01 Dec Ep. 29 Nate K. Johnson of Real Estate Solutions
In this episode Adam talks to Nate K. Johnson, the President of Real Estate Solutions. Nate has been a proud member of a ton of organizations like the St. Louis Realtors and Adam will attempt to find out about all of them.
Email questions to PODCAST@HermannLondon.com
1:05 The Hermann London Business Planning Retreat is on December 6th
1:18 The Hermann London Sales Meeting and Holiday Party is on December 13th
1:51 Adam’s 4-family unit at 4922 Wise in The Grove is finally rehabbed and on the market
2:25 Adam introduces Nate K. Johnson
3:46 What is the St. Louis Association of Real Estate Professionals
7:26 How did Nate get Adam involved with volunteering with the different real estate associations
10:23 How does getting involved with the association help a Realtor’s business
12:25 What is the Smart Growth Advisory Board
14:35 What can a Realtor do when a city is thinking about allowing something like a Wal-Mart to be built
17:10 Are there any new changes coming to the industry
18:12 What does Nate do with the preservation board
24:14 How did Nate get started in real estate
25:14 Nate serves on the board of TrailNet.org
27:41 Nate owns his own brokerage called Real Estate Solutions
28:51 What are some challenges that come with owning your own company
30:15 Does Nate focus on a certain type of real estate
32:25 Does Nate have a certain way he likes to get business
33:43 Nate’s contact information
35:10 How does Nate balance work and family
40:51 Who lives under Nate’s roof
41:16 Where is Nate at his best
41:47 Does Nate have a favorite blog, podcast, or book
46:43 What is Nate’s guilty pleasure
48:03 Who is Nate’s mentor and how has he thanked them
Adam-Welcome to St. Louis Realtor Podcast live from the rooftop of the Hermann London Real Estate Group in beautiful downtown Maplewood, Missouri! Today is podcast number 29 and it just so happens to be November 29th, 2016, and we have a great podcast for you today. Let me give you a couple updates from the happenings around Hermann London. For us, the market has not slowed down and we’ve been having a ton of closings lately. As some of you may know, I just got back from my honeymoon and my wedding and there was a big stack of HUDs on my desk and we always like that when we come back into town. We’re excited for our upcoming business planning retreat on December 6th. We’re switching up the format and it is going to be an all day event and that day is the awards ceremony and goal setting activity. After that on December 13th we have our company sales meeting and this week it is going to be all about listing presentations. After that we are going to head to Hacienda for the company holiday party. I’ve been meeting with a couple of different agents from our company and making sure that they have their marketing plans intact. It’s interesting to see the different statuses of their businesses and what their goals are and what their plans are and how they want to achieve it. Just a quick update on my latest rehab. We are rehabbing this 4-family building at 4922 Wise in The Grove. We finally completed it and got it on the market. It’s listed for $245,000. Two of the units rent at $615 and two of the units rent at $650. If you have an interested buyer or you want any more information about buying investment properties like this, we’d love to go through the numbers with you. This one is going to be a great cash-flowing property. Without any further ado, we have a very special guest here today. We’ve got Nate Johnson and it’s going take me about half an hour to go through all of Nate’s titles. Nate is the past St. Louis Association of Realtors president from 2011. He is currently a YPN board member. He is the 2016 treasurer for the Missouri Association of Realtors. He is about to be the president-elect of the Missouri Association of Realtors. He is the owner of Real Estate Solutions and he is an okay guy. So how does this work, you are about to be the president-elect? So the president-elect is a position you hold for a year?
Nate-That’s correct. I’ll be president-elect for 2017 and I’ll transition into being president in 2018.
Adam-It is no longer the Missouri Association of Realtors, it is now just Missouri Realtors.
Nate-Yes. It’s a little bit easier to go by Missouri Realtors but we are still an association that serves all of our Realtor members all over the state of Missouri.
Adam-Nate, we are excited to have you. I do have a ton of questions. Thank you for making time. To prepare I looked you up online. You were also the past president of the St. Louis Association of Real Estate Professionals. What is that?
Nate-They are a chapter of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers which is the oldest African American trade association in the country. What we do is look to make sure housing opportunities are available for minorities.
Adam-That’s totally separate from the St. Louis Association of Realtors?
Nate-Absolutely. The Association does partner with the Realtor Association as well but it’s a different organization. It was founded 1947 and as you may know there was a time when African American and other minorities were not able to be members of the St. Louis Association of Realtors or the National Association of Realtors. In fact it wasn’t until the 70’s that African Americans were able to join our association so as a result this organization was formed but it sort of continued because where there was no other association to belong to in 1947, it’s transitioned more into an advocacy group to look out for the concerns of African American home-buyers and sellers.
