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“Do open houses for as many hours as you possibly can” with Jason Hartman & Nicole Freer

Do open houses. Do open houses for as many hours as you possibly can. If you don’t have any listings, ask someone in your office if you can hold one of their listings open. Open houses are great because they are conveniently exposing that seller’s home so that potential buyers don’t have to worry about […]

Do open houses. Do open houses for as many hours as you possibly can. If you don’t have any listings, ask someone in your office if you can hold one of their listings open. Open houses are great because they are conveniently exposing that seller’s home so that potential buyers don’t have to worry about scheduling an appointment to see it, they can just walk in. Also, for you as a Real Estate Professional, that “open house” is now your office. Can you imagine having a pop-up office in the middle of a neighborhood where people are walking in to come in and meet with YOU?! Once that person has walked the house, here are your options: 1. Do you love the house? Great! Let me submit an offer for you. 2. Do you love the house? No, you don’t? Great! Tell me exactly what it is that you are looking for. As a Real Estate expert, I have access to HUNDREDS of homes in the area. I will not only make sure that I find you the perfect home, but I am an expert negotiator, and I save my buyers thousands of dollars when they purchase their home with me. 3. Oh, you’re a neighbor who isn’t in the market to buy or sell a house right now, you just came in to check out the house? Great! Did you know that you know FIVE people that will buy or sell this year? That’s right! FIVE! And we have an awesome referral program. Let’s follow each other on social media and that way when you come across those people, it’s easy for us to stay in touch and for me to sign you up on our referral program!


As a part of my series about strong women leaders of the Real Estate industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nicole Freer.

Nicole Freer is a licensed Real Estate agent in Texas and Owner and Team Leader of nfg; Nicole Freer Group at RE/MAX Fine Properties, a Top Producing Real Estate Team in Houston, TX. In less than 5 years, Nicole built a successful business around a few key principles: First and foremost, her happiness and quality of life. While Nicole works extremely hard at what she does, she decided early on that she would not sacrifice her happiness. As her business prospered, she quickly adapted to the growth, making sure that she was always doing what she loved. Through this growth, she was able to experience all aspects and responsibilities of both being in Real Estate, as well as owning her own business. Today, she finds her happiness heading up the marketing and branding team at nfg. While Nicole loves Real Estate and the fulfillment that comes with helping families buy and sell their homes, her passion lies in the creative direction of her team’s marketing and branding efforts across social media, design, video marketing, writing and directing. Nicole not only keeps her happiness in mind, but the happiness of her team members, moving them to different job responsibilities to ensure that they are always doing what they love.

Nicole and her husband, Doug, just celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary. They have 2 children together, Katie,17 and Jacob, 20, and have just recently become grandparents.


Thank you so much for doing this with us Nicole! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Real Estate industry?

Back in 2008, my husband Doug owned a loan brokerage business where he would broker business loans to individuals looking to raise money, such as working capital lines of credit, equipment loans, commercial real estate financing, etc. When the market started going south later that year, he started getting calls from individuals who were now looking for loans to purchase distressed properties to rehab and then resell. After receiving so many of these inquiries, we decided to give it a try ourselves since Doug already had direct access to these lines of credit that everyone was looking for. After we personally bought, rehabbed, and flipped about 15 homes, we decided that one of us should get our real estate license so that instead of paying out 6% commission on each sale, we would just be paying out 3% to the selling agent. I became licensed as a Texas Real Estate Agent with the sole intention of listing our flip houses. As friends and neighbors learned that I was now a Realtor, they started contacting me directly and also referring others to me who needed to buy or sell. After the second year of being a Real Estate Professional, business had become so busy Doug chose to leave his job as a loan Broker and help me. Together, we began to develop a team of Real Estate Professionals, Nicole Freer Group at RE/MAX Fine Properties, now better known as nfg. Today, six years in, nfg is now ranked #8 in Houston and #6 for RE/MAX in the state of Texas.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

Interesting? I and 7 other nfg team members were most recently at a New Year’s Eve party and there was a neighbor at the party who had their house for sale with another brokerage. She was aware of our Real Estate team and the success that we have had in the area selling homes, but she decided to list their house with a family friend. Around 1:00AM, after ringing in the New Year, she asked us if we could come over, walk her home, and tell her what we would do to sell her home, as her house had been sitting on the market for some time. After being in her house for over an hour and answering all the questions that they had, they were ready to make a change and sell their home with nfg. We were just 1 hour into the new year and had our first listing of 2020.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Marketing and branding have been a huge part of our company’s success. As others in our industry witness this success, they begin to try and implement those strategies into their own marketing. In an effort to ensure that we stay ahead in our marketplace, we have to constantly improve our ideas and strategies to remain disruptive and stand out amongst the crowd. As leaders in new construction sales, we have just recently started a new video concept, “Deals on Wheels with nfg,” with our builder partners highlighting their community, the builder, and the salesperson, in an approachable, casual car ride with me. Another new concept we have recently developed is a lifestyle series where we highlight individuals and businesses in our community, bringing exposure to them in an effort to expand their reach with the help of our brand. The positive responses that we get when we execute these new ideas and concepts that have never been done before in our marketplace is motivation for us to keep working hard to stay ahead of the curve.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

