Real Estate Agent Podcast 49: Stacy Bahrenfuss
I’ve set up a system that works for me, which is focusing on what you're grateful for. When you do that, the mind naturally goes into a positive space.
About This Episode
Stacy became an agent at 19 years old and pretty quickly was tossed into the maelstrom of the Great Recession. She persisted, stayed motivated, and formed a great team to help her reach for ever bigger goals.
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JON: Hello and welcome to Shop Talk: The Real Estate Show. I’m Jon Forisha and joining me on this episode is Stacy Bahrenfuss. Stacy is the founder and CEO of Catalyst Group and the creator of the Limitless Realtor Circle, and she’s been an agent since she was 19.
JON: Thank you, Stacy, for joining me.
STACY: Thank you for having me, Jon. I'm happy to be here.
JON: Awesome. So how did you get started in real estate?
STACY: So it was pretty I'll say accidental. I was, I was 17. I was joking with some of my friends and as a senior in high school and applied to be a salesperson at a local resort real estate office. And they ended up hiring me as the sales coordinators assistant at the time. And so I just fell in love with it right away. It was a natural progression for me and I saw a gap that I felt I could fill and could change, which was just, you know, how consumers were, were being treated then. And just seeing that, you know, real estate agents also didn't have a lot of training available. And so that's how I got into it. And then got licensed in 2006 about a year and a half later and started my business, The Catalyst Group.
JON: Awesome. And so you, did you actually started your business at 19? Is that right?
STACY: Yes, that's correct.
JON: Wow. what kinds of challenges did you experience starting so young?
STACY: Yeah. So just back to my point, you know, of not necessarily having all the tools from real estate school, as far as like, you know, the things you need to know, like how do you set up your company tax? Do you do an s-corp? Do you do a c-corp those kinds of things? I wish I would have known, you know, so that just, I mean little challenges like that, but I luckily was able to align with a great mentor that taught me those fundamental pieces of no matter what the market's doing, run your business like a business and you'll get, you know, those results. I think that w so what I had done to combat the challenges of me, basically every day, you get fired and rehired, as a real estate agent. Right. So you have a closing, you're unemployed, and you'll get a new client, you know, so it's that cycle. And so to maintain that mindset and you know, keep on keeping on, I definitely resorted to creating systems for myself so that I didn't see the peaks and valleys. You know, I started in 2006 and shortly thereafter we had the recession. And so those methodologies that I put in place from systems, how to generate business, but also to maintain my energy and my mindset and all of that helped me combat the challenges day to day of real estate.
JON: Definitely. Yeah. That timing was not great in retrospect, but you know, nothing you can do about that. So what can agents do to remain positive in the face of uncertainty? It sounds like you probably had a lot of it pretty early on.
STACY: Yes, definitely. You know, creating, like I said, that mindset practice and something that you do every single day, that can be your ritual. That can be almost like that place that you can go to, if things get challenging or difficult. And what that looks like is, you know, I set up a system that works for me, which is, you know, focusing on what you're grateful for. When you do that, the mind naturally goes into a positive space and then making sure you have your goals front and center, you can focus on them and stay, you know, just positive in the pursuit of that bigger dream and outcome that you want to achieve. And keep your focus there. You know, one thing that we, I think are, are mistaken about is that the external situations, whether it's the market or a hard client, create how we feel. And so we just need to flip that and understand that you have a new choice every single day, and you get the opportunity to be better than the day before. And so if you just really keep that focus, anything can come at you and you'll stay strong and keep producing and be successful in the process.
JON: Yeah. That's great. I mean, especially in an industry where you are your business, you've got to stay positive.
STACY: Right. Yeah. And I think that, you know, in, as a real estate agent, as a, as whether you're a team leader, if you're on a team, it doesn't matter your role. You have to adopt the mindset that you are the owner of that role or the team, you know, and just step into the responsibility of that and, you know, promote yourself to that higher level. And that also just keeps your expectation of yourself high, which, you know, if you keep that focus along with the positive focus, you'll keep performing at that high level.
