“It's a beautiful thing to watch people come together for a bigger picture in such an individualized industry,” said Jonathan Lickstein, managing broker at LoKation Real Estate. In a wide-ranging interview with RentSpree CEO Michael Lucarelli on the Closing Time podcast, Lickstein talked about the importance of mentoring, coaching and work-life balance to the growth of his firm.
Lickstein also talked about the real estate school he started to serve the ongoing interest in the real estate industry that came about as a result of the unprecedented activity during the pandemic market.
“There's been approximately one and a half to two times as many people getting licensed as we saw the year before and the year before that. So there's an incredible amount of ‘greenness’ to our marketplace. A big focus has been placed on new agents and really a boot camp or crash course of what they'll need to be able to effectively represent someone through the rental process and writing an offer, a [RentSpree] screening package and application, through writing a lease, and all of the standard forms,” said Lickstein.
“We try to get mentors to work with all of our new agents coming into the marketplace. So, if someone wants to go into that mentorship program, we have our top producing list from the year prior and we ask all of them to mentor one new agent in the coming year, to bring them in and make it professional.” In return, Lickstein incentivizes mentors with a portion of the first three commission splits for those they mentor.
Work-life balance builds better real estate careers
In addition to education and training, Lickstein emphasizes ongoing personal and professional development including attention to the importance of work-life balance.
“Regardless of the industry that you're in, [it’s important to find] that work-life home balance. You can work yourself to the bone and miss so many meaningful parts of life. By finding that comfortable balance, you're recharging yourself each day, taking that time on your own,” said Lickstein.
“When you're at work, the most important thing I can tell you is it's not about you,” he said. “You can only do so much as one person. Find good people to surround yourself [with], sometimes even at risk of hiring ahead of the need, before you run yourself to that point. It allows you to grow to bigger heights. Finding good people around you is probably the best piece of advice.”
“If you're a good agent, you could be a great agent. If you're a great agent, you could double what you're doing and affect other people's lives at the same time,” said Lickstein.
Having grown from 17 agents to nearly 2700 agents in just over 12 years, currently in Florida, Georgia, and Colorado, with “a couple more [states] in the Southeast here on the horizon,” LoKation Real Estate centralizes operations in Florida with state-by-state compliance, mentoring and education. In order to streamline growth, Lickstein emphasizes the importance of planning prior to expansion.
“If you go into a new area and you kind of just stumble your way through and try and figure it out, you will in the end, but it's gonna cost you quite a bit in overhead trying to get to that point. Think about how you're gonna do it before you do it. Set your systems up to be remote.”
Technology is the cornerstone of effective expansion
Lickstein believes that the “industry, as a whole needs to get more and more focused on technology and data and how to leverage that data for their benefit … in order to increase revenue potential, capture rates, or even just to assist the customers even more.”
LoKation’s tech infrastructure and web-based platform allowed them to weather the early days of the pandemic, communicating more efficiently, exchanging referrals and providing support to agents. While some brokerages struggle to get agents to adopt their technology and use it consistently, Lickstein and LoKation don’t see that type of reluctance among their agents.
“If you create a positive user experience with information that is useful to an agent,” they’re getting everything they need in one spot, said Lickstein. “When it ties together, whether it's the tenant screening like we have with [RentSpree], it's super efficient. It just creates a very seamless experience for the agent. And if the agent has a seamless experience, then who benefits? It's the consumer.”
Three final questions to wrap up
When asked for his favorite book recommendations, Lickstein said that he favors audiobooks. “So this is one that’s not per se real estate. It’s a book that was recommended to me by someone I met in the past couple of years in my leadership journey with the association. It puts the focus back on constant growth in every aspect of your life, personal, physical business and relational. So every day there's a different focus and it was just a very engaging listen. It’s called Make Sh*t Happen.”
Next, Lickstein was asked the most underrated part about the business of real estate. “It's freedom. What I love is in a very individualized and self-focused industry where you're only making money when you're making sales,” he said, “so many people say ‘I'm married to my business, or I'm tied to my business and I can't travel.’”
“Whereas they could set themselves up in a way to grow bigger than what they are by themselves, establishing a team of partnership, a group, whatever, and relying on those around them to not lose their income while they're able to travel and still have more of that personal life balance. And people can take more advantage of that.”
Finally, Lickstein’s prediction for 2022 is that leasing “is very strong at the moment and it's going to continue to be. I don't see so many renters coming into the marketplace to make it even more challenging. I think it's gonna stay pretty much status quo. Leasing rates have stayed high. I think they're going continue being high until we start to see more of a trend on the purchasing and sales side for residential homes, not so much focused on the condo market.”
Lickstein thinks that condos are consolation properties for those who were wanting to buy single-family homes and who still would prefer single-family homes but were unable to find one or were priced out of the market.
He sees “the residential sales market kind of flattening off.” While he doesn’t think prices will drop significantly or that the market will crash, he does think that enough people will sit on the sidelines that it will balance out the demand and create something of a “plateau” to slow down the rapidly growing prices of the past couple of years.