How We Became A Top Real Estate Team • Marlene Rubenstein & Dena Fox

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Marlene Rubenstein and Dena Fox of the Rubenstein Fox Team at Baird & Warner are a top 1% team in Chicago. In addition, they’re also top 1% in Chicago’s North Shore and also top 1% at their brokerage. In our episode this dynamic mother-daughter team leaders discuss how they built their business and continue to evolve to meet the needs of their clients covering the suburbs down to the city. They discuss how they pre-market and front-end load so that their properties can sell before hitting the MLS. Their energy and dedication are infectious and it’s no surprise why they’re at the very top in production and customer satisfaction.

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

Marlene Rubenstein can be reached at 847-565-6666 and rubensteinfoxteam@bairdwarner.com

Dena Fox can be reached at 847-565-6666 and dena.fox@bairdwarner.com


D.J. Paris 0:00
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Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keeping it real, the largest podcasts made by real estate agents and for real estate agents. My name is DJ Paris, I am your host and guide through the show. And if you’re new to the show, welcome aboard. If you are a returning listener, thanks for continuing to support our show. And a couple of quick announcements before we get started with the Rubenstein Fox team from Baird and Warner, it’s a great interview, you’re going to love it in just a moment. First, tell a friend, the best way you can support our podcast is to share it with another realtor that you think could benefit from hearing from people like the Rubinstein Fox team, and hearing about what top producers do to grow their business. So just share it with one other realtor that you know out there. Second, please join our Facebook page you can find us@facebook.com forward slash keeping it real pod what we do on there’s a couple of things. Every single day, we post an article that we find online dedicated to helping real estate agents grow their business. And of course, we post links to every one of our episodes. And now in addition to both of those things, we’ve added a third feature where you can watch our videos being recorded live. So we stream them live because it usually takes us a couple of weeks once we record them to actually produce them into the format you’re listening to now but you can actually watch a kind of a behind the scenes making of if you tune in to Facebook and you’ll get notified because when we go live, Facebook will notify you so you can watch it there. And that’s been really a lot of fun for our listeners. So follow us on Facebook once again that’s facebook.com forward slash keeping it real pod and as always, you can visit our website to stream every episode we’ve ever done, which is keeping it real pod.com Thank you for continuing to listen and now on to our interview with the Rubinstein Fox team.

Today on this show, we have Marlene Rubenstein and Dina Fox from Baird and Warner, Marlene and Deena are cofounders of the Rubenstein Fox team on Chicago’s North Shore and the city. This mother daughter do have a team of agents working with them giving this top producing team the ability to help buyers, sellers and renters from the city of Chicago all the way up through the North Shore and beyond. Whether it’s luxury real estate starter homes or renting your first apartment, Marlene and Deena are your go to for all things real estate. They are not only top 1% producers in the city of Chicago, they’re also top 1% producers in the Chicago suburbs, North Shore and specifically and also top 1% at the company they’re at which is bird and Warner’s they are by the way, one of our most requested guests since we started this show. We’re super honored to have them please visit their website which is Rubenstein Fox team dot Baird warner.com. I’ll post a link to that in the show notes. And welcome Marlene and Dina.

Marlene Rubenstein 4:02
Thank you.

D.J. Paris 4:04
Thank you guys, this was this is a really big honor for us to have you on the show. And Marlene, I would love to start with you and tell have you tell our audience, our listeners how you got into real estate.

Marlene Rubenstein 4:17
So my family, my father was a builder and in my family if you walk to work, and no one in my family really spoke English well my family every single aunts, uncles, cousins, mother and father, they were all Holocaust survivors. So my dad would build the condominiums. My mother had exquisite taste, she would decorate them and I would rent them for the most part. My dad did a lot of rentals and he built a lot of downtown Evanston. And just like any other child, I never listened to what my parents told me so I went into retail and opened and trained salespeople all across the country and then started a public relations and marketing company did the askers for many years and And I had these wonderful children that I would see, but I was always working. And so one day, I just thought, This is crazy, right? Like, I’m going to get my real estate license because I would walk every morning and I’d say see that house, it’s going to sell see that house. And it was just in my blood. So I chose Baird and Warner because I liked their commitment to community because at the time, I joined them at a public relations and marketing company where I married international retailers, because I liked retailers with a culture. And I married them with philanthropy. So I did a lot of philanthropy and Dina and I are very involved. I found that the women’s board the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois, I’m very involved in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. So I liked that pulse. And I liked Berna Warner’s commitment to community. So I joined Baird and Warner, I joined their board of directors for their goodwill network, because that was interesting to me. And while I love real estate, you know, for me, I’m a bit of a workaholic. Right? So I hit the ground running, I love what I do, because that’s just my personality. And Deena is a twin. And so they often heard me talking about it when they turned 21 I’m like, you know, you gotta get your license and clean up. I actually was in New York one day and a client wanted to look at a house almost on the lake and Glencoe. And Dena had just gotten her license. I’m like, Dean, I need your help. And they loved her. And at the time, she sold my most expensive house.

D.J. Paris 6:30

Dena Fox 6:33
It was a little bit after that, but not not far off. It was I was out of college. I think I’m okay. 22

D.J. Paris 6:40
Yeah, that is incredible. What a great story. And by the way, we should mention, Deena not only is a twin, Deena has twins herself. So Right.

Dena Fox 6:51
Twins and and a two year old, wild ride in my house.

