How To Keep Producing In A Down Market • Sara DeWulf

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Sara DeWulf with Real in the Quad Cities talks about how she started her career in real estate 13 years ago. Sara discusses strategies she uses close 117 transactions in a year as a solo agent. Sara also talks about how she grew her google reviews and their importance. Sara also discusses what she’s doing to stay positive and productive in this down market and about basics of building in this business. Last, Sara shares tips for the new agents entering the market now.

Please follow Sara on Instagram.

If you’d prefer to watch this interview, click here to view on YouTube!

Sara DeWulf can be reached at 563-940-2889 and sara@saradewulfrealtor.com.

This episode is brought to you by Real Geeks.


D.J. Paris 0:00
It’s official. We’re in a down market. But what activities should agents be focused on right now to keep their business moving? We’re going to talk about that today. Stay tuned. This episode of Keeping it real is brought to you by real geeks. How many homes are you going to sell this year? Do you have the right tools? Is your website turning soft leads and interested buyers? Are you spending money on leads that aren’t converting? Well real geeks is your solution. Find out why agents across the country choose real geeks as their technology partner. Real geeks was created by an agent for agents. They pride themselves on delivering a sales and marketing solutions so that you can easily generate more business. There agent websites are fast and built for lead conversion with a smooth search experience for your visitors. Real geeks also includes an easy to use agent CRM. So once a lead signs up on your website, you can track their interest and have great follow up conversations. Real geeks is loaded with a ton of marketing tools to nurture your leads and increase brand awareness visit real geeks.com forward slash keeping it real pod and find out why Realtors come to real geeks to generate more business again, visit real geeks.com forward slash keeping it real pod. And now on to our show.

Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keeping it real the largest podcast made by real estate agents. And for real estate agents. My name is DJ Paris, I will be your guide and host through the show. And we’re in just a moment going to be speaking with top producers Sarah DeWolf. But before we get to Sarah, just a couple of reminders. First of all, big thank you to everyone listening right now we just crossed over 500 episodes and 3.2 million lifetime audio downloads. That’s a big deal to me and our team. And it’s all because of you guys. So thank you thank you thank you. The best way you can always help keeping our show going is by telling a friend think of one other realtor that you know that could benefit from hearing interviews like the one you’re about to with Sarah and send them a link to our website which is keeping it real pod.com Or they can pull up any podcast app and just search for keeping it real and hit that subscribe button. Guys. Let’s just get to the main event thanks for 500 episodes and hopefully another 500 in the in the upcoming years. And let’s get to it my conversation with Sarah Wolf.

Okay today on the show, our guest is serra de Wolf from with real in the Quad Cities. For those of you not from the Midwest. What are the Quad Cities there are four cities that sit right on the Illinois Iowa border. So she is licensed in both Illinois and Iowa but let me tell you more about Sarah. Now Sarah Wolf is a licensed Realtor both Illinois and Iowa since 2010. She is consistently among the top agents in the Quad Cities 22. The 2022 stats include selling over 36 million and closed volume with 117 transactions. That’s one every three days amazing. And as an individual agent, she did that now she’s also ranked in the prestigious Tom Ferry, the 1000 best realtors in the country. She ranks number 195 She’s in the she’s in the top point zero 1% of agents in the United States. And when she’s not working, Sara and her husband have two toddlers, they own a local young Lumberyard rental properties and an Airbnb. This is a busy woman and I’m excited to chat with her. Sarah, welcome to the show.

Sarah Dewulf 3:56
Thank you for having me. I’m tired just thinking about that.

D.J. Paris 4:00
Alright, well I’m tired reading it. I put that I love that expression. I’ve probably said it a million times on the show is if you want something done give it to a busy mother. They just get everything done. But every everyone follow Sarah on Instagram Sarah dewulf that’s D it first of all it’s S A R A D Wu L F ki realtor QC realtor yet Quad City so guys, don’t worry. It’ll link to it in the show notes. Sarah wealth QC realtor on Instagram. And we’ll also have a link to our website, which is Sarah Wolf. realtor.com. Sarah, I’m so excited to have you. Tell us how you got into the market in 2010. Not the easiest time to get into the market. So I want to hear about what that experience was like because we have a lot of agents today getting in right now. And it’s not quite as awful as it was back then. But it is still a challenging time. So tell us about how you got started in Y. Sure.

