There’s a little piece of career advice that we’ve all heard throughout the years: don’t work with your spouse. Although a separation from work and home is exactly what the doctor ordered for some couples, others seem to thrive when their spouse is also their co-worker. That’s certainly the case for Jason and Rachel Harper of Harper Home Team.
Hi, Jason and Rachel! Thanks for joining me. I can’t wait to learn more about how you run your business – but first let’s talk a little bit about your backgrounds and how you got into real estate.
Jason: I was actually a musician before I got my real estate license, and I also worked in the mortgage industry. I got my license in late 2000. Eventually, I volunteered Rachel to get her license so she could work with me!
Rachel: It’s true, he volunteered me. I’ve now been in real estate for five years, I was a hairdresser before I became an agent. Now we work together and we’ve got a team of three other agents.
Great. Rachel, I’d like to hear more about Jason “volunteering” you to work with him, because we all know the advice – don’t work with your spouse if you want a happy marriage!
Rachel: Well, it was trial-and-error in the beginning, learning what our lanes were and staying in those lanes. I think you have to come to a point where you have to separate your relationship and business, because during the business day you can get really stressed out or frustrated and you might take it out on the other person. But you just have to remind yourself that this is business, it has nothing to do with our relationship.
Jason: It was a learning curve, for sure. But we’ve learned so much about what we’re good at and what we’re not good at, which has helped us establish what parts of the business we each handle. We’ve had deals where it’s been Rachel’s personality that has helped seal the deal; she’s more personable. I tend to be more analytical.
After 21 years of marriage, a successful business, and three kids, you’re clearly doing something right!
Rachel: It’s just an ebb and flow, yin and yang. You have to figure out that perfect balance.
Jason: People are always surprised that we actually like to hang out with each other, since we work together all day!
You guys operate out of California, in San Diego and Riverside Counties. How’s the market out there right now?
Rachel: It’s starting to slow down a little bit with buyers, it’s getting a little bit easier for them to get their offers accepted. But we’ve been getting a lot of people from Orange County who come to our area, and they’re happy to overpay for a house because the homes are so much cheaper here. They usually think they’re getting a great deal, even if they’re paying $50,000 over appraisal.
Jason: Yes, the Orange County money is coming to us and they’re resetting the market. It’s similar to what’s happening in other states right now, with Californians moving to new markets and driving values up.
In such a competitive market, are you finding that those high offers are always the winning offers?
Rachel: Not always. One thing that is really important is maintaining a good reputation with other agents in your area. You could be looking at 10 offers, but you know that an agent has a horrible response time or they’re super unprofessional, which is going to work against them. It also helps if a buyer has a good lender who works quickly and responds quickly. Those are all things I look at when reviewing offers – not just the dollar amount.
Jason: I think money is always going to play a part. In a market where we have 30 offers, usually our goal is to drill down to the top five, and from there money doesn’t become irrelevant but you start looking at other parts of the offer. For instance, maybe the buyer is willing to rent back to the seller for 30 days, which might be really valuable. I also agree that buyers need to understand the value of the agent relationship, because we know a lot of agents who will say anything or do anything just to get the deal into escrow, and then we start working backwards. Everyone has their little system of how they remember agents. There’s the one who never closes, or the one who always wants a reduction, or their lender is a mess. And those are things we have to share with our client. Otherwise we’re not representing them properly.
What’s your main tactic for getting new clients?
Rachel: We do a little bit of everything. I started farming and sending out mailers this year, and that worked really well for us. We also use technology, we have a CRM that has a website and does our marketing for us. So if we get a listing, we can push the listing out through there, and they do Facebook marketing and Google clicks. But a lot of it is really about building relationships with people. We get a lot of referrals, and a lot of clients from our sphere of influence. We’re also working at getting better at online leads and Zillow leads.
Jason: Social media has worked well for us. Oddly enough, one thing we’ve gotten away from that worked really well during 2020 (when people were afraid to leave their house) were cooking videos on YouTube. It was funny how many people would watch them and then say “Oh, by the way, so-and-so is looking to sell a house.” It was never about showing people what we sold or giving it a hard sell. It was always “Hey, we’re making cocktails. Come learn how to make this certain drink.”
Rachel: Yeah, we need to get back into that. It’s important to show people who you are, what your personality is like. I actually think that’s a common mistake that people make. People follow you for a reason on a personal level, so when you act completely differently in business, it turns them off from wanting to interact with you.
Jason: The videos were also really great because I just hate the kind of marketing where these real estate coaches throw out a random off-the-wall question on social media to create engagement. Our approach to those videos was really natural, they weren’t overly produced.
Rachel: We were just bored like everyone else because we were stuck at home!
You guys mentioned that you use technology in your business, and I know HighNote is part of that. What do you think of it?
Rachel: It’s been great. The best part about it is that we can send somebody a listing presentation in a matter of minutes, we just upload some comps and send it over. By the time we get to our appointment, they’ve already read through everything. So now we’re just talking about the house and what we need to do in order to list it. So it really helps us secure deals.
Jason: What we did was we took all the information we would typically give to a seller and we broke it into sections in HighNote. So when you go into our pre-listing presentation, it has the write-up, it has the market analysis, it has video examples of what we’ve done for other properties, examples of property booklets and custom websites we’ve done, reviews, the whole nine yards.
It’s great, because I hate the “dog and pony show.” I hate showing up in someone’s kitchen and having to impress them or convince them why we think we’re better. Plus I feel like that whole conversation of convincing you why I’m better just has a certain level of arrogance to it.
Do you have any specific examples of a time when HighNote really came through for you?
Jason: We had a transaction where there were multiple family members. It was a trust sale, the mother had passed away. So every time we had a conversation, I would go into the notes in HighNote and update the conversation with the corresponding date. It worked well because sometimes I would talk to one family member, and no one else. So when I updated the notes, everyone could keep up-to-date with what we had discussed. It was so easy, I could just click a button and keep adding.
Are you also utilizing the HighNote analytics?
Rachel: We definitely pay attention to that. Everyone usually goes in and looks at comps to try to see what their home is worth, and then they will look at other things that can give us some insight. For instance, if they’re looking at listing video examples, we know that’s going to be important to them.
Jason: It’s just totally worth the investment. We’re not spending a lot of money to subscribe to this. HighNote is worth every penny – it’s so great that I’m really hesitant to tell other agents about it!
Awesome. What would your advice be to someone who is just starting out in the real estate industry?
Jason: Being a good listener is so important. I think most agents are terrible at listening, they just like to beat a client over the head with what they think they should hear. We try our best to listen to our clients. This isn’t the “Jason and Rachel Show.” It’s about what they need. Maybe a good school district is their top priority, or a walkable location. You can’t provide great service to your clients if you aren’t listening to their needs.
That’s great advice. Listening and communication are so important in real estate. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today!
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