D.J. Paris 6:57
So Tina, tell us about tell us about or I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to cut you off. Go ahead. No, no, it’s

Marlene Rubenstein 7:01
okay. So like, what I love about real estate is, I just love family, right. So the most important thing to me is family and our clients sort of become our family. But I adore my children, right, have a wonderful relationship with them. And they’re a whole lot smarter than me. And so, Dena will tell you a little bit about her background. And I kept saying to her, God would be my dream one day, but I’ll let you talk about your background. Yeah, so

Dena Fox 7:25
my background is in finance, I was in investment banking for a number of years out of college and, and then went into corporate development for discover and help them launch their home equity loan business. And like my mom said, I had gotten my license when I was in college. And was, was looking for a way to be more client facing again, at but also, you know, kind of round up my skill set, I felt like, as a business person, you need to have both finance skills and sales skills. And I felt like I had that finance and data skill set, but really had never learned how to sell or negotiate and my life. And anybody could tell you that that is the number one one of the number one skill sets that my mom has is that she you know, can sell a shirt off your back. So I figured nobody else, you know, better to learn from them than her. So I joined her in 2013. And and, you know, really followed her and did everything with her for the first six months to learn how she did what she does. And even though like she mentioned, mentioned, I had been I’ve helped her a little bit here and there beforehand. It wasn’t, you know, it wasn’t an actual career for me at the time. And so nobody better to learn from than her. I mean, you really, you still need a mentor in this business. And once I had, you know, the those six months under my belt and felt a little more comfortable, I started working with my own clients and really hit the ground running from there.

D.J. Paris 9:07
What was it difficult for you to make that transition from the corporate world to real estate?

Dena Fox 9:14
Good question. Yeah, it wasn’t it was actually one of the things that she warned me about the most, for a number of different reasons, I would say one is that I’m a very a type personality and being in finance or working with a lot of like minded people, very educated. And, you know, I frankly, I’ll be honest with you, it was a bit of a pride thing for me coming into real estate, I felt like I was you know, well educated and there’s there’s not very high barriers to entry to get into real estate. And, and you know, it’s there. There’s a range of the type of realtors that are out there in terms of professionalism and how they conduct their business. And that was definitely a challenge for me in the beginning. Um, but I learned that it was a way for me to really differentiate myself by having the background that I did and having the skill set that I did, because it was, you know, quite unusual for somebody with my background, and frankly, at the time, somebody my age to be in the business, I mean, when I joined in 2013, it was not nearly as dominated by, you know, young millennials like me as it is now.

Marlene Rubenstein 10:25
It’s true. When you joined, I remember, an agent in our office commented that the average agent was 52 years old. So and that was, like eight years ago, right? What’s the statistic, you know, today, and in the beginning, right, people wanted my experience, but they wanted her know how, which is funny, because where she really thrives and where she’s extremely skilled is in, in the numbers, like she is a fact. And precise person, like, if you want, if you’re dealing with an analytic type person, that’s completely do not. And that’s something that’s interesting in this business is you need to know your client, right? You need to know, do they want to have a good time, because we love to have fun, because they’re gonna become a part of our family. For us, we say that. And we live with us. And that is, there’s only one thing that we care about, at the end of the day is the relationship. Because the relationship rules, right, like our clients become our family, we have people, I’ve always done a lot of RELO, because I love Chicago. So I love to show the architecture. And I like to take people on tours, and really show them our town is such a great city. And people that have moved here from all over the world, and they don’t have any family. So we become their family. And they join us for holidays. And, you know, our team members, you know, one of our team members is from Guatemala, and she’s like, I had so many invitations for Thanksgiving, I didn’t know where to go. That’s what we’re all about is relationships. Yeah. 100%.

D.J. Paris 11:58
Yeah. And what you guys have done is truly remarkable, and not just specializing in the North Shore, which is, which is where, you know, one of your offices is, but you also have have expanded all the way down to the South Loop. And for our listeners who aren’t located in Chicago, this is a wide area. And I really want to learn more about how you decided to create those specialties, how you brought on agents that could assist in those transactions.

Dena Fox 12:30
Yeah, so when, when I partnered with my mom, she actually was already doing that entire area, from the city to the suburbs. And so what we decided that I would run our city business, and she would run our North Shore business. And, and at the time, you know, we were doing a couple a couple million maybe in the city. And I want to say maybe when I joined, it was around 4 million or so and and now we do closer to 20 million in the city. And it’s been a huge growth area for us. And, and so the way that we do it, I mean, a lot of our clientele are first time homebuyers. And then first time sellers. And so either people that are selling and upgrading to a bigger place in the city, or they’re selling in the city, and we’re helping them buy in the suburbs, because there’s this constant bridge between the North Shore and the city. And so they’re very complementary markets took for both of us to work in. And we’re able to use our expertise in both those markets to better serve our clients. But it also helps because we work with renters too. So we really, we start our relationship with our clients when they’re renters. And then when they meet, you know, then maybe they meet a spouse, and they move into a bigger rental with another spouse. Or they Yeah, and they decide that they want to buy their next place. So it really starts, you know, on the at that age on the on the rental side and goes all the way up. But then the other side of it is we help people in the suburbs downsize and or to ranches, or condos in the suburbs, or it’s two condos in the city. So it’s this constant back and forth. And we found, especially with how the market has shifted in the last couple of years, it’s incredibly important to have the knowledge of both markets because for example, home sale contingencies have come up a lot again, and when we have our own sellers in the suburbs, and the majority of their buyers are coming from the city, we can advise them about you know, whether or not their condo in the city is priced at the right point or if it’s something that we think is actually going to sell and something that that they they should accept or not. So that’s been very, very beneficial to us is that we’re really able to help our clients at every stage of their life regardless of where they are going, because we we do cover these two complementary markets. And we represent the, you know, the two sort of extremes of our clientele. I’m a millennial, and she’s a baby boomer, and you know, millennials are huge drivers in the market right now.