Sarah Dewulf 4:55
So at the time in 2010 I was in college and my major was A psychology. My dad was a realtor. So I am a second generation realtor. He was a managing broker for our offices and said, you should get into real estate. And so it wasn’t something that I grew up thinking that I was going to do. And I he did it for 20 years. And so I watched him and I always was interested in real estate. But I didn’t know that that was the path I was going to go down. However I was, I didn’t want to do school anymore. I didn’t want to get my Master’s or PhD and psychology does come in handy every day with real estate. So it does it worked out. So he, him and I work together, we will do all of our listings together and buyers separately. So it was kind of a we weren’t really a team, but sort of we were the father daughter team on listings. And so it was nice, because he He taught me everything I know. And we would drive around all day to different appointments. And I would listen to him and listen to 45 different agents calling him with headaches. And so I felt like I was on a fast track to learning this business, which every day is different. And now 13 years in, I’m still learning things, of course. And each deal has different different things that you’ve got to kind of work through. So he passed away in 2019. And it was pretty unexpected. He was he was in a surgery and my I looked at my husband, and we didn’t know if he was going to make it out of that surgery. And I looked at my husband and said, What am I going to do? Because it had always just been him and I he didn’t die that night, thankfully, but I had two more weeks with him. And he did unfortunately pass away. So I had to quickly pick up the pieces. And I knew for sure that he wouldn’t want me sitting around crying. So I just went right to work and figured out how am I going to really do this without him. So that was in 2019. And that year, I had sold 12 million in sales and 2020 I sold 20 23 million. So I almost doubled my sales. Thank you. And grew it ever since then. So I hope he’s looking down and proud. But he is certainly missed. But how lucky am I that I had such a great teacher for 10 years? Yeah,

D.J. Paris 7:09
it’s life is a mixture of tragedy and fortunate, fortunate events. And it’s just this dance of peaks and valleys. And we all go through it. And yeah, my heart goes out to you for losing your father. We’re all we’re all going to do it someday we’re all going to lose, lose our parents and it is the scariest thing ever. But I also you also had some a health issue yourself that came at a very young age. And I’m if you don’t mind sharing that I’m curious because I’m what I’m curious about is what how that experience maybe shaped you into who you are today? Because it was a pretty serious one, if you don’t mind.

Sarah Dewulf 7:55
Yeah, absolutely. So that I had melanoma, I had a mole on my arm that didn’t look great. But at the time I was 26. And that it’s probably nothing. And so I ended up going in probably way later than I should have. And they they took them all off and said, Oh, best case scenario, we caught it early stage one a will remove it. And then they said but because of your age, we’re gonna test a couple couple lymph nodes, just to make sure. Well, they did that and it to have the lymph nodes tested positive. So for whatever reason, the type of cancer that I had, they could see actively splitting under a microscope. So it was moving very, very quickly. So I quickly went from stage one A to stage three B, which is much more serious. So I had to do a lot of scans. And luckily it hadn’t spread past my lymph nodes. We caught it kind of just in time. So I had several surgeries. And that was a that was a rough time it was I was probably three years into the business. And so it was starting to get more consistent, but not quite. And so between just being scared to death, literally, am I going to survive this and I was dating my husband at the time, but we weren’t married. And so that was about a year long of going back and forth to Iowa City to the hospital there and just making sure that everything was okay and thank god no issue since and that was it’ll be 10 years in February. But it changed my life. I can’t I can tell you that for sure.

D.J. Paris 9:21
Yeah. What what did, obviously, you know, significant events like that do tend to change people’s perspective or their maybe even change their goals or their you know, the things that are they’re important the things that are important to them. They’re their values. How did that change here?

Sarah Dewulf 9:39
I’ve always been a don’t sweat the small stuff type of person. But even more so now. It’s little things that aren’t going to matter in five years or an agent just makes you so mad. You want to call and yell at them or say this isn’t right. But is it worth it? Is it going to change anything? No. So it’s just a matter of taking a day A time and being so grateful for my health, that at 26, it hits you different when you start to think am I going to make it? And you really don’t think about that in your 20s very often. And really, without our health, we have nothing. So all these little things stressors in life, if you’re happy if your family is healthy, that’s all that matters.

D.J. Paris 10:20
Yeah, I was having a moment last night where I was starting to judge myself. unfairly, I was thinking about something in my life that I don’t have as much of as I want. And I was cooking, and I really enjoy cooking. And I was making this meal that I’d never made before. It was kind of a fun thing. But I was sitting there going, Gosh, I don’t have this and that and you know, like, I’m so you know, I’m such a loser or whatever, you know, things that negative self talk. And I realized I said, well, but I have this moment where I’m cooking, and why am I like I could enjoy this moment, while I’m cooking. I can get back to beating myself up later. But I said, I said, Boy, I’m missing out on this fun thing I like to do just because I’m, I’m you know, caught up in this in this judgment. So it is really important, I think, to monitor and pay attention, be mindful of what’s going on inside of especially around, as you mentioned, like anger. You know, I think a great rule of thumb in this industry and anger is going to come up because people just do goofy things. And other realtors may do things that you don’t like, and your clients may do things that you don’t like. But I always say, I don’t make good decisions when I’m angry. And I certainly don’t have access to all my faculties. And I can’t make oftentimes the best logical decision. So I think what you said was really great. It’s like when you’re angry. That’s not right. Really the time to communicate, right? Settle down first. realize it’s like Sarah says, it may just be a small thing, even though it feels big in the moment. Give yourself a breath, and then respond. Yes, let it or just let it go. Let it go. Yes, unless it’s something where you can’t let it go. And you need to actually take action. But most of the time, most things resolve themselves. But Sarah, want to learn more about you because you have to get licensed in two states, not the easiest thing or most fun thing to do. But based on the geography of where you practice, it is critical. And so you have to sort of know how to do deals on two different probably MLS is I don’t know if it’s the same Oh, it’s probably the