JON: Definitely. So how much does having a daily schedule play into your success?
STACY: It is honestly everything to me. I mean, it's, it's something I was talking about this this morning. It's, it's so important because, if you have the structure, if you have a schedule, it helps you stay on track, similar to the bumpers on the bowling lane, right? There isn't anywhere that you can go off track if you have that structure in place. So I have my schedule booked out the simple things, you know, wake up at 6:00 AM and then I'm my workout meditation into even saying, getting ready on my calendar. Just because I don't have to think. It's like, if you set that calendar every day, it's one less thing that you have to exert energy on. And as a sales person and real estate sales person, that's what, honestly, one of the only things that we have control over right, is what our energy is, what our actions are and what we're thinking. And so that's a really great way I've found to manage my energy and also keep the focus to make I'm doing the things each day that actually equal the results that I want to achieve because in our business, it's easy to get off track with that.
JON: Yeah. How do you attribute an action to the desired result? This action is worth it for me to get to this result or maybe it's not.
STACY: Yes. Yeah. So producing business and profit producing activities, you know, you've all heard of that, but it can sometimes be this far out concept. And so looking at it very simply from the standpoint of what are you doing to serve people each day, that's kind of like my shortcut of, you know, how many people have I spoken to. So that action equals the result of if I'm talking to 20 people that are new connections each week, that is going to result in a higher number of conversions to actual buyers and sellers. And so that's just an easy thing to take into consideration is how much action have I taken each week. That's actually with people talking about real estate, asking how I can help and serve them.
JON: Yeah. Yeah. That's a great thing to keep track of. So for new agents, if somebody just is starting out just building up their business, how can they get out of a mindset of scarcity and fear that might be hurting them in the long run?
STACY: Yes, absolutely. So first what you have to know is fear is always going to be there, which is great because it will protect us. If we're about to go off a cliff, it will keep us safe. Right? So as a new agent, the sooner that you can implement a schedule and stick to that daily schedule, the quicker to success you're going to be. So adopt that schedule and take action every single day, but be sure to be focused in your action. In real estate, because there's just so many options, you know, we could do for sale by owners, builders, sphere of influence. There's just so many options as far as how to meet people and how to help people. It's really important that you choose no more than three sources. And sources I mean, that you're doing for sale by owners, open houses or builders as an example. No more than three, because then you can become an expert and be the one and only in whatever one of those three that you enjoy. And, you know, you see the results in and execute that day in and day out and really get yourself into the habits of, you know, connecting with new people about real estate each week, doing that combined with having a schedule and just, you know, tracking that a lot of a lot of times in sales, you know, metrics is a hard conversation to have, but the sooner that you can use that schedule and use it as your tracking system to reflect on, okay, last week I made three calls that didn't work. This week, I'm going to double that. You know, really using that to build your business is something that I think you can do right away. It's free on Google calendar or whatever, you know, service to, to build that system for yourself.
JON: Hmm. Yeah, it sounds really helpful. So you mentioned when you first got into real estate that you felt like the training was kind of incomplete what do you think is something missing from most realtors' education?
STACY: Yes. So there's two things and I've tested this theory on seasoned agents that are selling multiple millions every year to brand new agents and the consistency is missing. And under that under consistency is the systems, right? We don't have a structure systems of what standards need to be. And the second thing is mindset. And so that's what I'm really excited to bring to the industry and to realtors all over the nation and globe, is just this idea of, if you can implement this, even as a seasoned agent, you know, you're already making the money, but maybe you've lost the time with your family. So you can put this system in place to be able to you know, build the, the life now that you want, because you have the business that you've wanted as a seasoned agent. As a new agent, you know, it just helps you get that system from the get go. And that system is, you know, that, that training that's missing on who to call, what to say, how many calls you make, you know, the typical what, you know, needs to happen to generate business.