D.J. Paris 15:18
Yeah. Wow, that is that’s so impressive. And I love the fact that you are also doing rentals, because that’s the start of the relationship for a lot of people is their first introduction to working with with a broker, and then hopefully, you know, they stay with you throughout their entire lifetime, assuming they stay in Chicago, and, and they, maybe they do that dual migration, you know, and they’re younger, and they maybe they’re ready to settle down and have children and they want to move to the suburbs for you know, for a lot of reasons, they move out there you guys help them and then when they possibly move back after the kids, you know, go off to college, or they retire. So he’s so smart. And can you talk about, you know, cuz you guys have two offices, which is really helpful as well. You have one here in Lincoln Park, you have one up in the north shore? How often? Are you guys traveling yourself? Do you do like to stay local? Or are you? Are you just out and about always? So how does it work?

Dena Fox 16:14
It’s a good question. So I hold my license in the Lincoln Park office along with two other agents on our team. And then my mom holds her license and our Highland Park office along with three other agents on our team. And so one of those agents does both the city and the suburbs. So it’s pretty split 5050. And then we have a full time licensed assistant, who, who lives in the city, but and goes back and forth between our offices, but as mostly, I would say in the Highland Park office, as well as a transaction coordinator who works more remotely. So we in terms of the back and forth, I do it almost every day, to be honest with you. I moved from the city to the suburbs, almost three years ago. And originally, my client base was probably 80 to 90% City clients. And now because I live up here, and a lot of my, my former clients and friends and colleagues are moving up here, my specific database of clients is about 5050. But I have a number of listings in the city and a number of buyers in the city as well. So I go back and forth almost every day, which is why that office is hugely beneficial is we, you know, we’re able to keep stuff there. We’ve got great support there. And, you know, it’s a place that we can, you know, go and take care of some work when we have a gap in between, in between any of our showings or client meetings.

Marlene Rubenstein 17:46
And it’s it’s a neighborhood, we know, like going back to the city, we could go back and forth three times a day. That’s nothing for us, right? Because we live our life in a car, we live our life on the phone. So what does it matter where we are right. And prior to real estate, I owned a store on Oak Street and founded Oak Street council. So I know that neighborhood and then I had a public relations and marketing company all along downtown. So again, we know that area really well. So for us driving back and forth was nothing. And one of our clients in the city relative to rentals was always the Four Seasons Hotel, we’ve just this natural relationship with them. And they bring recruits in and out. So rentals are part of that. And very smart. I think I want to just go back to something about rentals that Dina said is one of the biggest mistakes agents make is they get kind of arrogant about what they’ll do what they won’t know. Sure. And frankly, rentals are annuities, right. Like they renew every year and and as Dina said, you know, they need a partner, they need a spouse, they meet a friend, right and they trade up. And that trading up is part of real estate you trade off. And then you trade down and meet people climbing the ladder you meet people coming down and how you build those relationships really matter. But

Dena Fox 19:03
our rental clients have been a huge part of our referral niche, enormous. I mean, we just they refer us to other renters even sometimes they find something on their own because you know, we were so helpful to them. They still refer us other people. And we have agents, an agent on our team who just converted a rental into a $1.6 million buyer.

D.J. Paris 19:22
Right. So amazing. Yeah,

Dena Fox 19:24
I mean, it’s we just we’re not short sighted with that

Marlene Rubenstein 19:28
great point. I would say the same thing about RELO. The reload business has changed a lot. It’s more mouth to mouth, word to word. But reload business. I was the number one reload agent because I love showing Chicago like I love nothing more than getting somebody in the car and showing them the architecture of Chicago because it’s our city. It has a heartbeat. And again, this is more than buying a house right? It’s an introduction to our city, to our arts, to our culture to the theater. There’s just so much about it and there’s so much beauty to see plus I remember that as agents, we have to hold our ethics dearly. So we can’t, we can’t steer anybody into any neighborhood. Nor would we ever. We can’t talk about schools. So when we move from community to community, whether we’re doing an architecture tour, or we have a reload agent that doesn’t know if they want to live in Wilmette, Glencoe Highland Park or Lake Forest, you know, we’ll have lunch in one suburban coffee and another and then we’ll drive around, and we start to feel the pulse of what makes them comfortable. So there’s a reason for it as well as a joy. Right? You know, are they city people? Are they urban people or they suburban, you need to learn that personality, and we learn a lot in our car, we spend a lot of time with people,

D.J. Paris 20:45
ya know, wow, well said. And I just love the fact that you guys are willing to work in not only multiple geographic areas that you truly know, well, whereas a lot of brokers will take listings, in areas they don’t know, because they’re maybe too scared to say that they don’t know, or they don’t want to give up the client, even though they could earn a referral commission, you guys actually know these areas extremely well, which enables you to really separate yourself from a lot of other brokers out there, because you not only know the North Shore, you know, all the way through the city, and you have the experience and and also the systems in place. And I know Dean has been a really big help for you in developing processes and systems. And I would be curious to could you can you talk a little bit of Deena about the processes you brought into place when he started working with your mom?

