How can an agent find success in real estate by defying the common wisdom?

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Answered by: Phil, An Expert in the Business Real Estate - General Category
Brian Nejedly, the No. 14 individual on the RE/MAX commission list, didn't set out to turn nearly every current real estate maxim on its head.

It's just that ... well, let's put it this way. He likes to do things in a certain way, what he does works, and if he tried to do it differently, he wouldn't be true to himself.

"I believe in being who you are," says Nejedly, the No. 14-ranked individual in the United States through May, with RE/MAX Partners in the Southern California community of Corona. "Successful people know who they are. I started in real estate at age 21. I knew that as long as I continued to enjoy what I was doing, I'd be the best at it."

For Nejedly (pronounced NAYD-ley), finding success in real estate means doing it his way.

For instance, most modern agents believe they couldn't do business without the Internet.

Nejedly has little use for it; didn't even have a website until a few months ago.

Most agents would rather be boiled in oil than spend their weekends at open houses. Nejedly loves 'em.

Many of today's agents consider newspaper advertising a waste of money. Nejedly thrives on it.

At a time when many agents are backing away from being constantly available to clients, Nejedly includes his cellphone number on every piece of marketing material. He often tells people who call about his listings that he can meet them in 20 minutes - as long as they don't mind that he's wearing Bermuda shorts, flip-flops and a polo shirt.

"Ninety-nine percent of the time, people say they don't care how I dress," Nejedly says. "What they care about is results."

Nejedly gets results. In 2004 he closed 185 transaction sides for $48 million in sales volume. Working without any assistants, not even for clerical help, he sold more than 80 percent of his listings himself. His listings sell, on the average, in two to three weeks.

He knows he could handle a higher volume if he had assistants. But it's not his way.

"I believe in being a full-service REALTOR, not part of a team," he says. "When people call, I answer the phone myself and they don't have to go through an assistant or a secretary. Many people tell me I'm the first REALTOR they've been able to speak to personally.

"When it comes to paperwork, I do it all myself. I've had assistants before who got me in trouble by doing things wrong. I'm not a fan of creating a huge conglomerate using my name."

The downside, he admits, is that he's not able to take much time off.

"I really don't take many vacations," he says.

Nejedly gets more than his share of the area's real estate action. By sending monthly mailings religiously, advertising regularly in local newspapers and home magazines, putting his ads on grocery carts and billboards, and generally getting his name out any way he can, he has become one of the most recognizable agents in the area.

In the early days, he knocked on thousands of doors and conducted open houses constantly.

"I had tremendous years in the late '80s, and that was through open houses," Nejedly says. "For three years I had open houses just about every weekend. It wasn't just to generate buyers and sellers, but to get to know the community. After a few years the market took a downturn and a lot of people got out of real estate. But I just continued operating the same way."

The final element in Nejedly's success in real estate is his laid-back attitude - perfectly in keeping with the Southern California style.

"I'm not stuffy and I'm not high-pressure," he says. "My office isn't filled with plaques or any other kind of recognition. I'm not somebody who believes in overpowering others with his success. People know my success by seeing my yard signs everywhere."

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