Based at Compass in Los Angeles, Madeleine Perez worked in residential real estate with buyers and sellers all over town. She moved to LA from New York eight years ago…up until that point she was a journalist for ABC News. She always had a love for real estate but didn’t really pursue it until four years ago. It was a total career change for her and her only regret is that she didn’t do it sooner.
“Being a realtor is being an entrepreneur since I oversee every aspect of my business and had to create a brand for myself from scratch. It was a slow build but I’ve done deals from $300K to $12 million.
Lessons starting up
There are many things I wish I had known before I started. First of all, real estate isn’t for everyone – you really have to love this business to succeed. It’s long hours, weekends and can be a lot of sacrifice. It looks like instant wealth on TV when in reality most agents don’t succeed.
There are so many agents in Los Angeles that you have to find a way to stand out. I also think it’s important to know your branding from the start, and to make sure everyone knows what you do. It sounds silly, but I lost a few deals early on because people simply didn’t know I was a real estate agent.
Find a way to work it into conversations and have as many touch points as possible. Also time blocking is essential – without it work will intrude into every minute of your life.
Three basic skills
As I’ve grown and evolved, I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons. But the three that stand out to me the most are:
- Be yourself. I’m such a fast-talking New Yorker and in the beginning I tried to temper it for fear that I wasn’t LA enough. Now I know that the honesty that has served me so well in life is actually a huge benefit for my clients and I’ve gotten many referrals just from the reputation I’ve built on it.
- Early on I took things too personally. Now I always remember that this is about my clients above all else. They’re about to make the biggest purchase of their lives, or maybe sell the home they raised their kids in – so it’s deeply personal for them. I make sure I know who the priority is and that has always kept me on the right track.
- If someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. I had a few deals where there were red flags early on that I ignored. Looking back, I should have trusted myself and walked away at the start.
Advice for Entrepreneurs
For new entrepreneurs just starting out, it’s definitely important to seek out mentors and meet with people who’ve had success in your industry and get their advice. Ask to shadow them to get an honest feel for the business.
People are always willing to help if you let them, and it can be a great insight into if this is something you truly want to do. Make a business plan, set goals, and hold yourself accountable. And network! Don’t let ego stand in the way of getting those first few clients. Those are the hardest ones to get and will almost always come from friends and family.
By far the lesson that’s had the biggest impact on my journey is to make sure to recognize opportunities and take risks. Getting into this business was a huge risk but I saw a great opportunity to get into real estate at the right time in the market.
Then leaving a well-known agency and jumping to Compass before it was the big national agency it is now was also a leap of faith. A lot of people told me I was crazy to join what was essentially a small tech start up but it was the smartest move I’ve made. The resources I’ve gained there have helped me grow my business exponentially and I’m glad I trusted my instincts and went for it.”