The culture that I have created with our team is not a common concept in our industry. While exciting and full of amazing opportunities, Real Estate is a very consuming career. My goal was to build a company with a culture of people who genuinely enjoyed each other’s company. If we enjoy each other’s company, if we hold the same values, if we’re working towards the same goal, there is no division and we all grow and become successful together. I can confidently say that the people that I have put together on this team get fired up and rejoice in each other’s accomplishments. It’s the most amazing thing to be a part of.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I would not be where I am today without my amazing husband, Doug. Doug and I got married at 17 and 20. We basically grew up together. We had children at a young age while also juggling school, work, and all of the ups and downs that come with building the foundation of a new relationship. We have gone through seasons where one of us needed to step up and give the other one extra support, as well as seasons where one of us was struggling and needed extra love and attention from the other. Early on we both committed to each other that, no matter what, we would always put each other first. We’ve stuck to this and it has not only brought us back from some very difficult times, but it has been a huge part of what has propelled us as a couple and as business owners.

Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. The Real Estate industry, like the Veterinarian, Nursing and Public Relations fields, is a women dominated industry. Yet despite this, less than 20 percent of senior positions in Real Estate companies are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what do you think is the cause of this imbalance?

When I first started in this industry, I heard stories of other women’s experiences with objections that they felt prohibited them from reaching their full potential. Some of those stories included women dealing with men who held positions that ran the corporate world. One story I recall was of a female agent who had been in the industry well over a decade. She was dealing with a male client who owned a multibillion-dollar company. When it came time to negotiations of his $1.3M home, no matter how she advised her client, his responses to her were always derogatory and condescending. It wasn’t until she brought her male co-agent in and specifically told him what to say to the client, did the client accept the female’s advice through her male co-agent.

My thoughts on the cause of this imbalance, is on both parties; the men that have this mentality, and the women who have yet to learn how to power through these negative experiences. Whether it be male clients, male agents, or male executives, these women start to question themselves and their ability to handle these types of men. In the long run, this can limit them from achieving their full potential, instead of persevering through these experiences to obtain a senior position in their real estate company.

What 3 things can be done by a) individuals b) companies and/or c) society to support greater gender balance going forward?

If you’re in a situation or conversation that is not supporting or is speaking against gender balance, speak up and speak for what’s right. By having just one person who has the courage to speak up, it empowers the others in the room who may lack the confidence to speak up as well.

If you aren’t comfortable speaking up in a situation, have a private conversation with someone that may be able to help you bring awareness to change this type of behavior or thinking in the future.

Support and encourage those around you that are experiencing gender imbalance. It’s only through supporting and encouraging each other that we can continue to make a difference.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

One of the most frequent challenges that I face as a female executive who speaks very directly and with conviction, is that it is seen by some as a negative, aggressive quality. Whereas, men who speak in the same manner are admired and regarded as strong, outspoken leaders. Initially, this was something that I really struggled with as an executive. But I quickly realized that I would be altering and even potentially limiting my success if I was worried about what a few people would think.

As I have grown and have become comfortable with staying true to who I am, I now see that speaking directly and with conviction is a gift and a trait to be admired. A trait that resonates with my passion.

Can you share 3 things that most excites you about the Real Estate industry?

The single most exciting thing about Real Estate is that your ONLY limitation in this industry is time. That is, it. In this industry, there is absolutely no ceiling to your success or how large your business can grow, or how much money you can make. The only thing that limits you are the hours in a day.

The other exciting thing about Real Estate is that there is no one single road to success. I know quite a few leaders in the Real Estate industry that are leading successful teams, and all of us are doing it differently.

The third thing that most excites me about the Real Estate industry is my job security. Contrary to popular belief, whether the economy or market is trending up or trending down, there will always be home sales. When the market is doing extremely well, there will be sellers wanting to sell their home to make a profit. When the market isn’t at its best, the wholesale companies that I have relationships with need to sell their inventory to investors who are looking to buy.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?

The Real Estate industry is one that is quite saturated with part-time Real Estate Agents. These agents obtain their license with the intention of doing Real Estate on the side while sustaining a 40+ hour a week corporate job. My concern is that families working with part-time Real Estate agents will not get the experience and attention that they deserve when buying or selling the largest investment of their lifetime; their home. An improvement in the industry would be to ensure that families knew the type of agent they were preparing to work with by having agents disclose if they were full-time or part-time.

Another concern is agents cutting commission to obtain the business rather than competing with experience and knowledge. While price is only an Issue in the absence of value, a lot of consumers will still get distracted when an agent claims to offer the exact service for a reduced charge. You get what you pay for. An improvement in the industry would be to regulate real estate commission to be a standard percentage in each marketplace, leaving agents to compete with value instead.

