With the wide range of career paths available to real estate professionals, each agent has a different story to tell. In this series, we bring you the stories of successful individuals who’ve taken their real estate careers in various directions. We sat down with each of them to talk about how they got started in the industry and the twists and turns they’ve taken along the way. Read on to learn about Matt Pittman’s path to success. Get his advice for using technology and specifically, social media to engage today’s digital real estate customer.
A fallback plan and a bit of luck might have landed Matt Pittman—a Re/Max Achiever with specialties in both residential and investment properties in Lombard, Illinois—a job as an agent. But it’s his love of the work that has allowed him to build a successful 12-year career.
“I love people! It’s awesome connecting buyers and sellers to their home needs. I also love that every day is different. One day I’m selling a beautiful home to a family, and the next day I’m walking through a condemned foreclosure property with an investor. Things are always different and sometimes unexpected, but I always try to make each day high-energy and fun.”
That spirit, coupled with a real understanding of today’s digital customer, has driven Pittman to tap social media and the power of video to grow his business. His videos, “REALTORS” Official Music Video (Warren G Parody) and “SELLIN” HOMES The Official Real Estate Rap, have been wildly successful. (Really, watch them now. They are hilarious. And you can even buy the Sellin’ Homes ringtone.) As evidenced in the videos, Pittman doesn’t take himself too seriously, and he credits that for his success.
“I tend to use goofy humor in my business. By having fun with the client, you can break the tension and lower the anxiety that most buyers and sellers have. Once they can relax a little, it makes them feel at ease with the process. Most agents don’t do that and keep it ‘only professional,’ but I like to create long-term friendships and relationships with my clients.”
Q: How did you decide to get into the real estate profession?
A: I actually fell into it. I was in college, and I took it as an elective class. The teacher said, “If you’re going to take this class, you might as well take the real estate exam because it’s only a few extra steps.” That seemed logical to me, so after the course was finished, I passed the Illinois real estate exam. Then, I was out one night for a friend’s birthday party and ran into a good buddy from high school. We started chatting, and it just so happened that he was also getting his real estate license, and he asked me if I’d be interested in working in his dad’s office. I thought, “Sure, what do I have to lose?” So I gave it a shot. It wasn’t long after that I realized how much I enjoyed doing it. I’ve been doing it for 12 years now and have never looked back. It has been an awesome career path for me.
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Q: How are you using technology to both capture potential clients’ attention and provide them better service?
A: I’m using technology in every aspect of my business. Whether it’s my website, social media, online videos, or just staying connected via text and email. My clients know they can reach me from whatever platform works best for them. It’s been great because I often get a random Facebook message from someone who’s not on my friend’s list. We’ll communicate back and forth, and all of a sudden they become a client.
Lead generation is so easy on the web, too. Technology makes doing business so much easier and more accessible. I know some agents that still don’t even use email to this day, and I think, “How the heck can they run a successful business like that?”
Q: Your YouTube videos are very well done (and funny!). The production value is amazing. What prompted you to create them? What has been the outcome?
A: Thank you so much! My buddy Aaron Green was the director, editor, and cinematographer. We had so much fun making them. I thought it would be really funny and we would have an awesome time doing it. Plus, I knew no one else was doing it, at least in my market. I knew it would potentially agitate some people, but it would also invigorate the younger crowd. The business the videos has generated has been amazing. I’ve probably earned well over 100k in extra business from them. I always have people say, “I saw your rap video and was like ‘I gotta work with him.’”
Q: How are you using social media?
A: I use Facebook and Instagram mostly and post content a few times a week. I have about 5,000 followers/friends between them. I use Facebook as a tool to stay in front of my clients, friends, and family. I try not to be too much about business—40% or less of my posts are real estate related—and, instead, I choose to share more about me as a person.
People don’t like to be bombarded with real estate listings or self-promotional ads, especially if they aren’t currently in the market to buy, sell, or rent a property, so I don’t want to overdo it. Think about it: If you had a social media friend that was a car salesman who constantly posted car ads, eventually you’d ignore the posts or block or unfriend the person because those posts don’t matter to you if you’re not buying a car right now.
So, I’ll share photos and ads of listings, but I also include pics of stuff I come across daily. Sometimes I share pics of a beautiful kitchen or backyard. Other times, I just post interesting things I see walking in and out of homes all day. And believe me … I see some weird things on a daily basis.
Q: Where would you recommend agents focus when it comes to using social media?
A: Focus on your sphere of influence. Those are the people most likely to use you as a real estate agent, now and forever. Just make sure to stay in front of your followers—without being annoying. When they are ready to buy or sell, hopefully, they will remember you as the go-to resource. If you post too much about real estate, you’ll blow it. I’ve seen a lot of agents do it.
Q: People often learn more from their negative experiences than their positive ones. What was your worst day on the job, and what did you learn from that experience?
A: It was very early in my career. I had a friend that used me for my time, energy, and resources and then completely ditched me. I spent over a month’s worth of time working with him, and he completely took advantage of our friendship because he knew I’d do anything to help him. Then he bailed on me to save some money on the sale of his place and the new home purchase because he didn’t want to pay commission. At the time, I was banking on that one sale because I thought it was a guarantee. I learned that there are no guarantees in real estate.
Q: If you could offer a brand-new agent one piece of advice, what would it be?
A: Be resilient! The real estate business on the surface looks simple and easy. Many people see others doing well and think, “I could do that.” But it is hard work, and there’s a lot of stuff to overcome at the beginning of your career. Being a long-term real estate agent requires you to become a business owner. It’s much more than just “selling homes.”
The learning curve at the beginning of a real estate career is brutal. I know that when I started, I had to learn a lot of lessons the hard way. They cost me money, time, energy, and a lot of stress, but I didn’t give up. Anyone starting out needs to give it at least two to three years of hard work before they can be really successful. However, if you put your mind to it and work really hard, you can do it. The best thing about real estate is that the potential is unlimited. It’s all what you put into it.