Since Mike Tezak opened the first Realty Executives office in Porter County five years ago, his enthusiasm for the future of real estate in Northwest Indiana has remained steadfast.
“Of course I was nervous opening a new company, I had all the ‘experts’ telling me what the statistics of failure were, so I just had to take a leap of faith,” he said. “Quite honestly, I was uncomfortable with the status quo in an industry plagued with incompetency. I knew there had to be a better way to do business.”
Prepared for the typical struggles of a new company, Realty Executives and its agents set out to make their mark. First up was establishing an office that met the needs of outstanding full-time agents.
“The focus was on offering the best possible support and technology for experienced and proven multi-million dollar producers, not the average agent,” Tezak elaborated. “Having a large number of agents has never been a priority. We were more about quality than quantity. When you have big offices with many part-time or non-producing agents, the capability to shift with the market becomes much more difficult. There is a need for lots of meetings and refresher training courses. As technology improves or changes it takes longer to adapt. Our agents don’t have time for that. They want to spend their energy focused on their clients.”
“I knew the first five years would be tough,” he continued. “But we knew that if we had outstanding multi- million dollar producing agents, the latest technology, great service and a friendly environment we would succeed.”
Realty Executives began operating on five basic principles - is it truthful, is it fair, is it profitable, is it on purpose and is it consistent.
“If those are met, then chances are it’s a good decision,” Tezak recalled. “What no one could predict was the extent of the decline of the economy, and the resulting dramatic changes in real estate markets across the country, including Northwest Indiana.”
Thanks to the strong international network of professional brokers and agents affiliated with Realty Executives, Tezak said he believes his company was probably a little more prepared to deal with the ensuing downturn than others in real estate.
“Trends in real estate tend to happen in Florida, Arizona and California,” he explained. “These are all states where Realty Executives has a very strong presence.”
As it turned out, that market was exactly what catapulted Realty Executives and its agents into quickly becoming major players in the local real estate industry, according to Tezak.
“It was that market when home sellers and buyers created a demand for experienced, full-time agents,” he said. “They were no longer satisfied with inexperience or unknowledgeable agents. In the housing market, and especially in a declining market like that, even the slightest mistake could cost thousands of dollars. Buyers and sellers understood that, and experience and knowledge became indispensable.”
“Our agents knew if they stayed focused on what they do best - not worrying about the gimmicks and empty promises other companies were offering, but rather providing the very best individualized marketing tools for each specific client - they would continue to be successful,” Tezak added.
And success is what they have achieved. Since opening, Realty Executives has closed almost a quarter of a billion dollars in sales. Their agents, on average, close 3 times more transactions per year than the national figure and a staggering 5 times more than other local companies.
Even with a smaller number of agents per office by design, Realty Executives consistently places at least eight agents in the top 50 producers for Northwest Indiana, and consistently places agents in the top 20, according to statistics from the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of REALTORS® (GNIAR).
“While other companies were closing and scaling back, Realty Executives experienced incredible growth,” Tezak said. “We added an additional 1,800-sq-ft in our original Valparaiso location, opened an office in Portage and, most recently, opened an Lake County office in St. John.”
Tezak partnered with one of his original agents, Jason Moon, for the latest expansion.
“Jason is the perfect broker for that market,” he said. He is progressive, intuitive, lives there and understands the dynamics of the area. Here again, we scoped out a high visibility location that gives us plenty of room to grow. Our goal is to have multiple offices that work hand in hand with one another and where our agents can interchangeably take clients when it proves to be more convenient for the client.”
With his eye on additional locations, Tezak sees a few more real estate niches that would be a great fit for other Realty Executives agents. In the meantime, Realty Executives will continue to provide the best possible service for buyers and sellers in an ever-changing real estate market.
“We have a new generation of buyers,” Tezak explained. “Many of them have grown up entirely on the internet, and they all seem to watch HGTV,” laughs Tezak. “Their expectations have become parallel with what they see on their favorite real estate show. Plus, buyers and sellers expect communication to be faster and better all the time.”
That’s why Tezak feels strongly about agents always having access to the right tools and forward-thinking technology to keep them ahead of the game. Since real estate agents are often on the go, mobile devices like smartphones, tablets and other new technologies help them access information anytime, anywhere.
“Technology tools for collaboration and sharing information quickly lead to faster, cleaner transactions between agents and buyers,” Tezak explained. “Mobile is the way of the future, and it’s helping agents track and access important documents and information on the road.”
Tools like e-sign and mobile marketing are things that help buyers and sellers negotiate deals faster, more smoothly and more quickly.
While the agents at Realty Executives view technology an instrument that can improve many aspects of everyday real estate transactions, they understand that at the end of the day, it is a people-driven industry. The entire team is quick to point out that there is no amount of technology that can make up for excellent customer service and a good work environment.
“I can honestly say, that what is making this company succeed is our agents,” Tezak concluded. “Collectively, they all want to excel. They go above and beyond anything I could ever ask. They coach each other, cheer each other on, celebrate successes and guide each other through challenges and genuinely want to see each other succeed. They are passionate their business, their clients and the future of their communities. Watching the company grow is rewarding, but watching the culture of our company take shape is far better than anything we could have ever hoped.”