Sarah Dewulf 12:20
same MLS luckily, it’s the same MLS Oh, thank

D.J. Paris 12:22
goodness, that makes it easier. But you know, I want to tell you, you did 117 sales last year. That is insane. In the best possible compliment. I could give somebody you knocked out almost 40 million in production. And this is what you did yourself, which is crazy. Let’s talk about how you did that. Yes, you had a father, a great mentor, wonderful realtor. And you learned and developed your skills. But most people who even come from a family that was in real estate, they don’t do 117 sales in a year. So what’s your secret? Not that there’s a secret? What’s your I hate to say that word? What’s the what’s your strategy?

Sarah Dewulf 13:05
What works? Yeah, it’s been so I, I had systems in place when I first started that I’ve tried to tweak over the years, as Sharan SIRVA says, just because it’s tried and true doesn’t mean that it’s working right now. So I’ve advertised I used to advertise on Zillow that 10 years ago, that was huge for me, and I had a ton of customers come on clients come in that way. Now, I would never advertise on Zillow. So it’s little things along that I’ve just tried to tweak and get better. I should note that I also had a baby last year. And with that being said, I have an incredibly supportive husband and family and mom. And to which none of this would be possible without all of them. So it’s not just me. But I really to think two big things that my dad instilled in me is to create raving fans, and that customer service is a lost art. And I always remember when I go to a hotel and they go above and beyond maybe it’s my birthday, and there’s a bottle of champagne in the room. And it’s little things like that if you do more than what the customer expects. Any a lot. I shouldn’t say anyone but most people could be a realtor. It’s a lot harder than I think what people think. And it’s hard to grow your business and I also don’t think that people sit down and say okay, this is my business. I’m not just selling real estate, I’m I’m creating a business and I’m in charge of that.

D.J. Paris 14:31
I’m the business as opposed to in the in the businesses, all the stuff I need to do now my clients my prospecting all of the activities, and then on the businesses. Okay, let’s take a step back and look at this as a business owner. Where are their inefficiencies? Where can I delegate How can I make this whole process? All these processes run smoother?

Sarah Dewulf 14:50
Yes, yes. And I guess it’s it’s been interesting from 2010 to now seeing the difference in the market and in the Quad Cities we’re lucky because We don’t see these big huge drops in prices. We’ve, we’ve been consistent as far as equity goes. And so that helps. But it’s also not a big, it’s not a huge town like Chicago, but with Iowa and Illinois, we’ve got quite a few people. So it, I guess it’s just it’s important to look at your business and see what’s working and what’s not working and always be tweaking those systems. I think that oh, God, no. I said, when I started in your, you don’t have a lot of clients, and I was 23. And so a lot of my friends weren’t quite buying houses yet. And there’s things that I know that I did, right. And there’s, I guess, advice that I have that I should have done, I should have been working on Google reviews from day one I can’t

D.J. Paris 15:48
have, let’s pause for a second. So I want to I want to step in with this because we have about 800, just under 800 agents at our firm. And we didn’t do much with Google reviews up until about maybe three years ago. And now what we do is we send a the opportunity to do a Google review to every one of our broker or every one of our agents clients. So that we, you know, we, we just say, Hey, let us know what you thought of your realtor. And, and we went from having almost almost no reviews to now we have I think six or 700. It’s never too late to start everyone this can work.

Sarah Dewulf 16:23
This, this is a good story. So I had at my previous brokerage, they use testimonial tree. And when I switched, I lost all of those. So I went to my Google page. And I think I had 11 reviews, which is absolutely ridiculous for doing this for 13 years. So I knew I needed to do something and quick. So I have always been a believer in mailings and not the traditional postcard that people are just going to throw in the trash. I tried to stick to maybe three or four quarterly, something that they’re going to keep on their refrigerator. So in Iowa, we don’t have a professional football team. So the Hawkeyes are everybody cheers for the hot guys, or they should. So I send out the football magnet. And then I’m top of mind on their refrigerator all season long. I’ve send out grocery magnets, all kinds of just different things. But one thing that I did recently is I needed Google reviews. So I sent out something saying I’m celebrating 13 years in business. Thank you for all your support, I’m going to be giving away. I think I did a solo stove, a pizza oven, a Blackstone kind of some cool things that I spent $1,500. But gifts. Yeah, I sent it to my mailing list, which is about 500 people. It’s past clients, but it’s also just my sphere of influence. And I got 72 Google reviews. So that yes, and so in my clients were so excited. They they wrote the review, which probably didn’t take more than a minute. And when we drew their name, we sent anyone that filled one out, we sent even if it’s a $10 gift card or ice cream or something, they got something. But it was a good way to quickly grow those Google reviews because reviews are so important. And

