Jim Walberg entered the real estate space building spec homes in 1976. He was so unimpressed with the real estate agents that he dealt with while selling his spec homes, that he was initially opposed to his business partner’s offer to become a managing partner of a luxury real estate brokerage in San Francisco’s East Bay area in 1990.
Although he eventually accepted the offer, it wasn’t until he had observed his business partner’s high-touch approach to luxury real estate that he decided to become a real estate agent himself.
His team is known for helping clients buy and sell equestrian and country properties, a niche that he says “found him” after the owner of a premier ranch in the area came to his team to help him sell.
Relationships are the key to Jim’s Real Estate Success
When it comes to nurturing client relationships, Jim leaves no stone unturned. In fact, he even published an article with Inman entitled 6 Common Industry Terms That Need to Die, outlining six terms that undermine client-agent relationships.
Jim is especially passionate about staying away from the term “commissions” when interacting with clients. “It’s a common word used in the real estate space, and I object to it because I feel it doesn’t reflect what we’re really about,” he says. “I’ve never had an attorney, CPA, or wealth advisor talk about their commissions. They talk about their ‘professional fees’.”
It’s paying attention to details like these that have fueled Jim’s real estate success and has led to a thriving real estate practice based mostly on referrals. Jim says his client database includes roughly 800 people, and most have worked with Jim’s team on multiple transactions.
“What I love most is the people. We just love the people we get to work with—we have really nice people referring to other really nice people, and we have a lot of fun working with them,” he says.
Jim’s team touches their database roughly 40 times per year, and call their “Top 100” referrals at least once per quarter. These calls are simply to check in, say hello, and stay connected to clients even after the transaction.
“We tell them that we’re kind of like a ‘bad cold’—we never go away!” Jim says. He adds that one of the biggest challenges in the luxury real estate space is interacting with newer agents who are less concerned with the client’s experience than catering to their own interests.
“The attitude of our colleagues in the luxury space is coming from a win-win attitude—how can we create an experience for our clients where both sides feel good about the experience? Oftentimes, those who are unfamiliar with this space come in with a win-lose attitude. They’re attempting to demonstrate to their client how fabulous they are as a professional, and they’re going to do everything they can to have a sense of ‘winning’ as opposed to cooperation and win-win,” he says.
Jim Never Stops Learning
Jim credits a great deal of his real estate success to not only nurturing client relationships with great detail, but also to being a lifelong learner.
“We’ve been participating in the Leaders In Luxury Conference for ten years, and there’s nothing that replaces the face-to-face experience with fellow colleagues from around the country. The content is probably the richest content that we get from any of the conferences that we attend, and we attend quite a few each year,” he explains.
“My experience is that if agents don’t get involved in the conferences, they’re missing out on three-quarters of the benefits of being a member of the Institute.”
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