Trent Saunders has been established as a successful agent in his own right. He has made huge strides in land sales and worked diligently to earn his ALC accreditation. In this episode, Trent discusses his love for land and how that has helped him in this ever-changing market.
Below is an excerpt from the interview. Listen above for the full podcast.
Is real estate anything like the Boy Scouts? I recently met another broker out of another state and he described real estate as “Commission Island” where “you eat what you kill”. He would always ask new agents: “can you survive on Commission Island?” Boy Scouts was not necessarily “eat what you kill”, but a lot of the stuff I learned in Boy Scouts does translate into my love of land. We did a lot of camping, backpacking, and other things like that.
I also grew up around real estate. The entire time my dad [Dean Saunders] has run this company, I would go on showings with him. I've just always been around the business and then when I was 14 or 15, I learned the original mapping program. I did that for a couple years and I helped the “sign guy” out. Then I became the “sign guy''. After that, I worked for Mr. Jimmie Allen, who's now one of our agents.
How did you get started into real estate? Before I got my license, my dad actually said to me, “I am not going to be your teacher. I want you to work with another broker and I want that broker to teach you how to do the deals.” So I got my license when I was 18 and the first showing that I ever went on, I'll never forget. I was so young and I had been talking on the phone with the lady for a month. This was in 2010, so it was “the downturn” and things weren't selling. I actually had my dad go with me because I was so nervous. When this lady got out of the car, I went to shake her hand and she said, “You’re the one I've been talking to you? I have kids older than you!” She didn't end up buying the property, but it was a good learning experience. Right off the bat I had to deal with being young. That's been my biggest hurdle in this industry.
What does it mean to be an ALC? ALC is an accredited land consultant. It's part of the Realtors Land Institute, which is part of the National Association of Realtors. It is a designation for land brokers. It's the “CCIM” of land and you’re basically taking college level classes.
How did you start at SVN | SRD? With most of the staff in this office, I have done their job at one point or another. Just whatever needed to be done, I seemed to be that person. Whether it's the mapping program, signs, marketing, photos and video, interviews. I just seem to kind of bounce all over the place. That was done a lot during 2010 to 2013. At that time, I had listings, but you had to work your listings.
What does it mean to work your listings? You had to call all the neighbors, you had to send out mailers, you had to have a target list. You had to really think through “who's going to buy this property?”
We used to do weekly reports of everything that we did. It was just very intense whereas now, you get a listing and it's sold the next day. Everyone's looking. We got a lot of out-of-state buyers, in-state buyers, and a lot of people with 1031 Exchange money. I almost exclusively work with buyers now and 75% of my buyers are 1031 Exchange buyers
What do you specialize in? I do ranches and recreational land. Anyone wanting to hunt, ride their side-by-side, or just own land. I also do farmland and citrus.
I had this beautiful piece of property in Fort Meade where this fishing show had filmed an episode. It was one of my favorite properties that we sold, but it took seven years to sell. The owner actually passed before it was sold, but he wanted a certain number to take care of his wife. We got him that number right as he slipped away. Keat Waldron was the champion on that one. He really came in and helped to get that closed, but I think that's the longest time I had a listing.
When it was all said and done, I made like $2.20 an hour. I calculated it and it was embarrassing, but it was for my client. I built such a relationship with them and I really wanted to help them.
Do you ever run into scammers? I get it probably twice a year. I can tell within five minutes of a conversation if someone is just scamming me. The problem is, “what if they aren't?” I've had instances where I thought someone was a scammer, and they turned out to come buy a $30 million piece of property. “Well, I misjudged that.”
It is actually my largest transaction to date. I've sold some in the $20 millions, a lot in the teens, but I try to focus typically on $5 to $10 million. The clients tend to be more sophisticated and they have the cash to do something.
Can you work remotely? The last three transactions that I've done, have actually been done completely by phone. I’m not joking, three of them bought it sight-unseen. This has been in the last six months.
What's it like working at SVN | SRD? I think we all have a good rapport with each other. Everyone gets along, everyone works together. Some offices are very cutthroat. Here, I find that we end up doing more collaborative things. We’re not getting mad at somebody for losing a listing to somebody else in the office. Typically, if you had a problem with someone like that, you just go, “Hey, I was also working on that,” and the other guy says, “Hop on with me.” We're very collaborative.
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