D.J. Paris 18:02
everyone’s going to Google you even if they’re your closest friends, they’re still going to Google you just because they want to see how you do or what other what other clients think about you. And Google is obviously top of the mountain for for reviews. I would say Zillow is probably number two for where people find reviews. So yes, it’s a great idea. And it also helps with SEO, local SEO, in particular, meaning showing up on web searches when people are searching for realtors in their area. Google, you know can make a general assumption that if somebody’s got hundreds and hundreds of five star reviews, odds are they’re probably a pretty decent search result to serve up to to a consumer who’s looking. So yes, Google, my business is the name of the platform, or I think they changed the amount of things just Google business. But anyway, get yourself on Google. Well, I want to talk about referrals, because well, I want to talk about something that leads to referrals. You said, going above and beyond. Can you give us a couple of examples of ways in which you do that, that maybe you think not every agent does. Sure.

Sarah Dewulf 19:08
So most people don’t buy and sell houses every day. So a lot of times, especially with first time homebuyers, they’re intimidated and really don’t know what to do. So I it’s amazing to me how many agents don’t do buyer’s consultations, and that is a must for me. So when someone calls and they’re ready to buy a house, whether it’s their first house or their 10th house, we sit down to talk about their goals. I give expectations on the market, what’s what to expect. And if you do an inspection and you want to ask for something, please know that amends the contract. So we don’t want to ask for something small. Because a lot of times buyers want to renegotiate or whatever it ends up being so I do different checkpoints through the process with them. We start with our buyer’s consultation. Assuming they’re already pre approved, we’ll start shopping for houses. As we’re shopping. I’m pointing out things I’m certainly not an inspector but I Do a lot of inspections. So I can say, hey, this might come up, just be prepared, then will I have a full time assistant shout out Carrie, I could not do this without her. She is amazing. And so she does different checkpoints. Like when we get closer to closing, it’s Hey, Sarah wanted me to remind you to switch utilities. And it’s links to all the utilities, even internet cable all those things, or and then two weeks after closing, we send out an email saying, hey, just a reminder, make sure you sign up for that homestead tax credit. So I try to just make the process as simple as possible for them. But also, not too I don’t, I’ve never looked at my business as transactional. I’ve always just said yes to everything. And I think that that is, in part a big, I guess it’s a big part of my success, I see a lot of new agents that get so caught up in price point. And I don’t want to go show that $60,000 house. Well, the person that’s buying the $60,000 House has family and friends. And if you can create a raving fan, like my dad said, they’re gonna tell all their friends and family what a great experience they had with you. So that’s been really important to me is how do I make sure that my buyers and sellers have the best experience and that I’m giving them best case scenario, worst case scenario, and enough information for them to make an informed decision.

D.J. Paris 21:20
So right now the market is thank you for all of that, by the way, um, that was all just exactly the way I feel about what Realtors ought to do for customer service. And going above above and beyond is, it’s it’s it’s what it’s I think M Scott Peck wrote, it’s never crowded along the extra mile or someone wrote that book. But it’s, he’s he’s right, it’s literally not that crowded on the extra mile. And it doesn’t mean you have to, you know, sprint a mile for somebody, it does not mean that it just means going a little bit beyond what they would expect. You know, it’s as simple as just knowing what’s going on in your clients lives and reaching out to them from time to time to check in on them and ask about their kids or, you know, whatever they’re dealing with as a family or business. But it is the market has shifted. So we have interest rates in the eights at this point. If you’re lucky in the high sevens, and you know, there’s the vast majority of homeowners in this country have a under a 4% mortgage at this point. In fact, like, I think it’s like 90% have under a 4% mortgage. So there’s not a big incentive for people to move unless they have to. So I’m curious about what you’re doing to stay positive, stay productive. And just, you know, keep your business chugging along. Right now.

Sarah Dewulf 22:40
Yeah. Social media, I think is our biggest tool as agents. And I’ll get into a little bit on well, with social media, I think that it is the most important thing that we can be posting to, and people get so caught up in rates. And obviously, it’s very impactful into our market. But usually what I tell people when they get nervous about it is if you’re comfortable with the payment, the interest rate shouldn’t matter too much. And people sign up for 27% Credit cards every day. So if you lost the house, that is a great point. So if you love the house, and you can afford it, buy it

D.J. Paris 23:16
right away. Don’t sign up for 27% credit cards, everybody.

Sarah Dewulf 23:20
Especially when you’re buying a house. Yes, yes.

