What’s up everyone and welcome to another episode of Become A Local Leader! In today’s episode, we have Peter Aguero, Realtor at Coldwell Banker Realty.

Peter is a new San Diego realtor who left Corporate America to pursue his passion in real estate. Before his new career, he worked as a business analyst, first at Palmer Consulting Group, and then later, at 24 Hours Inc., the company that operates the global chain of 24Hour Fitness gyms.

He earned a degree in Bachelor of Science in Human Factors Psychology at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and joined the Delta Upsilon International Fraternity in 2012. In December 2014, Peter got certified as a Six Sigma green belt at Florida International University’s Division of External Programs.

67 Strategies to Get More Referrals

Meet Peter Aguero – Our Featured Local Leader!

Peter, are you originally from Florida and what part of San Diego do you live now?

Yes, I was born and raised in Florida and I moved out to the Oceanside area of San Diego County, about four or five years ago. It was because of my husband. He got a job with the federal government as an engineer and I didn’t want him to be out here all alone, essentially. So, it was a no brainer for me to move out here to California.

What do you love about your community at Oceanside?

Outside of the physical features, which are just gorgeous, by basic definition. I just love that the community around here is very open and welcoming and it’s just you get a different feel out here than you put it in some other states, where it’s maybe not as accepting or not as inviting. So, it’s a beautiful thing to be a part of, to be living in.

Do you work in the same community that you live in?

Yes. I would say, I work in the same community as well as a little bit outside of it as well. Primarily I work mainly in the Vista Oceanside area, but I recently had a listing that I’m trying to work on and closing right now in Mira Mesa, which is a part of a broader San Diego County. I’m willing to work as far north or south if anyone needs me and if there is anyone who wants to have me.

What compelled you to make the switch from the corporate world to real estate?

From a very basic standpoint, everyone wants to do something that’s going to make them happy. And if they can get paid for it too, why not? I was a business analyst for over four years, and I did love my work thoroughly. But I will say that it didn’t give me that fulfillment or happiness that I was hoping for when I initially got into the field.

And when I was looking for other business opportunities or career opportunities, I noticed that it’s real estate that I’ve always been secretly passionate about.  Everyone always has those secret desires that they keep to themselves because they don’t think they should be allowed to share and that they shouldn’t be focused on anything else other than what they’re doing.

I realized this is a passion that I should be able to devote to as intensely as I do with any other job. With real estate, I look forward to being my own businessperson, being my own business owner, and being in charge of everything I do. In terms of marketing, I know I’m going to get a return, it’s because I did the work. It’s not because someone had to recognize me to get promoted or there is space for a promotion at the company. I wanted a direct correlation to my input in my work environment.

So, that ability to continuously grow and not be limited by a supervisor or anything like that?

If I don’t feel productive in a year, then it’s because of me. I can’t blame anyone else but myself. And I think I loved and needed that sort of responsibility and accountability for myself to make sure that I follow this drive and passion.

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

I would say education and being an educator with it. I have several of my friends and family who are out of state. As I said, I’m from Florida, but I have friends throughout the country, from Washington state to New York to Texas, and the DC area. I’d just come from a very diverse college experience and a lot of my friends and family don’t even know that I actually can help them in other states, let alone in California just by referring them to the right person.

By doing my research to make sure that if I was to refer them to a realtor in their area, I can do a little background check for them and say, “Hey, this person sold exactly the same type of house you are looking for”. And, I always feel I can educate them on my ability, on loan, market stats, and all those numbers to help them feel more confident about the market today. I believe that is a superpower of mine that I can always grow and build up.

How long have you been in real estate?

Admittedly, only about five months now. I got my license back in February and I’ve been working with Coldwell Banker Realty ever since. It’s been very beautiful with their resources and guidance and mentorship. In fact, I have a mentor as well, who’s working with me to make sure that I do provide the best service, not just to my clients but to the entire home buying process with my latest listings. It’s been very eye-opening, but also nice to say that it’s where I wanted to be. I didn’t realize how much I wanted to be here until I was in it.

You mentioned a couple of them earlier. But are there any other areas you focus your business on San Diego?

