Top producer Sohail Salahuddin starts his day at 2:30am. That is NOT a typo. Extreme discipline has been at the core of Sohail’s real estate practice and part of the reason he’s been a top producer for many years. Sohail is also a master at pivoting his business to meet current market conditions. If you feel like you need better habits to grow your business, this episode is just the kick in the rear you need!
Contact Sohail Salahuddin at 312-437-7799 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
D.J. Paris 0:14
Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keeping it real. The only podcast made by Chicago real estate agents for Chicago real estate agents. My name is DJ Paris. I am your host through the show and today we have a fantastic, amazing interview with Sohail. salehoo. Dean, before we get to him, I wanted to do a few quick announcements. First of all, thank you so much. We just crossed over the 1000 subscriber mark. And we’re so thrilled. I know a lot of you have been telling other brokers in your offices to listen to the show. And if you’re this is your first time listening, what is the show all about what we do is interview top Chicago real estate agents and ask them how they became successful in the hopes that that could be information that you could use in your own practice to, you know, increase your business, right. So the best way you could always help us is to share it with a friend. So if you have other brokers that you’re aware of that you think could benefit from the show, please pass this along. We really appreciate it. Also, if there’s any brokers that you think we should be interviewing that we should be talking to, you can, you can let us know that as well. So there’s obviously a number of ways to listen to the show or on all the various podcast directories. Also, you can stream all the episodes directly from our website, which is keeping it real pod.com. That’s the same place you can also go to submit recommendations of brokers that we should be communicating with and interviewing. And by the way you can nominate yourself Lastly, we are starting to take sponsorships per episode, so we’ll be starting that probably in a few episodes. As soon as things the dust settles a little bit. We’re pretty busy. But um, we have sponsors lined up for future episodes. So if you’re a sponsor that would like to get in front of 1000 plus brokers who are listening to the show, you can reach out and become one of our sponsors. You can do that on our website keeping it real pod.com Okay, thanks for listening to all of that and on with our interview with Sohail. All right, today on the show we have Sohail salah, who Deen started in the real estate industry as an investor when he was just 20 years old, making his first purchase on a single family home. As through that he became bit by the real estate bug and started buying multi unit buildings within a year. From there, Sohail has owned and operated a successful mortgage company. While he transitioned ultimately to residential real estate sales. He became involved in web development as built houses bought and sold many properties and worked on large condo conversions. So he’ll recent really had a passion for helping others achieve their goals as he had so he turned his focus to brokerage services and opened up his own firm. So Hale founded the Sohail Real Estate Group in 2012. He has a clear vision to help people achieve their goals providing white glove service to his clients that are above and beyond other real estate brokerages. Suhail has earned awards in Chicago Association of Realtors year after year for outstanding achievements as well as award a top producer of his industry. So he’ll thank you and welcome to the podcast. Thanks, DJ. Thanks for having me. The pleasure is definitely all to all ours. Can you talk a little bit about you have such an interesting history of getting involved in real estate really, as a young age? Can you talk walk us through that journey of how you got to where you are now?
Sohail Salahuddin 3:42
Yeah, um, I’ve been through many ups and downs. But um, so as at a young age, I started just with my, with my first property I was renting previously, I started renting at a young age too. So I was on my own pretty young. And my landlord was doing mortgages and she was an investor. And so when I was renting from her, she said, Why don’t you buy a house? There’s a lot of money, the real estate markets good. And I said, I don’t how do I do that? Sure. Right. I don’t know if I can. And so she helped me. She she was a real estate broker. She was a mortgage broker. And she helped me get my first property. From that point on, I just kind of got bit about a three unit building in Jefferson Park was my first like, bigger investment and then went on from there. I was I would say that throughout the process as an investor there and real estate also in general it’s like a roller coaster ride but the process is really the process all the challenges that’s that’s kind of where all the magic happens. Sure. Yeah. And then I from when I was buying I got into mortgages first before I got into brokerage And the reason I got into mortgages because when I was buying a property, the mortgage broker was a young guy. And, and I saw his check. Right? Right. And I said, Well, I said, That’s how much money you made. And he said, Yeah. And I said, God, how’d you get into this business? And he said, Well, I just, you know, just just went and started working for this guy at this company. And I said, you have a finance degree. Turns out he didn’t I don’t think he even had a high school degree. So, sir, yeah, so then I started doing some research and and I kind of got into it from from that point on, in the mortgage side.
D.J. Paris 5:36
Sure. What years were you? Were you involved in mortgages? Was this for the?
Sohail Salahuddin 5:41
No, it was during the Yeah, before the crash? 2005 is kind of really when I got into it.
