Modern Realty, Portland, Oregon
What drew you to real estate?
I never planned on being a REALTOR®. All I knew was that I wanted to do something that helps people. For years I was a firefighter and EMT. I also worked in a hospital as a cardiology technician. Eventually, with a desire for a more hands-on approach, I was accepted into nursing school and did real estate on the side for tuition. At some point, I decided to focus on real estate full time. It was a gamble because my wife was starting school to get her doctorate degree in optometry, so we’d only have my income. We did it—some would say we crushed it—as I tripled my business during the first year.
What keeps you in real estate?
I learned early on that an educated REALTOR® who understands the art of negotiation and facilitation can help a lot of people. There’s so much more to real estate than selling houses. You need someone who understands how it’s done. So, the foundation of our brokerage is people before profit. Sometimes putting people first by educating them and helping them understand this business of real estate means we lose a transaction—but we don’t see it as a loss. We see it as a win for our client, and, most importantly, we get an opportunity to earn our clients’ trust. We’re able to show them that we are invested in this relationship—not the transaction.
What inspired you to become a CRS?
I opened my brokerage and felt confident that I knew how to sell a house—but there’s always more to learn. My CRS Designation gives me the opportunity to keep learning more every year.
Does your drive to help people include your 40 Modern Realty employees, too?
Absolutely. NAR says that 87% of all new agents fail within the first five years—and when I started in this business, I saw how many agents fail. That’s when I got the idea to create my own brokerage. One of my first goals was to reduce that failure rate. My vision is to be the No. 1 brokerage in the nation in agent career longevity. For that, I had to build a program that champions the agent.
Have you increased the success rate within Modern Realty?
We did. An important step we took was implementing a mentorship program. Every new agent can give us a 12-month commitment and during that time we train the agent in all aspects of real estate, from helping clients sell or buy a property to marketing to running a business. Throughout this training, we give them solid leads—so they’re making a living right away. It’s learning by doing and studying, which I think is the best way to master this business since every transaction is different.
How would you describe your market?
Crazy! We’ve seen house and rent prices soar like never before. I’m pretty sure half of California has moved up here. But I can’t complain too much as it’s made our local market boom. In addition, we’re 30 minutes away from Vancouver, Washington, which has lower property tax and no income tax. With people selling in Oregon and moving to Washington, we’re expanding our market.
How do you overcome challenges that are specific to your market?
For the Portland market, Oregon is the first to sign a statewide rent control law. As a businessman, I’m not happy to see how that slows growth. As a human being, though, I’m very happy to see people who are struggling receive an opportunity to thrive.
Do you have a niche?
I would say our brand and service is our niche—rather than the product we sell. We encourage our agents to dip their toe in every aspect of real estate: single-family, multifamily, commercial, condos, leases, short sales, etc. We believe in encouraging well-rounded agents who go beyond selling houses.
What sets you apart from your competition?
When opening the brokerage, I heard things like “REALTORS® get paid too much” or “Anyone can be a REALTOR; you guys don’t even do anything…” To set ourselves apart, we doubled down on a set of new value propositions: education, negotiation and facilitation.
In this way, we aren’t only listing and selling houses. What we promote is customer service, knowledge, our ability to gain the upper hand in negotiations and making the process as stress-free as possible.
Is it fair to say that you love what you do for a living?
I do. One of my goals is to crush it every day, and I think we do. Well, that’s what our clients tell us.
Santino Filipelli, CRS, achieved his CRS Designation in 2015. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 971.340.6636.