Just to name the cities, Carlsbad, Oceanside Vista, San Marcos, Mira Mesa, even further north to Fallbrook, Temecula, and Riverside County. I do have some rental clients that are looking for homes in that area as well. Really, just anywhere in the Southern California area. I’ve been very much in tune with trying to make sure that I know all the stats in those areas.

It helps when I do have a client or two that’s specifically looking for something that I can dive my research even further and say, Okay, this is what you’re looking for. This is what’s on the market. Let’s work on a strategy and how we can get you in to buy. Or, if this is what you want to sell, just understand we must fix this and this in the house because the buyer is going to require it. So, work on the best strategy for the client.

In terms of volume, what are your numbers?

Admittedly, my current volume is just the one I’m closing now in Mira Mesa. The list price for it is $575,000 in that area for a three-bedroom, one-bathroom. The sellers that I’m working with have been using it as an investment property and it’s probably the ideal transaction for me to begin with. Because I don’t have to factor in scheduling around a tenant that’s living there or making sure that I have open houses.

But outside of that, I do have a few clients that are looking in the 500 to 600 price range, which seems to be very common nowadays in the Carlsbad and Oceanside Vista areas. So, It’s always harder to say that you can quantify how many transactions you will have when you are representing the buyer nowadays. And since it’s a seller’s market, you have multiple offers calling in. I can be representing my client and 10 other agents can be representing their clients, and we are all trying to push in our offer for one property. We just cross our fingers that we’re that that lucky one that gets selected. So, it’s just the patience and searching part of the process that is hard to quantify.

Being my first year, if I could get three transactions completed within my first 10 months of being a real estate agent, I think it would be a great place to set up a beautiful foundation for the coming years. In the San Diego market, a second transaction means a high volume of commission. I’m looking forward to closing that second and third transaction within the year, but if I get four or five, I’m not gonna stop myself.

How would you say your production has changed since the COVID?

If you count my one, I guess 100% if you wanted to do a percentage standpoint. When I entered the real estate industry, it was maybe weeks before California started to respond to the COVID pandemic. And funny enough, I think it allowed me to start at a better foot in a weird way in this industry than any of my colleagues right now who have been in for a couple of years, or even longer. Because you’ve had individuals who are so set in their ways with maybe door knocking or being dependent on open houses where people are kind of swarming in a home.

I had to learn very quickly just to start on how to survive in a virtual world. But on the bright side for me, I am a millennial and did already thrive in a virtual environment from my corporate background. In the corporate environment, I had those virtual meetings with colleagues at different parts of the state or the country. I’ve had to make sure not only to interact well in a virtual setting, but I even host those meetings to direct an agenda or worth of the meeting. I had practice doing that and I can carry that over into hosting a virtual open house for potential customers or maybe hosting a webinar to educate my sphere on different real estate lessons. It allowed me a much easier transition.  So, I guess it worked out in my favor. Despite that everyone is in this rough boat together.

How many relationships would you say you build per week or month?

I would say it’s different in a post-COVID world. Right now, at least two to three people a week. In this environment, not everyone is excited to meet strangers, especially when everyone’s having their face half-covered. It’s hard to be open and say, “Hi, how are you doing? Do you want to know about real estate?”. “What are your home needs?”, or “Do you know anyone that’s in the market?”. It’s not as easy to do that in a post-COVID world.

I think what helped me to maintain at least two to three-person minimum a week is through online marketing, online outreach, and allowing people to come to my websites and say: “Okay, this is what I’m looking for, this bedroom, this bathroom”, and then they provide their email address. That is the bread and butter in a post-pandemic virtual world. If I can’t connect with you in person, I can connect with you via email, and everyone’s very willing to receive an email nowadays, even if they don’t respond to every one of them. At least, that opens the door for me to say, “Hey, I’m here! I’m not going to go anywhere as your resource for real estate and I’d be happy to help you out when you’re ready”.

Do you have any business owners that refer your business to?

Not yet, but funny, as you say that. I am drafting letters that I would eventually like to mail out because I think that a physical postcard or showing physical intent does mean a little bit more than just an email. But for now, what I am doing is reaching out to local businesses, anywhere from Power of Attorney offices to divorce offices to schooling systems to local businesses in general.

