Adam Gallegos was working for a tech startup when the real estate bug bit.
Gallegos was buying his first home and he decided to do it himself. Handling your own real estate transaction, however, turned out to be pretty complicated. After hitting snag after snag, Gallegos committed himself to putting in the hours of research he needed to get it right.
By the time the deal was done, Gallegos had fallen in love with real estate. He ditched the long office hours of his technology company, got a real estate license and was soon enjoying being out and about, helping people buy and sell homes.
That was ten years ago. Three years later, in 2008, Gallegos got another itch. Entrepreneurial by nature, he left a large real estate firm and founded Arbour Realty.
With Arbour, Gallegos invested less in recruiting other agents to join his firm and more in customer service. Many of his customers were younger, first-time homebuyers, so he focused on education — extensively explaining the home buying process to clients before viewing homes.
“We always start off with, let’s meet at the office, let’s talk about the whole process, let’s talk about anything you have questions about, all your goals,” Gallegos said. “We map out what we’re going to do for those clients, set their expectations correctly, and then do everything we can to exceed those expectations.”
Gallegos also made listening a cornerstone of his business. After each deal closed, he asked for candid feedback from his clients.
“That helped us to improve along the way,” Gallegos said.
Another avenue for client education was his blog. In 2012, Gallegos partnered with ARLnow.com to bring the blog to the entire Arlington community, in the form of his popular Ask Adam column.
“I’d get recognized on the street, it was kind of weird,” he said.
Gallegos still works with first-time homebuyers, but he’s also been working with many of those early clients, who are now second- and third-time homebuyers. The Orange Line condos purchased by those young professionals shortly after the recession have appreciated in value, allowing them to move up to townhouses and single-family homes.
Arbour, meanwhile, was recently acquired by D.C.-based Real Living | At Home. That has allowed Gallegos to focus less on management and get back to being a Realtor first and foremost. He still works out of his Ballston office but can spend more time outside the office, with clients. Plus, the deal has put Real Living | At Home’s resources — including an in-house photographer, videographer and marketing team — at his fingertips.
“When we put a listing on the market, it stands out every time,” Gallegos said.
(This year Gallegos was recognized for leading one of the top real estate teams in the D.C. area by Washingtonian Magazine.)
Gallegos said that while much of his business is north of Route 50, he is seeing interest in south Arlington as a less expensive, “nice alternative market.” That interest has, however, waned just a bit since the cancellation of the streetcar project.
“It’s an alternative for people who would prefer more space, who would prefer not to live in a condominium, but it still gives them a proximity to D.C. and all the places they would like to go,” Gallegos said. “I think that the idea of the streetcar just added… appeal, more value, more interest. I don’t think it has completely taken the air out of Columbia Pike, but there’s not quite the excitement level that there once was.”
Coming from a tech background has helped to give Gallegos what might be a unique perspective among Realtors about the future of technology in real estate.
Gallegos says that technology hasn’t disrupted the real estate industry yet. Buying and selling real estate is still a complex transaction, with or without current tech tools, and those who go it alone, without an agent, encounter numerous headaches and “don’t know who to trust.” But, he says, that will likely change.
“I think there could come a situation where maybe the transactions are handled completely online,” Gallegos said. “I could see a situation happening at some point, in at least some degree. I’m not against that, I think that’s an exciting innovation if we get to that point.”
“I’m sure there are other people in my business who that scares the pants off,” Gallegos continued. “I think with all change there are opportunities. If I were scared of technology, maybe if I was at a different place in my career, that would scare me too, but I invite that sort of change.”
Today, in the real world, however, Gallegos says that there’s no substitute for an experienced agent who will have your back in the biggest transaction of your life.
“If I’m averaging several transactions a month, in comparison to someone who has only bought and sold two or three homes in their lifetime, I’m going to have a huge advantage over that person when it comes to my knowledge of the situation, how to protect my client, how to protect their money, how to negotiate the right price,” he said. “Could [technology] be there in 5-10 years? Possibly, at least to some degree. All I’m saying is that it’s not there yet. ”
The preceding was a sponsored feature written by ARLnow.com.
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