D.J. Paris 23:23
And if you are somebody that doesn’t pay their entire balance off every month, then yes, do not say. But yes, sir. So absolutely right. You’re right, the rate isn’t that important. But what the rate can do is still drive people away. Right? So you know that the rate isn’t that isn’t as relevant. But the consumer might feel like, Oh, I missed the boat a couple years ago, I could have gotten in for 2.9. So what is your does that happen? Do you do come across people like that?

Sarah Dewulf 23:50
Oh, yeah, constantly. And a lot of people sometimes it doesn’t make sense for them to move right now. If if it’s going to be a lateral move to a small, even a smaller house based on a 2.9% interest rate, then we just pause it. It. I guess for me, it’s the way that I’ve kept things moving is I try to remind people to not get their local real estate advice from the news. A news is going to talk about its doomsday and houses aren’t selling and that isn’t true at all, we still very much are in an inventory issue, at least in Iowa and Illinois and the Quad Cities. So things are selling really quickly. So one thing that I’ve done well for 13 years is every Tuesday I send out expired letters. So I go through the last seven days of expired listings. And we know those people want to sell their house or they wouldn’t have put it for sale. And sometimes circumstances change. But I would say that i i get i don’t know two to four listings a year from that. And a lot of times it’s just they picked they just called any agent and maybe didn’t have a good experience or maybe their house just wasn’t marketed for Not really. But to me in this market, at least here, everything is selling. So an expired listing is a really good way to get a new listing. So I started that 13 years ago, and it still works. That’s

D.J. Paris 25:12
amazing. So So I want to I want to break this down for anyone who’s not familiar with what expireds are. So these are obviously listings that have expired and there are services that you can subscribe to, for really very inexpensive pricing that will get that will serve you up daily, here are the expires or you can obviously look on your your MLS system and set up searches for that. But it’s the law, a lot of companies will provide these, you know, these daily leads to you. The problem is they sell those leads to lots of different agents. And so what Sarah’s doing, that’s very unique is typically when people hear maybe you should call expireds is that calling process, I’m gonna call the the homeowner. And that can work, it certainly can work, the challenge is that homeowners probably getting a lot of phone calls, especially when those leads become available, because when it expires, all these lead companies push it out to all of the people that are purchasing them. And so the person might get 10 phone calls in a day and you might be number eight, and they’re gonna be like, Ah, stop calling. It has nothing to do with you. So it’s Sarah does, which is really a lot softer. If she sends a mailer out do you do like a letter or postcard? What it’s just

Sarah Dewulf 26:17
a it’s just a letter. And it’s and it’s addressed right to them in handwriting, but the letter itself is tight. Yes. And so it’s it’s very simple, two, maybe three paragraphs of just a note not an obligation, we can get together kind of talk about different strategies. And it works. And I’d be happy to share it with anyone that’s listening. So email or shoot me

D.J. Paris 26:39
a message, please, please do that is so generous, we’ll provide Sarah’s contact information in the show notes so you can reach out to her to get her expired a letter, although if you’re in her market area, let’s not do that. But anywhere else, I will be teasing. There are no secrets in real estate. But we are so grateful that you shared that. And so this is really smart. And I want to break this down just a little bit further. So every Tuesday or once a week makes sense. Yeah. Every Tuesday, Sarah sees all the expires that have come in in the past week. And she sends this letter out hand writes the envelope, because what we what do we know, handwritten envelopes get opened, regular envelopes get thrown away. So handwrite your envelopes inside just just you know, a standard letter. And, and, and Sarah said she gets anywhere from two to four listings a year. Now that might not sound like a lot for sending out all those mailers. By the way, a lot of these lead companies that send you expireds can also send out mailers for you, although I don’t know if they can do the handwriting. So Sarah, Sarah does that manually, which is probably the better way to do it. But you could technically automate it if you really wanted to. But the idea is that this is still a cashflow, positive marketing expense, because, you know, if she’s sending out mailers, I’m assuming it still nets you, you know, two to four deals a year, it’s gotta pay for all of the mailers I’m guessing easily. Yes, easily. So it’s kind of a no brainer, like there’s no reason to not do it. And it doesn’t require that much work. Your assistant, I’m assuming does the majority of the heavy lifting there? Yep. Boy, that is a such a brilliant strategy, guys. She just gave you a basically something that should pay for itself. Now every market is different. And maybe if you’re in Metro Chicago, maybe that’s different than, you know, a more rural area, Sara’s not necessarily in a rural area, but a much smaller group of cities. So perhaps the you know, but I don’t know, maybe the competition is even more fierce where she has to. But regardless, it’s a heck of a good idea. And you just got to go try it for like two years. I’d say if you do it for two years, I’d be shocked. If you didn’t get and use her letter, she’s gonna give you the exact letter she uses that literally wins business. So please reach out to her that is awesome. So so now that now that things have changed with respect to where the market is, what are some of the things so in addition to expireds? You know, what are you doing for member referral perspective? Like, how are you staying in touch with your sphere.

