What’s up everyone! Welcome to another episode of Become a Local Leader. In today’s episode, we have Amy de Leon, a realtor with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services in San Diego California.

Amy de Leon is working with one of the top teams of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services in San Diego. Amy brings her Midwest work ethic, entrepreneurial spirit, and enthusiasm to real estate in San Diego. She grew up in Wisconsin, obtained her BA in advertising then started migrating west to Denver, Colorado. And now loves calling San Diego home, since 2011.

Amy finds it very fulfilling to serve her clients and can’t think of a better place to live. Her ecstatic clients are her number one goal. She’s extremely responsive, very knowledgeable on the San Diego market which is key and has a passion to deliver the best service and negotiate deals. She has 15 plus years of marketing experience to apply to market your home. Also, Amy operates an events company putting on craft beer festivals across the nation!

She enjoys outdoor activities especially mountain biking, practices yoga and Pilates, loves to travel the globe. Amy has visited Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Canada, Central America and sailed throughout the British islands.

67 Strategies to Get More Referrals

Meet Amy de Leon – Our Featured Local Leader!

Why do you live in San Diego? What do you love about it?

Well, I definitely love being outside and of course the climate, the attitude of everyone here. Nice weather and sunshine bring a positive attitude. And so, a combination of the people and the climate and all the good stuff that’s offered here.

What do you love specifically about your community in San Diego?

I live kind of by old town and USD. I like this area because it’s very central. It’s very easy for me to head to a variety of different beaches. Within 10 minutes I can get to Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach or Point Loma, and then, of course, the bay. I bike from my place and cruise around by Fiesta Island and then drop down into Pacific Beach on the boardwalk and do a nice 20-mile loop that I really enjoy.

And then, it’s also very convenient to freeway access. So, hopping on the five, my office is in La Jolla, so it’s not a very far commute there. I also service a lot of San Diego as far as home sales so I’m very central and can get to different areas that I need to get to quite quickly. I would say location, convenience, and proximity to the beach are the core things I love about San Diego.

What did you do before you got into real estate?

I always was involved with marketing, which I think really helps me in real estate. Really, a big portion of what we do is marketing – marking ourselves, marketing properties, making connections to learn about any upcoming properties that are coming on the market for buyers.

I left a corporate job in biotech in marketing. I wasn’t happy there. Real estate had always been an interest of mine. One of my partners for the beer festival company that I have, he has his own brokerage in Denver. And he inspired me to get into real estate. I figured, “Why not? Go for it!” So, that’s what I did.

Why did you get into real estate in the first place?

Well, I’ve always had an interest in real estate even when I was young. I would drag my mom to go look at open houses. I’d be shopping for her. My sister and I, we picked out a custom home for my mom to build. We were meeting with the builder and picking out all sorts of different things, telling the builder “I think she’ll want this loft over here.”. That type of stuff. We were in our 20s when we were doing that. So, real estate has always been an interest of mine.

What I really like now being in it is the aspect of helping people and getting to know people. Buying a house is a very personal, intimate thing to do. And so, I really like making the connections and getting to know my clients and really helping them. I work with a lot of first-time buyers. So, really teaching them how the process works is what I like to do.

What would you say your superpower is as a real estate agent?

I think getting the deal together. Especially right now it’s gotten more competitive. I mean, we were in escrow on a property that we were up against a bunch of other offers and a bunch of other buyers and we weren’t even the highest bid. But because of the relationship that I formed with the listing agent, as well as the reputation of the team I’m on and the network that we’re in, one being that we are part of Berkshire Hathaway and two being that we get coached by Tom Ferry!

Tom is the best real estate coach out there right now. So, we have a very strong network within the Tom Ferry organization. The listing agent was familiar with our team through him as my bosses were one of his first clients when he branched into coaching. As a result, I think building those relationships and getting the deal together is my superpower.

How long have you been a realtor for? And which geographic areas do you focus your business in?

I’m in my fifth year now. Well, my offices in La Jolla, but I sell all over. I would say mostly central San Diego. So, the North Park area all the way up to even Poway.

In terms of the current state of your business, volume wise, where are you?

When we had the lockdown it definitely slowed things down for everybody. It was very quiet for the first two months. Once Real Estate was deemed an essential service, protocols were put in place to make everybody comfortable and allow us to work again. With the new protocols, everyone is required to wear a mask and sign disclosures before entering the property. Once that became established, and we were able to access properties again. And now that interest rates are amazing, I mean, you can get loans for less than 3%! Business has definitely picked up. So, I’ve been very busy.