JON: Yeah. And you're going along with that mindset, that mindfulness you're an advocate of meditation, right? So where does that play a role?
STACY: Yeah. So what what's interesting is it's, it's been the fuel to the fire for sure. Like the more that I have integrated, and it's not a long practice, it's sometimes a three-minute practice in the morning. It just is such a way to center myself and it's helped me come from a more clear and calm inner state, which has affected my team, my clients, I'm able to connect to what they're really wanting more and also be more in tune to some blind spots maybe that they're not seeing from a coaching mentoring perspective.
JON: Yeah. And I'm sure it helps to just sort of slow down when everything's moving so fast.
STACY: Yeah. So, okay. Let's talk about your team. How did you build out your team and how do you advise other people to build out their team?
STACY: Yes. Yeah. So when I originally started, I do not suggest doing it the way that I did, which was, I opened a page to a real estate book, saw the org chart and, and built from there. I like to go direct. So obviously learned a lot through that process, but in building a team what I highly recommend is write out everything that you're doing every day. And then from that list, remove everything that isn't profit producing. Like I was talking about earlier, you know, anything that's not with your people or meeting new people, and then try to divide that into the different roles that you would potentially, you know, bring on. And so when you're building your team, it's important to you know, have that clarity of, okay, these are the roles that I'm fulfilling, and this is how my systems are going to work.
STACY: Because one thing that I learned in the process of, of building teams and, you know, expanding and contracting and, and all of that is that I set that pace right. As the leader, you, you set that pace, you set those expectations. And a lot of times in real estate, we're all going so fast that it's like, Oh, just come on and, and do this part, but you don't take the time to really set it up. So I highly recommend, you know, taking a few hours and just at first thinking about that, and then of course investing more time to set up the team so that it's clear of how the roles work, who reports to who and then also what is it that they are going to also contribute to the company so that you're able to, you know, really come together as a team and be more cohesive than just, you know, hiring people, you create a culture of connection and that anything's possible.
JON: Yeah. I think the goal setting is huge. Like you said, because without goals, people maybe don't feel as fulfilled as they might in their role, especially if you're just trying to add people to the team. So as a team leader, how can you better empower your agents?
STACY: Yes. So a couple of things you know, is having them own their roles and trusting them, you know, to fall, to make mistakes. You know, I often think of the analogy of, you know, how many times do we let a baby try to walk until they, you know, do end up walking and it's like, well, you don't tell them, sorry, you've tried a hundred times. You can't walk. You know, it's like, we let them fall as many times. And I think that's, that's the biggest shift that I have made, and other team leaders can make, is just, you know, understanding that if you truly empower them and take the time to train your people, let it go and let them, you know, bring their own personality to it. It might not be exactly how, you know, you would do it, but as long as it's that culture fit and we're still taking, you know, you're taking care of clients at the highest level, they have some, a lot better ideas than you think, and also can contribute at a high level. And they'll bring up stuff that you don't even think about. And then you just can again, create that, that like that synergy where, you know, you'll bring something up. I have a joke with one of my teammates now where we joke we have we're reading each other's minds because I've given him this opportunity to own his role in such a way. And so he's bringing ideas to me that I wouldn't even think of. And you create that synergy together.
JON: Yeah. That's great advice for any team.
STACY: And I would also just add something too, is it's not about you, you know, and I think that that's something that we don't necessarily have the distinction about right away is, you know, we were building this team because we're too busy and, you know, we need to get this help. And, and I think one other big shift as an agent or team lead is, is just, you know, thinking about things from the perspective of how can I serve your team members versus what are they doing for me.
JON: Yeah. So how can agents overall provide even better service to their clientele?
