The Importance Of Discovering Your Real Estate Niche • Toby Fernie

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Toby Fernie from Coldwell Banker in Monterey describes how he transitioned from teaching into real estate. Toby also discusses how being bilingual helps his business. Toby talks about his niche in helping teachers in the Monterey area buy properties and also describes how he built a seminar for this purpose. Last, Toby talks about how his business has evolved in the recent years.

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

Toby Fernie can be reached at toby.fernie@cbnorcal.com and (831) 233-0586.


D.J. Paris 0:00
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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 Parris. I’m your guide and host through the show and in just a moment, we’re gonna be speaking with Toby Ferny from Coldwell Banker out in Monterey, California. Before we get to Toby. Just a couple of quick reminders. If you’d like to support our show and help us continue to grow, the best way you can do that is by telling a friend think of one other real estate professional that could benefit from hearing from top producers like Toby about how they became successful, and send them a link to our website, which is keeping it real pod.com On that website, you can stream every episode we’ve ever done. So even if the person you’re sending our website to is not a podcast person, no worries, they can just play any episode they can. They want to right from the browser. And also please follow us on Facebook you can find us@facebook.com forward slash keeping it real pod. Not only do we have every episode we’ve ever produced there, we also have daily posts that are going to help you grow your real estate practice. So again, that’s facebook.com forward slash keeping it real pod. Thanks as always for continuing to listen, and we can’t appreciate you enough. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you and now on to our interview with Toby Ferny. Today on the show, we have Toby 30 from Coldwell Banker in Monterey, California. Let me tell you a little bit about Toby Toby started his real estate career in Boston, while studying at Boston College became a realtor in Boston for five years. After that he switched careers and spent 10 years teaching elementary school in Boston, but not just Boston, also Panama, Spain, Singapore and California. Now close to four years ago, he decided to re enter the real estate field full time, and he now works at Coldwell Banker in Monterey. As a former teacher, he’s made it his goal to help as many local educators find affordable housing to prevent teacher turnover in his community. He’s helped over 20 employees of Monterey schools purchase a home in the last two years. Now, while he helps clients, of course outside of teachers purchase and sell homes to his proudest accomplishment in Monterey, California is one of you know, working with teachers because it is one of the most expensive and exclusive counties in the entire country. So he is trying to solve a problem that is very serious, which is how do we get educators to be able to afford housing in this super expensive area. And that is why we are so excited to have him on the show. Please visit him for visit Toby at his website, which is living in Monterey california.com. Toby, welcome to the show.

Toby Fernie 3:54
EJ Thank you for having me. It’s an honor to be here. I’m a big fan of the show. Well, we

D.J. Paris 3:58
are I am a boy, thank you. That’s very nice. And at work. I’m such a big fan of of your whole mission. And Nisha was actually just telling the couple of the other guys here in the office Senate, because I do interviews all the time. And I rarely go around saying I got this really interesting interview coming up because they probably don’t want to hear about it to begin with. But also it’s not usually ever sometimes it’s a lot of the same stories over and over. But we were really intrigued by you in particular, because of this problem that I never thought about which we’re going to get into which is how do you keep teachers wanting to stay in areas that are largely unaffordable or certainly more expensive than what maybe their compensation would would allow for? But before we get to that, definitely want to hear a little bit about your story. Of course we just held told a little bit about it. But can you tell us a little bit about your journey you know from from when from Boston all the way to to Monterey.

Toby Fernie 4:55
Absolutely. Yeah. So I started back in Boston College. A friend of mine, he was an upperclassman, and he had been doing real estate for a number of years there. And the way that Housing Works at Boston College, most people only get three years of housing. So every single person, you know, for the most part, has to go off campus for at least one year. So most people, you know, go off campus during their junior year. And it’s one of those things where, you know, there’s about 10 different streets where people were looking for, for houses and apartments. And so I got started doing real estate there, did real estate for about five years at the office. They’re mostly rentals, but then also gotten to some sales as well, as I started my teaching career for a couple of years in Boston before doing some some international teaching.