I’m just saying, “Hey, I have some sort of a raffle that I would like to offer to my sphere, would you be willing to donate a $20 gift card or something?”. And I could offer this to them and promote their business in exchange. I’d say: “If you have any clients, let’s work together to bring each other some business as far as real estate or whatever their particular product is. I am actively trying to build that marketing, not just from a one-on-one personal level but on a business level to build that relationship with the community”.

In terms of advertising, what would you say works best for you?

At this time, I think my best route is getting traffic to my websites and getting traffic to my social media sphere or my actual peteraguerorealty.com website, to have people come and see what it is that I do and who I am. See what I share about my thoughts as far as the importance of public safety, the importance of knowing what’s currently in the market, and just knowing that I have the tools and resources available to help with those searches.

Once they go through that route of connecting with me on those platforms, I do my best to take a step forward and I even try to share with them coming soon properties. Those are properties that are not yet active on the market. I can give them the heads up on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), to say this is going to come up in a couple of weeks. And that’s when I try to help my potential client and say, “Hey, I know you’re looking for this type of house. This one’s coming to the market soon. Let’s game plan, let’s get together and let’s make sure that we get in there first because sometimes being the first in this market is what’s going to get you to your perfect home”.

What would you say doesn’t work for you in terms of advertising?

I think cold calling and door knocking, from a pre-COVID world standpoint. I’ve never personally enjoyed that part of my past work history in a call center. Funny enough, and I knew firsthand that not everyone enjoys the cold call. At that time, you have to eat, you have to survive, and you need to be able to take a job just to get through the day. Pay your loans. But at the same time, I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone today, period. And even if that means maybe a slower growth to my client base or my sphere of influence.

I rather do it honestly and openly and naturally as much as possible. Taking advantage of everyone’s natural tendencies and going online or meeting someone at the grocery store or just wearing a t-shirt that says, “Hey, I’m a realtor, ask me your questions”. I think natural instances are going to cause a much happier path for myself as well as for my clients because they know that I do not just badger them with information. Come to me and you know that I’ll be here for you when you need it.

Are there any mistakes you have made that you can share with us?

Not starting in real estate sooner is probably the big thing for me. Mainly because you need to build your sphere as best as possible. I think, to survive in real estate is when you get enough people who are following you and saying, hey this is my guy, this is my resource. If I could have gone into the licensing, or in the industry sooner, I could have had a few of my friends who have recently purchased their homes throughout the country or even California. They could have used me, or they could have used me as a referral.

I think the timing is everything. At the end of the day, I’m just glad that I got in when I did because that means now everyone is available or I am available to everyone so that they can use me. I think that’s probably the good part of making the best out of this situation.

What is your current budget for marketing? What do you spend?

Right now, because I knew I was going to go into real estate before I left my corporate job, I did try to save up a little bit so I did try to put aside, maybe a couple thousand for the year to budget for myself and marketing. I knew that at the end of the day, I needed those leads. I needed to generate leads and I knew that that was going to cost something as far as postcards, email campaigns, managing websites, and such. And I think, you got to spend money to make money. And that’s just how it is.

As long as I can get one more client, that’s worth it. Even if I have to spend $2,000 to get one person to come in through the door and close the deal. I think even maintaining that and showing that I can produce, I can represent clients and get a return on that marketing. That’s totally worth it.

What would you say clients rave about when it comes to you?

Communication. When we need to get certain documents signed to keep the buyer who is interested in my listing, I would keep the buyer agent to the task, about timing and of when things are going/needed. I’ll be the barrier between my client and the buyer. Communicating with the buyer’s agent when things aren’t progressing as they should, saying, “You are missing your dates here what’s going on?” And, if for some reason, they got confused about their dates and they were telling me, “Oh, we have two more days to do everything”, and I am like, “Let’s double-check”.

And I am sure to communicate to the sellers as well and say: “Hey, understand that am I’m very much on top of this, and I’m a very diligent person. I’m going to make sure that you know what’s going on so that you don’t have to send me a text or an email days later and think, what’s going on? What’s the news? I need to know what’s happening”. They will never need to do that because I would have already gone to them first and have already alleviated any of their worries. I’d rather call them once, twice a day, on those more intense parts of the process, to reassure them rather than not to talk to them at all.

No one wants to be out of the loop. Especially when you’re dealing with these huge transactions. If you don’t have communication that’s consistent and well thought out, you’re not going to get that transaction. And, you’re not going to get repeat business if they’re not going to have that positive memory of talking to you or working with you.

