Jeremiah Kobelka can pair his buyers with the perfect house and the perfect bottle of wine. Whether he’s hosting Thirsty Thursdays or Foodie Fridays, this sommelier knows how to combine business with pleasure…and his clients love him for it. The team leader sat down with us to talk about working hard and playing hard, and why he goes the extra mile for every buyer and seller.

Hi, Jeremiah! Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today. Can you start off by telling me a little bit about yourself, and how you got into real estate? 

Sure! I was born and raised on a hog farm in Montana. When my parents decided to stop farming, we moved to Princeton, New Jersey. Then I bounced around a lot. I was in South Florida and Palm Springs, and then I moved back to New Jersey in 2016. I was working in restaurants, I’m a Level Two Sommelier. I eventually decided I was done working until 2am, and I decided to get my real estate license in 2017. I started real estate in 2018 and I got my husband involved about six months later, and then my older sister joined a year after that. Now my other sister is working as our director of operations! My Mom also helps out, stuffing envelopes and doing other administrative tasks.

That’s so fun! Some people say you shouldn’t mix business and family, but it sounds like you guys have it all figured out! 

We’ve always been a very close family, so we get along really well together. It also helps that we all have a common goal, which is to make the business succeed. There’s really no ego involved – we just do what is best for the business and we stay in our lanes. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s hard to turn off…we definitely end up talking about real estate at pool parties and other events!

You stopped working in restaurants as a sommelier because you were tired of the late nights, but you could have turned to any profession. Why did you pick real estate?

Before getting into real estate, I had already gotten into the Tom Ferry ecosystem; I watched everything he did on YouTube. I knew I could do it. I was pairing wine with people, and I would have a split second to decide what was going to be the best wine for them. I figured that finding someone a home was going to be pretty much the same process as finding them a bottle of wine – get to know them first, and then say “oh, maybe you haven’t thought about this region or town, but let me show you why it’s great.”

“Pairing people with houses is like pairing people with wine.” 

How’s the current market in Cherry Hill and the surrounding areas?

We still have less than a month of inventory, about 17 days’ worth. It’s rough for buyers, and for sellers who need to sell to buy. HighNote has really helped us in that area because it makes our buyers stand out. On the listing side, we send pre-listing presentations that showcase what we do, who we are as a team, and what we can do to get more eyes on their property.

I also heard that HighNote helped you land 65 deals! 

It did! I think the most important thing to put in a HighNote is video. Buyer’s agents should always put in a video which eloquently explains the offer. I always ask the listing agent to send the video to the seller as well. In addition to the details of the offer, it lets them know how I work as an agent and what I’m going to do on my end. The video always has the cutest thumbnail, it’s a photo of the house and us crossing our fingers in front of it!

“Video is the most important thing to include in a HighNote presentation.”

The presentation goes a long way because the seller sees that we know what we’re doing, we can make the transaction happen. I also let the seller know about the conversations we’ve had with our buyers, like if the appraisal comes in low and they have to cover that gap. I include information about my client’s pre-approval and I try to get the lender to make a video which says they have totally vetted my buyer. At the end of the day, I know that when I send a presentation like that, I’ve done my best for my buyer. And in these situations, when the buyer sees what I’ve done for them, they’re my buyer forever.

What kind of feedback have you received from the other side, after sending over your HighNote presentations?

I’ve had several listing agents tell me that it was my presentation that sealed the deal, that my client wasn’t the highest offer but everything was explained so well and the seller was most comfortable with our offer. HighNote shows that I’m prepared. I really can’t speak more highly of it. The best part is that once you’ve made one HighNote, you can just follow the same template. I can quickly make the thumbnails in Canva and bing, bang, boom – I can create a great presentation. It’s quicker than dragging all those attachments into an email, and then probably forgetting to add one.

“HighNote shows that I’m prepared. I can’t speak more highly of it.” 

Do you also use HighNote’s analytics feature?

Yes! That’s the biggest thing! Especially when you have listing agents who are receiving 20 or 30 offers but they don’t let you know they’ve received your offer. All you have to do is look at the analytics and you know it was received because they opened the HighNote. You can see if they’ve watched the video, and which sections they’ve looked at. It’s amazing. We actually had a situation where we lost an offer but then we saw the agent reopen our HighNote. At that point we called them and asked how everything was going. They said the deal might go sideways, and we ended up getting the house – all because the analytics told us the agent was looking at the offer again!

