style may be a bit unconventional — just read this article she had published on CNBC’s website — but this hard-nosed approach to her real estate marketing has worked extremely well for Lenz.

The chance to sell mega-mansions and super-high-end properties comes along only by taking risks, and the risks Lenz has taken have paid off.

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Madison Hildebrand

Career Background:

  • Hildebrand started in real estate with Coldwell Banker in 2005, a period during which he landed on Realtor Magazine’s “30 Under 30” list.
  • Later, Hildebrand founded his own agency, The Malibu Life, where his careers both in and out of the industry have taken off.

Brand-Building Highlights:

  • Hildebrand was one of the original cast members of “Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles,” which gained him national recognition.
  • From there, other media opportunities presented themselves, including book deals and work as a “celebrity correspondent” for E!.

Madison HildebrandSay what you will about those real estate agents who end up doing reality television, but the truth is doing so has aided the real estate branding for many of these agents over the past several years. Whether it’s a single-episode appearance on an HGTV series or, in Hildebrand’s case, a full-time gig on the hit Bravo show, the exposure is massive, and tends to lead to other chances to grow their professional portfolios.

And yet, after all of the publicity Hildebrand received from “Million Dollar Listing,” he decided to leave the program to tend to other business endeavors, like becoming brand ambassador for real estate tech firm DocuSign and Leverage Global Partners. Whichever avenue Hildebrand chooses seems to be the right decision, given the continually increasing opportunities presented to him.

The moral of the story here is: You may not end up becoming a celebrity like Hildebrand, but keep your eyes and ears open to discover your chance to make it “big” in your own right and advance your real estate career.

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BONUS: The Agents from “Million Dollar Listing”

Ryan Serhant Frederik Eklund Luis Ortiz Josh Altman Million Dollar Listing

Having their day-to-day lives (or at least some of their deals) broadcast to millions of viewers has certainly done wonders for all of their brands, from the eclectic Manhattan-based trio Fredrik Eklund, Ryan Serhant, and Luis Ortiz, to the Altman brothers in California. Having said that, even without the spotlight national television brings, each of these agents has made waves in the industry through expert networking, savvy sales skills, and a drive that’s rare among professionals in any field.

The stars of the program shine brightest thanks to their outgoing personalities (and sometimes outlandish performances), but they also expertly position themselves as integral players in their local real estate markets. The chances of getting cast on a reality real estate show are slim to none, but these agents have made the most of their time in the sun … despite occasionally (okay, often) making complete fools of themselves.

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