D.J. Paris 5:48
Yeah, it’s amazing. I think Boston, oftentimes, outside of the people that live there that know this, of course, but for the rest of us, you know, we hear a lot about Southern California, and even Northern California, and, of course, New York and some other areas like that, as being of course very expensive, we Boston often gets overlooked. And it is one of the most expensive places to live with certainly buying a place but also even renting, It’s so insane there. So I imagine, you know, now that I’m thinking about, it’s like, oh, you actually were already in one of the more challenging, you know, cities to, to sort of find housing for people. And now you’re, of course, doing doing very similar thing. But you know, you were a teacher, and you got to teach not just in this country, but you went, you went to some other other places, including, gosh, you went to Central America, you went to, you know, to the you know, Western Europe, Eastern Europe. And tell us, you tell us a little bit about those travels.

Toby Fernie 6:48
Yeah, so my main goal after I’d finished college and was was teaching in Boston was I really wanted to get fluent in Spanish. So I went to a seminar, a housing, not a housing, excuse me, a teaching conference with a company called Search Associates, and that was in Boston, and schools from all over the world come in and do interviews with with teachers there. So when I started out, I only applied for for Spanish speaking countries, I ended up getting a job in Panama and teaching there for two years. You know, is that a time I was young, no, no kids, no, no mortgage payment, anything like that. So I wanted to travel. My parents were thankfully able to help my brother and I do some travel with them when we were kids. So you know, we got the travel bug from them. I studied abroad in Italy when I was in college. And so I was always interested in wanting to travel again and do some work abroad, too. So started for two years in Panama, and got pretty good at Spanish when I was there and wanted to keep improving my Spanish. I’ve always kind of been interested in Italy, in Spain, that part of the world. So I went and taught in Valencia, Spain for three years. These were all at international or American schools. So it was teaching in English to students that were, you know, either English speakers or wanting to learn English. And then I did one year teaching in Singapore before coming back and teaching at the International School of Monterey, which is what brought me to California and eventually, how I transit transitioned back into real estate here and here in Monterey.

D.J. Paris 8:28
Wow. Well, I have I was when you were mentioning Singapore is really off topic. But I’ll just really quickly mention it, I actually got a chance to I was in Singapore, just coincidentally, about maybe 12 years ago, during Chinese New Year. And I was visiting, I was actually I was on a trip to Bali at the time, and on the way sort of back stopped over in Singapore for three, three nights or four nights. And I of course, that’s such an amazing city, because it’s the cleanest, I think it’s still considered the cleanest city in the world, or certainly one of because they have very strict rules about about littering and things of that nature. Of course, everyone knows about gum and all of that, but, but I remember that’s also I remember Singapore being a very exclusive, seemingly, you know, probably challenging place to live, as well. But I remember when I was there for Chinese New Year, which was really cool, just coincidentally was there during that time. It was the most it was it was like a million people in the streets. It was the most behaved group of people I’ve ever witnessed. And I went, boy, nobody’s like throwing bottles and screaming and you know, and it’s like, oh, they’re not allowed to do that. That’s right. And I thought boy, some of those rules might might be helpful over here, but but it was it was the most polite. It was the largest polite New Year’s Eve celebration I’ve ever been a part of. And it was it was really the I loved Singapore. It was fun. I don’t I don’t know that. I don’t think I could afford to live there but, but it was really, really beauty.

Toby Fernie 10:00
Yeah, it’s expensive to but that’s I mean, that’s one of the things I love about travel right is getting those those cultural experiences to just end the ended up in Chinese New Year in Singapore and yeah, you know, it’s once in a lifetime experience to do things like that. Right. So yeah, you know, I’m glad to be back in the States and love it here in Monterey, but, you know, cherish those memories that I have from from the time working in teaching abroad.

D.J. Paris 10:25
Have you curious about being bilingual? Which I’m assuming your Spanish is still quite strong? Being that you teach International at an international school as well? Do you? Do you’d work with Spanish speaking clients? Are you able to? Are you fluent enough to be able to meet their needs?

Toby Fernie 10:42
Yeah, you know, the interesting thing about my Spanish was I never really did much, you know, formal formal schooling where I had, you know, vocabulary and verbs and practice like that. So most of the Spanish that I knew was more conversational. But when I came back here, that was certainly an area, you know, I wanted to be able to work with Spanish speaking students, parents that were Spanish speaking. And it’s certainly something that I try to incorporate into my business, working with Spanish speaking, clients who are looking to purchase homes, was certainly a bit of a learning process to learn all of the specific vocabulary in Spanish when it comes to, you know, mortgages and buying homes and the contracts and things like that. But yeah, certainly feel comfortable working with, with Spanish speaking clients, and there’s a lot of people in the area that are looking to purchase homes, whether it’s here in Monterey, or other you know, the surrounding towns that are Spanish speakers.

