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Opinion Editorials

Why CondoDomain has it right and most brokers have it wrong

Condo Domain has a unique practice that sets itself apart from their competitors, and we’re keen on their approach.

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Image of the Hoboken, New Jersey Docks by r0sss

Image of the Hoboken, New Jersey Docks by r0sss

Some have tried, most fall short

We’ve been writing for years about the need for agents to stop being all things to all people and stop working every neighborhood within a 300 mile radius and rather drill down so a true expertise can be had.

Some brokerages have attempted hyperlocal expertise, but it is typically a single agent in an office that sticks to the plan. Other brokerages have attempted expertise by selling lifestyle which gets closer to what we endorse as true expertise.

Matching philosophies

We spoke extensively with Hoyt Morgan, the energetic President at CondoDomain about their philosophy and how the company has evolved and was pleasantly surprised that we at AGbeat share the same enthusiasm about expertise as CondoDomain does.

Originally, the site acted as a mortgage broker for developers then transitioned into selling leads (which is why they still have a web presence in many cities where their brokerage does not exist) and matured into a full brokerage with national aspirations. Morgan says they sought control over the transaction because “the real estate transaction is ripe for improvement.”

CondoDomain is currently operating as a full service brokerage in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Hoboken, Jersey City, New York City and Washington, DC.

The 1×1 theory- the most impressive of all

In 2010, talent like Morgan was recruited, the pricing model shifted and they tightened their focus. CondoDomain is currently in and expanding to urban areas that “are growing up, not out” and looking to “capture a vibe.” Hip cities that offer unique culture and up and coming scenes are ideal for CondoDomain’s expansion.

Their philosophy that I was most impressed by is the 1×1 theory wherein their agents are experts in that one mile square downtown and know every condo, their history, their staff, their stats, and leave the suburban resale to those experts.

CondoDomain’s website and attitude

They tout their website as the cornerstone of their brokerage and claim to be a full service premium broker with a “whenever you’re ready” attitude toward consumers.

CondoDomain offers their clients a 20% rebate at close which has made them less than popular with their competitors but they say is “more of a retention tool than a marketing and acquisition tool, and we really use it as a way of saying ‘thank you’ to our client.”

“Traditional meets sexy”

Their model is the opposite of the standard real estate tradition of building a team of ten and then opening the doors, rather they start in a new city with one team leader and one agent and according to Morgan, “as lead volume grows, so does the team.” What a novel approach that contradicts the old school burn and turn mentality.

The agents are the face of PR and are featured in glossy ad campaigns in their city and are all a part of the national team with possible equity in the company.

Morgan emphasized their centralization of support, training, documents and the like and called their flavor “traditional meets sexy” where “skepticism is welcome.”

Expansion and hiring plans [AG exclusive]

So what cities embody that “vibe” CondoDomain is after? Morgan told us exclusively that by the end of this year, they will be in 20 cities and will soon be opening in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. According to their blog, other cities that are “coming soon” are Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Houston, Las Vegas, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Palm Beach, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle and even Toronoto and Vancouver.

Morgan stated that their goal is for CondoDomain to account for 2.5% to 5% of the market volume of each city within two years of launch (which they did in Boston within the first year).

The good news? They’re hiring. Big time. They’re looking for team leaders in the aforementioned cities and several cities in a following phase (that we cannot yet release), so if you’re looking for a change and your city isn’t listed, contact them anyhow (Hoyt(at)CondoDomain.com or Victor(at)CondoDomain.com).

Bucking tradition and being a true expert

Theoretically, when you call an office in downtown Dallas that specializes in condos, they should refer you out if you’re looking for a ranch in Allen. And when you call about condos in Austin (where CondoDomain is not), the agent should know that Brazos Place was originally the Perry Commodore Hotel, then an office building and now condos.

