December 22

Yianni Konstantopoulos Shares Tips on How to Thrive in a Competitive Real Estate Market


In today’s episode of The No Limits Selling Podcast, we have Yianni with us. He embarked on his journey in real estate after a long and successful career in global digital marketing where he worked with some of the world’s most prominent brands. Today, he will be sharing some tips on thriving in a competitive real estate market.

Yianni’s tip:  Hire agents from diverse backgrounds and stay differentiated to Find opportunities that aren’t publicly available and secure more off market properties.

Guest Bio:

Yianni served as the Group Managing Director of social@Ogilvy and was based in Sydney, Australia where he managed a staff of 16 people working across advertising, digital marketing, and communications disciplines. Under his leadership, the social@ogilvy team was able to double revenues, reduce costs, and win several prestigious awards across Asia-Pacific. He maintains an active real estate portfolio that includes rental units in Adam Morgan, U Street, and Columbia Heights, and is always excited to meet new people who share his energy for the dynamic Washington, D.C. property market.

Find Yianni Konstantopoulos: WebsiteLinkedIn

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[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]

Umar Hameed 0:01
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone! My name is Umar Hameed, I'm your host on The No Limits Selling Podcast, where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how you can become better, stronger, faster. Just before we get started, I've got a question for you, do you have a negative voice inside your head? We all do, right? I'm gonna help you remove that voice and under 30 days guaranteed, not only remove it, but transform it. So instead of the voice that sabotages you, there's one that propels you to much higher levels of performance and success. There's a link in the show notes, click on it to find out more. All right! Let's get started.

Umar Hameed 0:41
Hello, everyone, welcome to another episode of the no limit selling podcast where we chat with team leaders, realtors, and how to make this industry better and how to be more effective. And today, we have Yanni joining us, he's from the DC area. Welcome to the program.

Yianni Konstantopoulos 0:56
Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate you taking time. My pleasure.

Umar Hameed 0:58
So we're interesting times we've had like, when the pandemic first started, realtors are curled up in a ball underneath their desk going, Oh my God, our world is destroyed. And about three months later, probably the hottest real estate market we've seen in like decades came about, was that a surprise to you that we went from total panic to all of a sudden having this stellar market?

Yianni Konstantopoulos 1:22
It was a little bit of a surprise. I think one of the things that impressed me is how quickly the entire industry kind of banded together to figure out how to do it in the context of a pandemic. So everybody from appraisers, to lenders to agents to home inspectors figuring out when and how do we mask who sprang down lockboxes? How are we ensuring that clients are comfortable? How are we ensuring that random people at an open house are comfortable. And I think that happened really quickly. And in under a month, at top performing agents had figured out new processes and procedures to have their life and livelihood be protected. But to also make sure that when they were meeting with clients, they also felt super comfortable and protected. Given that there was so much of COVID That was an unknown. But I mean, I think a lot of agents, even those that have been doing this for a lot longer than I have were really surprised as to how quick the market seemed to take off. And I think part of that was fueled by the uncertainty of COVID. Everyone wanted to have more space, everyone wanted to have outdoor space, everyone wanted to not be sharing common hallways and the amenities that are common in you know, many urban environments, and the burbs had rocket fuel thrown onto a fire. And it was really kind of crazy to see how that went across the first part of COVID. Cool,

Umar Hameed 2:52
thanks for kind of giving some insights into that. So right now you have the team and when did you join the industry? And when did you start your team?

Yianni Konstantopoulos 3:02
Sure. So I became licensed on April Fool's Day 2015. And I remember vividly because it was, it was a kind of a, a big joke among friends and colleagues that I'm making the leap to get into real estate, having come from the corporate world for a long time, but it's always something I wanted to do go headlong and was fortunate to find success in it relatively quickly, compared to some of my peers that also started in the same cohort in 2015. So calling I started my team of probably nine months later, when we moved from greenline real estate, which is where I initially parked my license. They were two awesome brokers a couple months from my house. And I started a team very shortly after joining Sotheby's in December of that year. So January 1 2016, we were at Sotheby's and I had a three person team at the time, and continue to grow and add and scale. I added three more agents and two staff while we were at Sotheby's, and then a couple of years ago, we ported over to Compass, because they were recruiting super hard in the DC market. And the value proposition of the time was very compelling. And we've been at Compass ever since. So today, it's me five other agents and two full time staff that round out our team. We're all licensed across the jurisdictions that we serve. So DC, Maryland, Virginia, as some of us are licensed in Delaware as well, because we can cater to the beaches, and we're aiming for about 100 million in volume this year, which is a nice pickup from the 90 we did last year given that it's a little bit of a slowdown across the second

Umar Hameed 4:44
brilliant. So what have been the challenges of being a leader?