What would you say sets you apart from your competition?

This might seem a little unusual, but I think my drive and even thirst for business. I am probably going to be the most dedicated person right now to you because I don’t have that much business going on. And I’m going to make sure that If you need something done, it’s happening. That’s going to happen that day because you are my focus. You are my prime. And so, I tried to tell friends and family that I can help out a friend or do a consultation whatever I’m doing at the moment.

I think that sets me apart from other people because maybe other real estate agents who’ve been in it for years, they get a little lax with it. They’ll say, “Yeah, I’ve done it, or, eventually, I’ll get to it”. But, for me, I’ll make sure you’re getting a response from me at that moment, and it’s because I’m motivated. I don’t think I’ve ever going to lose that, or at least, I hope I don’t.

When it comes to your services, what can you give back to the community you live and work in?

Admittedly, I haven’t had as much time in my corporate working life to give back as much. But when I made this transition to real estate, I very much look forward to having that more flexible schedule. And before COVID became a large presence in our lives, I started to reach out to the North County LGBTQ resource center that was out here in Oceanside. It’s actually down the street from me. And I thought, man, this is a perfect opportunity for me. I have more of a schedule. Block schedule as far as not having to be somewhere from nine to five, I can commit to understanding more about LGBTQ competency, not just being a member or an ally here in the organization, in the community.

Building on that would be a great opportunity for me not just personally, but also for the community itself. I could give back more directly. But sadly, because of social distance practices and other practices that have come into play, I wasn’t able to devote myself as much to the Resource Center. But I genuinely am looking forward to getting back into it when health protocols are loosened.

What do you currently do in terms of community marketing initiatives?

Admittedly, I can’t say I do too much right now as far as in initiative. I think my initial step again was just to start getting involved and then seeing what programs they host in the LGBTQ resource center up here in North County. To see what they host and what they do beyond LGBTQ competency training, just like a two-hour workshop, I think just working out with their other programs and just making myself available. Because at the end of the day, I know I can be a leader, and I will be a leader.

I am striving to heed that call in my community, interest in my business, and everything. But at the same time, I think being a good leader is also being able to listen to what other leaders in your community have also done and are already doing. Even if you don’t have the best idea in yourself, just knowing which one is a good idea, and knowing what to pursue and what’s to support. And that’s where I was intending to go when I started working and volunteering with the resource center right here.

Do you shop locally and what are some of your favorite spots?

All the time! I don’t go to too many different spots. I would say I shop at stores that are right down the street. And, I understand that they have local farmers that they work with as well. And I don’t go beyond the one-mile radius from my home because I want to make sure that I’m not supporting just big chains and stuff like that. But I support a mom-and-pop mini store, the Emmy’s Shelf. It’s right down the way and just opened. Making sure that I just try to support what businesses I can in this current pandemic. I do my best to help them stay around so that they’ll still be here after the pandemic.

Why would you say it’s important to tell others to shop local?

From a practical standpoint, it makes more sense. It minimizes your gas usage. You go to the same place you are accustomed to and be exposed only to the same people. You’re not exposing yourself to new people in a new area where you don’t know their practices as far as safety procedures are concerned. From a business perspective, you have certain local farmers and certain local businesses that kind of depend on local consumers. And if they don’t have those local consumers consistently, they may not be able to survive this pandemic, leave alone general business.

And at the end of the day, it’s convenient for them and convenient for you. Why would you make yourself drive farther out of your way than you would just to get your product? I think nowadays anyone can use an excuse to get out of the house and just go get 10 oranges. That seems excessive, but it’s like, yeah, I gotta get out of the house and go to the grocery store. I got to interact and engage with other people for even a few minutes.

What are some of the community marketing initiatives that you’ve heard of and like to try?

I would say beach cleanups and such. Just being involved. I would say that is something that I should look into but have not, admittedly. But I do remember being a part of the pack in Florida. There was a volunteer daycare I think was called Joey’s Kids in Florida. I apologize if I don’t know it’s equivalent out here in San Diego County. What I enjoyed about that was it had a lot of volunteers who at least, once a month, would go in and volunteer to babysit children of all ages from newborn to Maybe 13 or 14 years old.