The most recent concern is sellers leaving money on the table by using the now trending tech companies that are claiming to replace the personal, one-on-one experience of a Real Estate Agent. These companies are offering to purchase homes drastically below market value without educating the homeowner on what fair market value is. While I don’t foresee a day that tech companies replace the intimate relationship between a client and an educated Real Estate expert, I do think that we can improve on this new industry concept by requiring these companies to disclose what true market value for their home is, compared to what they are offering.

What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive?

My advice to anyone looking to be a successful leader would be to work to provide value and an array of platforms for your team members to be successful. By providing value and these platforms, as well as investing your time to teach them how to become their best, they will be able to achieve success. As they become successful, the brand and the business become successful. As the brand and the business becomes successful, you as the business owner become successful. It is definitely a longer process that requires you as a leader to invest in them, not yourself, but the long-term growth potential is exponential.

Ok, here is the main question of our interview. You are a “Real Estate Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non intuitive things one should know to succeed in the Real Estate industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?

Real Estate is not rocket science. It’s an industry that has been around for ages. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Start with the basics; the foundation of what Real Estate was built on and go from there. Examples: Door knocking, cold calling, farming, open houses, etc. Then, add to that the technology that is now available for Realtors. Examples: Online marketing, professional photographers and home stagers, 3D tours from the convenience of a laptop, etc. From there, mix in your own personalized marketing strategies; not just for marketing your client’s home, but for marketing you as a Real Estate Professional. Don’t be afraid to be yourself and be creative. The Real Estate Market is saturated with people that are all walking around, saying the same things and doing the same things. Don’t be afraid to stand out.

Learn the area that you want to work in and become a trusted expert in that area. Share the information and knowledge that you gather, with the people in that market via an online forum; 97% of buyers shop for their home online. You need to be visible where they are. An example could be inviting everyone in a neighborhood to follow a page you created that keeps them up to date with information in that area. Example: A page on how quickly homes in their neighborhood are selling, but throw in other valuable information, such as different community events that are taking place they may enjoy going to. Share information that may not be directly connected to the housing market but is of value to them. As you continue to share that information frequently with the people in that area, they will begin to see you as the area expert. When they begin to start thinking of selling their home, or as their friends start talking about wanting to live in the area, you will be on the top of their mind as the “area expert.” This is one of the ways that I got my start and quickly dominated the very neighborhood that I lived in.

Talk to EVERYONE about real estate; your waiter at dinner, the person checking you out at the grocery store, the people standing around the dog park. I tell everyone, “You may not be ready to buy or sell right now, but did you know that you know FIVE people that will buy or sell this year? That’s right! FIVE! And we have an awesome referral program. Let’s follow each other on social media and that way when you come across those people, it’s easy for us to stay in touch and for me to sign you up on the referral program!”

Do open houses. Do open houses for as many hours as you possibly can. If you don’t have any listings, ask someone in your office if you can hold one of their listings open. Open houses are great because they are conveniently exposing that seller’s home so that potential buyers don’t have to worry about scheduling an appointment to see it, they can just walk in. Also, for you as a Real Estate Professional, that “open house” is now your office. Can you imagine having a pop-up office in the middle of a neighborhood where people are walking in to come in and meet with YOU?! Once that person has walked the house, here are your options: 1. Do you love the house? Great! Let me submit an offer for you. 2. Do you love the house? No, you don’t? Great! Tell me exactly what it is that you are looking for. As a Real Estate expert, I have access to HUNDREDS of homes in the area. I will not only make sure that I find you the perfect home, but I am an expert negotiator, and I save my buyers thousands of dollars when they purchase their home with me. 3. Oh, you’re a neighbor who isn’t in the market to buy or sell a house right now, you just came in to check out the house? Great! Did you know that you know FIVE people that will buy or sell this year? That’s right! FIVE! And we have an awesome referral program. Let’s follow each other on social media and that way when you come across those people, it’s easy for us to stay in touch and for me to sign you up on our referral program!

You are not just an Agent; you are a Business Owner. Carry yourself as a business owner. Dress like a business owner. Speak as a business owner. And, as a Business Owner, decide how it is that you are going to run your business, and run your business that way. Don’t adapt your business to each client. When you do this, you are now no longer running a business, the business is running you. Not everyone is going to want to work with you, and you have to be ok with that.

Because of your position, you are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

A movement I feel would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people would be to offer veterans of our armed forces VA loans with no interest rate, further benefiting those who put their lives on the line to serve our country. Homeownership for veterans should be a norm in terms of benefits and, unfortunately, sometimes all it takes is a higher or even market-based interest rate on a payment to take a home someone falls in love with out of their price range. If we had the capability of offering loans with no interest rates to VA buyers, the service we could provide to those who perform the ultimate service for us, would be life changing.

How can our readers follow you online?

www.nicolefreergroup.com

www.instagram.com/nicolefreergroup_

www.instagram.com/nicolemfreer

www.facebook.com/nicolefreergroup

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