Yianni Konstantopoulos 4:49
That's a great question. I think it's one that good team leaders struggle with all the time. I think one of my challenges is how I keep agent with very different businesses, very different skill sets, very different backgrounds, and very different spheres, all aligned and working under a common framework that promotes what we do and allows us to stay differentiated in a market that has a lot of really good top performing agents,

Umar Hameed 5:18
and how do you articulate who you guys are.

Yianni Konstantopoulos 5:22
So I think we differentiate ourselves as we can secure more off market properties than any other real estate team in the DMV. And whether it's for our end user clients that are buying their step up home from their existing property, or whether it's for developer clients that are trying to renovate and add new inventory and reimagine some of the city's not as attractive stock into new fun, exciting homes. We're really good at finding opportunities that aren't publicly available and in the marketplace. And that's something that I think has helped us stay differentiated among our peers in the area of

Umar Hameed 6:02
SATA you, because you could be establishing oneself as whatever, but it takes concerted effort to kind of stay on track, and get really, really good at it. So what did you guys been doing to say, Okay, this is what we're putting our flag in, this is who we are, how do you stay on top of the game and just maintain that leadership position? Sure.

Yianni Konstantopoulos 6:22
So I think for us, the common theme that binds all of us together is our commitment to kind of our three brand pillars. Authenticity, transparency, and effectiveness. Authenticity, we are real people, we have struggles, we have challenges, we have wishes, we have goals, we have really good days, we have bad days, just like all of our clients. And I think we work hard to try to make those connections with folks. At the outset, and I'm at the point in my career, where if I don't get a good vibe from you, well, we're not going to spend four hours in my car, trekking around different neighborhoods, I just don't need, I don't need that negative energy, I don't need of that vibe, when I've got a lot of really cool, exciting, happy things going on. I think everyone on the team buys into that philosophy if we're true to ourselves, and we're doing the best that we can to always do right by our clients. And that is something that gets paid forward. So we're there. Authenticity, I think transparency is really important. I think, in spite of the fact that now more than ever, people have more information about property at their fingertips, and they can pull up calculators and this and that and tax records in a flash. And there are still a lot that's really opaque and not very well understood. And the public doesn't understand certain bits and bobs that agents know the ins and outs of. So we try hard to make sure to kind of shed as much light on the process, the contract, what contingencies mean, what financing does and all of the pieces that are required to bring any one transaction together to be well knowledgeable, well versed and confident enough that we can have our clients feeling empowered across any one of those steps. And being able to do that in a way that is open and public and readily available. And then effective. At the end of the day, you're only as good as your last couple of transactions. ellebra clients will throw their top performing agent out the window if you're not sourcing good deals, or if you're not selling their new product. And you know, the DC market is one of a lot of really smart, successful ambitious type a people who are out there to do really big things. So the bar is set really high on the level of client service that we need and are expected to provide them. And I think it's really cool that those three pillars, when put together in unison in a way that is really easy to digest, and really fun to share with people has helped us to continue to grow and to scale.

Umar Hameed 8:55
Brilliant. So in your travels, have you made any mistakes, bringing agents on board that turned out not to be the right fit?

Yianni Konstantopoulos 9:05
To be honest, not really. I did have an agent join. And it's right when we first came to Compass, they asked me to bring on an agent who was in between some other teams and trying to find her way forward in the industry. And you know, being new to the organization always trying to be team players, always looking for ways to add value and to help. I was like, hey, sure, let's see if it can be a good fit. And it was a fine fit. It's not that it wasn't a great fit. It's just that I think alignment between where we saw the industry going and what inputs are required to get maximum outputs. There was just a pretty good disconnect on you know, but that person moved on moved away from real estate all together, and we're still connected and supporting each other as best we can. But that's really the only agent experience where someone has chosen to not be part of the team

Umar Hameed 9:59
insurance stinks. So advice to other team leaders, especially when starting out? What are the five ways to be a better team leader? Like what do they need to focus on?