We’re not in support of bucking tradition simply to buck tradition, our philosophy is that brokerages should try to come close to the 1×1 theory, be more centralized, be actual experts, run a more lean operation and think more like a tech startup than a blue haired brokerage.

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Fred Romano

    March 22, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I can see this working well in big cites, but not for most others.

    • Grant Hammond

      August 4, 2011 at 11:47 am

      Agreed. I live and broker in Nashville, TN and I am one of the very few brokers who specializes in high-rise, mid-rise condo developments. With just less than 6,000 total units in our downtown/midtown, this concept has been tough.

  2. MH for Movoto

    March 22, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    1×1? Love that. That’s how it should be. We’re big fans of the intense-local-expertise mentality at Movoto, too.

  3. Jason

    March 22, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Thanks for this case study. This model seems to work better in large, cultural epicenters which CondoDomain specializes in. I think it’s awesome they were involved with mortgage development and have a more broad understanding of the relationship between mortgage and real estate industries.

    Great post,

    Jason

  4. stephanie crawford

    March 23, 2011 at 1:54 am

    I specialize in urban home sales in Nashville. My current website is definitely condo-oriented, but my last website was even more geared toward the niche. In 2006-2008 a huge portion of my business was dedicated to serving condo clients – primarily buyers I found through the internet. Then in 2009, the condo market in Nashville fell off a cliff. Prices plunged, developments failed, and hundreds of buyers walked away from pre-construction contracts; many leaving their earnest money on the table.

    I nearly starved in 2009. It almost put me out of business. The first time buyer tax credit saved my @ss, but barely so. I used to firmly agree that agents should NOT try to be all things to all people, and I do still subscribe to that ideal on some points. But you have to have a good foundation and the ability to go where the business is.

    Watch, in a few years after the economy recovers (hopefully?) all the so-called short sale specialist will be scrambling for business like I was a few years ago.

    • Betty Jung

      March 23, 2011 at 3:36 am

      I couldn’t agree with you more Stephanie. I’ve been selling real estate since 1975 and the same thing can be said of new construction. Many real estate agents I know only listed/sold new construction in the 1980s and when that market went south they were lost. Not only did they not have other business but they didn’t know how to list/sell resale properties nor did they have those customers. It is never, ever a good idea to put all your “eggs in one basket” no matter what type or form of real estate or what type of real estate market we are in.

  5. Hoyt Morgan

    March 23, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Thank you for the support, Lani. We are passionate about what we do and it is rewarding to learn industry thought-leaders like yourself agree with our vision.

    If anyone would like to learn more I invite you to check out our corporate blog ( https://blog.condodomain.com/ ) and contact me directly (hoyt(at)condodomain(dot)com).

  6. Andrew McKay

    March 23, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Glad to see Toronto mentioned. When we still lived in the UK but knew we were coming to Canada we bought 2 investment condos in Toronto through simplycondos.com
    Laurie has since become a friend who we keep in contact with and I think his web site shows how even an individual within a brokerage can become that niche expert.

  7. Paula Henry

    March 23, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    When I relocated to Indianapolis, I found it very difficult to niche a specific area. My original website was geared toward such, but being new here was an obstacle to true success. I went the opposite direction of condo domain and built a team of agents who specialize in specific areas and more importantly, buyer representation. Fortunately, I had enough of a web presence to pull it off. It works perfectly for us and we don’t have to worry about a specific property type when markets change.

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Opinion Editorials

The secret to self improvement isn’t always about improvements

(EDITORIAL) Self improvement and happiness go hand in hand, but are you getting lost in the mechanics of self improvement?

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fitness happiness

Think back to your New Year’s resolutions. Now that it’s summer, how many of them are you still keeping? Think about which ones stuck and what went by the wayside.

If you’re like most of us, you had big plans to make yourself better but didn’t stay the course. I’ve only managed to keep one of my resolutions, but it isn’t always easy.