STACY: Yes. So over communicate, you know, that's one thing that a lot of times, you know, you, you assume you think you may think that someone understands something and even if you have the most savvy investor or client that has sold so many homes, explain everything to them and just explain, you know, I know that you are experienced in this, but it's my duty to explain every little thing so that you aren't caught off guard that shows them a level of professionalism that is so unique to the industry. And if we all start doing that, that will raise that standard, which is what we all want. Ultimately. so communication is huge, you know, follow up is also in that same vein of follow up and follow up again. And also to look at all of the facets of a real estate transaction, title, inspection lender, look at all of that as if you're leading this ship of, of people of services for your client. And don't be afraid to open lines of communication with each of those, you know, even if you're on the seller side by your side, so that everything is very cohesive and you're leading it, you know, I think a lot of times it's easy to say, Oh, you know, the lender is taking care of that. Just make sure you close all those loops. And so that's really a way that we can take care of clients at a higher level and still get their results quickly.
JON: Definitely. Yeah. Great advice. Okay. So I'm going to shift a little bit here. So you purchased a development and built 11 custom homes which was a multimillion dollar project. Right? So how did you seize that opportunity and what advice would you have if somebody wanted to start getting into more investment real estate like that?
STACY: Yes. Yeah. So this is one of my favorite stories. So I was at the time, actually it was August, 2018. And I was about at the end of my commercial lease on our office space. So I was looking at buildings, should we build, you know, just the options. And I called a gentleman that had some units available and asked him if he had commercial space. He said, well, why don't you come by my office? And so I said, yes, went by his office. We talked about the commercial space and he didn't have anything that was available, but he did then say that he had this infill project in the heart of Eagle, which is like, there isn't land to build in this section. But he had this infill project that was just kind of a thorn in his side. And as he spoke, I thought to myself, okay, I don't know how I'm going to do this, but these numbers are awesome and I'm going to make an offer.
STACY: So I said, let me drive by, I'm going to check it out. So everything added up and I ended up going forward and making the offer in my name personally. The original purchase was the lots. I had no idea, none what I was going to do to make, get this money. If I was getting alone, I had zero there. Okay. I just took that first step and the subdivision. So he was taking it through the final engineering and that was his role. And so that ended up taking from August to late November. And so in that timeframe, I called every lender that I know locally. I called, I mean, there's all these people, you know, that they're hard, money lenders, locally, private people. Everyone said, no, I, every door was closing and closing. And basically that's stressful because I've just committed to a whole lot of money to make this happen.
STACY: And so, but my intention was strong and that's something that by the end of the story, you'll understand a deeper level, how important that is. I don't know how I'm going to do this, but I know I'm going to do this. I believe in myself and I'm gonna figure it out. So randomly a friend comes in and he just stops by my office to say, hello, I share what I'm doing. And he says, you know what, I'm going to connect you to this guy who knows this other guy. And anyway, ended up connecting to a lender out of Seattle that not only funded the purchase of the land for me, but funded the construction financing for all 11 houses. And so just, you know, that's a story of, of don't give up and just keep showing up and doing everything you possibly can and the world and universe, it does line out, you know, more opportunities for you to make stuff happen. So we, I ended up closing at the end of actually new years, 2018, 2019. And then we started construction on the houses February of 2019 and finished them all in less than nine months, you know, couldn't have done it without my general contractor and yeah. Beautiful custom homes.
JON: Wow. And have you sold all of those?
STACY: So I have, so I actually have five left. Six have closed. I had just got an offer actually yesterday on, on one. So yeah, I'm turning a couple into a short term rental right now just because that's, that's pretty popular. But, but ultimately like I want to sell all of these houses, so that's on its way.
JON: So would you take on more of these kinds of projects in the future? Do you want to?
STACY: Yes. Yeah, I definitely would. And of course through the process, I I've learned so much of you know, just timing things in such a way. It was interesting because I mean, I thought these houses were going to fly off the market and they were all done, you know, late last fall and our market was super hot and I'm watching all of, all my other listings sell everyone else's house to sell. And I am here with, you know, nine houses. I'm like, okay, what's happening. But just going through that process. Yeah. I'd definitely do it again. And I also would, you know, apply everything I've learned as you do, you know, as you go through situations in life. Yeah. Yeah.