D.J. Paris 11:39
Yeah, what a great tool to have, as well to be able to communicate with, you know, non natively English speaking, people. But what I am most interested in learning about is this amazing niche that you’ve carved out. And I know it’s not exclusive to your business, you do other things, too. But my mom was a teacher, so I can, I can really appreciate appreciate the struggle of this, which is Toby had a very unique struggle, or sorry, not you particularly but but teachers in the Monterey area, if you’ve ever been to the Monterey County area, you know, just how beautiful and gorgeous and expensive it is. The challenge, of course, being how to teachers live there and continue to work there. And apparently, there’s a real issue in that county to keep teachers there, because it’s just so cost prohibitive. And you decided to, to sort of look into that and figure out how do we reduce turnover? How do we keep these teachers, you know, happy in their homes here, and, you know, being able to live, you know, within their means, in an area where I wouldn’t think most of us could live within our means. I think that is such a interesting problem. But it’s it’s a problem that I’ve never heard talked about. And I love the fact that that that’s your Nisha, do you mind just giving us a little primer on sort of what the problem is, and, and how you’ve started working with with clients to solve it?

Toby Fernie 13:00
Yeah, absolutely. So when I first came back to Monterey, was my 10th year of teaching. So I actually, you know, started there’s, there’s steps for teachers where, you know, each year your salary will, will go up, and I was on step 10, being my 10th year as a teacher, and, you know, I’m being new to the area, I was renting a one bedroom apartment, not, you know, anything that was extravagant. And the salary that I was earning was not enough money for me to live here is losing, you know, hundreds of dollars every month, just on on cost of living. And so, you know, I knew it was something that wouldn’t be sustainable for me moving forward, which was, you know, in part why I switched back into working with real estate. And when I started real estate, a lending partner of mine who I’ve worked with almost exclusively for the last, you know, three or four years, I mentioned to him that this was something that I was really passionate about wanting to help teachers, teacher turnover is a serious problem when it comes to, you know, student learning, you know, staff, you know, getting to know one another getting to know the curriculum, it’s difficult for teachers, it’s difficult for administration. So it’s really an impacts the entire community. So when I was speaking with my, my lending partner I mentioned to him, you know, I’d love to be able to do something that can help teachers afford to live around here. And there was unfortunately, due to COVID. The the funding is not available, but there was a downpayment assistance program that was available for teachers, firefighters, police officers in the entire state of California. And it was something that I as a teacher had never heard of. None of my friends who were teachers and my former colleagues had ever heard of it. So I kind of made it my mission and my goal, to share this information out with people who are interested in purchasing homes. And that’s kind of how I started here and Real Estate was working primarily with teachers and, you know, I still is a big part of, of the business and clients that I like to work with and help because, you know, I’m a former teacher, and I am passionate about helping people in that field, which I think, you know, really connects to and relates with my clients.

D.J. Paris 15:17
Yeah, it really, really does. And I imagine that had to be a really interesting moment to hear from a lender or something that you as a teacher had never heard. But also your colleagues in that in the education profession didn’t know about either, or at least, the ones you spoke to didn’t weren’t as familiar. And I suspect a lot of the agents or the realtors in your area also probably are somewhat unfamiliar with, which is like such a great opportunity to educate customers, or clients, future customers about sort of what this is and how this works. And I, I’ve always said that, why not? It’s not something brilliant thought I’ve come up with, but I’ve said a lot on the show and other agents have said the same thing is, you really need a great lending partner. Because if you have a great relationship with somebody who’s really comprehensive and knows, sort of knows they’re there, the different options for financing, oftentimes, agents are just not as up to date on on those some of those, you know, different grants and different programs that make it affordable for veterans, or, in this case, you know, teachers, which you said, you know, at the moment is not being offered because of COVID. But, you know, so how did you then so but you still have an education problem, right? You still have? How do I get people to know about this, right? Because they don’t know what they don’t know. So how did you go about educating the educators about this program? What was sort of the process there of saying, Hey, there’s this thing that you don’t know about that exists? What was the what was the way that you were able to share that information?