I want to take a look at why we can’t keep our goals. I think we’re always on a journey of self-improvement. It’s easy to get obsessed with reading self-help books or trying to learn new things. We want to be better. This spring, I went through a Lent study with a group of people. Lent is a time of growth and self-reflection, just six weeks. And yet many of us are struggling to keep up with the daily reading or maintaining a fast of something we willingly chose to give up.

Why do we fail?

I think we fail because of three things.

You might think I’m going to say something like we fail because we don’t have willpower, but I think that is the farthest thing from the truth. I’m no therapist, but I’ve read the literature on alcohol and drug rehab. It’s not willpower that keeps a person sober. It’s community. One reason I think we fail at our goals is that we don’t have a cheerleading team. I believe that we need people on our side when we’re trying to improve.

Secondly, I think we fail because we want immediate results. We have this mentality that things should happen quickly. I’ve written about this before. It’s like you workout once and want that swimsuit body. We get frustrated when we don’t see results right away. So, we move on to the next pursuit.

Do your goals lead to happiness?

Failure can also be because self-improvement goals don’t always lead to being better person. We do a lot of things because “we should.” Your doctor might think you need to lose weight. Maybe your boss wants you to be a better speaker. Meditation should make you a better person. Maybe you ran a marathon, and now you think you need to run an ultramarathon because that’s what your best friend did.

What makes you happy isn’t always what you should be doing.

Your doctor might be right, but if you’re choosing to lose weight because you want to make your doctor happy, you’re probably not going to stick with a program. If you’re trying to learn Spanish to make your boss happy, again, you’re probably not going to enjoy it enough to really learn. If you’re chasing after goals just to say you’ve done it, what value do your achievements bring to your life?

If you’re obsessed because you “should” do something, you’re going to get burned out and fail. Whether it’s New Year’s resolutions, a self-improvement project or giving up meat for Lent, you need solid reasons for change. And if you give something a try that isn’t for you, don’t soldier on. You don’t need to spend years taking yoga classes if you don’t enjoy it.

When something becomes a burden rather than bringing benefits, maybe it’s time to take a look at why you’re doing it.

When you don’t know why you’re knocking yourself out to be better, maybe you need to figure out a reason. And if you feel as if what you’re doing isn’t enough, stop and figure out what will satisfy you.

I’ve been doing a lot of meal prepping on the weekends. Sometimes, I want to quit. But it pays off because I have less to do throughout the week. It might seem like a burden, but the benefits outweigh the burdens. I’ve been able to eat much healthier and use more vegetables in my meals, which is the one goal I’ve been able to keep. I have some good friends that help me stay on track, too. I choose to eat more vegetables for my health. I think it’s a combination of all these things that is helping me meet my goal this year.

Don’t give up on making yourself a better person. Just don’t become obsessed over the program. Look at the outcome. Are you pursing happiness on a treadmill or are you really working to find happiness?

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Opinion Editorials

What I wish I knew about finances in my 20s

(EDITORIAL) They say money makes the world go round. So, let’s discuss how to be smart with finances before it’s too late.

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finances

Being in my early twenties, something I’m still getting used to is the fact that I’m making my own money. This is not to be confused with the babysitting money I was making 10 years ago.

Twice a month is the same routine: I get my paycheck and think, “Wooo! We goin’ out tonight!” but then I snap back to reality and think about what that money needs to be put towards. The smallest part of it going towards fun.

It’s been tricky to really start learning the ins and outs of finances. So, I do what I usually do in any type of learning process? I ask for advice.

I used to be fixated on asking those more advanced in age than I what they wish they knew when they were my age. Now that I’m determined to learn about finances, that question has been altered.

I reached out to a few professionals I know and trust and they gave me solid feedback to keep in mind about building my finances, about what they wish they had known in their 20s. However, I don’t think this only applies to those just starting out, and may be helpful for all of us.

“It’s important to simply know the value of money,” says human resource expert, Nicole Clark. “I think once you start earning your own money and are responsible for your housing, food, etc. you realize how valuable money is and how important it is to budget appropriately and make sure you’re watching your spending.”