Yianni Konstantopoulos 10:12
Time management is critical, because you've got not only your own activities, and all of the things that you do for your own business, but I think you also have to be really mindful that if you are going to be managing people they have their life and their priorities and their things that they worry about. So being able to manage your time and their time effectively, I think it's important, I think to is just clear goal setting. I think it's really hard to be working in any organization, if the goalposts seem to constantly be just having a clear and open way where everyone understands where they fit and what their role is, I think it's pretty important. I think three, like creating a culture is really key, whether you're going to be a three person team, or whether you want to have a 30 person team. Like what are the things that everybody on the team has buy in and, and understanding that these are our, I guess, organizational tip of the spear where we all agree that this is something we need to be putting out in the marketplace, I think that's important, I think for is having a really good feedback loop. I think sometimes to team leaders can get myopic, and thinking that their way is the only way and what goes on in their head is the only thing that will matter. I've tried really hard to instill in my own team that like, Hey, we should be more of a collective than we are kind of a pyramid, like I want you to all have by him in what we like, you know, we have team events, where I will meet clients from folks on the team, that they're like, Oh, you work with so and so it's like, yes, that's exactly right. I work with so and so. And I It feels really good to have it be that familial, and that collective group, because, you know, the sum is greater than all of the parts. And I'm a big believer, it's done

Umar Hameed 12:10
right and ties done. Right. That's the case, way too many teams, the whole is less than the sum of the parts because of office politics, and just that humaneness and people not fully embracing.

Yianni Konstantopoulos 12:22
And I think the last one I think they go hand in hand is discipline and generosity. I mean, I think I come from an abundance mentality. I don't think that there is any shortage of business in a market like ours that is transient as it is where we have very large macro economic factors supporting our industry. And there's just not enough inventory to go around for the people who want to buy homes. And then the discipline to do the hard stuff to set aside time for follow up to do the cold calls, to round up architects that you haven't met with and see who's building cool new things. And some of those activities suck. And they take up a lot of time, and no one likes to do it. But you know, back to your point earlier about the consistency. And if you don't have the consistency in the activities, you're not going to see success beyond the first assemblage of a challenge in the space. And you know, if you have no discipline, the minute there's a headwind, the entire deck of cards is gonna come crashing down. So keeping that rigor, keeping that process orientation, keeping the team meetings, to, you know, a routine is key, I think those would be the five things that I'd say for anyone who's starting out

Umar Hameed 13:33
brilliant, I think you would agree that mindset is a critical part of success as being a human being and a realtor and all those things.

Yianni Konstantopoulos 13:40
I can't agree more than forget just being a realtor. I think it's mindset is everything in anything? Absolutely. If you've got perspective and the belief and you're willing to put in the time and the effort, I think anything can get attained. I think for me, personally, the absolute best thing about real estate as an industry and as a profession, is how much of that is very, very directly correlated both to mathematics. Like I can reverse engineer the metrics of the business very easy. I know what we convert, I know my average price points. I know how long deals take to close, on average, etc, etc. So the physics of the business can get broken down in a very clear way that at the end of the day, math doesn't lie. It's numbers are numbers, just the fundamental connectivity of all of us. So I think there's a there's an interesting correlation there.

Umar Hameed 14:35
Absolutely. It was just kind of reminded me of a quote from Mark Twain, sir thy allies, there's damned lies and statistics. So we all have you know, highs and lows and people that have a stronger mindset have more resiliency, so when they do fail, they bounce back really quickly. But as a team leader, you have to shepherd your your charges sometimes where they fall out of the zone. So can you share a story where one of your agents, you know, had lost a deal or had just gone into a slump? How you got them out?

Yianni Konstantopoulos 15:13
Sure, well, I had an agent, I had an agent over the past summer, that we had a particularly challenged listing and clients who were not unrealistic. I just think that their expectations were not appropriately set. And whether that was arguing on behalf of the agent, or whether that was just a somehow of a disconnect between where the market was in relation to their property. And where they wanted to move in a different direction, we were coming up to the almost the termination of our listing agreement, we had successfully procured two different contracts that for two different very, very reasons that we're managing the fallout, which happens even to the best agents do sometimes fall apart. And the client wanted to relinquish the listing and wanted us to give the photography to somebody else and wanted to move in a different direction. So they were dejected, I was rejected, you know, we've had put a lot of time and effort and resource to market the property successfully. The reasons that it fell out had nothing to do with us. They were titled defects that had been found that, you know, how do we know and we would have advised in a very different capacity, but we didn't know them until much later in the game. So I think at the end of the day, the way we get over that hump is to break down all of the pieces of the puzzle in its most objective forms. So it's like what are the things that we could have done better? Where are the pieces that maybe we faulted and didn't execute as well as we could have. And when you break it down, you can find learnings even in a really shitty circumstance. And the silver lining there is, hey, maybe we need to have a better feedback mechanism. When we're getting to the end of our listing agreements, maybe we should have managed expectations a little bit better when the second contract ratified. In case we weren't able to cure the defect in time. Now, the silver lining is I was able to get involved in kind of convinced the seller to be like, Hey, we've been slogging away for the better part of four months here, you guys have been copied on every single email exchange with the title attorneys, like we have sliced and diced and tried to solve this conundrum, the best way we know how, and we would really like a shot to make this whole and and make it right. And I stepped in to kind of be the quote unquote, lead, I was able to give the other agent a healthy referral on the business because he was the one who had brought it into the firm in the first place. And we found a contract that worked and closed and the sellers were happy, the buyers were happy, the other agent was happy. And we turned it into a a win at the end. But I think the reason we were able to do that is because we were able to kind of just be as objective as possible, even in things that sometimes become really subjective to assess. And I think in the chaos of trying to reverse engineer or break down any one transaction, putting things in their most objective light is the best way to sort out where you did things well, and where you could do things

