If a real estate agent is successful, they’re going to be busy – so busy that you might hear them say something like “24 hours in a day simply isn’t enough.” But David Nelson with Imperial Home Team would beg to differ, because he believes you can simply create more hours. He says the key to freeing up your time is to use technology, which can work in the background and allow agents to focus on what matters (like ice fishing). He sat down with us to talk about his use of technology and his local market.

Hi, David! Thanks so much for joining me today. Can you tell me a little bit about your background and how you got into real estate?

Sure. I live in Bloomington, Minnesota, a southern suburb of Minneapolis. Before I became a real estate agent, I worked as an occupational therapist at the Mayo Clinic, where I specialized in brain injuries and stroke patients. In 2013, a lot of things changed in the healthcare field, and I decided to go into real estate full-time in 2014. I already had my real estate license at that point, I got that in 2009.

Why did you choose real estate above other career choices?

I was raised on a farm, so my Dad was an entrepreneur himself. I kind of had that in my genes. Then when I realized there wasn’t a ceiling to how successful you could be in real estate, it seemed really appealing. I’m not afraid to work hard, and I liked the idea that the harder I worked, the more potential benefit I could receive. That was totally different from the healthcare field, where there’s a ceiling, minimal raises, a chain of command, and very little power to actually change anything or make it better.

“Real estate gives me full reign to do what I want, I can move at my own speed.”

With real estate, if I’m running a Facebook or Google ad, or some of my marketing isn’t working, I can change it on my own. I have that full reign. I can move at my own speed.

What’s the market like in your area right now? 

Well, unlike many parts of the country, we have seasonal buying and selling. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, it’s really quiet around here. It’s snowing, and you have the holidays, so the market slows down a bit. 

But if a home is priced right in the single family or townhouse market, it’s still selling quickly, possibly with multiple offers. But the nice thing is, we’re no longer seeing buyers coming in and overpaying for a house and then covering the appraisal gap. I was really uncomfortable when all that was happening, when buyers were waiving inspections and overpaying. But that’s what it was taking to win deals at the time.

What’s your tactic to help your buyers win in a multiple offer situation? What do you do to make them look more attractive, even if their offer isn’t the highest?

First off, I have my loan officer call the listing agent. I obviously act as a listing agent myself, so I know that when a loan officer calls and confirms that a person is a good buyer, it adds confidence. 

What if a buyer comes in with their own loan officer who you don’t know? Do you also encourage them to call the listing agent?

I try to send everyone to my loan officer, because I know they can get the job done. But if they bring in their own loan officer and I have no affiliation or knowledge of them, I will still ask them to call. Some do, some don’t. But I still encourage all of my buyers to at least talk to my loan officer, even if it’s just to get a second opinion. Most people don’t know that once a loan officer pulls your credit, you have 45 days to shop around with other banks without it affecting your credit score. So there’s no reason not to explore multiple avenues.

I know that you also use HighNote for offers. Can you tell me how you use it?

Sure. When I’m working with a buyer who is making an offer, I send a HighNote to the listing agent. I lay everything out in there about me and the loan officer, and my reviews. We talk about the offer itself, and we try to communicate that although we might not be the highest offer, we’re the safest to get them to closing.

“I use HighNote to show how smooth I can make the transaction.” 

I really break down our systems and my success rate of closing, and my loan officer’s ability to close deals in 14-17 days. We cover all of the things that the listing agent and the seller may value more than simply getting an extra $5,000 in their pocket. Knowing that they can actually close, and that there isn’t a horrible agent on the other side who has no idea what they’re doing, is really valuable. We also let them know that we use a transaction coordinator. My goal is to show how smooth I can make the transaction, so that at closing everyone says “wow, that was easy.” That’s my goal, every time.

That’s a great example of how you go above and beyond for your buyers. Now let’s talk about what you do to stand out from the crowd when you’re trying to win a client.

Well, I grew up watching “The People’s Court” and “Judge Judy,” so I believe that if it’s not in writing, it doesn’t exist. Everything to do with our marketing, we have in writing. We have a buyer’s packet in our HighNote which walks the client through who I am, all the way through the entire closing process and after closing. 

“If it’s not in writing, it doesn’t exist.”

This is especially great for first-time homebuyers, because they have about 1,000 questions every day. This alleviates a lot of that stress for them, and they feel like they’re working with a competent agent. We already have the resources laid out for them, from our inspectors to our title company and loan officers. They don’t have to do a lot of running around. We just walk them through the process. We focus not just on the buying of the house, but the whole experience. 