Sarah Dewulf 29:08
So the biggest thing that I do after every closing is AD, any of the clients on social media, it’s the best way to keep in touch and to be you always want to be top of mind awareness. So when someone asks, Hey, who’s the realtor you would call? I’m number one, the biggest thing that I didn’t want to happen is that we close the transaction and they never hear from me again. And five years later, what was her name again, and I don’t want that. So I another thing that I do is if I have clients that maybe I sold the house to them five years ago and they got married, I’ll I don’t know if you know what small woods is, but it’s a it’s an online, if there’s a wedding photo, it goes in a wood frame, and it’s customized to them and you can make them any size. And so whether they live here or they live some they’ve moved away, we’ll mail that to their house and it’s probably, I don’t know, 50 or $60 maybe so it’s not the cheapest but it’s also not the most expensive, and it has the biggest income impact because it’s so emotional. It’s, oh my gosh, this is our family, it’s it’s a great thing to hang in their house.

D.J. Paris 30:09
So how do you get the float? How do you get the photo, if

Sarah Dewulf 30:13
they post it on Facebook, so

D.J. Paris 30:15
so you don’t ask for it, you just search through social media, you see if they have some sort of engagement photo, or wedding photo, or something that they seem to think is important to them. And then you take that photo, and you just do this without them even knowing and it just shows up on their door, it just shows

Sarah Dewulf 30:30
up at their door and says, Congratulations, wishing you a lifetime of happiness. And same with babies. That’s another big one. So I, the biggest blessing I think in real estate is clients that become friends. And not everyone, of course, but the majority, I would say become my friend. And it’s important to be a good friend. It’s not just real estate, but I also want to be the person that if they move here and they know no one Hey, who’s a good doctor? Where should I get my hair done? Just little things that I can maybe answer for them or give them suggestions I want to be their go to and all things real estate.

D.J. Paris 31:06
By the way, Sarah is the go to for dermatologists in her area, because I certainly am sorry, that was that was an easy joke. I just Yes. But but it is. But it is a really good point. By the way, everybody get your annual dermatologist appointment. And in fact, here’s a little pro tip, don’t leave the office before scheduling the next years, because you’re going to forget, that’s what I do every year, never leave a doctor’s office without scheduling the next appointment. Otherwise, if you’re like me, you won’t remember. But it’s really important because if I was moving to the Quad Cities, I would need a dermatologist I would need, you know, a bunch of doctors, right a general person, I might need a sports medicine person. And I wouldn’t know where to go. I mean, I guess you can look that up online, sort of, but I’d much rather have referrals. And so you want to be the I’m guessing you want to be the hub of all things. You know, service related, whether it’s real estate or not for your clients. Is that accurate? Yes,

Sarah Dewulf 32:00
yes. And mostly it’s, I want to keep the relationship going after closing. So that six months down the road, three years down the road, whatever it is, we’re still touching base the whole way through. By

D.J. Paris 32:10
the way back to the the the small woods, the small wood idea which I’m looking at it right now I pulled it up while you were talking. Sarah does this on an anniversary, but you don’t even have to do it on an anniversary like it literally could be done at any time. So it’s something that if you’re like I don’t know, when my clients anniversary is no problem, just find a picture of them, send it to them randomly, they will in fact, maybe even not on their anniversary would even be maybe more unexpected, although on their anniversary is amazing as well. But and that’s the other thing, too is everyone should know this information, you should reach out to your clients and say, hey, you know, I like to I like to know, wedding anniversary so that I can possibly, you know, send something. So if you need to get that information, you can literally just ask your clients for it. I don’t think anyone would would say I don’t want you to have that information. You want to know what the children’s ages are? You want to know, major life events stuff. So did they get a new job? Did they you know, what are they moving, obviously, is important. But, you know, these are important things. Because if if Sarah knows that somebody’s child is, you know, a junior in college or junior in high school, while they’re probably looking at colleges, or maybe you know, depending on the family, that that may be something they’re doing. So she now knows, oh, well. Maybe I could do something nice for them. You know, when she’s ready to leave for college, or whatever. The important part is she Sarah now has information she can choose to do something with, which is this is all the fun stuff of real estate too, right?

Sarah Dewulf 33:35
Yes, right? Yeah. I’m trying to think of anything. Oh, closing gifts are another big deal. I think a lot of times agents either forget or don’t want to do that. And it really kind of seals the deal for me, I feel like where I would say nine times out of 10 if they don’t already have some sort of like ring doorbell I give a ring doorbell at closing and sometimes a gift card to a local restaurant. I tried to never forget kids and dogs. So there’ll be we have a place called Freddy’s fritters here. And it’s a custom dog treat company. So we’ll throw in treats for them or ice cream for the kids something so that they know that I care about their family and I’m really excited for them on their purchase or their sale.

