Below is an interview with Eric Hagstette, owner and principal broker of Inhabit Real Estate. The article was originally featured in Real Producers Magazine.
Tell us about the Brokerage and what makes it unique/different from others in the market.
Where do I even start? There is so much about Inhabit that is unique and different. Our branding is fresh and relevant. Our training and focus on elevating our role as trusted advisors while providing exceptional service is bar none. We consider our approach to be in a category of its own. Our wheelhouse is selling residential property in the inner corridors of Portland metro, but you’ve probably also seen our signs in front of various new construction development projects throughout town. Our agents are well-rounded and always thinking about how to help developers create inventory, as well as, sell it. At the end of the day, however, what really makes us special is our people. Over the last 5 years, we’ve organically attracted the talent of over 30 outstanding agents. In a nutshell, Inhabit Real Estate is a blend of authenticity, experience, professionalism, support, growth, and outstanding local branding in a vibrant, boutique storefront location.
What type of technology do you empower your agents with?
Our client experience and interface begin with our custom website rich in images, broker information, relevant content and an IDX feed for listings. We also deploy a classic recipe of social media outreach and digital marketing to our clients, the public and the broker community. We offer a CRM system to all of our brokers that also makes tracking our brokerage-generated leads easier as we funnel them in-house along with paperless document and compliance management software. One of our favorite low-tech tools is our storefront listing display system which actually puts our agents face-to-face with potential clients and curious neighbors. We constantly look for ways to introduce technology that will streamline our process and add real value to our business. There is no silver bullet, so to speak, with technology (yet), but I think there is a lot on the horizon.
What has become the most rewarding part of your business?
I created Inhabit specifically to teach and train brokers the “right” way to serve their clients and navigate this unique career.
Teaching, training, writing custom business plans, helping brokers meet their goals, avoid pitfalls, and develop as professionals is my “why” and the reason I do what I do. I have teaching in my blood and come from a long line of educators, so expressing this through residential real estate is, by far the most rewarding part of my day.
What is the biggest challenge you find in running a real estate company and team?
Helping my brokers avoid the “shiny object” syndrome (all of the distractions that are being pitched to us to magically revolutionize their business) and reinforcing the proven methods of building a successful referral-based business through consistency, follow up, client care, creativity, patience, database management, and professional development.
Where do you think our market is headed in the next 5 years?
We’re coming into a new 10-year real estate cycle that will continue to bring opportunities for (decisive) buyers and (well-priced) sellers. I believe the market will yield great results for brokers willing to roll up their sleeves and bring the market to themselves. The brokerages that provide an unsurpassed client experience with highly trained agents, rich in industry knowledge and specializing in niche markets, will remain relevant no matter where we are in the cycle. Portland real estate is a hot topic no matter where you are and this trend will continue to support our values and demand.
Are there any charities or organizations the Brokerage supports?
I’m proud to say that we have a very passionate and giving team of brokers who influence and guide our philanthropic support into various charities every year. This year we did a community holiday toy drive and a coat drive. As a team, we donated our time throwing hammers with Habitat for Humanity. We sponsor free junior bike racing through OBRA and have also sponsored many little league teams. We are currently excited to be kicking off a campaign to help The Pixie Project, a non-profit animal adoption group. We like to keep our charitable efforts within the communities we live and play in.
Is there anything else you would like to communicate here in REAL Producers Portland?
Your questions have focused on technology and the future of real estate, so I run the risk of sounding a bit old school here, but I am also seeing a trend in the newer generation of salespeople relying too heavily on technology and not understanding some of the fundamentals on how to really grow a robust referral-based business. Technology should be seen as a tool to streamline your process and make you more effective at what you do, but the basics of what makes a good salesperson hasn’t changed. Simple, consistent, grassroots efforts on how to nurture your database and sphere of influence cannot be overlooked. Providing quality and meaningful outreach over quantity is important in an inbox heavy society. Focus on learning everything you can so you can earn the ability to position yourself as a trusted advisor and industry expert (yes, which means sitting in the sales meetings and trainings. If you aren’t learning, find a brokerage that is committed to your development). And most importantly, never underestimate the power of a handwritten note!