In what other ways do you use HighNote?

I primarily use it for three things: listing presentations, buyer presentations, and offers. 

In the very first section of my buyer presentations and pre-listing packets, I do a BombBomb video. Every video is personalized, addressing the client by name. They get to see a face if they haven’t met me before. I tell them what they should be looking at, and I set the expectations for when we meet. I treat every pre-listing packet as though there are 50 other agents applying for the job. I want to make sure I send the HighNote as soon as the appointment is set. I want to make sure that even if it’s two weeks away, I’ve given them something that they’ll want to look at, something that will make them want to meet me. Every agent in between will be trying to take that client, but I want to leave an impression so big that they want to meet with me no matter what other people have said.

“I receive a positive comment about HighNote every single time I send an offer.”

With every single one of my offers, I’ve received a positive comment about HighNote. Every single time. They say it’s a great presentation, they like the appearance of it. There are brand new agents on my team who send out a HighNote and they get bumped ahead of many other agents because they present really, really well – even though that may be the first offer they’ve ever written. 

I love that with HighNote I can see what the client has looked at and what they’re watching, so I don’t have to waste time repeating information when I show up at the appointment. I can just touch base and ask if they have any questions about the things they’ve already researched. So I’ve found that my time with clients has become more valuable because of HighNote.

It’s great to hear how you incorporate tech into your business. What other technologies do you enjoy using? Do you also use social media?

I love social media, but the main technology that I love is Chime, our CRM. I’ve been using it for over five years, and it’s one of those things that creates a great experience for our clients. When they’re searching for homes, we can see what they’re looking at. They can “favorite” homes, they can ask questions, and the communication is so fluid. It really helps us as agents, knowing what our clients are looking for, but it also helps our clients know that they’ve got somebody working behind the scenes. If they’ve got questions immediately, we can help them out. We also have an AI bot on the screen, so they can ask her questions and she responds back. I always stress that agents need to have some sort of CRM system. 

“HighNote has made my time with clients more valuable.”

There are so many cool tools in our industry. When someone says we only have 24 hours in a day, I disagree. I feel like I have 40 hours in a day because I’m letting those tools work behind the scenes on my behalf.

Many agents have told me that if you’re not using cutting-edge technology in real estate today, then you’re going to be left behind. Do you agree?

I completely agree with that statement – which is interesting, because I heard a recent statistic that said the average agent is seven years behind in technology. Of course, that’s the average. So you have some older agents that are still doing everything the old-fashioned way and you have younger agents who are doing TikTok videos every five minutes. 

“I feel like I have 40 hours in a day because I’m using tools that work behind the scenes on my behalf.”

But technology is vital in this business. We do electronic signatures for everything, so my clients can literally sign documents while they’re sitting in their pajamas on their couch. I’ve sold homes while ice fishing, and while I was in a canoe in the Rocky Mountains. As long as I have WiFi or cell service, I can send the client whatever I need to send them. 

What do you think the most important attributes are for a real estate agent?

Consistency is the first thing that comes to mind, and that includes doing what you say you’re going to do. A lot of agents promise a lot of stuff, then they don’t follow through. Then there’s the fact that if an agent is driven towards a commission check, they don’t typically do a good job because they’re only focused on the bottom line. I look at clients as real people. Almost everyone on our team has bought or sold a house of their own, so we know the experiences that come along with that. So we come at it from more of a consultant role, we want to guide them through the process. I also think those who have a giving heart do really well in the industry and they also have a good referral stream. There are a lot of bad agents who have to reinvent their business every year because no one wants to refer them.

Now that you’ve been in the business for a while, what would your advice be to someone who is just starting out in real estate?

You should have at least six months of money saved up, because your first paycheck might be six months away. A lot of agents think they can get their license and have a line of people wanting them to sell their houses, and that they can become a million dollar agent overnight. It doesn’t happen that way. So It’s important to be realistic. I also recommend that new agents join a team; one that they fit in with, that already has systems in place, and can offer guidance. This is really important because the failure rate for agents is 87% within the first two years. And I think a lot of those people fail because they go out on their own or they get set up with a bad brokerage or a bad team and get bad information. 

That’s great advice, David! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us today!

Are you looking to buy or sell a home in the Minneapolis area? Be sure to contact David and follow him on Facebook and Instagram!

…And if you’re a real estate agent looking to take your business to the next level, click here to get started with HighNote!