JON: Do you know why those the original lenders you reached out to why they said no?
STACY: Yeah. So as, I mean, I've had my business for at the time it was 13 years. And so, but I didn't have the history of actually building. I'd worked with builders, worked with developers. That's been constant since I started. But it was just, yeah, because of that reason. So now what's great is I could just go really to any lender and get financing, which I'm already doing on something else. So it's good in that way.
JON: Yeah. You just have to get the first one done, right?
STACY: Yes. Yeah, exactly. And have that bigger perspective, you know, it's like, okay, this, this may be taking longer than I wanted or might not be going in exactly the way I wanted, but that bigger picture it's preparing me for that.
JON: Yeah. Wow. That's a great story. Very cool.
STACY: Coincidences are yes. The world always happening for you, right? Life is happening for you. It's kind of crazy.
JON: Yeah. So as somebody who led her business through the great recession do you have any advice for how agents should be approaching our current events, you know, with coronavirus and everything happening around that?
STACY: Definitely. So first I would just want to speak to no matter what market we're in, if you can run your business like a business, that is the most important thing. So I'm going to just separate COVID out for a second because it is something we, a lot of us have never been through. None of us have been through. And so running it like a business, no matter what means that if the market is good and you, your phone is just ringing off the hook, people are calling wanting to buy, sell. You're not forced to be in your office for that dedicated time each day, track your numbers, do those outgoing calls or that networking opportunity because you have all that coming in. So my suggestion is to always make sure, even if it's blocked out differently, like if you have a client, you know, for Monday and Tuesday, which you're unable to be in the office because you're helping them buy and sell, make sure that you have Thursday, Friday of that week, where you're doing those outgoing messaging calls, outgoing efforts to generate business because you'll thank me later that will just fill your pipeline no matter what.
STACY: So that, that is the biggest thing, because I went through that, that's something that obviously I lived through, I applied and my business grew year over year during that great recession where I was watching agents that had been in the business for years getting out. And I completely, you know, put that towards running like a business and doing that consistently. As we learn this new normal, you know, with, with COVID and, and adopting and adapting to the new normal integrating the virtual side of things is super important if you're not doing that. So what I mean by that is make sure that you are utilizing videos, you know, that you're familiar with the lives and all of these tools that are available. You know, if, if you use Facebook live out at your open house, just think about that, that you are actually having whatever your platform is. Let's say you have 500 friends, you have basically an open house that is being viewed by that many people instead of waiting for three hours and hoping someone comes in, you know, and so utilizing technology that we have in those types of ways is something I highly recommend. And I think that COVID has made us stop and just think about things differently so that we can be more effective because they're definitely in real estate as a lot of inefficiencies, because you know, it is contract based and, you know, with the state regulations and everything. So I think that it's been great to speed things up in that way.
JON: Yeah, definitely. Okay. Well, this last question is one that I ask of all of my guests. If you could go back to the beginning of your career and change one thing, what would it be?
STACY: To trust myself and, and just not question as much, you know, I, I spend a lot of time in my early years wanting to be prepared. And so I would sit and literally map out how a situation could go so that I would be prepared for the client, you know, no matter what. And I would just lean into the moment more, you know, and, and not question as much and know that I would figure it out and always have my client's best interests at heart.
JON: Definitely. That's hard to do in the moment. Yes. Okay. Stacy. Well, it's been a pleasure. If somebody would like to learn more about you, where can they go?
STACY: They can go to limitlessrealtorcircle.com. That's where the education training and coaching is available and then catalystidaho.com is our residential real estate site.
JON: Okay, great. Thank you.
STACY: Thank you.
JON: That’s it for this episode of Shop Talk, thanks for listening! If you enjoyed the talk, then please do shout it from the rooftops. Tell your friends, tell your neighbor, tell all your happy clients. You can also leave us a review on your podcast player of choice. Shop Talk is a production of The CE Shop.