Helping Real Estate Agents Serve the LGBTQ+ Community: It’s Closing Time with Anthony Vulin

Broker Anthony Vulin, President of the Greater Los Angeles Association of REALTORS, is also national Vice President of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance. In this episode of It’s Closing Time, the RentSpree podcast, he speaks with RentSpree CEO Michael Lucarelli about how brand new agents can launch their careers in real estate, how agents and brokers at all levels can serve the LGBTQ+ community more effectively, and what resources are available to help agents who are part of the LGBTQ+ community thrive personally and professionally.

January 27, 2023

4 min read


Anthony Vulin, broker-owner for The Collective Realty, President of the Greater Los Angeles Association of REALTORS, is also national Vice President of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance isn’t just a guest on the RentSpree podcast; he’s also a fan as he made clear early in his conversation with RentSpree CEO Michael Lucarelli.

“As we get started, thank you so much for everything that RentSpree has done for our agents. You make me and my company look good. Our owners are so impressed with the tool and that the agents are able to screen their tenants at such a high level. Your customer success managers are amazing. They're so helpful. We love you guys, so thank you for everything you do.” 

After starting out with his own small company, Vulin spent some time working with Keller Williams, because “education is everything and, and people are, everything. Everything rises and falls from the top. The leaders that they were bringing into LA I was extremely impressed with. It was a huge learning experience that I was able to partake in for many years.” 

“I notice in a lot of classes that I attend and seminars, there are two groups of people who attend,” said Vulin. “There are the brand new agents who know nothing and they're good to go. And then very top agents have coaches. The very top agents are always learning. So I mean, that says a lot right there.”

“I think anyone who has an office or a team has to be a leader with a servant's heart — somebody who really cares about their people, someone who wants to see someone else grow. It's not about their own ego. Too many times I see teams being formed that are just built, honestly, out of ego. They just bring people in because they say, ‘Hey, come work with me as part of my team, and you know, we're gonna take over the Hollywood Hills’ and they have 10 people and none of the people on the team are doing any business. And it's not the right way to do it.”

According to Vulin, the key is to “grow when you have the need, when you have too much business and only at that point.”

Another element that Vulin focuses on is providing the tools and automations to streamline transactions, systems and processes for his agents. “For me,” he said, “consistency is extremely important. So at our company, we have a lot of simple things like checklists. It might sound so simple, but to create that consistency through a checklist for the transaction for your lead generation is extremely helpful for agents.”

“Everyone always asks, well, what CRM should I use?” Vulin’s answer? “Use whatever is going to work for you if you're going to use it. Less than 10 percent of agents actually use [their CRM]. They're just a little too complicated, a little overwhelming, unless they have an assistant.”

At The Collective, Vulin and his agents use Constant Contact, he said, “which is not truly a CRM, but it's a simple tool so that agents can send out newsletters. There's a note section, so every time they call [their contacts], they can write simple notes in there. And our agents use it. I'd say about 80 percent of the agents do that. What I find overall for agents is keep it simple and have a system of reaching out to your people.” 

For real estate agents who are growing their businesses, Vulin says their first hire should be an assistant. “It should be someone that you're gonna pay a salary to. A lot of times people will bring in three buyers agents before they have an assistant and the three buyers agents aren't really needed. It's actually more expensive to bring in a buyer's agent than an assistant because you're paying a buyer's agent, usually they're getting 50 percent of the commission. If you had an assistant, they could probably manage a lot of stuff so you're able to handle a few more buyers and not give up 50% of the commission.” 

Besides the role you’re hiring for, Vulin says the next step is focusing on the “personality type. You have to do personality profile tests on everyone you hire because not everyone is suited for every position. If you're hiring an assistant, I like to use the DISC [personality] test. The perfect assistant for me is a people person, but they're going to have a lot of detail orientation and be able to really help manage. So, you don't want to hire that assistant who you have to manage and watch. You want to have someone who has a little bit of drive, a little bit more organization skills to help manage you.”

Vulin says that the skill set and personality type for a buyer’s agent differs from that of a listing agent, though “almost no team hires a listing specialist. It's so hard to get to that point.”

“So for a buyer's agent, when you have too many buyer leads coming in, their personality style is somebody who wants to go in the car and talk with them and chat them up and keep them positive and be that great people person out there. So having that personality style is gonna be important. It’s all about finding the right people. Do not go with your heart and your gut. Take your time and investigate more, ask the right questions.”

Vulin suggests that once you are unable to stay on track with lead generation consistently because you are too busy, it’s time to hire an assistant. Once you have saved “three months of an assistant’s salary put aside, hire them right away. Do it. That assistant will bring you so much accountability to grow your business in the next three months that you will get another deal or two because of the assistant giving you that time to be out there making your calls, building relationships with people that maybe you just didn't have before.”

Meet in the middle

Vulin’s number one book recommendation is The Millionaire Real Estate Agent by Gary Keller. And it's the first half of the book rather than the second. I think the second half is for really top agents, but for most agents it's the first half of the book, the mindset part, the lead generation part.

As an LA native, the one spot he’d recommend to any visitor is hiking in the canyon. “There's hiking in LA that's a five-minute drive from West Hollywood. And you can see a view from the ocean to downtown and it's an easy hike and it's so much fun. People from out of town are impressed.”