Total slides, transactions, and people served, where are you? And what is your median home price?

So, just about three if it’s just me. In the 600 range.

How has your production changed over time?

It’s generally been pretty consistent. My first year was pretty strong. In my second year, which I hear is typical, I kind of struggled. And then, I’ve been pretty consistent following that. I averaged probably about 10 homes a year. So, I have some catching up to do for this year. I definitely have some active clients so I’m hoping that will happen.

How has COVID affected your business?

It affected it initially where it’s made it a little more competitive for buyers because we’re really low on inventory. The active buyers I’m working with are looking, but it’s a little bit of a competitive situation for them.

What percentage of your business is repeat business versus new business?

Well, because I’ve only been doing this for about five years, I would say people stay in their house for at least five years. A good 95% of my clients would be deemed “new business”.

What percentage of new business is relationships versus referrals versus advertising?

That’s a good question. Well, currently, I would say I’m like 80-90% referrals through my sphere of influence. So I am getting new clients through the people I know.

How do you build new relationships right now?

That is a little tricky because we’re not being as social, of course. And so, the referrals, I’m very grateful for.

How many new relationships do you build per week, or per month?

Gosh, I’m not sure. I think it really depends because I mean it’s just not normal right now so it’s difficult to say.

Who has referred your business in the past?

My sphere of influence – so friends, old colleagues, friends of friends and colleagues and contacts.

Any local business owners or professionals that have referred you any bit, or is it just mainly your sphere of influence?

Well, of course, in my sphere, a lot of them are professionals. I just throw it all in one bucket really, “my contacts”.

What forms of advertising work for you?

Well, being active on social media is definitely good for my sphere to see that I’m busy and that I am active in real estate. But I also try not to bombard them too much with talking about properties and work in the market all the time. So, I’m mixing some fun as well.

I have done Zillow. It was really strong when I first started. It feels like Zillow has oversold their advertising so it’s not as strong as it used to be, at least for me.

What doesn’t work for you? Other than Zillow, is there anything else that doesn’t really work in terms of advertising?

I did do a farm for a little bit, a postcard farm. I didn’t really get much out of it as I felt like I could allocate those funds elsewhere.

Any mistakes you’ve made that you’d like to share that people can learn from?

Oh gosh, all sorts of mistakes. I think sometimes when you’re on a listing appointment, I think just being upfront and asking what it is that that they want in order for you to get the listing. It might be something as simple as, “Oh, I want a Matterport tour.” And it’s like, “Oh, we could do that. No problem.” So, I think it depends. Just asking the right questions, I guess.

How do you determine your budget for marketing or advertising? How does that work for you?

Well, I would say that I spent a lot more money on Zillow a long time ago. Now, I’m just trying to leverage my contacts more.

When it comes to your services, what do your clients rave about when they talk about you? What are those things that people just love your services for?

I think that I’m super responsive. I’m happy to answer any sort of question as I’m happy to explain anything that’s not clear. So, I think mostly it’s my communication.

What sets you apart from your competitors?

I think, again, my communication and also being on a really strong high producing team that has really given me the advantage to stand on the shoulders of giants so to speak. They’re always sharing their advice on how to handle a transaction or handle a situation. Also, we get coached weekly and our coach is always providing direction on what works within the industry based on the other clients that he has. I think just that power of having the experience behind me and the support behind me because we also have a full support team and its full concierge.

What would you say are some of the things you do to give value to the people that live and work in your community?

Well, I always try to find opportunities to volunteer. I have volunteered and served meals with the alpha project before. Humble Design is a really cool organization. I spent a day volunteering. We furnished a house for this family who was transitioning from being homeless, into their own apartment. It was really fun to set it all up, you know, basically their first place. I really enjoyed that. I’ve been doing an annual Easter egg hunt in Mission Bay. Of course, that got put on hold this year. I think mostly volunteering and getting involved with the community in that aspect.

What are your community marketing initiatives?

I think just that. Just outreach and being present for those type of events.

Why do you think it’s so important for people to shop locally?

Well, especially now these little guys are really hurting and they could use our business. I mean, if you can, even though it may not be as convenient to go to the local store and shop locally, I think its way better to do that than go online and purchase something there. It’s also more meaningful too.

What are you doing right now to differentiate yourself from your competition?