Law firm executive director, Michael John, agrees with Clark’s sentiments. “I wish I had kept the value of saving in mind when I was younger,” explains John. “But, still remembering to balance savings while rewarding yourself and enjoying what your efforts produce.”

There are so many aspects of finance to keep in mind – saving, investing, budgeting, retirement plans, and so on and so forth.

In addition to suggesting to spend less than you make and to pay off your credit card in full each month, Kentucky-based attorney, Christopher Groeschen, explained the importance of a 401k.

“Every employee in America should be contributing everything they can into a 401k every year, up to the current $18,000 maximum per person,” suggests Groeschen.

“401ks present an opportunity for young investors to 1) learn about investing and 2) enter the market through a relatively low-risk vehicle (depending on your allocations),” he observes.

“An additional benefit is that 401ks also allow employees to earn FREE MONEY through employer matches,” he continues. “At the very least, every employee should contribute the amount necessary to earn the employer match (usually up to 4%) otherwise, you are giving up the opportunity to earn FREE MONEY. Earning FREE MONEY from your employer that is TAX FREE is much more important than having an extra Starbucks latte every day.”

Whether we like it or not, money is a core aspect of our daily lives. It should never be the most important thing, but we cannot deny that it is, in fact, an important thing. It’s tricky to learn, but investing in my future has become a priority.

This editorial was first published in May 2018.

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Opinion Editorials

How strong leaders use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) We’re months into the COVID-19 crisis, and some leaders are still fumbling through it, while others are quietly safeguarding their company’s future.

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strong leaders

Anthony J. Algmin is the Founder and CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, a company helping business and technology leaders transform their future with data, and author of a new book on data leadership. We asked for his insights on how a strong leader can see their teams, their companies, their people through this global pandemic (and other crises in the future). The following are his own words:

Managers sometimes forget that the people we lead have lives outside of the office. This is true always, but is amplified when a crisis like COVID-19 occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve our teams, to help them be as aligned and productive as possible in the short and long terms.

Crises are exactly when we need to think about what they might be going through, and realize that the partnership we have with our employees is more than a transaction. If we’ve ever asked our people to make sacrifices, like working over a weekend without extra pay, we should be thinking first about how we can support them through the tough times. When we do right by people when they really need it, they will run through walls again for our organizations when things return to normal.

Let them know it’s okay to breathe and talk about it. In a situation like COVID-19 where everything is disrupted and people are now adjusting to things like working from home, it is naturally going to be difficult and frustrating.

The best advice is to encourage people to turn off the TV and stop frequently checking the news websites. As fast as news is happening, it will not make a difference in what we can control ourselves. Right now most of us know what our day will look like, and nothing that comes out in the news is going to materially change it. If we avoid the noisy inputs, we’ll be much better able to focus and get our brains to stop spinning on things we can’t control.

And this may be the only time I would advocate for more meetings. If you don’t have at least a daily standup with your team, you should. And encourage everyone to have a video-enabled setup if at all possible. We may not be able to be in the same room, but the sense of engagement with video is much greater than audio-only calls.

We also risk spiraling if we think too much about how our companies are struggling, or if our teams cannot achieve what our organizations need to be successful. It’s like the difference in sports between practice and the big game. Normal times are when we game plan, we strategize, and work on our fundamentals. Crises are the time to focus and leave it all on the field.

That said, do not fail to observe and note what works well and where you struggle. If you had problems with data quality or inefficient processes before the crisis, you are not fixing them now. Pull out the duct tape and find a way through it. But later, when the crisis subsides, learn from the experience and get better for next time.

Find a hobby. Anything you can do to clear your head and separate work from the other considerations in your life. We may feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and without a pressure release we will not be able to sustain this level of stress and remain as productive as our teams, businesses, and families need us.

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