Meet top Huntington Beach agent, James Ransom. Interviewed by PropertySpark.com
What inspired you to start in real estate and how did you motivate yourself to keep going?
Money inspired me. I’m not going to beat around the bush and pretend I have a “passion for real estate,” like so many other because we all know the job isn’t easy money, nor is it fulfilling unless you change your mindset about it. In 2011 I was running the day shift for the security department at Hawaiian Gardens Casino, attending interviews to try to be a police officer. My brother-in-law was in real estate at the time and he was doing very well. He asked me to help him so I changed my schedule around to get Saturday’s and Sunday’s off. The first open house we did, I met someone, got his contact info, and my brother-in-law sold him a house. 30 days later I got a check that totaled about 3 weeks pay as an armed guard dealing with dangerous situations. That made it very easy for me to put my two weeks notice in on the spot and the rest was history. The first 6 months were not as easy, but because I dove in head first, I didn’t have any other options so the financial insecurity is what my main motivator was.
Comparing your business from back then to now, what has been the main thing that allowed you to expand your business?
Knowledge has been the primary contributing factor to growth. As you gain knowledge, things get easier. When things are easier you spend less time on them and that additional free time will give you an opportunity to expand your business.
What’s the most profitable aspect of your business, why do you think this is and how can others apply this to what they are doing?
Open houses were always my main money generator. Clients who were interested in purchasing came straight to you. There was never any need to weed through hundreds of angry cold calls for that potential buyer or seller. When open houses were no longer allowed, I had to retool my strategy and evolve to make sure I kept my numbers up. I found out that there was a TON of business in my pipeline and then referrals became my main focus.
When did you realize you were successful/made it and how did you feel/celebrate?
I never felt successful, or if I did, the feeling slipped away every time I missed out on a listing, or I had a buyer who no longer wanted to purchase a home. I think those moments will happen for the rest of my career so there is always room for improvement and growth. Real estate is one of those careers where there is always more work to be done. Nothing ever feels complete or accomplished to me. It’s just an ongoing journey and as cliche as it sounds, my only goal is for constant improvement and betterment.
Looking back, what could you have done sooner to get to that point quicker?
I started working on a large team with big volume. I still give this advice to new agents but I spent 7 years with that team. I think if I were to do it all over, I would try to be more conscious about my growth during that time. I wish I would have gone out on my own a bit sooner but since you can’t change the past, I’m happy for the extra experience and additional transactions I was a part of during that time. And if we’re going to be VERY honest, I didn’t take real estate as serious as I should have. After I had a few large closings in a short time frame, I always took a small break that I justified by telling myself that “I deserved it.” The problem with that is when you let your motivation slip away, it takes a lot longer than expected to fill your pipeline back up and to get paid. For the first 5 years, I had several gaps in income and maybe I had a sale here or there, but I could have easily doubled my business if I treated this career as more of an obligation than a glorified hobby.
What should other real estate entrepreneurs reading this be focusing on to expand their own business?
Focus on the basics. Do your podcast and post your homes and lifestyle, but never lose focus that the money-making activities and still the same now as they were 30 years ago. Pick up the phone, knock doors, talk to people and make connections.
How has social media and online marketing affected your real estate business? How much more success have you had now after implementing social media and online marketing efforts?
Surprisingly I never received any business from social media until last year. I’ve had a million questions, and I try to offer my help as much as possible, but I felt that using my platform to get business wasn’t true to who I am as a person. And if I’m going to be happy in this career long term, then I’m not going to ever treat social media in a way that comes off as ‘salesy.’ All I’ve ever wanted or needed from social media is the additional brand awareness and I’m happy with that.
How did you build your team?
I’m still in the process of building my team. I have issues with letting go of control. Especially when you spend 10 years doing things a particular way, it’s hard to let go of the standards you hold for yourself. Currently I only have one other agent working with me and I’m planning on adding a couple more in the next few months but the quality is by far much more important than the quantity of partial checks you can add to your account, so I’ll likely continue to be patient while trying to find the right fits.
How did you become a good leader?
Lead by example. This cannot be stressed enough. Your team members NEED to witness you doing anything and everything you ask of them. If you don’t, they will leave and get paid twice as much for doing the same amount of work. Constantly ask how you can be better for them, and check in often to make sure they don’t have any doubts or concerns, but if they do, then you can address them before it turns into resentment and it’s too late. So to answer this question in short, I became a better leader by taking experience from relationships. 😂
Did You Experience Failures? If So, What Did You Learn From Them?
They say there are never any failures, only accomplishments and lessons. This is total bullshit. Sometimes there just isn’t anything you can do to accomplish your goal. The best mindset to have is to know that it’s a numbers game. You will face rejection often, but try to remind yourself it isn’t personal and bad cold calls are usually just a reflection of the homeowner’s attitude that day. It’s almost never a reflection of you personally. Failures also happen to be where I find my motivation. If I’m prepared, there isn’t a reason I should lose a listing, so those failures typically serve as my motivators. I want to win and I want to be the best so ‘losing,’ to someone else helps me do better the next time.
What do you consider the main differences between those people who have been successful in your industry and those who have failed?
Hard work. Bottom line. This isn’t up for debate. There is no easy way to the top in any industry and real estate is no different. If you do what you’re supposed to do day in and day out(consistency is key), then you make money. If you aren’t consistently working at it every day, you will find yourself applying for a second job.
What’s Your Approach To Marketing?
I spend the majority of my marketing budget on social media. My approach has always been to market where the attention is. I understand that newspaper ads, editorials, reviews, and other strategies help market my brand; but my focus has always been to spend the dollars on the house, not my ego.