I think trying to provide as much information as I can. A big question right now is people think that we’re going to have a crash because our last economic situation that feels similar to this was due to the housing market. Prospective buyers and sellers are expecting the housing market to be impacted the same way that it was in ‘08, but the big difference is the housing market did not cause this economic crash. It’s actually going to pull us out of this recession.

We’ve been paying attention to all sorts of different economists. This is also provided through our coach. He gets people who study this by the hour, and then they share their summary weekly with us. And then, we share that knowledge with our clients and our contacts.

And then, what are some of your goals and targets for your business moving forward?

Well, I usually like to at least have a transaction a month. I have some catching up to do this year. And then, I also handle the marketing for our team. So, I’m really like a part-time agent.

What do you think you need to start doing to get out there?

It’s really hard right now due to the situation. I think just keep at it. I write handwritten letters to certain neighborhoods where I have buyers who are interested and I make phone calls to people who are not on the Do Not Disturb list. And so, I think just being consistent with that type of outreach is important.

Is there anything you need to stop doing that’s getting in the way of you getting out there?

Not that I can think of. I’m sure there’s something.

What are some of the roadblocks or challenges you face when trying to achieve the goals that you mentioned?

I think limitations on time. I feel like I work all the time already. I’m trying to fit it all in.

How much do you spend on your marketing?

It’s hard for me to differentiate between my personal spending and then what my team spends too. Because with the high-end listings, you can spend like, $5,000 to $10,000 on a multimillion-dollar property, and that’s just scratching the surface. So, for me, on my own personal marketing, I probably spend about $500 a month.

How many leads would you say you get from that?

Just like a handful a month.

What’s the ROI on that on the leads that you do get?

I haven’t calculated that right now, but it just depends.

Do you advertise on bus benches, grocery cards or any other kind of display advertising? Why?

No. I don’t feel like those are all that effective.

Which types do you find effective?

I do feel like digital is more effective. And the personal touch like the handwritten letters and things like that.

Do you do direct mailers, flyers, door hangers, or any other forms of marketing?

Well, we’re not supposed to do door hangers right now, given the situation. I have done mailers. We do mailers when we list a property, and then when we sell a property. I have done the farm but I am not doing a farm right now.

Lightning Round

At this point, I tossed to Amy de Leon some quick questions that required short answers. Here is a quick summary of his answers when I asked her about the sites or online services that she relies on for her marketing campaigns and business in general: She said yes to Zillow although shes still a little “hmmm” about it. No to realtor.com and homes.com. Yes to Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram Ads and Google Ads was something that Amy was thinking about learning more into as well as YouTube.

Amy has someone write blogs for her and creates her own video content. She is very active on social media specifically on Facebook and Instagram. Her posts aren’t designed to bombard people with listings left right and center.

What do you usually post about?

Well, it depends. Like I said, I try not to bombard with too much work stuff. For example, Friday, I was in a neighborhood that I thought was worth sharing because it’s a federally deemed opportunity zone. I wanted to share that there’s some really good values in that area, and that it might get overlooked by some people because it’s not a hotspot like North Park or other areas in San Diego. So, if I just share that a bit, and then I also share that were not expecting housing crash that the market is really strong right now that there’s multiple offers on most properties under $2 million. And we’re not expecting a crash anytime soon. Yeah, things like that.

Do you have any email newsletter that you send out to your database?

Yeah. I send these out for my bosses about once a week.

What’s on those? What do you include?

It depends. Sometimes community updates, updates about our listings. For my bosses, we’ve been doing some fun giveaway contests on social media. So, we share about that. We share who are the winners. For example, my boss was on radio station and another show so we share about that and share the interview. Things like that.

Are you able to do any open houses right now?

We’re not supposed to. Other agents are doing it but we’re not supposed to.

What type of follow up do you do to work your database? Do you pop-by?

Well, again, it’s really tricky right now. We don’t really want to do any door knocking so phone, text, email.

67 Strategies to Get More Referrals

Final thoughts: What would you say to realtors out there who want to be recognized as the local market expert or the go to realtor in their community?

I think just try to get involved as much as you can with local. Even Nextdoor can kind of be a double-edged sword a little bit. So, if you’re on there, try to provide helpful information and just be of service as much as you can.

Thank you so much for coming by the show, Amy de Leon!

If you liked the show, be sure to share it with your friends and colleagues. If you want to learn more about Becoming a Local Leader, then be sure to check out how other agents are becoming the go-to Real Estate Professionals in their communities.