Here’s another really cool thing we do with HighNote. Our open house sign-in sheets are all QR codes. When people engage with those codes, they get an email from HighNote that has a video of the house, a 3D tour of the house, the seller’s disclosure, lead based paint information, the MLS sheet, the CIS, etc. Then we can use the analytics to see how many people opened the HighNote and what they looked at.

That’s a super cool and innovative way to use HighNote. Do you also do old-fashioned marketing?

We do. We’re a big farming team, and we have a handwriting machine that “hand writes” notes. We send out envelopes and we’re in the local paper with full page ads. We’re very tech savvy but we know that phone calls and farming and open houses still work. You have to do a little bit of everything.

That’s great! Now let’s talk about your brand. Your website and HighNote presentations are fun and colorful, and they send out a really positive vibe. Is that something that happened organically, or was it more strategic?

My husband and I were at a brokerage in the beginning, and their system was stifling to us. We have very big personalities. We couldn’t do anything the way we wanted, everything had to follow their marketing template. We couldn’t differentiate ourselves in any way. So when we were building our brand JFKLiving, we asked ourselves what we wanted it to be. Our three pillars are homes, lifestyle, and community. We wanted to build something that was solely about who we were and what we wanted our team to be. So we sat down and we printed out marketing in 46 different color combinations. We put them on the kitchen table one day and we ultimately decided on pink and turquoise. It was just the fun of it, and it’s who we are.

“Your vibe attracts your tribe” is our big motto. So there are some people who are not going to like us, because we’re a little bit on the flamboyant side. That’s fine, we don’t want to work with you anyway.

We host Thirsty Thursdays and Foodie Fridays and we have fun together. We want our clients to be included in that, so client appreciation parties are one of our favorite things to do. We also embraced social media really early on, and that catapulted us in our market because not a lot of people were doing it. Some are doing it now, but they’re trying to play catch up. Our business is just who we are, and it just kind of steamrolled from there. It’s just a lot of fun.

Tell me more about these client appreciation parties!

We have one every winter, it’s called the PITI (Principal, Interest, Taxes, Insurance) Party. At that party, we pay one client’s mortgage for that month; their name is drawn randomly from our big raffle drum (which we named “Nicholas Cage”).

“We have a client appreciation party every year, and we pay one person’s mortgage for that month.” 

We close off the street outside the office and have a hot chocolate bar, cocktails, food trucks. We string lights and put up heaters and fire pits. It’s a great way to bring people together. We also invite all of the families that are new to the neighborhood, even though they didn’t buy or sell with us, just because they might not know anyone yet. And we get local businesses involved so new residents can learn where they can get coffee from, etc. We also hand out a little map that has our favorite local places on it. We had over 150 people come last year, the entire team was there and we were in matching JFKLiving Christmas sweaters. We just love to do stuff for our community, and bringing people together with food and drink is something that we’re really good at.

It sounds like you lead a great team – what are some things you do to inspire and encourage them?

I tell my agents all the time that they are helping clients make the biggest decisions of their lives, and they should be proud of that every single day. I’ll give a big shout-out to my director of operations, Jen, who sends out encouragement and congratulations every day on Slack, telling our agents they had a great win, or they really pulled through, or they literally put something on their back and walked it to the finish line. She’s always telling them “good job.” We just encourage our agents to do the best they can, and we let them know that we’re either going to be there to pick them up when they fall or to pat them on the back and celebrate them when they have those wins.

What advice do you have for other agents who are looking to achieve the same kind of success that you’ve achieved?

You know, I think the biggest thing is to be client-centric. Do whatever you have to do to make your clients raving fans. Don’t worry about the people that you’re not going to work with, or don’t want to work with you. It’s okay. We’re all going to find people. Don’t change who you are. Be who you are in real estate. It’s fine. Have fun with your clients and love on them, because they deserve it. They trusted you with the biggest purchase of their life. Drop off the chocolates for Valentine’s Day, give out Thanksgiving pies. You helped them buy that bigger house so they could have a baby. That’s what it’s all about. If you do all of these things, you’ll never work a day in your life.

That’s great advice, Jeremiah! Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me!

Are you looking to buy or sell a home in Cherry Hill, NJ, or the surrounding areas? Be sure to contact the JFKLiving Team and follow them on YouTube! You can also follow Jeremiah 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!