D.J. Paris 5:48
Sure. Saw some good some good years, I imagine in mortgage some very
Sohail Salahuddin 5:53
good years. Yeah. I mean, extremely, extremely good. It was, I think one of the one of the really good years, I had a partner for a while, I opened up a mortgage company, I had a partner. And, and then when we got into condo conversions, development, it was a really good year, that was right before the crash. And there were big developments. So like 500 Plus units. Wow. And so we’d get a little piece of the profit from the units. Majority of the time we’re listing them, we’re also representing the buyer side, and then we’re also financing them. So
D.J. Paris 6:26
that is, that is truly impressive.
Sohail Salahuddin 6:27
Yeah, that was a good. That was a good year, for sure. And that was in 2006 2007.
D.J. Paris 6:37
Gotcha. And then, so as the crash happened, how did you shift your business?
Sohail Salahuddin 6:43
So as the crash happened, so the kind of conversions a lot of the people that purchased were investors, because in elements, you have to have a minimum of 30 day first right of refusal for the tenants, when you convert an apartment building to condos, right. And when that would happen, it attracted a lot of investors. So because I represented the investors when they purchase, they wanted the tenants to stay. And anytime a tenant moved out, they would come back to me, and asked me to find new tenant. And for a while I was doing it for free, just because I didn’t know any better. And I felt kind of obligated. Sure, and then an attorney that I was working with sad, you know, there’s companies that charge for that. And I said, really? He goes, Yeah, I was just green. I didn’t really know too much about the rental industry. As far as a service goes. And he said to me, yeah, they charge one month’s rent. And he’s right. I said, Why sold it to these people. He’s like, Yeah, but that’s your obligations over. So the next time someone asked me if I could find a tenant, I said, Sure, you know, have to charge your month’s rent. And they said, Yeah, of course, I don’t just find me a tenant. So they write the money. They just wanted a tenant. And I made, I made probably at least 10,000 just renting apartments on the side. Yeah. And then the person that that gave me the idea, I thanked him for it. And then a light bulb went off in his head. And the next day call me he said, Hey, let’s meet for lunch. I have an idea. And then we kind of got into the rental business, which, you know, I have to say it was very fortunate because this is when the markets that are crashing. Right. It was a nice transition from doing doing sales and mortgages to focusing on rentals.
D.J. Paris 8:28
Yep, for sure. And then also, you’re you’re setting yourself up for future. I mean, you obviously already know this. But hopefully you’re setting yourself up for future sales when these renters get to that point down the road.
Sohail Salahuddin 8:39
Yeah, I mean, kind of, you know, I didn’t I didn’t really think about it that way. I was just in the moment. Sure. Right. Sure. On my end, I was mostly managing so I wasn’t focused too much on doing some one on one with clients. But now like I’m doing now, so I was managing I was still doing production, production myself. But I really think I didn’t think too far ahead into the future.
D.J. Paris 9:03
Right? Yeah. You were you were you were a developer, really? And so yeah, it wasn’t as much focus. I wasn’t really thinking
Sohail Salahuddin 9:09
about you know, I wasn’t thinking about okay, these people that are renting now, they’re going to be buying the future. I just sure the market was so bad. It would, right. Yeah. I don’t know when that was good, but a lot of Yeah. But you know, a lot of people did come back to me and funny enough, because four or five years later, they would come back and they said that, you know, they were they remembered me and I would did such a great job that they wanted to work with me again.
D.J. Paris 9:37
Yeah, for sure. I mean, it’s it’s amazing to me and probably this you know, it’s often lost on the people that are this way because to them, they’re just this way but this seems like you have this really impressive ability to just pivot and adapt. And you know, your your career has gone through multiple incarnations and you know, when when the markets bad great, we pick Get into rentals and, you know, flourished in that area, which I would think Most brokers probably did you know, and I know you weren’t necessarily a traditional broker at that point. But most people just didn’t do that at all. And so I find that they just kind of weather the storm. And I find that very, you know, sort of entrepreneurial, and also just intelligent to sort of think about, well, let’s pivot over to rentals. And then and so Okay, so you got, you know, you were doing rentals in addition to, you know, other things. And then how did that and then, then what happened after, as you started
Sohail Salahuddin 10:32
doing more of that, you know, that we had a good successful run with the company until about 2000 2011. A lot of there were some personal personal relationship issues that were involved, which impeded the company’s future, future progress, but at the same time, I think it worked out well, because there are so many right, you know, when we first did it, there was only probably two major competitors with us. Sure. By the time we were at a, at the end of the business, there was a rent a leasing office and every single corner literally throughout. That’s right, there are and for every person that wanted to rent a property or every landlord that wanted to have their property rented there about at least 10 plus different people that they could work with. So there are more people in the business, and there are people probably, as far as a client base looking. It’s a good, yeah. So if it was, it became more difficult. And I had to shift again, I shifted back to eventually I went with a group of people we had went to Southern B’s, Jamison southern views. Sure, and, and so we’re working, not like a, like a close knit functional team, it was kind of more like a small brokerage under under the Sotheby’s umbrella. And then eventually, from there, I, I went into started learning, right, because I’m always trying to learn and figure out how to improve my business. And so I learned how to how to really pull together a team and you don’t need a lot of people, you just need really effective people.