Toby Fernie 16:53
Yeah, so I tried to incorporate my past in history as a teacher and I started doing a home buying seminar for educators. And I was lucky enough to get connected with Monterey schools, and the the superintendent and the communications director there were fantastic. And they are passionate about helping their teachers and keeping good teachers in the area, too. So we started doing about every three months, three or four months, we do a home buying seminar, and it’s for the entire Monterey staff. And so I started with the lender that I mentioned, the two of us do the the presentation together, I do more. So the real estate side, you know, talking about the difficulties with increasing rents around here, increasing costs of homes, they’ve gone up about eight to 10% a year since 2008. Last year, they went up about 30%. So, you know, if you look at the the rising cost of homes, and then also the rising cost of rent every month, you know, it is one of those kind of you know, you’re you’re in trouble in both directions, right? Because, you know, the cost of rent might be, you know, cost prohibitive, if it keeps going up. And then you know, a number of years from now, teaching salaries don’t often keep pace with with the cost of living. So I’m more so did the real estate side of it. And then my lending partner, as you mentioned, so important, I think it’s the most important partnership that you can have as a realtor to be able to share that if you’re working with buyers. And so he did the lending side of it, you know, talked about, how do you get yourself pre approved, you know, what’s that process look like? And we were shocked to find out the number of people that came to our seminar, who just assumed that they couldn’t afford to buy a home that day, oh, they worse? Yeah, that they had, they had never gone through the pre approval process to see if they could afford to buy a home. So sure, you know, our message there typically as our, we would encourage you to just go through the pre approval process, see if you, you know, have the proper credit score enough money for a down payment. And, you know, for many of the teachers who we’ve worked with, if it’s a you know, single teacher, dual income, you know, two teachers working together, or maybe it’s one teacher, you know, who is partners with somebody who’s not a teacher, you know, a lot of those people left the seminars with the confidence that yeah, this is something that we’ve wanted for a long time and we can make it happen.

D.J. Paris 19:22
It really what I’m so impressed with is you identified a problem that was even greater than the teachers themselves finding housing, which, of course, is the most obvious problem. But this actually is a bigger problem, even for administration, who now has to constantly hire re staff reteach the, you know, processes of a particular school district or school itself, and you’re able to come to them and say, I think I might be able to help you with your problem, and the same time help teachers with housing, their own housing problems. And, you know, I can only imagine that those kinds of phone calls To set be able to say, Hey, can I come into, you know, this school or this district and do these seminars? That’s a pretty attractive offer for, you know, the administration to hear they’re like, Oh, good, somebody’s on our side, somebody’s helping us versus I am sure you are not the first realtor to ever call them and say, I would love to do a first time homebuyer seminar for your teachers, I think with your particular background, and also you’re solving even a, you know, a different problem. And on top of housing for teachers is keeping them wanting to stay in the area. I imagine that that had to be pretty well received by administration, or, or am I wrong, and you had to sort of, you know, keep knocking on the door until they let you in?

Toby Fernie 20:41
Yeah, it was a little bit of both. So for Monterey schools, the response from the superintendent and the communications director was almost immediate, I think I got an email back and, you know, 10 minutes later, and they said, Yes, we’ve been looking for something like this for a very long time. You know, we do care about the well being of our teachers outside of just the profession, right, it’s, you know, you have to be able to live here, you have to be able to afford to live here, it’s not just a matter of, you know, going to work every day, or you’re gonna find a different profession, or you’re gonna find somewhere else to live, right. So it was a win win situation in the fact that, you know, it was a benefit to the teachers to learn about this, it was a benefit to the school district to start doing the seminar and show, you know, this is something that we care about, we’re looking out for our teachers, it was also beneficial to me as a, as a new realtor to kind of have, you know, a group of people to get in front of and share my story. And, you know, I kind of speak teacher, if you will. And so I think it, you know, it helps to be a former teacher and say, you know, I get it, I was in your shoes four years ago, and thinking, can I afford to ever buy a house here? Or can I afford to live here? You know, do I need to find a different area to live a different job to do. And, you know, being a teacher, it’s helpful to be able to explain this, you know, to other teachers, and, you know, help them understand the process to, you know, unfortunately, I have reached out to a lot of the districts in the area, not just Monterey, since I, you know, I do serve some of the other areas. And that was, that’s been a bit more of a challenge and a struggle, you know, they’re not getting responses or, you know, following up, you know, five to 10 times before I hear back from somebody, and there’s actually somebody whose role, I won’t mention the school district, but their role. The title is teacher retention. I reached out to him and I said, Hey, you know, we have this program that’s been really successful for Monterey, we’d love to run it in your district, too. And the response that I got back was No, thanks. Not interested. So, you know, it’s, I think, you know, if people see the benefit of it, and how it’s, you know, looking out for teachers, but sometimes people just kind of get stuck in the in the day to day, right. And they’re, they’re very busy teachers are very busy administration, you know, they’re very busy too. But yeah, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve tried to reach out to a lot of different districts. And, you know, I wish it was something that, you know, every district all across California had,

