From a young age, Senior Advisor Keat Waldon, ALC knew he wanted to establish a career in real estate. With his history in ranch and agriculture, Keat naturally landed in land brokerage and has found success.
Below is an excerpt from the interview. Listen above for the full podcast.
How did you get started with SVN | SRD? I started sometime in the late fall of 2018. I knew Dean [Saunders] from a few years prior and just kept in touch. I just had a feeling that I would end up here eventually.
Where it really started was when [Dean] sold Blue Head Ranch in Highlands County. I was in high school at the time and that was the recognition of “Dean Saunders, the land guy.” My dad actually scheduled a meeting with Dean who ended up listing our property.
At that time the listing agents were a real trio. It was Richard Dempsey, David Hungerford, and Trent Saunders. I was there just showing them around.
Was your family involved in land brokerage? We've always owned land and invested in land. My dad grew up in Lorida where my grandfather was a chicken farmer. So we come from an agricultural and ranchland background. My grandfather always had cattle. My dad rodeoed when he was younger, but got injured at one point. That was a life changing moment that really got him into chiropractic college and pursuing that career.
We've always been Ag people and I grew up on a small ranch; hunting and fishing. I would learn how to feed cows and how to take care of other chores - the “typical farmer” lifestyle.
Did you always want to get into brokerage? I've known since late high school that real estate was something I would end up doing. Honestly, there were not many things that changed my mind throughout my college career even. It was always real estate versus something else like financial advising.
What did you study? I started out as a finance major at the University of Florida and ended as a Food & Resource Economics major in the College of Agriculture. I thought finance was a good business-rounded degree and it definitely benefited me a lot. Going over to FRE, it was definitely a little bit more relaxed, but it had that agriculture incorporation. I feel like it all ended as it should.
What is ALC? ALC stands for Accredited Land Consultant. I received my ALC designation last year, shortly after making the trip to Tennessee. I completed the courses there and took the exams. I had met all the other requirements when I submitted my portfolio. Once they reviewed everything and gave me the designation, they said, “by the way, you're the youngest Accredited Land Consultant in the state of Florida.” It's one of those things that I’m obviously proud of, but I didn't expect it. Now, I think Zeb [Griffin] is officially the youngest ALC in the state. So now he wears the “crown”.
How did you find your place within the firm? It's all come together since 2018. The latter half of that year was getting acclimated in a sales position. Being a real estate agent, you're strictly judged and you make your living off your sales performance. It's tough at first, but I persevered.
It was definitely not all me. This company gave me anything and everything I could have asked for in terms of a team, people surrounding me, and just enjoying being here. There's not a single person in this office that I dislike. We're a pretty drama free office. There’s just a lot of people with similar interests and even non-similar interests which keeps things entertaining.
We got some studs in our office when it comes to performance and sales volume. I do think for being as early in my career as I am, I think I've done above average. Just in overall sales, I'm fully focused.
How do you gain clients’ trust? When I graduated, this was it. Real estate was going to be one of my focuses, but everyone had that idea about agents of: Are they part time? Are they full time? When you're speaking with clients, you have to let them know that this is your full time job and that you are fully dedicated to serving them and their needs. Just going above and beyond to make sure you're meeting expectations.
Real Estate vs. Sales. Sales differs from industry to industry and so do the kind of people. You do have “salesy” people where a lot of clients get phone calls every day from people who are just dialing for dollars. I think within the real estate industry, there is definitely that connotation. But until you're in the middle of it, people don't realize just how genuine of an industry it can be. I've never thought that real estate agents were salesy, but at least specifically tied to the niche market that we deal in, I've met a lot of great, very intelligent, and genuine people that are really looking out for their clients' best interests. I've been very pleased that I've had many more great experiences than not when working with other brokers.
Why do you focus on land? Specifically, ranch and recreational tracks are what I love. Over the past couple of years, I've gotten into a few more transitional sales as you have to be focused on that sector given the environment that we're in. With the growth that we've seen over the past few years, I think anyone who is in the land space can't focus on just one type or one segment of that market. You have to expand a little bit because there'll be times where certain sectors of the market will be moving quicker than others. You want to be able to gravitate to those areas where there's higher volume or maybe just more demand.
Just like in the stock market, sometimes stock markets move sideways and there's not a lot of trading action going on. But when that market gets volatile and it's moving up and down like it's been recently, you have a lot more people getting in on the trading action. So as volatile as this market has been in the past few years, you've also seen a lot more people getting into the real estate business.
What do you foresee in the next year? I definitely have greater recessionary fears going into 2023 than I did this past year. I was fairly confident coming into 2022 that not much was going to change. There has been a lot more pressure going into the latter half of 2022, but it'll be some time before we really see it in our space. There's little signs here and there that I probably can't comment on as much, but I do see demand drawing down by June of next year.
When is the best time to sell? It's very interesting to see the different expectation levels that you experience with people. Especially in this market, expectations have been so much higher over the past few years. Everyone thinks they can continue to get more and more so they wait. They think this thing is just going to keep going to the moon. We've been trying to tell people that the ride isn't gonna last forever. We are going to deal with a pullback. If you are considering selling, now's a great time. I sound like a salesman, but now is a great time and the market is great.
Why should you hire a broker? People like Dean [Saunders], Todd [Dantzler], Gary [Ralston], and many of the well tenured agents in our office have been doing this for decades. I'm just a new guy here and I have my little tidbits here and there, but I take that all into consideration. When you track values as closely as our company has for many decades now, we know what we're talking about.
You'll never learn in a classroom what you will from real world experience. Every industry is different, but at least pertaining to real estate, there's always something new to learn in conversations with attorneys, landowners, or other agents.
Land transactions are so much fun. That's the whole reason why I love this business. These are the kinds of people that I've grown up around. Ranchers and outdoorsmen. You get to surround yourself with things and people that you're familiar with. I've grown up on ranch land and it's just what I've gravitated toward.
Listen and subscribe to In Our Expert Opinion