D.J. Paris 12:06
It’s okay, yeah, that’s very true. And so how have you built that team? As far as what you know, what are some of the qualities you’ve looked for and team members?
Sohail Salahuddin 12:19
Got? It’s a it’s a constant struggle? I’ll be honest, it’s hard to find. Sure, of course, but yeah, luckily, I’ve had, I have some really good people, my team who had been with me for, you know, five to eight years. And then I have some great staff. Now the staff is, I think, the most important one of the most important elements is, is to have your back in office setup really smooth saw the systems in place, so it’s streamlined. And for me, I’m best when I focus just on I’m producing. So I’d be the Rainmaker. Sure. I think it’s, I think that’s my biggest downfall at the same time is hard, it’s hard to find good people to put on a team, you know?
D.J. Paris 13:03
Yes, I can definitely, definitely appreciate that. And in the nurse standard, I wanted to give you a big compliment, because I was visiting your website and you know, you know, real estate websites are certainly a dime a dozen. And lots of brokers have them, and some of them are good, and some aren’t yours, I believe a good one. But what I what I loved in particular, or what I thought was really what I liked rather about it, and I imagine people who visit the site like this, as well, is on your homepage, you have a short video, and it’s only it’s like less than a couple of two minutes. But it specifically is like, Hey, you’re here at this website, because you know, one of a few reasons, you know, you need help buying or selling or renting. And here’s what we do we have a pot, you know, we have a we have what we call the sale selling strategy. And here are the five things I do that other other brokers probably don’t or maybe they don’t do as well, and you list them out. And again, I don’t know, how how much how like sort of rare, I suspect that is for someone even to have some sort of presentation like that. I suspect there’s a lot of brokers who go into a listing presentation or by buyers presentation, and they just kind of go there with a maybe a blank sheet of paper and is like Alright, tell me what you’re looking for, which I guess is fine. But I love the idea of you’re like okay, here’s, here’s why people hire me, here are the five things I do for them. And I thought it was really just simple. And but but like, you know, well laid out. And then at the end, it’s like, Hey, give me an opportunity to show you what we do. And I just thought that was really, really smart. Right.
Sohail Salahuddin 14:37
So that yeah, that website you’re looking at it’s a little outdated. But I it’s kind of the same theory. I think that when you’re selling when you’re selling a property when you’re listing it, it really comes down to just a few, a few major factors, right. Those are the macro factors. And of course, there’s the micro steps that my team does to make sure that we have an effective and efficient sale for the clients. Sure. but those are kind of the the macro factors that I put into there. But yeah, video, I think video is huge to be able to, instead of people are more visual, and that’s why they watch movies. So instead of having to read through a bunch of paragraphs on what you do for your business and the service you provide, it’s better just to have a quick video of myself, give me a, you know, a quick two, three minute introduction.
D.J. Paris 15:27
Yeah, and in addition to that, I just love that you have a strategy, right? So there’s so many brokers that probably don’t, in fact, I know there’s Most brokers probably don’t. And so I love the idea that you’ve thought this through, and it comes across in again, and this isn’t an industry where you could walk into a presentation with a blank sheet of paper, or you can go in there with a whole selling strategy. And to me, if it was me, I’d want to go in with the selling strategy personally, and other people do it different ways and have different levels of success. But I just, I just think that is was was really smart. And also, it’s very, you know, hey, it also gives somebody something tangible to sort of think about before potentially hiring you.
Sohail Salahuddin 16:11
You know, which it’s funny, you say that I think the magic actually happens, all the important information, I try to get to the client before I even meet with them. So when I meet with them, my goal is to be in and out of there within 15 to 30 minutes just have a very concise, effective conversation. questions based? Right. Sure. And it’s usually it’s almost the same thing as, as my business, it’s pretty step by step on how I walk people through the necessary steps that we take to get their property sold.