Adam-I’m kind of without words right now. I’m shocked to find out that African Americans couldn’t be members until the 70’s.
Nate-I know it’s kind of shocking but it’s part of the history of our country and real estate is no different. We’ve seen a lot of segregation throughout the years and we’ve had a lot of challenges and we’ve made a lot of progress. Of course as you know I was the first African American president of the St. Louis Association of Realtors in 2011 and the Association has done a wonderful job of creating inclusion and opportunities for minorities and others to be involved at the association and forward the progress of all citizens here in America.
Adam-Was it like a law they forgot to change?
Nate-No, it was practiced. As you could imagine, similar to many neighborhoods that we’ve seen around the country, even though on the books the rule may have been changed, in practice it still remained the same for years after that.
Adam-I wish I would have prepared so many more questions about that.
Nate-We have a long way to go in our country. I think that is just part of the history but how do we move forward.
Adam-You are a very inclusive person. I was a member of the Association of Realtors for 7 years before you were the president but I never got involved until you appointed me for a few positions. It’s because of you that I am still active. I’m not on the Maris board anymore but I was because of you.
Nate-Thanks. I believe in a big tent philosophy. I know we’ve got a large association and a lot of great talent that exists within it. If I can get more people involved then our association is going to benefit. You never know what talent someone has to bring to the table to help our membership grow. The most important thing is how we are impacting and helping our clients and community.
Adam-What is big tent?
Nate-Instead of having a small group of leaders who make all the decisions, the big tent speaks more to bringing more people in to get their opinions, buy-in, feedback, and skills to help the group grow.
Adam-You have done a great job of that. It’s hard to get people to want to come into the tent and help out.
Nate-It can be challenging. For some people, they feel like they don’t have time to volunteer when they have their own business to focus on but I think that’s a misconception because what I’ve found is that it’s really helped my business get to the next level. I’ve grown professionally, made some great friends, and I’m a much better person and business man.
Adam-Since you mentioned it, why should Realtors get involved in the Association?
Nate-I’ve found that I was able to network with fellow agents that I’m doing business with each day. When you are working on a transaction that you know on the other side it is a much smoother transaction for everyone. I’ve gotten direct business opportunities like referrals. Without my experience in association leadership I may not be comfortable sitting in front of you having this conversation. It’s also great when I can have conversation with my fellow Realtors about their business and the challenges they face and it helps me get to the next level.
Adam-What is the Smart-Growth Advisory Board?
Nate-I’ll be the 2017 Chairman and this is for the National Association of Realtors. We work to educate Realtors on how they can implement more smart-growth principles within their communities and what I mean is how do we build our communities in a sustainable way. We take into account the built spaces and the natural environment to see what is the best use for the community today and into the future. We want to see more density in places that call for that and vast open spaces in places that call for that as well. It’s not about having development taking place haphazardly. In St. Louis we have a beautiful history of historic building and parks and we had some thoughtful architects who thought of that.
Adam-Every municipality has city planning meetings. Do they get Realtors and people from the smart-advisory board involved?
Nate-The smart-advisory board has grants available for local and state initiatives so that they can bring in experts to help them with the planning process. The local Realtors in Carollton, Georgia brought me in to give a presentation to community leaders about smart-growth to make sure they are planning in a smart way. Some of the zoning rules that were in place weren’t quite as appropriate as they should be for building a community in a 21st century way.
Adam-Do you have any tips about any upcoming changes in the industry?
Nate-The St. Louis Association of Realtors has done an amazing job over the last couple years under Sandy Hancock, Barry Upchurch, and John Gormley of reaching out to the community and being engaged at that level. Realtors are all about building communities and helping people achieve their real estate goals. We know that not everyone can afford a home today but by giving back it is a good way to give back.
Adam-You do things outside of real estate. What other stuff do you do?
Nate-I serve on the preservation board for the city of St. Louis and we review plans for improvements to properties that are within historic neighborhoods, review applications for demo, alterations for commercial buildings…
Adam-You must see some interesting buildings. Do builders present their plans to you?
Nate-Yes. What happens with our board is that we are reviewing it strictly for if we are going to permit that type of modification. Sometimes people want to tear down a building as part of a redevelopment plan for the block and it’s up to us to decide whether that is appropriate and if it is a high-merit building. It’s not an easy decision. Sometimes the architecture is beautiful but the structural integrity is not financially feasible to update.
Adam-What kind of people are on that board?
Nate-There is a historic preservation person, architects probably make up a majority of the members, a member of the community that isn’t related to real estate, and our board is about 9 people.
Adam-Did they present the football stadium plans to you?
