Mark Cipolletti Knows How to Market His Business
Isaac Contreras Is a Student and a Teacher in Real Estate
“You have to commit to the business and that means being a student to the business as well.”
Isaac Contreras is a real estate agent with Keller Williams Integrity Realty. He works in the Minneapolis and Saint Paul areas and has been a real estate agent for five years.
Although he has not been in the business for as long as some other real estate agents, he has learned some valuable lessons that have helped propel him forward in his career today.
Isaac started out as a loan officer from 2006 to 2009, but the bubble burst proved to be too much. As he explains, “I was chasing transactions. I didn’t know that building a business was more important than just chasing transactions.” In the end, his business fell through, and Isaac had to pursue other career options.
Unfortunately for Isaac, the hits didn’t end there. After the bubble burst, he moved away from real estate for a bit. At one point, he was an operations manager at an over-the-road trucking company. He spent a lot of time looking at individuals’ strengths and weaknesses as well as building teams based on who would work best with whom.
But when a new vice president took the reins, Isaac found himself out of a job because of budget cuts. “And that’s when I landed back into real estate, but this time on the agent side. And I’m so glad I did because this has really been a good spot for me. I love it. I love working with my clients. I’ve learned a lot and have been able to teach a lot.”
While he faced setbacks in the past, they have helped him excel as an agent. Instead of simply focusing on the quantity of deals, Isaac now understands the importance of growing his business and building his sphere of influence for lasting success. He also has a better understanding of how to work with others for better networking and partnership opportunities.
With these lessons learned, he has won awards like Top Producing Agent and Top 5 Producing Agent from Keller Williams Integrity Realty.
Breaking Down Misconceptions
Along with implementing what he has learned from past experiences, Isaac also focuses on educating others. A Veteran himself, Isaac estimates that about 70% of his business is with Veterans. And a large part of this work is just education.
The first part of this education is teaching other agents. Many listing agents are hesitant to work with VA loans and may warn their clients against them. Isaac explains, “There’s still a lot of myths and misconceptions out there about the VA loan. Some of it is warranted just from previous markets, previous periods of lending, but it’s really gotten a lot better. And so I spend quite a bit of time speaking with listing agents and educating them on how good of a loan this actually is.”
Another aspect of this education is teaching Veterans themselves. He notes, “Not really knowing that they have the benefit of 100% financing or no mortgage insurance — like the specialty and the benefits of the VA loan — not enough veterans know that they have this at their disposal.” By educating Veterans, more are able to become homeowners. In fact, Isaac notes, “I think I’ve helped somewhere between 120 and 125 Veterans and active-duty members buy a house.”
Educating Sellers on a Different Perspective
Not only are there a lot of misconceptions surrounding VA loans, but also in general, many people have a lot to learn about the home-selling and home-buying process.
A big problem in the current market is high interest rates. Not only are buyers finding themselves priced out of the market, but many homeowners are struggling as well. Those who are locked in at 2.5% or 3% interest rates could be doubling their mortgage payments if they move. Isaac explains, “During the time of low interest rates, the challenge for a seller was, ‘Where do I go buy?’ Now it’s, ‘What can I afford to buy?’”
While the concerns are valid and some homeowners should stay put, Isaac does offer a different perspective that many homeowners might not have considered. He explains, “If you’ve got $240,000 in equity — which is what the average equity is for the average homeowner across the United States — and you have 3% on that loan on your house, and you’ve got 18% on that Silverado that you just bought, or 23% on the Disney trip that you just put on your credit card, and 12% on a personal loan at the credit union, maybe we need to do a little bit of a blended financial adjustment.” He continues, “You can still use that 240,000 dollars in equity to go buy a new house and pay off all your other debt. And now you’ve only got one loan at 7.5% instead of a blended rate with 15% or 16% rates.
Figuring Out the Why & How
Once homeowners decide to sell, the next step is educating them on how to get top dollar. One of Isaac’s clients was a mother of two boys with a small home that needed work. Using a comparative market analysis, Isaac showed her what she could get if she sold as-is as well as what she could get if she made some home improvements before selling.
Although the seller quickly understood why pre-sale updates were needed, time and money were not on her side. Isaac explains, “The work was going to take some time because she didn’t have all of the funds together to be able to execute on it. And she wanted it done quicker than what she was able to do it on her own.”
“It ended up being about the how. How is it that we can get this done? We have the why, but we needed the how. So that’s where Curbio came into play.” To solve the problems of time and money, Isaac partnered with the Curbio Saint Paul general contractors to get the ball rolling on the project.
The entire interior was painted. Luxury vinyl planking was installed. And dirty carpet was replaced. The work was done quickly, and the seller didn’t have to pay anything until closing.
Not only did Isaac educate his seller on the why and how, but also the final product was able to deliver. “We had an open house and there were 10 to 12 people that came through, and I think we had 26 total showings. We had multiple offers, and the final sale was about $12,000 more than where I thought we were going to land.”
A Learning Experience
For Isaac, working with Curbio was a learning experience for him as well. He notes, “It was a lot smoother than I expected it to be… I was fully expecting to have to show up and unlock the door several times, make a number of phone calls, and make sure that the contractors who were hired showed up or showed up on time.” But with Curbio, Isaac could rest easy.
“Having a project manager to make it a very hands-off process for both the seller and myself — I thought that was great because it actually happened… And it really allowed for us to be able to schedule out our next steps and be prepared for the market.”
Isaac’s approach to not only educating others but also educating himself is one reason why he has been so successful. His advice to other agents is to follow his lead. “You have to commit to the business and that means being a student to the business as well.”