D.J. Paris 23:18
well, and this problem isn’t specific ly, you know, regulated to relegated rather to just educators, right? There’s a lot of different professions that, you know, are going to struggle with a similar issue, which is, how do we keep our employees here, you know, close enough to where they are willing to commute in, to where they can still have a decent standard of living? And oh, yeah, we happen to be in this like, super, you know, expensive County. So for all of our listeners who think, Well, I’m not a former teacher, and, you know, I don’t have this particular situation that I could really solve for, oh, there’s lots of professionals that have this problem. And, you know, this is something that you know, you what I would encourage, and I’m sorry to interject in the middle of Toby doing such a great job, but I would encourage you to talk to some lending partners, and really say, hey, what programs exist out there right now that would help, you know, people who, who might not maybe buy their first home, who, you know, might be experiencing some sort of challenge, whether it’s financial or social or whatever, really educating yourself. I mean, that’s how you became educated about this. And then you were able to, to say, oh, there’s an opportunity here to to solve for this problem. But you know, and you also live that problem as well. So I just I love the fact that you’ve done this and, you know, sadly, that that program, I guess, is not currently being offered. But it still does apply to this idea of first time homebuyers. And, you know, look, I’m sure everyone listening would love to just do million dollar listings all day and of course, who wouldn’t? But if that is Isn’t your current situation and you are looking to work with renters that may become buyers? I have always thought that what a great opportunity, even if you’re even if the person is only renting for the next, however many years, being there guide through the rental process and helping them find apartments that are suitable for their needs, but also help get them closer to that goal of homeownership. Do you? Do you do rentals as well? Now? Are you predominantly just in this on the sales side?

Toby Fernie 25:28
Yeah, my office is almost exclusively sales. You know, I do have people that reach out to me or, you know, people from seminar other teachers that, you know, the school that I used to work at, sometimes they’ll reach out to me and say, Hey, we have a new teacher coming to town, and I’m happy to share, you know, my ideas and information with them. And, you know, but I think, you know, you were talking about the idea of listeners, right, have, you know, um, you know, maybe not many people that listen to the show are former teachers, but to your point of the idea of finding a niche, I think that a lot of people who are realtors, there are some people who go straight into real estate outside High School in college, but a lot of people that are in the industry did something previously. So if you’re a former, you know, nurse, firefighter, police officer, teacher, whatever it is, trying to, if you are interested in setting up, you know, a niche and a group of people that you care about, and you really want to help them, you know, trying to find out, you know, what is that group of people? And how do I connect with them? And how do I, you know, share this information with them. And, you know, the area that I live in, there’s many homes that are here that are multimillion dollar homes, and there’s so many Realtors here that work with, you know, higher end clients, and they’d like to do a couple of sales a year with some some more expensive homes. And for me, I would rather help, you know, 10 Teachers buy a $600,000 house, then, you know, sell one $6 million house because, you know, I just connect better with, with teachers. And I think, you know, while I do work with people outside of teachers, too, you know, it’s easier just to relate and, you know, you feel something additional when you see somebody getting the keys to their first house, and that they might not have thought was ever a possibility. Exactly. Yeah.