Nate-It didn’t get far enough. I believe part of that was going to be on vacant ground. If they needed to demolish vacant buildings then that would have come to us.
Adam-That would have been a lot of pressure to make the right call.
Nate-Barnes Jewish Hospital wanted to take down a historic building as part of their redevelopment and the Pevely building was a big deal. What we are looking at are buildings going to conform with historic guidelines. In the East Loop there is going to be a 25-35 story residential building that is going to be constructed and that was a contentious issue because a lot of people didn’t want a building of that scale in the neighborhood.
Adam-That actually seems like a great place to increase the density because of all the stores. Do you get to go and look at the buildings?
Nate-We are blessed to have a great staff that serves and provides a lot detailed information for the board. They actually go out and take photos and do the leg-work and then present us with high-quality reports.
Adam-What did you do prior to real estate? Did you teach toastmaster classes?
Nate-Real estate has always been my thing. When I was 12 I told my mom that we should buy a house so we could rent it out. At the time it was more about buying property as an investor but then once I got my license I just fell in love with helping people buy and sell homes. I invest as well but my passion is in helping people achieve their real estate goals.
Adam-What else do you do outside of real estate?
Nate-I serve on the board for TrailNet which is a great organization that keeps people moving. It is a non-profit that really works to be an advocate for safe walking and biking and mass-transit. One of the big initiatives that we’re working on is to create protected bike lanes so that people feel safe riding bikes. Often when people think about re-locating to another market they want to know what that market is going to offer them and an effective mass-transit system is very important to them. St. Louis’ mass-transit goes to some places but it needs to go to more places and having those protected bike lanes will help people get to where they need in a much safer fashion and that speaks to a more forward thinking community.
Adam-There is a walk-ability score you can assign to properties but is there a bike-ability score?
Nate-No but fortunately when you are on a bike you can pretty much get anywhere a lot faster than on foot.
Adam-On behalf of all Realtors and the members of the public, thank you for all the work that you do. You own Real Estate Solutions. How long have you had that company?
Nate-We are rolling up on 14 here in March.
Adam-Congratulations. What do you like about owning your own brokerage?
Nate-I love being able to help people quite honestly. I didn’t feel that I had a necessity to own my own brokerage but with ownership comes responsibility and being able to make decisions. The most important thing to me is helping my team grown and do good business for the community and being able to make the decisions as it relates to that. If I don’t like the way the company is operating all I have to do is look at the C.E.O. in the mirror and make a change.
Adam-What are some challenges that come with owning your own brokerage?
Nate-I think you have to ask yourself why you want to own your own brokerage. In today’s market there are so many ways you can own your own business without being your own broker. Teams in real estate have become very popular and they are structured in a way that is like having your own company without having the headache of the administrative back-end duties. If someone says they want to own their own brokerage because they want to grow a team you can do that without owning your own brokerage. You can also have your name on the sign without owning a brokerage. If you want to control everything then you probably need to have your own company.
Adam-I noticed your company has all sorts of listings, do you have a focus area?
Nate-No, we do quite a bit of real estate in a variety of different ways. When I first started I worked with a broker and we did home-buyer seminars all over and as a result we would attract business from people who were interested in real estate all over St. Louis city, county, and St. Charles and that’s how our business grew. A majority of our business comes from referrals so when you build networks all over the region then your business comes from all over the region. I took classes in commercial real estate and that took me to another lever of commercial opportunities. With our team of 12 we have people who do have specialties but as an entire company we handle the entire St. Louis and St. Charles region.
Adam-You have an amazing listing in Eminence, Missouri that is a resort with all sorts of cabins and stuff on it so how about we quit our real estate businesses and go run a resort?
Nate-That’s a great investment opportunity for someone who wants that lifestyle. I love the outdoors but after a week of it I’m ready to get back to the city.
Adam-I had a meeting with my mentor today and he mentioned you have to have some mix of time, energy, and money and if you don’t have one then you need to put in more of the others. Do you have a certain way that you like to get business? Referrals and advertising mostly?
Nate-We get most of our business from referrals. You mentioned time being one of those important key factors and that’s extremely important. We’ve got our team built in a way that we’ve bifurcated some of the duties so that our agents don’t have to do everything. We’ve got a great support staff that takes care of a lot of the marketing and administration so they can focus on actually meeting people and helping them achieve their real estate goals. They are not going to be successful if they are spending half of their day working on paperwork in the office. That is not what their skill set is likely going to be.
Adam-How can people get a hold of you? Do you tweet?
Nate-I do have a Twitter account @NateKJohnson. You can find me on Facebook. The phone number is 3145149600.
Adam-Do you Snapchat?
Nate-I just got a Snapchat just to make the silly faces but I don’t think I have any friends.
