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How to Earn Big-Ticket Listings Early in Your Career

Satya Voleti
Find out how this broker-associate earned the nickname “The Million Dollar Man.”

I’m the kind of person who likes to shoot for the stars. I don’t ever settle for less, and this philosophy holds true in both my professional and personal life. It only made sense that when I got into real estate I started to aim high early in my career. And the payoffs have been significant. I’ve been selling real estate here in Florida since 2002, and in May 2006, I closed one of the largest transactions ever recorded in Charlotte County.

It was a $25 million, 129-acre commercial deal that was originally listed for $26 million. Local real estate professionals were surprised when it hit the market at that price, wondering who in the world was going to have the means and impetus to buy it. Three contracts on the property were written and fell through, but the fourth one—from Punta Gorda I-75 Corp.—stuck.

Along the way, I’ve listed and sold dozens of multimillion-dollar properties, hence my office nickname, “The Million Dollar Man.” Here are four strategies I use on a daily basis to live up to that moniker:

1. Aim for the Big League 
Some sales associates prefer to work the smaller, sub-$1 million transactions, and they do just fine with them. Early in my career, I realized that the smaller-scale transactions required too much work for the money, and that I had to close too many of them to assemble a desirable income. When you compare the time it takes to close the deals versus the money you make in return, larger deals translate into higher payoffs. That’s because the process takes about the same amount of time for any transaction. For example, my $25 million deal took just 105 days from date of contract to closing.

So I shot higher, starting with the $1 million and $2 million deals—both residential and commercial—and working my way up the ladder to that recent big-ticket prize. Once I had a few of these successful sales under my belt, I was able to attract other clients whose properties fell into that ballpark. It just blossomed from there.

To get there, I’ve relied on referrals from active and former clients, networking and niche marketing to groups like the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin and the Telugu Association of North America. I use large signs when leasing or selling property, rely on e-mail to network with other commercial real estate professionals and take advantage of placing my listings on Web sites like CCIM.net and the Costar Group Commercial Real Estate Co.

2. Negotiate Powerfully
When I’m helping my customers buy property, I make sure they don’t pay a penny more than they have to by relying on my market knowledge to create a deal that works in their favor. When I’m helping my clients sell property, I’m there to ensure that they receive the maximum amount for their properties, again by using my market knowledge and experience to negotiate. Some of the tools I use in both instances include investment analysis and user decision analysis (for commercial investment real estate) and cap rate and rate of return on investment (for investment real estate).

On land purchases, I do everything from environmental to wetland studies. If there are any significant problems, I try to renegotiate and reduce the price if the final usage of the land doesn’t reflect the purpose originally proposed. When I’m representing the buyer of a residential property, I try to renegotiate if the home inspection report shows any significant problems. When listing a residential property, I use a comparative marketing analysis (CMA) to justify the listing price. Armed with this information, I’m able to dig in and fight hard to ensure my clients receive what they deserve.

3. Continue Your Education
I’m a member of the Indian Institute of Real Estate, the International Real Estate Federation and the Asian Real Estate Association of America. I’m also a Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM), a Graduate, Realtor Institute (GRI), an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) and a Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS); I hold an At Home With Diversity (AHWD) designation and Transnational Referral Certification (TRC), and I’m in the process of getting my Certified Property Manager (CPM) designation.

These involvements provide educational opportunities, but also lead to valuable networking connections.

If one of my clients has property to sell in Arizona, I can contact a local CCIM to list it, and when it closes, I receive a referral fee. I also get frequent referrals and business deals from the Indian Institute of Real Estate.

4. Take “Me Time” Every Day
To get my mind ready to put together large transactions, I start my day at 4 a.m. with a five-mile walk, during which time I can clear my head and start organizing the day ahead and visualizing just how successful I’m going to be at getting those tasks completed. I also cultivate my spiritual side through daily prayer, and I read philosophical books written by professionals who’ve worked their way up the ladder using hard work and integrity, which helps keep me focused and on track both in life and in my career.

I’m in the office by 7 a.m., working on current transactions and talking to clients and customers from all over the world.

If exercise isn’t your thing, take time to read, write in a journal and/or spend time with friends and family in order to keep your life balanced and maintain your good health as you strive for those million-dollar real estate transactions.

I see my success in real estate as an inspirational story for others to follow. I immigrated to this country from India in 1982, and I continue to work to achieve my goals. To come out a winner, anyone struggling in the real estate industry can begin using the principles I’ve outlined here by applying them to their own situations.

Satya Voleti is an associate broker at Dynamic Realty of Florida in Port Charlotte. An immigrant from India, Voleti held his first real estate license in New York in 1983 and moved to Florida in 2002. At press time, he had closed $28 million in sales in 2006, the bulk of which involved sales prices exceeding $1 million.