D.J. Paris 16:47
Yeah, I mean, you have you have a system. And it’s, you know, it’s even on your website, there’s a system, there’s, you know, here’s what we do. And ultimately, not only is it professional, I think they have a system, but it also enables you to be really efficient, right? It’s like, I can come in, I can get in and out in 1520 minutes, because we’ve done a bunch of legwork already. And now we just have a few key things we need to tighten up and then and I think that’s the it’s the I think that’s probably the the better way would be the way I would do it. If it was me. So anyway, I just noticed that and I thought that was something that other people could learn from, it’s like, so many brokers probably don’t have a presentation, they don’t have a process to that extent. And I think it’s it’s really smart to do that.
Sohail Salahuddin 17:28
You’re right, I think you’re a DJ.
D.J. Paris 17:32
Well, this is always a question that nobody has a great answer for. So I understand that every day is different as a realtor, but what does your typical day look like? Or if you could plan sort of a perfect day? What would that entail?
Sohail Salahuddin 17:45
It’s pretty military. Like, I love that. So I, it’s gonna sound crazy, but it’s not to me just because I designed my life to it fits my lifestyle. But I wake up at 2:30am Wow, I wake up at 230 I usually do some, a little bit of a spiritual, but a half an hour, something spiritual. And then I do a lot of mindset. I guess, things to just make my mindset really strong for the day, right? Get myself in a good mood stay positive. I usually read in the morning too, for about, it just depends, I taught myself how to speed me so I could read pretty fast. So I read a few chapters of a book, it takes me about 10 minutes to go through, you know, a pretty good part of the book I can get through in 10 minutes. Sure, and then I’ll I’ll hit my emails a lot through the emails, it’s responding to emails that came through. A lot of times I gotta send CMAs to people or, or an email presentation. And, and then it’s my delegation to my team. So I’ll do that in the morning as well. And then at four o’clock, wake up my wife when we go to the gym.
D.J. Paris 19:06
I love that. That’s not that the gym is like the seventh thing you’ve done by the time you
Sohail Salahuddin 19:14
she comes with me we’re usually at the gym about 434 15 or 430. And I just have a really good powerful workout and then and then my, the rest of my day starts so I get my kids ready for school. By seven I get myself ready by 730 actually 715 to 7:30am role playing with other people from across the country. Just our scripts and dialogues and get ourselves ready for the day.
D.J. Paris 19:40
Yeah, let me pause on that because that I don’t want to gloss gloss over that. I think that is so so interesting. So what maybe other people may call a mastermind group of sorts, or just some sort of peer group these are these are other real estate brokers who
are other real estate brokers.
Awesome and you guys are supporting each other or training each other or that sort of
Sohail Salahuddin 20:03
Yeah, exactly. It’s interesting to do because a few years ago, in the past, I don’t think I’d, I’d really network with real estate brokers just because I was more focused on clients and I didn’t see a value. And then I guess I opened up my mind a little bit to meeting with one person. And then that one meeting went into an expansion of, of now there’s a group of us that, that spend time together, we’re all on the same path, we lift each other up, we support each other. Many of them are here in Chicagoland. In fact, on Saturday, we just had a little dinner out with a group of people who are brokers here in Chicago, which is it’s a, it’s a fantastic feeling to know that you have friends that are doing the same thing that you are that you can talk about the same thing. And, and you’re helping each other, everybody’s has their ups and downs, everybody has good months, bad months. And at the same time, if you run into a problem, you have that support system in place where they can kind of help you if you need it to get through it.
D.J. Paris 21:06
That is that is so amazing. And you’re doing that daily. It sounds like Yeah,
Sohail Salahuddin 21:10
yeah. So daily, I’m always on the phones every morning with somebody in the industry. And then from 8am until about until about noon. You know, I start hunting for business.
D.J. Paris 21:27
And, and that’s, that’s interesting, too, like, so you’re you’re I mean, you are the king of time blocking it sounds like you. You just like okay, between eight and 12. I hunt. Awesome. And then. And then I got to keep going with this guy. I love all of this. What happens after 12? What do you do
on the clock at 12? I, I’m following up with my past clients at one o’clock and following up with my current clients. At two o’clock, I do an hour of I have to do I have to spend an hour of something either I gotta practice my skill set. I might watch some videos or something to keep my motivation high. Sure, practicing my presentation. It could be anything like that. But I try to get at least an hour in a day, from three to five or my listing presentations, or at least I try to keep them between three and five. Sure. from five to 7am hunting again. And then 730 is usually dinner with the family.
Wow, that is how, if you don’t mind me asking, were you always somebody that didn’t need a tremendous amount of sleep? Are you able to train yourself to do that?
