Zoé Kellerhals-Madussi, the President of Sales and Marketing at LG Fairmont, was raised and educated in France, Switzerland, Italy and the United States, lending a multi-cultural and linguistic perspective to her client skills. With a degree in corporate communications and a specialization in luxury marketing, Zoé previously worked in marketing high end commercial real estate.
Leah Azizian, the Head of Business Development & Project Feasibility at the Developments Division at LG Fairmont, has recently launched a podcast called, “Real Estate Untapped” which is available on Spotify and Apple, featuring both conversations with other people both in and out of the real estate industry.
This podcast is definitely a humbling experience for those who are thinking about going into the real estate field or would want to learn more and her first quick episode speaks about why Leah joined the industry and what real estate means to her.
Below, I have interviewed
LEFT: Leah Azizian (Head of Business Development & Project Feasibility at the Developments Division at LG Fairmont)
RIGHT: Zoé Kellerhals-Madussi (President of Sales & Marketing at LG Fairmont)
to get their input regarding the hiring process/timeline
Please note that Leah is providing insight to prospective agents, or those seeking to join the industry, while Zoé is providing insight from the brokerage’s perspective.
- What are the basic and real requirements to get into real estate?
- Leah — The barriers to enter the real estate industry are low, and in order to obtain a license you are only required to complete 72 hours of real estate education in a local school, and pass both the school and state exam. You can check out a guide I put together to obtaining your NY license here.
- For someone who is unsure about where to begin in real estate, what would your advice be for him/her?
- Leah — I’ve noticed over time that some people are interested in achieving a particular role (for example: becoming a developer, or real estate attorney), but still consider obtaining a real estate license first and becoming an agent in order to understand the fundamentals. While I can understand the thought process behind this, I usually advise against this. I believe that if you have a certain vision in mind, it’s best to connect with people who hold the position closest to what you are seeking. This way you’ll get the most clarity as to whether the vision you have for yourself is worth following through with.
- For someone who is interested in becoming a real estate sales agent, how do they begin this process?
- Leah — Once you have obtained your license, it’s time to choose a brokerage to associate yourself with. I generally advise to begin speaking with different brokers and/or brokerages before you officially obtain your license in order to get the wheel rolling. Make sure you take the time in every meeting to ask the right questions to understand the brokerage’s vision, team culture, and what’s expected of you. You can find a list of important questions here.
- Is there room for advancement/professional growth?
- Leah — Real estate agents by nature are independent contractors, and essentially work for themselves. So “professional growth” is defined as something else in the real estate field. It generally correlates more directly to personal career growth, than growth within the company. This can be seen with the type of clients you work with (for ex: progressing a higher end clientele), or the type of projects you choose to work on. A fair share of agents also choose to advance their career by partnering with the right agent or broker to establish a team together, and produce greater sales volume. However, depending on the brokerage you associate yourself with, there may be room for you to advance in helping the brokerage grow as a whole; this is usually most prevalent amongst younger firms that are still expanding.
- Is training provided for an unlicensed realtor?
- Leah — Generally, brokerages won’t associate you into their firm or provide training until you’re licensed. Once you are licensed though, it’s good to keep in mind that the level of training that each brokerage provides differs. Some will hold the hands of beginning agents more and provide extensive hours of training, while others will keep it to the basic necessities and encourage you to learn through experience.
- What kind of attitude would an ideal candidate possess?
- Zoé — At LG Fairmont, we seek a few attributes when hiring agents. Because the barrier of entry is so low in this industry, it is difficult to figure out who could be a good candidate based on their resume. Rather, character weighs in strongly. Because we are a small group, it is important that any new member is someone who we see will not only fit in but be an asset to the firm. The personality trait we seek is an entrepreneurial mindset. If you are someone who is willing to get your feet wet and do what it takes to become successful, you will fit in properly. Curiosity also goes hand in hand with that. Because real estate agents are independent contractors, they must be capable of asking questions at all times to learn the most possible. If you are not curious and you are not a go-getter, you will not be successful in this industry.
- What are the challenges that they will face in the industry?
- Zoé — The biggest challenge in this industry is the lack of stability. There are constant ups and downs. Mostly, you will do this on your own. No matter what firm you join, if you don’t understand the importance of proactively seeking a circle of allies, you will be on your own. The lack of stability will make you a very strong person but it will also create moments where you need to step out and breathe. I believe one of the most important roles I provide as President of Sales and Marketing is to consistently find better ways to tackle that lack of stability. That is the biggest role of a brokerage: to tackle the instability and create a support system that will be reflected in your pipeline. The busier you are, the more stability you create.
- What sets LG Fairmont apart?
- Zoé — Let’s be honest: every brokerage offers similar services. Many times, clients believe that because you are an agent from a firm they recognize, the agent will be better. This is the power of marketing. It does not reflect the truth though. Agents that do not offer great services can be found anywhere. Fantastic agents can also be found across the industry. As I mentioned before, what we are constantly seeking to improve at LG Fairmont is how to help agents create stability and successful careers. This includes leads, a fair and open split system, a management team that is always there to help, marketing, and a boutique atmosphere. We also do not believe in upfront costs for agents so you do not pay a desk fee with us.
- Real estate agents have to put on multiple hats. How do they get all of this work done?
- Leah — Being an independent contractor provides you with a certain liberty that other career paths don’t, but it can be easy to get caught up in the moment and work on tasks that either won’t monetize well or provide you with long term value. It’s important to train yourself to stay as organized as possible, and prioritize the tasks that align most with the goals you are aiming to achieve. I usually pause throughout the day and ask myself whether I am working on the tasks that currently matter most.
- How are real estate agents paid?
- Leah — Real estate agents get paid through commission only, that is earned upon closed deals.
- How do you land your first client? And continue to build that network?
- Leah — You can land your first client through anywhere and everywhere. Real estate is a people’s business, built on trust. You don’t need an extensive network to land your first client. All it takes is one person who you know and trust, to refer you to someone looking for a home. You continue to build your network by focusing on building wholesome relationships with others. If your focus is on meeting others, and building relationships, the clients will follow.