Dena Fox 21:34
Yeah, absolutely. I’m, you know, I’m a very methodical vertical thinker. And so that’s how we sort of balanced each other out because she’s more of the creative outside the box type of person. Whereas I’m much more more in more in the box, and like a methodology to everything that we do. So I streamlined a couple of our processes one was working with with buyers. So what I did is I created a buyer consultation packet that we use with all of our first time buyers, and frankly, some of our repeat buyers just to have a reminder of how the process works. And what I do is anytime I you know, get referred or somehow get in touch with a new buyer, I sit down and meet with them in person, or if they’re on a state, we set up a separate phone call before we start seeing properties. And we walk through the entire process. So I have, I have an entire written out explanation of what happens from when you go under contract when you close, as well as all the categories of closing costs that they can expect, because I think there’s two very big surprises that I find with buyers. One is that they don’t realize that there’s closing costs, in addition, right down payment, and two, they don’t realize that they don’t have to put down 20%. Right. And so, you know, it’s our job to educate them on that. So, you know, it talks about what the different closing costs that they can expect the categories and general ideas that they know, there’s a whole flowchart that walks them through the process as well. I show them what, what a blank contract looks like. And we go page by page about what what the contract is, because what I have found is that in this day and age, we and we do it too, we use DocuSign everybody signs electronically, and they just tab right through, right, they don’t read, right, don’t read it. And you know, it’s our job to make sure that they know what they’re signing. And so even though we always offer to go through it with them a lot of the time they’re like, No, we’re good. So at least I know that I went through it with them on the front end. And in addition to that, just giving them tips on do’s and don’ts, if you’re getting a mortgage, you know, in terms of keeping your financial status, you know, status quo, and what type of documents they would need in a, you know, in order to get a pre approval, as well as we give them like a list of our preferred inspectors and we educate them on what a home warranty is. So I really made that whole whole packet that we use with our buyers, and it’s been really beneficial to, you know, to our buyers, as well as the agents on our team in order to educate their clients on what the process looks like. And so on the flip side for sellers, we have a really defined pre marketing strategy that we use that that we really, again wrote out and created a process for, you know, once I joined the team and basically what what we do is, you know, we learned that in, in the market of, you know, everybody having access to so much information and people using Zillow and Redfin. But consumers these days are able to see it all on their own. Anything that’s on the market, they can they can get that even go into the tax record sometimes on their own. They’re very savvy. And and so you know, and real estate has become a Poppy for a lot of consumers too. And and so what we what we do is we focus a lot on how to provide value through off market listings. And, and so we pre market our properties before they go on the market through a number of different channels, we’re part of the top agent network, both for the city and the suburbs, which you need to separate memberships for and again, is really beneficial to have both those memberships for our listings and for our buyers. And then we also use the private network of the MLS, we do reverse prospecting. We do coming soon signs on our listings as well, which we were one of the first to do this. I want to say maybe five plus years ago, when when it was not it was considered a taboo to be putting up a coming soon sign.

Marlene Rubenstein 25:52
I think we’re not afraid to be a trailblazer. She’s not kidding you about that. We work a lot of heat for that.

D.J. Paris 25:59
What Why was there a problem around coming soon signs? What was the stigma around that?

Marlene Rubenstein 26:04
Well, the biggest issue is that Realtors don’t like to not know about. Right. And while we respect that our goal is to sell the house and do the best job that we can for sellers. And frankly, where she’s going with this is you need a trial run. Right, right, because everybody thinks you’re you’re selling someone’s largest investment. So everybody thinks that their house is worth more than it is. And we frankly, will have that conversation. Like you will learn as you’ve already learned, she runs our business with her head because she’s so smart. And she’s so detailed and methodical. I run her business with my heart. Right, I have to listen, I have to feel it. But the reality is, is that a seller is very emotional.

Dena Fox 26:54
Right? So Escalon, right. So yeah, so through all of these different channels, it really gives us an opportunity to do a trial round on our listing. So sometimes it’ll just be for a couple days, sometimes it’ll be indefinite. But what it does is if there’s ever, you know, a difference in what we think the price should be, versus our clients will say, look, let’s try your test your your price point off market, we’ll test it. And let’s see what feedback we get. Let’s see what activity we get. And if we’re not able to get it under contract, and we’re not getting the anticipated activity and interest that we would like, then let’s make an adjustment when we go live on the market. And so it really gives us the opportunity to give the best first impression possible when we go live, whether it’s price, whether it’s condition, whether it’s figuring out accessibility, because those are really the three key items that drive the market these days. And and then you know, so it does, it allows us to make adjustments as needed. And it also allows them to get their place ready if need be. It also helps with a convenience factor. So we work with a lot of clients that have young kids. And once we activate that listing, we don’t want to have to say no to showings, it’s a lot easier to manage those showings when it’s not on the market. And it also gives it a certain exclusivity. So that was like coming back to what I was saying before. It’s a huge thing to be able to offer up to clients and buyers, that you know everything that’s on but you want to know what’s not on the market. Yeah, we’ve talked about, we equate it to like when you’re walking into a clothing store, and you see everything that’s out on the racks, but there’s a box by the cash register. So agents got in there starting to unwrap, like you want to know what’s in that box. It’s the same type of thing. And we do it a lot with our buyers as well. I mean, we between the two, I want to say on average, we sell probably six properties of our own listings off market every year and at least another six that we represent buyers on every year. So and it’s you know, it’s a big, it’s a big part of our business. But I put up a sign and one of our listings and Highland Park in the fall and within 15 minutes, I had people wanting to come see it. And we sold it literally immediately. And thing where you know, either we’ll be driving around or we’ll see something pop up or with our relationship with agents. We’ll hear about something off market and we’ll get

Marlene Rubenstein 29:20
right we went and saw something last night we wrote an offer on it. We’re the second person to walk through the door and they were just getting ready. Because the other thing is that we spend a lot of time getting our properties ready. Sometimes they gotta be painted, they’ve got to be organized. We bring in a stager, we work with a handful of vendors that, you know we’re trying to intrude with because if we have a vendor and somebody has a criticism about them, we won’t use them again because that’s really our representation. So we have this, this tool belt we call it of people that are just amazing and that we can rely on and that we trust because our clients trust us and that’s critical.

D.J. Paris 30:00
Yeah, wow, you just you guys just said a lot I actually want to, uh, one of our questions that I was going to read from our listeners has to do with staging. So good time to bring this up. So we had let me find the question, Dan, in New York, a listener in New York says, with luxury listings, what percentage of the Innit we really do this with all listings. So with your listings, what percentage of the time do you stage the home? And do you use a professional staging company? You mentioned you do? Or do you ever do it yourself?