Sohail Salahuddin 22:42
And go to bed at nine. So I still get what is that nine to five and a half hours. So I’m still getting, you know, five and a half to six hours of sleep. And it doesn’t sound like it’s not that much. But if you think about a lot of people will go to bed at midnight and wake up at six. Yeah, no, that’s true. So it’s still I still get plenty of sleep. But yeah, I did have to, I did have to slowly work back from waking up at five to 430 to four to 330 to three.
D.J. Paris 23:12
Sure. That is That is unbelievable. I that is military precision with with your day. And I imagine it makes you incredibly efficient. And I imagine also, you know, like, there’s a lot of different research out there that and again, for brokers, it’s easier said than done. But this idea of like, okay, between eight and 12 I’m hunting, I’m not you know, if there’s an emergency, I’ll answer an email or a phone call. But hey, that’s the door is closed and I’m hunting. I imagine you probably have some of those boundaries, too. It’s like, this is what I do. And I’ll get back to you after 12 If I need to. But
Sohail Salahuddin 23:49
it’s almost like when someone’s when someone knocks on my door I have to say Sheesh. amante buffalo right?
D.J. Paris 23:57
That is? Yeah, that is unbelievable. So let me ask you this with with with all the experience you’ve had. And with some of this, you’re a systems guy clearly like you have systems to manage your day you have systems with your clients we’ve talked about. And also you just have a tremendous amount of experience in the industry and in different areas of the industry. For somebody who was brand new who just is getting their license. What advice would you give to them? What would you say
Sohail Salahuddin 24:23
100%. I see most of the brokerages don’t offer like really good training there’s there’s a couple right that’s that’s the but the reality is if they knew what it was really like, I think a lot of people would run and brokerages don’t want people to run because they want them to write that’s how they grow the brokerage they want to have a lot of sure and continue to grow it. But I would say before you get into business or if you’re just getting into the business, you have to understand that it’s it’s it’s a lot of hard work. It’s not all while I’m in real estate so I can have flexibility and Have my own schedule. I mean, you could have those things, but you’d have to pay the price before you can get to that point, you know. So you have to work your ass off for about the first three to five years, it’s gonna be a lot of retention apps, the whole time, you’re gonna be outside your comfort zone, because that’s the only way you’re gonna grow. And, but if you do everything right for this three to five years, then you can start to build a team, which I would say is like a second phase. Once you start building a team, you can delegate out as much as you can depend on the people you have. And I would say the last phase is when you build it perfectly, then you can kind of that’s when you get to have flexibility to do whatever you want, right? To a certain extent. Sure.
No, I love all of that. And now I but just
to answer your question, anybody who’s new in the business, definitely get a mentor. Seek out mentorship, find somebody who’s, who’s reached a certain level of success within their business. And just ask them how they did it. You know, don’t ask them what it’s like now, but ask them all the struggles have been through because that, again, is where the magic happens.
D.J. Paris 26:09
Yeah, I think that’s right. I, it’s TierPoint I don’t think any of the schools that teach the licensing classes you know, just so you know, you’re going to be, you know, meeting new people every day for the next two years. And then maybe you’ll start getting, you know, a relatively decent client base but and longer even. And also, you’re going to be you know, answering questions you don’t know the answers to and then having to figure that out for the first few years. But I that is that is awesome. I think we really can can end on that because you’ve said so much. For a lot of people we have hundreds and hundreds of listeners who are brokers and I think they’re gonna get a lot just from from you know, even you talking about how you structure your day in so what I want to make sure I do is is mentioned so Hills website, which I think does give you a good understanding of, of some of how he operates, you know, you can feel his presence by even watching the videos or just kind of reading through his bio and, and what his team offers, but it’s so Hale, which is s o HAIL realestate.com. So if there are any buyers, sellers, even renters that would like to speak to you or your team, what would be the best way that they should reach out to you.
Sohail Salahuddin 27:22
So email is, is always good because I can respond quicker. And it’s my first name, so hail, which is S O hail at Sohail realestate.com. I have another website to DJ which is it’s this Sohail real estate team.com, which is a little more updated, and also kind of speaks to everybody. And then of course, anybody can reach me, I’m always available to clients directly, which I think is something that’s different from a lot of people. But they can call me directly at 312-437-7799.
D.J. Paris 28:02
Well, Sohail I, we’re so grateful for your time, because I know how precious time is to you and you take it very seriously. And for you to take a few moments out of your day, more than a few moments is appreciated. So thank you so much, and keep up all the amazing work and I will do my best to start waking up a little bit earlier. I don’t know that I I’m pretty sure I can’t get to 230. But even if I just got to five,
Sohail Salahuddin 28:26
then that would be you just start one step at a time. Right.
D.J. Paris 28:30
That’s true. All right. Well, thank you so much.