D.J. Paris 27:25
I come from the, the IT world in particular, around healthcare, I worked at a, I worked at a firm before being in real estate where I was, you know, T shirts, and shorts and sandals kind of company. And it was a lot of young people. And I was there for many years. And we had about 150 people there, most of which were under 30. Even the owners were just in their early 30s At the time, and it was a kind of a young hip tech company that did not pay particularly well to younger, you know, right out of college graduates. So most of the work staff was workforce was in the probably mid 20s, I would say and they were they were competence. I mean, I don’t know everyone’s compensation, but they seem to be compensated, okay. But but they certainly weren’t, you know, earning a premium to work there. And I can’t remember anyone ever coming into our office and saying, hey, I want to do a seminar about buying a home, it just wasn’t even something I would have thought about. Because I didn’t know it was even an option. And so if you’re listening and thinking, well, like Toby was saying, everyone has not everyone, but a lot of our listeners are going to have either previous careers or we know people in other careers, and you can talk to you, you know, if you don’t have an opportunity, like what I would do if I were practicing real estate, I mean, I’ve been doing this long enough to where no, I think I still would do it today, if I was if I was actually practicing real estate, first call I would make would be to my former company. And I would call every other tech firm that I’m familiar with in the space that I we played in, and I would say, hey, I want to help your employees, you know, and this will help possibly stickiness with your company, because Chicago is also a relatively expensive place to live. So you know, this, this would be the path to homeownership. Nobody ever did that at the firm I was at and we had 150 people there. And I guarantee our HR director would have said that would be awesome, come and do a lunch, because it makes her in this case, it may well make her look good to the company to that she’s bringing in this value. So I don’t want to harp on that harp, I don’t want to step on this too much. But I really think there’s a huge lesson here. You know, whatever your background is, and if you if you went into real estates, you know, straight, you know, from when he became an adult and you don’t have a particular past, talk to your friends, talk to other clients and say, hey, you know, do you think there’s an opportunity for me to to do some education for people in your field? Do you think people would be interested in that? What are the problems they’re facing? And then you’ll you’ll and then talk to a lender and say, Hey, do you have any things to do to address these problems? So anyway, I think we’ve made that point. But I am so impressed with with you and And we should also mention, by the way, how difficult it is to be a realtor in Monterey, California. Toby was sharing this before before we got, we went live. This is incredible. I mean, absolutely incredible, in an unfortunate way, so to speak. But it is truly remarkable. It is just just such a bizarre area of the country. It’s such a beautiful area. But there are how many homes sold a year at how many realtors in Monterey?

Toby Fernie 30:25
Yeah. So, the year that I started, there was 1400, home sales and 1500 licensed realtors. So, you know, I’m not I’m not Matt Damon from Goodwill Hunting. But if you if you do that math, it’s it doesn’t add up very well. And especially since you know, some of the top producers are probably selling, you know, 20 to 30 homes a year. Right. So yeah, I got to think that a large portion or percentage of realtors are doing zero to one sale a year. Maybe they represent themselves in purchases, or just work exclusively with friends and family. But yeah, it’s it’s a difficult market, there’s a lot of people that are looking for, you know, selling the five $10 million home. So that’s an area and a market. That’s that’s pretty flooded. You know, in here, right? Everybody’s trying to connect with those with those buyers and sellers. So yeah, I think sometimes people get drawn into the idea of wow, look at the commission that I could earn from a for sure. And dollar house, right. And then once they get into it, right, I mean, my first six months, I did one sale, right? So it’s just, it’s, it’s pretty difficult to get started. And every single realtor, you know, says the things like Oh, I love where I live, which I do love Monterey. And you know, every realtor says, I’m the hardest working realtor, which you know, I am the hardest working realtor here in Monterey. But i That’s why I tried to find that niche to your point is, you know, something that would be separate and differentiate me from from other realtors in a market where it’s, it’s, it’s very flooded.

D.J. Paris 32:04
And it’s also the market you’re going after is also a really smart market. In addition to all of the problems it solves, or sorry, all the solutions that you’re offering to solve for these problems. But it’s also a market that other realtors are probably ignoring, because of the just sort of the, you know the demographics of your area. So it’s really just I’m so impressed with it all the way around, because it’s really going going into something that solves a lot of great a lot of problems in a really productive positive way. And it’s also there’s not as much competition I’m guessing in the sense of, you know, teachers probably aren’t getting a lot of those, you know, opportunities to to learn about about homeownership. So while I’m so impressed with this well, Toby tell, let’s talk before we totally get off the idea of of the sort of helping teachers thing I would love. Just to explain to our audience, you know what those numbers were? So you said, Hey, in your first six months, you really did one sale, which I think is still pretty impressive. But once you did your first teacher seminar, can you tell us about sort of what happened after that?