Marlene Rubenstein 30:32
So we are big believers in you need to do what you do best. So, as a sideline, whenever we sell a house, we have somebody talk to a tax attorney, because that’s not our specialty. We’re the mortgage lender that we work with that, you know, people talk to them about financial terms. We stay out of what we’re not professionals. Okay, but we have a great group of professionals. To answer your question about staging, you only have one opportunity to make an impression. And it is critical that you use all those tools to get there because to be penny wise and pound foolish. It’s no longer the moment

sorry, is no longer than millennial pardon me the baby boomers point of view of let’s price our house up here. Because if you price your house near your there are three ways to price a house today you got to be at or under market, or in order to drive multiple offers multiple sales, but you got to be ready. So yes, we would only work with professional stager and we work with painters and stagers and organizers. Because different homes need different things we worked Yeah,

Dena Fox 31:46
we have relationships with a number of different stagers and I would say, the vast majority of our vacant listings, we will have staged because the problem is, is when it’s vacant, it ends up selling at a discount, because you see everything you don’t have heard to distract from the right, smart scuff marks or the Nicks. And so it’s it’s almost more of a distraction when it’s vacant, because the room sizes all look smaller. And it just the condition of it doesn’t look very good. And so it’s I mean, that’s really, really important element of, of selling a property is to make it look its best.

D.J. Paris 32:23
Yeah, that’s it. We’re in the Instagram world where everyone wants to see everything look perfect. And even our dinners and and especially the homes you walk into it used to used to be many, many years ago, there was some, you know, opinions that no leave the home, leave the rooms empty so people could visualize their stuff in there. And that is just not the way it is anymore. Now,

Marlene Rubenstein 32:46
no, but what’s interesting relative to visualizing is you have a lot of tools of the trade today, right? You can virtually stage a wall color, you could change colors, right? Correct. And that’s that’s very important. However, again, Virtual Staging isn’t real staging. So it’s different. It gives you an impression, because most of your buyers are looking online at night, but you didn’t multimedia, you need video, you need aerial pictures, you need videos, you’ve heard me photographs, you need floor plans, like I think that’s the other thing is we don’t open a door on a listing without spending nearly $1,000 At a minimum, because we spend so much money per listing, because either it’s right, either we’re the right team for you. And we got to make your house right, because there’s a partnership. So I think sometimes sellers are afraid to spend money. And agents are afraid to spend money. This is a business and we run it like a business. And we have very high overheads because people have very high expectations. And so we don’t want to disappoint them.

D.J. Paris 33:54
Yeah, I bet it drives you crazy when you see other listings out there, especially higher priced homes that don’t have some of those, like floor plans, or you know, video and you know, maybe they’ve there’s professional photos, but that might be it right? And it probably it’s amazing how often agents either aren’t willing to do that or aren’t willing to have those conversations with the sellers to tell them hey, we have we need to make a great first impression. And we need to do this right.

Dena Fox 34:24
Yeah, everybody does their business differently.

D.J. Paris 34:27
All right. Let’s go to a few other questions that is that I think are related to what we’re talking about. So okay, so here’s it. Here’s an interesting question. This is a guy named Gary and Indiana. Maybe from Gary, Indiana, I don’t know but his name is Gary and Indiana asks my average sales price. I don’t know where he is in Indiana, but he says my average sales price is $250,000. I feel stuck because I would like to service more luxury, the luxury market, but I’m not certain how to find those clients. How should I start any six Questions about breaking into more higher priced, maybe higher net worth clientele or higher priced properties.

Marlene Rubenstein 35:08
So it depends on your market area. Right. You know, like, for instance, we both grew up and lived in Glencoe, I lived in Glendale, I grew up as a child in Glencoe live there, I raised my family there, she lives there. Now, the average price of a home in Glencoe is about a million dollars, right. So our market drives us there. But yet, where we sell higher priced homes on the north shore in the city, so the business is three to $500 $1,000, right? So you can’t to Gary in Indiana, be authentic to who you are, if your marketplace average price point is $250 $250,000. Sorry, I’m missing a few zeros here. You know, in order to train up, you’ve got to be in the right market area. And units are equally as important as dollars, because you have to serve as your clients. But you have to know your market area.

Dena Fox 36:03
Well, another thing I would say is, you know, offer to do open houses for brokers with listings at a higher price point, if that’s where you want to try and build your business and learn about that price point. And try to get buyers in that price point. And then once you start doing a little bit in a higher price point, you can try farming in that price point. But you have to start at somewhere. I mean, I think one of the best ways to either enter or break through a certain, you know, enter the market or break through a certain market is one by having a mentor, which is something that’s this guy could do is he could you know try and and shadow somebody that does a higher price point and to by setting open houses.

D.J. Paris 36:45
We I was thank you both? Both great, great answers there. And I it’s funny, it’s kind of good timing. I was hosting a top producer panel yesterday, and somebody asked a very similar question was, hey, I’m new, I don’t really know what to do. And two of our three, the three panelists, all top 1% producers, like yourselves, said, Oh, you need to be doing open houses every weekend and just beg everyone in your office to do them and keep begging them until they finally let you do it. And it’s you know, you’ll learn number one, how to talk to people about real estate. So you get a lot of experience having those conversations, and you’ll also be able to see how it’s done. So it’s one of those things that even at our firm, we have hundreds and hundreds of agents in our firm, and I tell all of the new ones. Look, we have hundreds of agents, we have lots of listings, go approach our brokers and ask them if you can host open houses most of the time, they’ll probably say yes, maybe not always, but it’s certainly worth a shot. And if you have nothing else to do, what a great way to stay busy and probably generate some some buyer leads along the way to

Marlene Rubenstein 37:47
write but if you’re going to do an open house, have a strategy. Yes. Know your neighborhood, know the inventory surrounding your neighborhood, learn some of the neighbors learn something about the neighborhood. Do your homework.