Umar Hameed 18:19
better. So it was kind of interesting in that telling of that story was you guys were very comfortable looking at the situation as it was things that you quote, unquote, screwed up, although it was not known to you, but it wasn't like, it wasn't our fault. It was the company taking ownership. And I think that's what great leaders do is look at the data, what's going on? And then how do we learn from it? And how can we change things around? Because a lot of other folks would have blamed everybody else, and would have this, this is a bad customer. We don't want them anyway. And rather than going Hmm, what's really going on? And what's the end result that we want? You know, that's a really good strategy and philosophy to win business and more importantly, stay in integrity while you're doing it.

Yianni Konstantopoulos 19:08
No, like I think you're spot on. There's there's two things that I remember very vividly in my own career that make that impact crystal clear in my mind. And when I was in college, I waited tables and bartended at a restaurant called Old ebbitt Grill. It's in the heart of downtown. It's part of the Clyde restaurant groups all of the clients are related and so forth. And at all debit there is a program called the EAP the employee empowerment program, and you learn about it the very first time you go through the training that while you're out on the floor, you can make that guest experience better. You spill red wine on them and you can get a dry cleaning bill you find out it's a birthday party. You can get them a glass of wine or a piece of cake and comment. Like you have complete authority and control in that moment in that table to make that guest experience great. I think having that ownership to fix problems is helpful. I remember one time I had like a 12 top, and like I was still relatively new, and I had this tray of like 14 waters to deliver to the table. And I got there like I got bumped. And I remember what happened, I got this one guy completely soaked like 14 pint glasses all over him. And he played it off, and it was fine. I wiped him as best I could. I went and reloaded the tray, another 12 waters come back. And like I think my nervousness, it all, like made me drop the tray on him. And not only me this guy, once he got stuff completely twice, but I was able to smooth it over, we all had a great laugh, I got the entire table like around a drinks and appetizers, I got him a sweatshirt from the bar downstairs. So you'd have dry clothes during this dinner, they left me one of the biggest tips I've gotten in months. And at the end of the day, we made that experience really fun for both of us in spite of the fact that I was just a klutz. And I soaked this poor guy in his business suit. So the like being able to be empowered to fix things I think is really important in our job. And then the second bit, I had a really good fortune of working in a company called the Corporate Executive Board. Earlier in my career there we got bought by God. Yeah, CB is an incredibly powerful organization with a very simple premise. But one of the books that one of my mentors suggested reading is Good to Great by Jim Corbett, and by Jim Collins highlights how the best organizations, across industry across geography, I think function really well because of how they try to take ownership of problems. And I think if you can take that ownership, and you can spin it in a way to understand what the benefits are, and you can learn from the mistakes, you're continually improving. And I push hard on the team that we don't need to make a 50% improvement year over year, I think that's going to be impossible, given how fast we scale to where we scale. But if we can get just 1% Better, everyday, little things that we do, we're going to be powerhouses. So keep your head down, separate the signal from the noise, focus on the things that make an impact to you and your clients and keep doing only those things. You know, I think as a leader, I work really hard to not coach people to their strengths. Like you're already good at what you're good at, I don't want to make you better at the things you're already probably better than me at sometimes. Like, it's my job to make you better in those areas where you have a deficiency, whether you know it or not. And if you know it, let's work on it together. And if you don't know it, and I see it, I think it's my job to figure out how to let you see it so that you can want to improve on it too. And if I can make you better in the places that you're weak, then you're improving. And if you're improving where you're weak, and also crushing where you're good. It's going to be a win, win win. And so far, so good

Umar Hameed 23:00
words to live by last three questions, Jonnie number one, what brings you joy in your work?