Toby Fernie 33:12
Yeah, so the first six months only did did one sale and was working nights at a at a restaurant and bar, as many Realtors do when they’re first starting out. And then yeah, I think around six months in might have been when I did the first seminar with the lender. And the first seminar was was very, you know, not not very well attended. I think we had 12 RSVP, and maybe two showed up in the end. Sure. And then the second one that I did actually was the most attended seminar and we had 70 people that attended. Oh, yeah, we were we were quite surprised. I don’t think we had enough seating where we were we had initially planned for so yeah, and then so my, this the six months after that did ended up doing for sales, which were all as a result of the seminar. And then the year after that ended up doing nine sales, which, you know, were a combination mostly mostly ended up being from the seminar but some from you know, open houses and from referrals and things like that. And then, you know, in 2020 ones, the first six, seven months of the year have ended up 14 sales that are you know, sold are in contract right now.

D.J. Paris 34:40
Congratulations. And again, we’re in a you’re in and you’re in a market where there are a very finite number of homes and an almost infinite number of realtors. So it’s it’s the average realtor is doing less than one deal a year and it’s not like well, there’s 40,000 realtors and half of them are just doing it for now. There’s only 1500 You know, for 1500 realtors. So it is a very, I mean, that is really incredible. So congratulations on that success. And I just think I just think you just perfectly hit so many of the things that as a marketer, I’m impressed with, but just, you know, you identified problems, you came up with a unique solution, anyone after people that, you know, are largely being ignored, you know, in the realtor space, and you’re creating solutions for them. But of course, you don’t only work with with educators you work with, you know, all different types of people. But, you know, tell us a little bit about, you know, sort of how your business has evolved. Right. So I know you were you were doing seminars, obviously, maybe, are you still doing seminars? Because I know that the funding program has changed. But are you still doing our seminars, still a big part of sort of your, you know, your presentation to the public?

Toby Fernie 36:02
Yeah, we still have been doing seminars via zoom, the last the last year. So yeah, we still do about every, every three or four months. And I think the thing that I’ve learned this, this last year and a half with with COVID, is that if you’re a realtor, you really have to find multiple sources of generating business, right? Because if you’re somebody who almost exclusively relied on open houses or door knocking, you know, a lot of those in person changed. Yeah, that you’re not, you know, nobody’s answering the door during the middle of a global pandemic. So, yeah, I think you really just need to diversify what you’re doing, I don’t think that you should, you know, there’s 100 different options that you could do as a realtor to try to generate clients, I don’t think that you should choose too many, I think that you don’t want to be, you know, a jack of all trades and a Master of None, I would recommend choosing, you know, three to five sources that are going to be your areas of generating business. And, you know, some of it needs to be the same person, whether it’s, you know, open houses, door knocking seminars, you know, whatever the situation might be, for doing it face to face, and if you will, maybe the, you know, older versions of real estate, if you will, that, you know, we’re kind of the only options in the in the, you know, 1980s or 1990s Sure, but then also trying to diversify, and whether it’s through social media, you know, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, you know, whatever it is that you’re choosing to do, I think that you need to pick three to five that you really enjoy doing, you’re passionate about, you’re consistent with it. And it’s something that, you know, allows for you to if there is in time, when you can’t do open houses, well, then you can lean into those other sources. And, you know, I think if you’re just only focusing on one area, maybe you’re somebody that has a lot of expenses every month, you pay 510 $1,000 into Zillow a month, or you know, some of those other sources, right like that, it can really put a lot of pressure on a realtor to try to do a certain number of sales every month. And if you’re, if you’re not able to do that, then you know, that’s why there’s such speaking of high turnover with teachers, there’s, there’s such high turnover when it comes to real estate agents.