Finally, Vulin believes that the most underappreciated aspect of real estate is “that [the] industry has the ability to change someone's life in a year, you or a client. Most Realtors don't take that seriously, that you can literally change your life in a year if you do the right things and you stay focused.” 

Respect for the role of diversity and inclusion in the real estate industry

According to Vulin, “Pretty much every working real estate agent in LA is a Realtor and part of a Realtor association, like the Greater LA Realtors where I'm currently president, but there are also multicultural associations that you're not required to join, but that are out there and do a tremendous job with giving back to the community and helping certain diverse communities increase their homeownership rates and just be an amazing resource.” These include groups like the Hispanic Real Estate Association, the Black Real Estate Association, the Asian Real Estate Alliance and others. 

“Next year I'll be the vice president of the National LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance for the LGBTQ+ community and allies — like 25 percent of the members in that group are allies. They're not part of the community, but they're there to give back. And just [introducing people to] those groups and encouraging people to join them, I think, is a huge step,” he said. 

These groups “put on so much education and so many events. One of my missions this year as president of Greater LA Realtors was to bring in board members from those associations and do joint events and mixers with them. These groups are already out there. We just need to embrace them more and support them more. Look them up and join them.” 

“If you can't see it, you can't be it. And if we're not having representation of who we're serving, how are we gonna understand their needs? How are we gonna understand what it is they want to give at that service level? So having a diverse leadership group that reflects your community is so important. And for Greater LA to not have someone part of the Hispanic Association is just mind-blowing. So, there's work to be done, we all can do our part and we all want to see people who are like us to feel comfortable buying a home.”

Property investing is a personal process, said Vulin, “where you're talking about finances and you have to find someone who you like and you trust. And a lot of times, it's people who are part of your own diverse group, and maybe it's someone who you just respect. But, everything comes from the top. So, having those diverse boards is a passion of mine. And that was something that was part of my mission for this year with our association.”

Upcoming initiatives for the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance

Next year, as national vice president of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance, Vulin looks forward to the following initiatives:

  • “In 29 states it's still legal to discriminate against the LGBTQ community in housing and lending. There are no laws that are in place that say you can't do it. There are some agreements and certain things going on, but it's still legal. We need an equality act to pass. It has passed the House but it hasn't gone to the Senate yet, and we're advocating strongly for that to come through.”
  • “Next, the home ownership rate for the LGBTQ community is 16 percent below the national average. It is low. We're trying really to figure out how that happened and why that's there. There's a lot of research that's being done right now. My gut feeling is that marriage is the number one correlator to home ownership. And same-sex marriage only happened in 2015, just a few years ago. I was 36 and I thought, ‘There's no way I'm ever going to get married.’ And I actually just got married two months ago.”
  • “Lastly, we have a course that we're putting out called certified ally, and it's for Realtors to take that will help them to be better allies so they understand how to work with the LGBTQ community and be respectful. There's a lot of research showing right now that with the younger generations — like Generation Z for example, over 20 percent of Generation Z identify as LGBTQ. And a lot of them identify as non-binary. How many people even know what that means, how to address it or how to respect someone who identifies as that? So it's a course that I think is important for all real estate agents to make sure that we're respectful. It doesn't matter what you believe or what your religion is, it's just about respect, right? Making sure that we're in an industry that can provide service that treats everyone with respect.”

How LGBTQ real estate professionals can find support

Vulin recently spoke with an agent who’s transgender and asked, “What do I do? What groups do I join? How am I gonna do this? Are people gonna respect me?”

“I have chills talking about it now,” Vulin said, because “it's a sensitive subject and I feel for him.”

Vulin responded, “The classes that I teach you, you do not have to have a database of thousands of people. If you have a database of just 300 people, you should be doing two to three deals a month. That's an amazing business. You'll be in the top 2 percent of all agents in the whole city. You'll do really well and you can grow from that.” 

“So start with a group of people who respect you, who you respect, who you like, who you wanna be with,” he continued. “Join different groups, different associations that have like-minded people, and you'll be just fine. You don't need to please everyone. You don't need to be at an open house trying to please every single person in there. Find the people you connect with and join them. Be who you are. Be true to yourself. If you aren't, you're gonna be unhappy, you're gonna be uncomfortable. Just be who you are.”

For agents and brokers who want to become better allies to those in the LGBTQ community, Vulin recommends that they ask their association for the Certified Ally course. “If they don't have it yet, go to  They have it. They have webinars that you can sign up for and take several times a year, as well.”

Vulin also encourages understanding. “There are a lot more people that we're gonna start meeting and seeing who are transgender, who were afraid to come out before and were in the closet. The agent, for example, in my office, he's 40 and he's finally feeling comfortable like, ‘I can do this now.’”

“It’s not like it’s never been around. People have just been in the closet and have been too afraid to act on it. Now, it’s there. So we have to learn how to deal with it. This agent and I created our own course to teach other corporations in the real estate industry and beyond how to create a safe workplace for the LGBTQ community and how to have an inclusive workplace. Just a couple of weeks ago, we taught 400 people in one day. And wow, the questions that people ask made me realize that there's some really basic education that still needs to go out there.”

“Just even for me as a gay man,” said Vulin, “there's a lot that I'm still learning. So I know if I'm still learning things, everybody out there is still learning as well.”


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