Yianni Konstantopoulos 23:07
I think there's two things. One is the trust that clients put in us nice. Like, for the majority of people, the purchase or sale of their home is the biggest financial decision that they're going, yep. And having friends and family and referrals and clients place their trust that we're going to help them navigate this is really powerful, and very joyous. And the second bit is, at the end of the day, I love Semak, like I have sold in every industry that I've been in, whether it was consultant, whether it was advertising, whether it was social media. And when you get the phone call from a listing agent, that your buyer is the one that's going to get the place. That feeling is, in many ways, irreplaceable. And if you enjoy the art and the science of the sale, knowing that you got it, especially if there's multiple offers in our market, there's been a shift from every property getting nine or 10 offers two, it's still competitive, but there's been a little bit of breathing for the buyer side. But getting that call that hey, we would love to work with your folks on this one transaction. And I love that feeling. And, you know, I think that's a cool thing to get to do. A couple times a week when you're working as hard as we're working

Umar Hameed 24:33
hallelujah. Second question, what's one mind hack or trick that you use to be more effective happier next year? What's the thing you want to share with the world?

Yianni Konstantopoulos 24:47
One mind hack. The mind is only as good as what you feed it. I saw a quote or an Instagram meme or something the other day that If you fill your mind with vise, you can't expect it to find, like pioneer shots. But you know, the mind is what you feed it. So if you wake up every day negative and depressed and frustrated and looking for challenges, well guess what the rest of the day is going to be full of frustrations and negativity and challenges. If you wake up early, and you do a task, like I'm very processed and tasks, right, so I get up, the alarm was off, the first thing I do is make the bed. Because if I'm out of the bed and the bed has been made, the very first thing task one in every day has been done. And I can I know I'm not going to get back into bed, I can go brush my teeth, I can go weigh myself, I can go put on my running shoes, I can go do all of the other things that have to happen. But I know I started the day knocking out the very first task. One of the best books I've read was Eat That Frog. And to tackle the hardest thing that you need to do in any given day, the very first thing in the day. So you're not procrastinating, you know, a deal is about to blow up. You know, a lender is about to lose a rate lock extension, you know, you found something really shitty and a home inspection and you've got to do something about it, get that done first thing in the morning, don't put it off. I think that is a fantastic mind hack just to help you unlock more productivity. And then I think the more things that you can do to find metrics and to gamify and think about outcompete yourself is really key. At the end of the day, it's you versus you. I don't compete with other agents. I don't compete with my team. I don't compete with others in the marketplace. I look at our numbers, I look at my performance. And I think how can I get better for myself? And how does that help us collectively improve? But you know, everything from how long does it take you to run a CMA? How long does it take you to put an offer together? How long does it take you to run comps? How long does it take you to figure out you know which things to see on a two hour block with a new buyer? Like how do you gamify those things in a way that makes you excited to do them better, faster, more efficiently, more effectively. Because if you can do that, well, all of a sudden, you've just gained a bunch of extra time to redeploy into the other things that matter whether it's the business, whether it's your family, whether it's your health, whatever. You know, one of the initiatives that I embarked on, I think it's coming up on two and a half, almost three years now was a weekly newsletter. Right, Giannis Tuesday Tidbits what every Tuesday. At the beginning, that thing took me an hour hour, 15 minutes to come up with and a format and spell check and to do whatever. And it's now down to almost the science, I can crank it out in 20 to 25 minutes. Like regardless of location, I can fire it up from a parking lot with my laptop and my iPhone. And it has single handedly been one of the best drivers of revenue to the business across the past two years too. So those are just gamifying and productivity hacks.

Umar Hameed 27:59
Love that. And last question, is there a question? I should have asked you that I did not?

Yianni Konstantopoulos 28:05
Well, it's your podcast. So I don't think that it'd be right for me to have questions that you should have asked that you did it because you're the one that runs this thing. And I don't have a podcast yet. But I like all the questions so far. And I think this has been great,

Umar Hameed 28:18
brilliant, Jonnie, thanks so much for being on the program. I'm looking forward to our next conversation. And the next conversation should be the future of this industry because I think it's in flux and someone's going to come in and disrupt as soon as we stop recording I'm gonna tell you where I think it's going, everyone stay tuned and Yanni. Thanks so much for being on the program.

Yianni Konstantopoulos 28:37
Really appreciate it. Look forward to that next conversation as well.

Umar Hameed 28:45
If you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave a five-star rating. And if you're looking for more tools, go to my website at nolimitsselling.com. I've got a free mind training course there, that's going to teach you some insights from the world of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and that is the fastest way to get better results.


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