The intent of the program was not just free babysitting. It was actually for children who may have some level of special needs, some sort of extra additional considerations that would make it harder for mothers and fathers or just families in general. They go shopping once a month, go to a store or two, and parents would entrust their kids to volunteers. The organization Joey’s Kids would watch their children. They always have someone on the staff that knows you care or has had training, so they could trust us, volunteers. We just had an excuse to run around and play with kids and do whatever on their playgrounds. But the parents enjoyed it because they would have an entire day where they could do their house chores or do whatever they needed to do.

Even not from a business perspective, just from giving perspective, I think that’s something I’ve wanted to always do again.

Are there any community marketing initiatives that other realtors are doing that you’d be interested in trying out?

A colleague of mine that I should touch base with, her name is Jacqueline and she was on the board of a philanthropic committee. She even received a little recognition for it. But sadly, it escapes me what it is that she’s directly a part of, but I know that she has earned some local recognition in the last year for all her work with the community marketing initiative.

So outside of that, at Coldwell Banker Realty in general, what we do is try to maybe quarterly, help out our community in a pre-COVID world. I even remember that they do annual shredding events where they would allow anyone from the San Diego County area to come in and just say, hey, I want to shred this and they had this massive machine that was just tearing through everything. And it helps people get a lot of documents out of their homes and safely get rid of the documentation so that no one could recycle it for whatever reason. I know Coldwell Banker Realty does certain events like that. But they had to postpone it with the physical, social distancing.

What are your goals for your business to move forward?

Keep building and growing. For sure, I think I’m always going to be learning. And I think that’s very fundamental to the business, even for those who’ve been in it for years. They always need to be aware of the latest practices, concerns, market stats, and such. I know knowledge is power. In that regard, I can show to other people that I do know what I’m talking about. I do know local stats, I do know the answers to your questions as far as the process goes, you know, buying, selling. And if I don’t, I’m going to make sure I find out for you pretty quickly, because as I said I’m going to be very motivated to make sure I already earn your trust.

I’m here, I just got on the scene, but I’m here to stay. I’m not going anywhere and I’m going to just keep building my foundation to show everyone that I am fully intending to be a local leader to the point where I don’t have to even think about it. I already am.

What would you say are the roadblocks or challenges you foresee yourself facing or currently facing in terms of reaching those goals?

Time. I think that time is probably my biggest obstacle, because I know I’ll be consistent with my work. I’ll be consistent with putting my name out there in the best way possible. Time will probably be my largest obstacle because It’s going to take time for people to know and think that I’ve proven myself and that I will stay here. I’m not going anywhere. So I look forward to showing my sphere, my friends, and future clients that I’m not going anywhere and I’m here to stay. But time is going to be my best ally, once I’ve done this for a little bit longer.

Lightning Round

At this point, I tossed to Peter some quick questions that required short answers. Here is a quick summary of his answers when I asked him about the sites or online services that he relies on for his marketing campaigns and business in general: He said yes to Zillow, realtor.com, Facebook ads, and Google ads. But replied no to homes.com, Instagram ads, and LinkedIn ads.

As for the question, if he ever tried traditional marketing gimmicks used by realtors, he said no to cold calling, and display advertising (bus, benches, grocery carts, etc.). With regards to direct mailers, flyers, door hangers, and other forms of print marketing, he said, just not now with the pandemic going on.

Peter is very active on social media and is leaning towards writing blogs, producing video content, and hosting virtual open houses. He also uses retargeting and sends newsletters from his company website. Peter also embraces the idea of writing personal notes, sending gifts, or throwing client appreciation parties, once he has a good number of clients that he has worked with.    

Final Thoughts: What would you say to realtors out there who want to become recognized as a local leader and market expert?

Strive for patience, diligence, and passion. If you have those three starting in any field, much more in real estate, you’re going to be able to set yourself up for success. And if you can save up some money to make sure that you have your expenses covered. Or, at least, be willing to do it part-time, and understand that it might be a little bit hard in the first few months to get that first transaction. If you have those three things, and you have that mindset, I think it’d be great, two, three, five years down the road. Just stick it out because I know not every realtor that gets their license, even those who’ve been continuously working after two years, make it. So, you must be patient and passionate.

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.