D.J. Paris 34:16
Yeah, I love that. Again, these are and these are things that don’t have to be necessarily expensive. They can even, you know, be free. There’s certain ways you can celebrate people, you know, the things that are important in their life. It doesn’t necessarily need to cost a lot. But it is something that most of the other service professionals in that consumers life are not even going to know about. They’re not going to know about their anniversary, they’re not going to know about their birthdays, unless they happen to know and they get that automated email saying happy birthday. This is a real opportunity to to really be able to touch somebody like Sarah was saying at a deep emotional level and find out what’s important to them and and be be there to to to celebrate with them and support them when they need it. I So let’s talk about the basics. So what are the basics of building a real estate business? Because I totally agree that this is the year to return to fundamentals. Because we know we can’t control the market. We can’t control inventory, we can’t control rates, but we can control our activity. In fact, it’s about the only thing we can control. So what are you doing right now just to stay busy? Yeah.

Sarah Dewulf 35:23
So I tried to just do the same things that I’ve been doing for the last 13 years. And it’s not rocket science. And it’s, I think social media is so great, because it’s an easy way to stay top of mind. But it’s not everything. And I see a lot of agents or lenders or whatever it is, that are maybe all in on social media, and they are killing it, and videos. And that’s all important, but then their sales don’t reflect that. So it can’t be the only piece but it’s a big piece. So I tried to just post stories and videos and different posts that are engaging, and not just something that, oh, there’s a boring house that nobody really cares about. So I guess it’s as a new agent, some things that I would have done differently, aside from the Google reviews is, I have a mailing list that’s on an Excel spreadsheet, but I don’t have an email list. And that is ridiculous. I should. And so that’s something that I’m going to be working on and something that I wish that I would have done 13 years ago, email is not going away, of course. And so I think it’s a big tool and a way to stay connected with people. So that’s a goal of mine that I’m working on. Another thing for new agents is maybe you’re not super busy right now. And I have some friends that got in the business and 2020. And it was easy. They just answered their phone. And we’re selling houses because it was such a crazy market. Well, now it’s harder again. And so I would join as many different networking groups, volunteer opportunities, it’s all about at the beginning, it’s not really what you know, because you don’t know a lot. It’s who you know. And so how do you pair those two things with who I know, while I’m learning everything I should know. Another really important thing I think, is learning the contracts inside out forward backwards, because I remember when I was 24, and a very seasoned agent would challenge me on something in the contract. And I knew the answer. And I knew I was right. But it’s hard to have that confidence. So the more you can know the contract and say, Okay, well, page four, paragraph nine talks about inspections. And you might want to go back and read that it feels a lot better when you know it, and you know it for sure. So learning the forums, I joined our board early on on the forms committee for that reason, so that I could see how other agents were interpreting something. And every form is, you know, different interpretation by different attorneys or whoever it is. But I think the more that you can know the basics, the better off you’ll be in the long run. I want

D.J. Paris 37:48
to I want to talk about this. So Sarah is talking about joining her volunteering, serving on at her local association. You can also serve at the state level, and of course, at the national level. But the first place that people typically start is their local level. And so they reach out to their local association say, Hey, do you have any committees that maybe need need some members, and you can apply? I know that here in Chicago for the association I belong to is 22 different committees, lots of opportunities there. And in addition to obviously, serving the industry and and learning more about the contracts. What also happens, and I’m curious to get Sarah’s opinion is you also get to meet all of the other really great people in the industry who are wanting to be of service, you get to develop relationships with them. And that only will help you as you continue to do deals, because you may run across a deal with that person. And, you know, again, just having a good connection with them being similarly minded being like, Hey, I volunteer with association with you. That is that is going to help influence indirectly, you know, a deal.

Sarah Dewulf 38:53
Yes, yeah, it’s I think it’s important to meet as many agents as you can when you’re new. We as as an agent, that’s now been 13 years, there’s constantly new agents, and especially in the last couple of years. So not all of them make it and I think it’s just the more people you can know, the better just from a sphere of influence standpoint.

D.J. Paris 39:14
Yeah, I agree. I wanted to ask about social media. Just want one thing about it, because I know it’s important to you, you you don’t over focus on it, which some agents do. But you mentioned posting content that was that was helpful. What what types of content whether it’s video or static posts, are you posting is it more about your life and what you deal with as a non realtor? Or is it more real estate related? Or is it a mix?

Sarah Dewulf 39:38
Mostly real estate related? I do try to throw in my kids every once in a while or a funny story of something that happened just to make it personal. I think people sometimes you can get on social media and that’s all just real estate, real estate real estate. And when someone Google’s Saratoga realtor, I want them to know me and so I’m trying to get better at video and that’s kind of The goal for this coming year is to really focus more on just being out there for people to see me more not necessarily the houses that I’m selling, even though that’s important as well. Great.