D.J. Paris 38:00
Yes. Yeah, that’s that couldn’t be overstated. Because it’s actually pretty easy to get an open house, just ask somebody who’s got a nice listing. And you know, maybe they’ll let you but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should do the open house, if you don’t have value to bring to those buyers who are walking in the door. And you need to you need to know at least 10 to 20 things about the house and the area to be able to provide them any value. Otherwise, you might as well not be there. Right. Yeah, so thank you. Well, really well said. Okay, another question. Okay, this is a really good question. So this is Lisa in California asks, how often for luxury listings, do you as the listing agent, have to find the buyer? So she says I have a $3.5 million single family home listed, and it’s priced correctly, but we’re not getting any action? This is my first big listing any suggestions? What community somewhere in California? That’s all we know.

Marlene Rubenstein 38:59
Okay, so the higher the price of the home, the the narrower the audience. Sure. And the more money you’re going to spend to market it. It has a longer lead time. It has more days on market, and you gotta get creative. You really do. So again, it depends on the kind of house is it a lakefront house, you know, today, I would say people want experience. So we were called in on a ranch farm that was a $6 million ranch farm in Colorado and they couldn’t give it away. And they asked our opinion and the realtor was, did a video and spent a lot of money on it saying, this is the living room and this is the dining room and I said, stop. You need to show the horse farm you need to show horses running. You need to show golf you need to show lifestyle. Today people want to know remember when people buy a house, they’re buying a dream. So when you walk in, it’s as simple as setting the dining room table. But when you’re buying a three and a half million dollar house, what’s the lifestyle? How do you share To the lifestyle of both the home, the community and the neighborhood.

D.J. Paris 40:06
Yeah, and I have I have a thing to tack on to that. So that’s a really, really great way to start to start thinking about who, what the clients all that are going to be purchasing this home, what are they looking for? What how do you market to them? And then you could also do some searching assuming in California, the MLS allows you to do this, but see who what other brokers have brought buyers to properties like yours, and have closed deals and reach out to those brokers and say, Hey, I need some help here. Do you have any clients that want to come see this? How would you help me market the property, maybe even partner up? If you’re if you’re struggling?

Dena Fox 40:41
Right, I think you have to be very proactive. And there’s ways to look at what agents are showing what properties and you know, if they haven’t shown yours yet to call them and say, you know, I think this could work for your client? And would it be worthwhile since they viewed these other properties? You know, there’s, there’s so many different ways that you can, you can do it, but you have to be very proactive. And I agree the lifestyle and experience is such a huge part of luxury luxury listings. I mean, there’s a reason that people are are wanting to spend that.

D.J. Paris 41:14
I have a question, so So I have a question around rentals, because I know you guys also work with renters, which a lot of realtors don’t do or don’t really know about or maybe think aren’t worth their time. Obviously, we know that it is worth worth a broker’s time, because you’re living proof, of course. And the question being about, at what point do you have a conversation with a renter, assuming they haven’t bought a home in their in their history? Prior to you working with them? When do you start introducing the idea of, hey, you know, your lease is is going to, you know, this is a 12 month lease, I want to start talking to you about maybe buying a property at the end of this lease and at least go through the numbers and see if it makes sense. Like, do you guys have a process for that? And how do you begin those conversations?

Marlene Rubenstein 42:01
It’s a great question. It depends on the renter. Right? Right. And it depends on the stage in their life. So and it depends on what how much are they spending, right? Because once you’re spending over $2,000 a month, if you think about interest rates, if they’re 3%, or 4%, in a very simple equation, you can equate it to every $100,000 you borrow is $300, right? For 3%. Every $100,000 You borrow could be $400, at 4%. So if you use that equation, and you’re looking at a $300,000, home at 4%, that’s $1,200 a month, right? Plus how much you’re gonna put down? How much can you put down? And what are the assessments? And what are the taxes? On that note, we also have a process where we show properties, we do a spreadsheet for every showing we do so we can say whether it’s rental, or purchase, we can say, you know, it’s more than just what you spend, it’s all the other expenses that go with that. To answer your question. It depends on the person, like when you’re talking to somebody that’s just fresh out of college, right? They can’t think about buying, right? So you got to think about, you know, are you gonna get a roommate? How much do you want to spend, you know, there’s, we sold an investment property to somebody that was so creative, they wanted to have numbers they needed to meet, and they couldn’t rent a duplex for the number they wanted. So what they did is they rented the rooms, right? And instead of getting $1,800, they rent a four bedroom at 600 Each and $2,400. So again, it depends on, on who you’re working with. And I don’t want to keep moving this over. But when you get somebody out of college, you know, you got to get them in the right location, where are they working? Because they’re not going to stay at their first job. Right? And where does they want to be? Right. And then as they trade up, either with a partner with a roommate with a boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, whatever, you know, then there’s different categories. Right, what do you add to that? Yeah, I

Dena Fox 44:01
think it depends on what their sort of general timing is of how long they want to where they see themselves going, which they may or may not know, you know, and, and what they’re what their budgets are like, and you have to feel them out, we really do, I will say pride ourselves and not pressuring our clients. So it’s really getting a pulse for what they’re comfortable with and where they’re at in life and sort of planting seeds for them. of you know, they’ll this is something for you to consider, but we don’t, we’re their advocate and their ally. And so we don’t want them to ever feel like we’re pushing them to do something that that they don’t feel comfortable doing while at the same time. Making sure that we’re helping them think through everything that makes sense for them financially and where they’re at in life.

