Steven’s Real Estate Story
Everyone loves a success story, particularly when it comes from very humble beginnings.
It was in the last few months of 2005 when Steven Presson, after successfully building a healthcare supply business, decided that he wanted to take his life in a totally different direction. He found a buyer for his company and within a few months was in a position to begin a new career.
Steven knew he was good with people, loved marketing and liked the flexibility that working in the real estate market offered. But he didn’t just want to get into real estate; he wanted to work in the luxury market space if given the opportunity. He successfully pursued getting his real estate license and then began his search for the right employer. He approached his job search for a well-known company that met his criteria the same way he had built his previous business, by initially doing thorough research and then by creating his own personal media kit to first sell Steven Presson.
Steven narrowed his focus and made contact with a number of leading firms within the luxury U.S. real estate market that had offices in the Palm Beach area. But with no previous real estate experience, only one company responded to his initial inquiry. That company was the Corcoran Group in Palm Beach, and the managing broker agreed to meet with him, more as a courtesy to Steven, but also because he appreciated Steven’s initiative in marketing himself. Corcoran’s policy, like most top companies was not to hire newly licensed agents who didn’t have many years of experience working with luxury home sales.
But Steven was ready for the objections regarding his lack of real estate experience. His tenacity, enthusiasm and persuasive abilities overcame many of the broker’s objections, and reluctantly, the managing broker agreed to give Steven a chance, offering him his first job in real estate. His exact words were, “I’m going to take a chance on you.” That was in October of 2005.
Check out Steven at his new listing
As we all know, the summer of 2005 included 4-named hurricanes that hit south Florida. Those storms were harbingers of the beginning of the worst turndown in the south Florida real estate market in decades. Within a few months, the housing market, even in the luxury price ranges began to drop. With the severity of the market contraction came the shake-up and shakeout of many realtors who for a variety of reasons wouldn’t or couldn’t succeed as times became so much more difficult.
Steven, however, saw this as his golden opportunity. The timing couldn’t be better to show his broker that he had made the right decision and to prove to everyone, including himself, that this was his true calling. He began his career by building his own name as a brand, and he did it in a unique, but time-consuming and not inexpensive manner.
Steven knew that doing what most other realtors did to market themselves or generate leads and referrals wasn’t going to be good enough in a down and very competitive economy. So he took the same approach that had worked for him in his previous, non-real estate business. He wrote his own business plan knowing that success is not based on one or two quick results. His plan would have to be anchored with long-term business relationships with the leaders and professionals in the community who could become a valued source of referrals.
Steven also understood that his plan would take time, and cost money and he was willing not only to invest in his idea financially, but make the time commitment to do what other realtors in the business tended to avoid – cold calling and the slow process of direct relationship building.
Steven hired a full-time professional telemarketing person to contact every private bank, trust company and trust officer, and a number of high-end attorneys that specialized in estates, divorce law, probate, trusts and real estate for the purpose of setting up introductory meetings with these key potential business referral sources.
His first listing was the result of a cold call with Trust and Estate attorney, Bruce Parrish in West Palm Beach. Mr. Parrish was aware of the Corcoran name but didn’t have a relationship with a particular agent. In fact, Steven was the first person from the real estate industry to call upon Mr. Parrish’s law firm. The result was a $2-million listing on the Intracoastal that came about because Steven invested the time required to understand the needs of Mr. Parrish and his clients. To his surprise and credit, Steven became aware in many of these types of meetings that he was actually the first realtor to take the time to call upon many of these professionals, and it was because of these initial efforts that Steven was able to expand his professional relationship base.
The road Steven traveled during his first year as a realtor was long and difficult. He averaged 10-15 personal introductory appointments every week, sometimes doing back-to-back breakfasts and lunches, often at the same location. It was by no means an immediate financial windfall, and by the end of his first year in the business, Steven had spent $65,000 in his marketing efforts and earned a paltry $38,000 in commissions. That was exactly the plan he had in mind, because for Steven, it was an investment for the future.
His goal was to position himself to be the “go-to” expert in the luxury marketplace from day one in his new career, and his efforts and patience began to bear fruit. By the end of his second year with Corcoran, his network relationships began to blossom and referrals resulted in $180,000 in commissions, an achievement that he has continued to build upon and substantially increase every year since.
To establish his own name as a “brand” in real estate and in the community-at-large, Steven began writing real estate articles that appeared in the Palm Beach Daily News, affectionately known as the Shiny Sheet and publishing his own monthly electronic newsletter about the real estate market to keep his ever-expanding network of professionals and contacts updated on local conditions.
While there are many business groups that realtors can join within the community, Steven chose to build his own network of very high-level professionals, not for the purpose of exchanging business cards or leads, but to discuss problems and issues facing their business community. The group meets monthly to talk about what’s happening in the local markets, exchange problem-solving ideas and share success stories with other distinguished professionals who represent the preeminent centers of influence in the most affluent market in Palm Beach County.
Steven applied the same “out of the box thinking” to his initial meetings with prospects. Rather than simply show a client a folder filled with copies of sample listings and handouts, Steven conducted his presentations using a large 20-inch screen portable computer, making professional Power Point and slide show presentations that explained to the prospects his customized services and aggressive marketing approach. What Steven emphasized was his own dedication to the highest levels of personal service, trust and follow through, promising his prospects that no one would work longer or harder on their behalf than he – a promise he has always kept.
Steven’s goal was to make the prospect’s decision as to whether to hire him or a competitor, a virtual “no-brainer” and his approach was obviously working. Where most agents were expected to meet 5-prospects and list on average only one, Steven achieved a 4 of 5 – 80% closing rate. Remember, Steven had started from zero experience in real estate, and with hard work and tenacity was able, within two years to establish himself as a key leader in both real estate and the community, and do so in the midst of the worst recession and real estate market in decades.
Today Steven continues his marketing efforts with direct mailings and has positioned himself to be on a short list of realtors in the $1-million-plus market space. What’s become unique is that in this economy, his conversations with prospects are less about his high-powered marketing techniques and more often about reaching a consensus with the sellers as to what they think their home is worth.
Steven’s approach is always about adding value, and doing so by differentiating himself with efforts that vary from his quarterly newsletter containing information about the most recent sales and interesting facts about their local markets mailed to every home in the towns in which he markets, to reminders for the property tax TRIM notices. These friendly notes let homeowners know that they can appeal their property taxes and include the steps necessary to begin the appeals process. For Steven, it really is all about adding value to his client’s experience.
In addition to his growing success within the local world of real estate, Steven is also deeply committed to his community. He is the current President of the Palm Beach Rotary as well as Chairperson of their Scholarship Committee. He was appointed as a Director to the Palm Beach Board of Realtors in 2010 and is the current Chair of the Education Committee serving his third year. He is also the Treasurer of the PAR Business Group in Palm Beach County, and has recently served on the Board of Directors for Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies.
All of these accomplishments have helped make Steven Presson one of the most sought after luxury realtors in south Florida. Steven has done and continues to do it all, and he did it starting out with no experience and only a personal commitment to be the best no matter what it took to do so. From his unique marketing presentations to committing more than 200 hours to open houses on behalf of his clients, Steven has consistently done what’s necessary to over-achieve and succeed.
Steven Presson believes that if you’re willing to work smart and invest in yourself and your future, knowing up front that it won’t be easy, you too can achieve the highest level of success in any business.