Adam-Are you on Instagram?
Nate-Yes and I post quite a bit on Instagram.
Adam-How do you balance work and family?
Nate-I will never have the chance to watch my children grown up again but it happens to coincide with me growing my career and I don’t want to miss out on those opportunities too. It’s about working when I’m working and being present with my family when I’m with them. Work is a fluid thing for me because you may see me on Facebook posting that I’m at a festival with my family having a great time but it’s also a networking opportunity. I’m meeting new people and reconnecting with people I know. That is where it crosses over. If you read my newsletter I often will have pictures of me and the family hanging out as part of the events that are happening in St. Louis. When I’m at home having dinner with my family I’m not answering my phone.
Adam-You’ve set some time management rules when you are at home.
Nate-That’s right. We have certain situations where we know I will have to take a call when it comes in tonight but what I don’t do is have that as a normal occurrence and have that as part of my business. You will never see any advertisement that says I’m your man any time of the day. I’m on your man during business hours weekdays and not even all the time on the weekends but I’m going to do a great job for you all the time. You don’t have real estate emergencies at 11 o’clock at night. Realtors often put themselves at a disadvantage by saying they will be there all the time so when you set those expectations for your clients and they call you at 9 o’clock at night and you don’t answer you have upset somebody.
Adam-You’ve set up a great team so it is not like things are falling between the cracks.
Nate-I really want to do all that I can to focus on my unique zone of genius so I want to do the things that I do best and I want to let my team do what they are best at. I have an amazing team around me and we support each other.
Adam-Anything else you want to mention before I jump into my 5 questions I ask every guest?
Nate-I just want to thank you for having me on the show. This has been a great experience. I’m glad that you are involved in the Realtor community and the Hermann London Group is a great company. I’m glad to see that you’ve had success and I’m sure you will continue for years to come.
Adam-People ask me why I would want to have a Realtor from another company on the show and it is because I’m like you. I’m inclusive and I think we can all learn from each other. Having this microphone in front of me gives me the opportunity to have this conversation with someone like you. Maybe you would have gone and gotten a beer with me today but through the podcast I’ve gotten to meet, interview, and learn from a lot of interesting people. Thank you for being here. Who lives under your roof?
Nate-Me, my wife, my two children, and my cat.
Adam-You are a cat guy? I thought you had a dog?
Nate-Unfortunately our dog just passed away a couple of months ago.
Adam-I’m sorry to hear that. Dogs are the best. Where are you your best?
Nate-I’m my best when I am in front of a group of people. I feel that talking with people and having conversations face to face whether it’s one on one or 500 I am at my best.
Adam-Do you have a favorite blog or podcast?
Nate-As a Realtor you know that I’m in my car quite a bit and I have a tendency to travel quite a bit so I’ve got a lot of plane time so as a result I tend to be a podcast junkie. I really enjoy the Tim Ferriss Show, Marketplace from NPR, This American Life, Radio Lab,and Malcolm Gladwell’s. I would prefer to listen to a podcast than to watch something on TV because when you are listening to a very thoughtful story they have a lot more time to really develop the story and articulating a point.
Adam-Do you have a favorite book that really impacted you?
Nate-What jumped out at me was The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. It really typifies my marketing strategy and how I work with people. Another great book is 15 Great Commitments of Conscious Leadership : A New Paradigm for Sustainable Success and it has a plethora of authors. It’s a really insightful book for anyone who is involved in any level of leadership. I listen to 2 or 3 books a month and one I finished recently was the Surrender Experiment : My Journey into Life’s Perfection by Michael A. Singer. He takes you through his journey to becoming C.E.O. of a major corporation. No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering by Thich Nhat Hanh helps me to appreciate life and will read it before bed.
Adam-I’ve got a lot of books to listen to now. What is your guilty pleasure?
Nate-Sometimes I get caught up on some TV shows and I will binge watch them in the middle of the night. Depending on what’s going on I will latch on to a show and watch it and watch it and I’m often very far behind. Right now I’m watching Homeland in the middle of the night. Sometimes I like thinking about someone else’s problems that are much more difficult than mine and not think about anything going on in my life for a little while.
Adam-Who is your mentor and how have you thanked them?
Nate-What I like to think is that the world is my mentor. I think of so many people. I’ve been blessed to have had an opportunity to meet and become friends with so many amazing people and I always get a little bit from them as far as what’s made them successful. I always want to make sure that I’m helping somebody else as a way to give back. We are all in this together as a community and if we are all working together to get somebody to the next level then that is best gift I can give.
Adam-Thank you Nate for being on the show today. Nate K. Johnson for anyone looking for you on social media. If anyone has a suggestion just email PODCAST@HermannLondon.com . Take care.