Marlene Rubenstein 44:50
That’s such a great point. That’s such a great point. Because don’t forget the one thing we’re not talking about is what’s their credit score, right. So today, I would say A, if you’re looking to rent, the best thing you can do is talk to a great lender, like we love Todd Schwartz and Mutual of Omaha, he’s become a part of our family, and he is such a great finance guy. And he may work with you on a loan or not alone. But he’ll help you to say, hey, you know, let me look at your credit report with you, maybe you need to pay off this bill. And you can pick up 35 points. So I think young people today don’t understand, maybe they’ve never had a credit card, so they don’t have any credit. Or maybe they’ve had a credit card and misused it, or maybe they have college debt. So they need to talk to a professional to make sure that their credit score gets higher, because what their rate will be in the mortgage world depends on what their credit score is. And yeah,

D.J. Paris 45:49
yeah, so you’re talking briefly about strategic partnerships, you talked about having, you know, partners in place, you know, stagers, you know, videographers, also, lenders, attorneys, title companies, all of the different ancillary services that you want your clients to come to you to say, Hey, this is what we’re looking for. And then you can say, Okay, we have somebody who’s a great appraiser, or inspector or, you know, fill in the blank. And how important are those strategic we just talked about? The Todd from Mutual of Omaha, how important are those strategic partnerships for your business?

Dena Fox 46:26
Oh, they’re huge. I mean, they’re part of our they’re part of our process. They’re part of our business and our relationships. I mean, the number of times that I you know, we’ve got this incredible handyman, who’s also an electrician that our clients absolutely love and become, you know, he becomes like part of their family, and then they refer them around. I mean, it’s so huge to have all of those tradesmen and vendors under your belt, so that any type of need that your clients ever have, you got a guide for them. And along those lines, actually one of the things that we do for our clients, we do a closing prep document for them, usually about one to two weeks prior to closing, whether it’s for a buyer or seller. And in that closing prep document. In addition to like closing details, letting them know, you know, about wiring funds, or how proceeds are going to be received is at the bottom, we include a list of all of our preferred tradesmen and vendors, for any of their type of needs that they have, whether it’s handyman, electrician, plumber, painter, etc. And then we also advise them on, here’s the type of home maintenance things that you need to be thinking about and doing, you know, regularly. And so with that, we’ll say, here’s an H vac servicer that we can recommend and make sure that you’re doing this twice a year. Here’s somebody who can clean your gutters. And these are, this is when you should be doing it. So really, you know, educating them and also providing them with the resources they need in order to keep up with that.

Marlene Rubenstein 48:01
One of our clients was teasing us because we got a guy, we got a guy for everything. They’re like, You should write a book, I got a guy. But I think the point he made is like with, with our handyman who we absolutely love. I mean, he was helping a woman one time, he ended up taking her to the hospital and sat with her and called me until I came to the hospital because her kids were out of town. Like we all work together in the same flavor and personality and sincerity. It’s who we are. Right? Like we really care about our clients, if they’re sick, I’m going to make them chicken soup and bring it over. Right? You know, if we’re in a inspection, we’re gonna bring food if we’re closing, it’s a party, right? Like, we we live our life, the way we run our real estate business. And everyone on our team amplifies that and lives that in breeds that and it’s, it’s just different. If you know what, it’s not what you do. It’s how you do it.

D.J. Paris 49:02
Right? I think you will. The main point I’ve heard from you guys, both throughout the course of this conversation is having a professional process that is really baked around demonstrating care and compassion, right. It’s how do we how do we bring our clients into our family and become part of each other’s family and you you do that through care? And it seems like through all your processes, they’re always based around this idea of demonstrating that that you guys care about them, whether it’s through information, whether it’s through fun, or concern if they’re struggling. I think that that probably endears that your clients to you forever, which of course will naturally increase your business. So obviously the you guys have been doing a great job of that over the years and actually want to ask, because it’s our final question, and I think it leads into a very interesting One. So I don’t have a first name, just the first initial are, are in Chicago asks, Are you looking to add brokers agents to your team? And if so, what are you looking for in a team member?

Dena Fox 50:13
It’s a great question. And yes, we are especially in for our study business, we’re looking to add some more agents, what we really look for is not only a fit with our team, but somebody who is hungry and motivated. Somebody who’s looking who’s honest, and they’re just, this is such a personal, confidential business. And we work with so many, a lot of the time, people that know each other, and we don’t want them to know that we’re working with them, you know, and we have to keep so much information private. So I would say, in addition to that, somebody who’s really looking for this, either they’re new to the business, or they’re, they’re been in the business for a bit, but it’s their career, that it’s not just something that they’re doing on the side. And somebody who is a team player, you know, that’s incredibly important. We’re all here to support each other, we do a lot of training with the agents when they join our team and provide them with a lot of support and resources. And we want to make sure that, you know, they’re part of the team and that they’re supporting the team as well.

Marlene Rubenstein 51:25
And trustworthy personality matters, right? Like, I had somebody call me yesterday who had worked with us in the past, and we had some issues with, I’ll call it Forgive the expression chick shit, right. And we’re a family that takes care of each other. So if you’re not going to be that kind of personality, we’re not the right team for you, right, because we, we don’t accept in our clients to be talked to in a way that is condescending, and we don’t talk about each other. So that is paramount within how we live, because we can’t service you best, unless we service you together. Because when you get one of us, you get all of us, right? Like, while she does the city and I do the suburbs, Our clients move, and they want us so it doesn’t matter where we are. And, you know, in the height of the season right now, we’re so busy, we have to multiply ourselves, sometimes you’re gonna get one of us, but you might get it you know, someone else on our team, because the answer to edit question you’re gonna ask is yes. Now, how do we make it happen? Right? So yes, we need more team members. Yes, we’re looking for personality and a professionalism, and a trust and sincerity. And yes, we’re also looking for somebody that’s dynamic and terrific in marketing and social media, because that’s a growing part of our business. So we have a lot of needs as our business grows. But we need somebody that understands that you got to walk before you run, because it doesn’t happen instantly. You have to learn it. And to that point, we have mentors. There’s what we love about Bearden Warner is, there’s a mentor in our businesses. Thanks, Dean Russo. He was our first competitor. I love Dean, right? Dean was our mentor and building a team and Dean brought us into the Tom Ferry organization. And, you know, we work with the marketing coach Jason Fantana, and Tom Ferry, and they’re very invested in our business, and they make us better at what we do. And, and they keep us on track. And we have a lot of respect for them. And, and want to really shout out to them because we become better because of the people that care about us. So we can care about them.