D.J. Paris 40:09
So that makes sense. And I also want to highlight this point is Sarah is a top top producer, and doesn’t have an email list. So guys, you don’t have to be up, you don’t have to be, you won’t be perfect. There’s always going to be systems that aren’t in place. And Sarah’s like, hey, 13 years, I don’t really have a good email list. But that’s a really easily solvable problem, right? She can literally just contact every single person she’s ever done a deal with and said, Hey, I’m just updating my records. I need that. So obviously, every problem has a solution. But, guys, I also want you to know that people at the very top they have issues too. There’s there’s things Sara is is a crazy success. And yet she doesn’t have an email list. And I’m not I’m not doing saying that Deepika. I’m saying that to humanize her that

Sarah Dewulf 40:53
Yes, right. Yes. Every but not all perfect. Yeah. And it’s always workable. Yeah. It’s always worth taking things and scaling. And

D.J. Paris 41:02
yeah, and this is where when you take a step back in your business, and you say, Oh, there’s the thing I don’t have, I need to work on that, as opposed to just all the things flying at you customer service related during the day, that eat up a lot of time. And then it’s hard to start take a step back, so important to look at all of your systems. What wanted to get one more idea. So if you were a brand new agent, today, you talked about social media talked about obviously, building up your sphere, what would you tell a new agent today to do join

Sarah Dewulf 41:38
as many different volunteer opportunities that you can. And that’s mostly because in the beginning, you might not be on appointments all day long, you’re at the office kind of okay, twiddling your thumbs on what to do. So it’s a way to get out there. Because when you’re new, you might not have the money to donate, but you have your time. And so that that is the big thing that I would do is join as many different committees or volunteer things that you can Google reviews, you want them to come from your clients and things. But even if you need to get a few from your boyfriend, or your best friend, do it. So those two things, and then I, from my own personal experience, I would do an email list right away, as well as the mailing list. And that’s been big for me from the beginning as my mailing list.

D.J. Paris 42:23
Yeah, well, we’re talking about branding, we’re talking about doing repeatable actions that will over time, you know, get your clients to associate you with real estate, especially if you’re newer. And you know, it’s easy to poopoo, the refrigerator magnet idea just because it’s such an old idea. However, if you do think about it, you want something that they’re going to see constantly with your name on it. And that is about as good of a gift as any, because everyone’s in the fridge all day long. So this idea of seeing your name constantly, is it really is a good idea that, you know, not everyone puts fridge magnets up. But for people who do they want, they will see your name. And that’s a good thing. And

Sarah Dewulf 43:05
I’ve done it for so long now that every fall and when it gets to my clients are like, where is it? When’s it coming? And then they post it, and then I share it. And so it’s just kind of a fun thing that ends up paying for itself easily.

D.J. Paris 43:16
Yeah, I mean, the downside is you’ll have to do with the rest of your career. The upside is it works. Yes, brilliant, brilliant idea. Well, I think this is a great presenter, you’ve given us so much good information. I think this is a great place to wrap up, by the way. If it is are you looking to add any members to your team currently? Or are you happy with with your production and to kind of just work on your own stuff?

Sarah Dewulf 43:43
Yeah, yeah, no, we, we opened a local real office called Buy, Sell build Quad Cities. And so we are looking to grow that as well as real. And I’m happy to just answer any questions if I can help anyone. So reach out to me send me a message on Instagram or an email, I’ll respond and send you the expired listing or anything that I can help with.

D.J. Paris 44:03
That’s awesome. And if you’re an agent in the in the Quad Cities, and it maybe isn’t getting the help that they deserve, or need real is an awesome company, too. I’m a big fan of theirs and they have some cool incentives that other firms typically don’t have. So give reach out to Sarah. She will have all of her contact information in the show notes and also please follow her on Instagram, which is Sarah dewulf que si realtor again, that’ll be in the show notes as well and visit her website, which is a sorry, just lost your website. I’m sorry. It’s

Sarah Dewulf 44:34
okay. It’s Sarah dewulf realtor.com.

D.J. Paris 44:36
That’s it. Sarah Wolf realtor.com on behalf of our audience, Sarah, thank you so much for your time today. You are an really impressive agent, mother and business owner affects multiple different businesses. And so it’s just amazing how you’re able to do all of that, and also be of service to our podcast. So thank you. Thank you. Thanks. Cute. Yeah. And on behalf of Sarah and myself, we want to thank our audience we just Yeah, thanks. We just crossed over the 500 episode Mark, we are so grateful to all of you. Please tell a friend think of one other agent that could use some of this information right now and send them a link to this episode, we would appreciate it and also, leave us a review wherever you’re listening to this podcast. Let us know what you think of the show good and bad so that we can continue to improve ourselves. It helps us out a lot. All right, Sarah, thank you so much. Thank you to everyone listening, and we will see on the next episode. Thank you

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