D.J. Paris 38:29
Yeah, it’s, that is very, very true, it’s a tough position, where you have to basically run every part of the business and be a realtor as well. And it now there are some firms that you know, help offset some of those responsibilities. But most of the agents I talked to, regardless of the firm that they work at, end up doing, you know, 95% of the job themselves, because that’s the nature of the job. And client acquisition is arguably the most challenging part for probably all of the listeners are, you know, unless they’re really at a high level and then they have other types of problems. But I think you’re right is picking picking a few avenues that you’re excited and passionate about is and that solves a real problem. And you know, we would all love for the phone to just ring with referrals all day and and certainly once you get to a certain level of your business hopefully that that that happens. But until that time, or maybe you never stopped prospecting I’m not sure but seems to be that most of the agents I talk to you no matter how successful they are never stopped prospecting but the idea of really figuring out you know, how do I make this work is is a challenge and that’s why we’re so grateful to have somebody like you on who really solved a very difficult problem for yourself in addition to the you know, the problem is okay, this is not a very realtor friendly area. This is a difficult spot to to stake your claim and and to be to build a business because there’s just not a whole lot of property to go around and a lot of competition, and you, in a way sort of created your own market, which I think is really couldn’t be overstated. I think that is a really, really important point is you decided to create something that solved a whole bunch of problems that were, like we said earlier, kind of maybe being ignored or just not even really known by the realtor community in your area. So I could not be more impressed with with with you. And, and we should also mention, by the way, again, we’ve talked a lot about, you know, Toby’s you know, working with with educators. He of course, works with all sorts of different buyers sellers, and also can offer some some some guidance there with with renters. But we’ve also had mentioned that you have another challenge, and this is not as unique to your area, but certainly, boy, this isn’t really a big number is that Monterey has appreciated it what about 30%? On average, is that was that right? Or do I have that right? In the last 12 months?

Toby Fernie 41:05
Yeah, it was close to 30%. Since since last year. And since the since 2008. Homes have gone up about eight to 10% a year. So yeah, I mean, last year, obviously very unique market and interesting. Real Estate Market all across the country. Monterey seemed to be an area where there was so many buyers moving from San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, that were able to work from home and maybe wanted to be a place with some more outdoors activities. And so there was a I think the last four or five buyers that I’ve worked with have been from San Jose, San Francisco or Los Angeles, because it seemed like a lot of the the people that were moving to San Francisco and San Jose and doing, you know, cash offers over asking price 10 offers on a house. We’re starting to see that in Monterey.

D.J. Paris 42:03
Hmm. Yeah, it makes sense. You have people that now are more mobile because of the work at home experience that so many companies to hear me. So how are you? Good. Oh, we’re back. Great. Well, I was I was just Well, yeah, gosh, so thanks. We totally will just Kate went out for about 10 seconds there. But it’s perfect timing, because we were actually going to wrap up. But what I would like to to let all of our listeners know, whether you’re a realtor or in a different profession, obviously, hopefully this has been helpful for you, our listeners, but also we want to mention that if you are somebody that is wanting to work with the hardest working Realtor in Monterrey, which is Toby, what is the best way that somebody can reach out to you whether they’re looking to buy, sell, rent, invest? What’s the best means of communication with you?

Toby Fernie 42:55
Yeah, so I tried to make it easy for pretty much everything that I have, whether it’s my websites, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, it’s all just living in Monterey, California. So the website’s living in Monterey california.com. And that’s my Youtube, Facebook and Instagram, too. If you want, you can send me an email at Toby tob y dot Ferny fer ni e@gmail.com. I do you know, often have clients that are looking in other parts of the country to used to live in the Midwest and the East Coast. So quite a few people that I do connect with there for referrals. And so if you have anybody that’s moving to the area, be happy to help them out as best as I can. Awesome. We’ll

D.J. Paris 43:43
find Toby on his website. Again, that’s living in Monterey california.com. Or you can email him at Toby dot phirni. And that’s fer n ie@gmail.com. Sorry, I think I said Tony, instead of Toby Toby dot for ads@gmail.com will of course put those in the show notes. Toby, thank you so much. This was such a fun interview. For me. Personally, I got really charged up with this particular conversation because of you just such a unique, you’re really such a unique realtor, and we’re so grateful to have you on the show. And and as your star continues to rise, I am sure we would love to have you back at some point to talk about how things continue to evolve in your business and in your clients lives. So uh, thank you so much. On behalf of the audience, thank you for your time. We know how busy and it is right now for realtors. So especially somebody like yourself, who’s done so many sales this year, it’s so impressive. So thank you for that. And also, on behalf of Toby and myself, we want to thank all of our listeners and viewers for continuing to support our show. Please tell a friend think of one other realtor that could benefit from listening or watching our show and send them a link easiest way is to send them to our website which is keeping it real pod.com can stream every episode we you’ve ever done right there, or just pull up a podcast app haven’t searched for keeping it real. Hit the subscribe button. Toby, thank you so much. And

Toby Fernie 45:07
to be here, yeah, appreciate you having me and I’d be happy to come on again anytime.

D.J. Paris 45:13
Awesome, and thanks to everyone and we will see you on the next episode. Thanks, Toby. Thanks

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