D.J. Paris 53:33
Yeah, yeah. So Oh, and just before I forget, if there are if we have listeners that think they would be a fit based on all of the criteria you just laid out about what you’re looking for that will help you build, build the team and also build that that brokers business and and be part of your family, what’s the best way they should be reaching out to you to

Dena Fox 53:55
know they should so reach out directly to me, actually, as I sort of am the first step and screening people and meeting with people. So they would they can either text me or call me at 847-899-4666 or they can email me at Dina dot Fox at Barrett warner.com.

D.J. Paris 54:17
Wonderful. And one last question around coaching since Marlene, you just brought this up, and I think it’s such an important one. How important is coaching and would you recommend to to most agents, if not all agents that they should get themselves a real estate coach you mentioned you were with work with the Tom Ferry organization? Obviously they’re one of the big coaching firms. How important is coaching been for you guys?

Dena Fox 54:43
I think it’s crucial. It’s it’s exactly what I was talking about in the beginning that you always need a mentor regardless of what stage of your career you’re in. And so whether you’re new and you’re being mentored by another agent or you’ve been in the business for a while and you know we You, we have not only a real estate coach, we have a business coach as well. So you, you always need somebody to keep you on your toes and fresh your ideas and be critiquing you, because nobody does this perfectly. And there’s always ways to improve. And there’s always ways that you can keep learning. And so I think it’s important for every agent to have somebody in their life like that I

Marlene Rubenstein 55:23
agree. And even we have the most amazing assistant, Jen. And Jen has a resource that she can lean on as well. And Dina is really the one that was behind coaching. She was competitive ice skater, and she knew the value of coaching and her competitive ice skating career. So I would have to tip my hat to her because I don’t listen as well as she does. So I would say coaching has been critical for both of us.

D.J. Paris 55:48
Yeah, well, they every professional athlete or competitive ice skater has a coach, right. So if the top athletes in the world for all across all sports, have coaches, probably good idea for the rest of us to write.

Dena Fox 56:01
And frankly, that’s part of our job is to coach people, right? I mean, that’s what we’re doing, regardless of who we’re working with is we’re coaching and advising them, so we have

Marlene Rubenstein 56:11
to be coached as well. And we go to four conferences, at least to hear, because we got to stay ahead of the trends. There’s so much to read and to listen to, because if the housing market is down, or or the Coronavirus is dropping the stock market 800 to 1000 points, you know, this all or an election year, It all affects our business. And we’re not current with current events and what’s happening in the world or that the average buyer today is 35 years old, you need to know this. Because you need to change your presentation and change your if you don’t know trends, you can’t live and work to trends.

D.J. Paris 56:51
Yeah, that’s absolutely right, the more you know, and the more you invest in in your business by doing things like getting coaching and attending conferences and staying up on knowing when interest rates drop, and then maybe even reaching out to past clients saying, hey, you need to talk to your lender, because rates just dropped, it might be a good time to refi. And if you don’t have a lender talk to talk to my guy Mutual of Omaha, because he’s excellent. You get to be to bring this knowledge to clients. And I know you guys do that, and you do it obviously very, very well. So congratulations on on all your continued success and and into the future. And again, if there are any brokers that are listening that would like to join a team, like Marlene and denas, please reach out to Dina directly, we’ll put your contact information also in the show notes, you’ll probably get a lot of responses. So I apologize for that in advance. But hopefully you guys can now can find a gym or two in there to help grow even further.

Marlene Rubenstein 57:51
And DJ, we want to say thank you to you, right, because it was the same thing like when Chicago agent nominated us as the best team in Chicago. And we were like, really us and then when we wanted it was, you know, we really never marketed it because we were so flattered. And we really want to acknowledge, you know, Chicago agent magazine, DJ and the people to call us up like you and all of your listeners that say, how do you do it, you know, we’re very accessible, as Dina said, you know, texture at 847-899-4666 Text me at 847-565-6666. Six is a great number for us. But we’re very accessible by text. And we we want to make a difference in people’s lives. And we can’t do that without people like you. So to you and to your listeners, it really means a lot to us. We just want to say thank you

Dena Fox 58:47
for having us. And we’re always here for agents to, to meet with and to ask questions and just provide some advice.

D.J. Paris 58:56
On behalf of the listeners, we think you because you’re sharing so much good information that they can actually take some of what you said and apply it to their business. And I always think that what’s the expression that a rising tide raises all ships, right. So this idea of of bringing these, this information to the market so that other realtors can learn from from your successes is really we’re so honored that you took the time and I know how busy the both of you are. Obviously with all the accolades and business you’re currently doing. We know it’s not easy for you to find time to do this. So thank you on behalf of the listeners. And and then on behalf of of course Marlene and Dina as Marlene just entered Dino just said thank you for listening. We really appreciate it. If everyone listening just tells one other realtor about this podcast, we’ll double our listenership and what that enables us to do is do more episodes and get more sponsors and service more people. So please everyone, tell a friend also follow us on Facebook. It’s facebook.com forward slash keeping a real pot every single day we post an article that we find online, written specifically To help Realtors grow their business. And of course, we post all of our episodes here. Also visit The Rubenstein, Fox team at Rubinstein, Fox team, dot Baird warner.com. And all their contact information is there, follow them as well on Facebook, Instagram everywhere, you can get to right from their website. And again, if you’re interested in joining their team, reach out to Dina and she’ll let you know if it’s a good match. But guys, thank you so much. And we really appreciate and this is a real honor for us. It’s been something we’ve wanted to have you on the show for a couple of years now. So we’re so grateful that you were able to find the time so thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you

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