What’s up everyone and welcome to another episode of Become A Local Leader! In today’s episode, we have Alexa Walker, Realtor with Compass.
Meet Alexa Walker – Our Featured Local Leader
Alexa is passionate about providing excellent customer service to her clients. Her intense attention to detail enables her to never miss a beat. From start to finish, she offers her clients the insight, education, and perseverance they need to achieve the goals they want.
As an avid traveller, her communication skills are top-notch, enabling her to navigate any negotiation seamlessly. Her goal as your advocate is to take as much off your plate as possible, allowing for a stress-free experience. It’s in Alexa’s nature is to strive for top performance, which leads directly to results for her clients.
You can expect Alexa to manage your transaction with honesty, fervor and expertise. Available to easily identify your priorities, Alexa finds a way to structure the home buying sign experience to suit each individual client’s needs. She’s highly responsive and maintains a positive attitude, which allows her clients to sit back and relax.
In her free time, Alexa Walker enjoys practicing yoga, seeing live music and spending quality time with loved ones. As a San Diego native, you can almost always find her in the sun, making the most of her beautiful country. Her appreciation for her community enables her to perform with ingenuity.
Alexa, why do you live in San Diego right now?
Well, I moved to the San Diego area when I was turning 12 and I have just loved living so much and I never want to leave. I feel very fortunate to have landed in San Diego County, it is just such a unique place. We’re just so fortunate to have so much to do.
The community here is very unique. I think there’s a lot of love and genuine authenticity with the people that are in our area. So, I don’t feel like I could ever leave. It’s very close to my heart and I try my best to integrate myself into the community as much as possible and I’m so grateful to be here.
Do you do work in the same community as you live?
Yes, I do. I service all of San Diego County as a whole, so I cover a lot of zip codes. But I currently live in Cardiff and that is definitely really close to my heart. In most of my adult life, I’ve lived around Encinitas, Cardiff, and Carlsbad ocean side. So I think this little bubble of North County is where a lot of my friends and family are. it’s definitely somewhere they do a lot of referral business.
That being said, I get people that reach out to me from all over the place. Sometimes they are in Chula Vista, Santi, or up by Pendleton. So, I cover a large base but most of my transactions are in the north county area.
What did you do before you got into real estate?
Before I was in real estate, I was teaching yoga. I joke with my clients all the time, I always tell them that real estate is so fast-paced and high stress. And that a lot of what I used while I was teaching. I translate into my business because as agents, we’re juggling different facets of the deal. But what the client sees is really just what we present to them.
So, a lot of my job is about eating those stresses up for them. When a problem does arise or there’s a point of contention where you have to navigate what pros and cons you are willing to deal with to move forward with the sale or purchase, presenting information in a calm way so that my clients don’t get overwhelmed comes from my yoga life.
Why did you get into real estate in the first place?
Honestly, I kind of fell into it. If you noted from my bio, my grandfather and my mom are both in real estate as well. I first got into it when I moved back to California. Previously, I was living in Maui teaching yoga. When I got to California I was so broke! And I had no idea what I was going to do.
I didn’t know where to get started. At the time I was working three jobs and I got my real estate license at night on the side. I got offered a really good position on the transaction management side of things and that’s pretty much what kicked me off. So, I started learning the paperwork and all of the background stuff that goes along with real estate.
And I realized that I really like working with people. I missed that one-on-one interaction. That’s what propelled me into getting into the sales role and I’ve never looked back. It’s been a crazy journey so far.
What would you say your superpower is as a real estate agent?
That’s a great question. I think for me my superpower is probably just being able to understand and empathize with my clients. In my personal life, I have a knack for finding what’s real to people and caring about that.
I think for a lot of people, they’re nervous to trust their realtor. They don’t want to feel like they’re getting sold. They are dealing with a lot of money and it’s probably the biggest purchase or sale that anyone is going to make in their life.
I think for me, I’m able to create a really safe space for them because I ensure that they feel heard and that allows us to get on the same page with each other.
How long have you been a real estate agent?
I’m coming up on my fourth year, which is blowing my mind!
In terms of volume, what’s the current state of your business?
This year, in volume, I have probably done 13 million, I just closed my 15th deal of the calendar year. I think we have to talk about COVID because everyone was nervous about COVID and how it was going to affect the market for people needing to sell and what people were going to do when they’re buying.
The largest impact we’ve seen has been the low inventory. We’re still seeing a lot of activity, people are still wanting to buy. There are lots of people out on the market, there’s lots of movement but people that don’t need to sell aren’t. Which makes perfect sense of the temperature of things right now with our political state and the health pandemic.
Low inventory is just creating higher pressure for the buyers that are on the table. There are a lot more buyers looking at the house that you want than maybe if there were other homes on the market.
It’s been a busy year, but very competitive and whether you’re on the buying side or the selling side. Regardless, you’re navigating a pretty hot market. So, there’s a lot to be said about working with somebody who knows how to navigate that on your behalf and strategize to get you to where you want to be.
Total slides so far this year in terms of like transactions and people served?
People served would be really hard for me to determine because I probably make at least 10 to 20 touchpoints a day. And some of my clients I work with for years. So, I talk to at least 10 people a day. But I’ve closed 15 deals this year, and I’ve got one listing on the market right now. Hopefully a couple more coming. So yeah, the goal is to hit 30 and I’m pacing right where I need to be to get there by the end of the year.
And your median home price?
I’m right around $850,000. I do big and small sales. I’ve got some deals I’ve closed for clients of mine, starting in the $400,00 range and then we go all the way up to $3 million for others. So, it starts to get somewhere in the middle. I would say it’s pretty close to what San Diego’s median wholesale price is as a whole, which is right around that $800-$850 range.
How has your production changed over time?
I would say, as you get more seasoned as an agent, you start to get more into the listing side of things. You know the structure of being a new agent. You tend to start out as a buy-side representative exclusively and there’s a lot of reasons for that. It allows you to get your feet underneath you, as a professional in this role.
So, the biggest shift as you get more settled is to take on more listings and represent more sellers. Outside of that, it’s also, of course, the better you understand your position, the more you can juggle between the two sides.
Your threshold is much bigger after you’ve had some experience under your belt. You can still offer the same level of customer service, but increase the number of people that you’re dealing with. Maybe, in the beginning, you deal with 10 to 25 a month more, or maybe you deal with 30 to 60. All of those may not buy or sell immediately, but as I said, there’s lots of conversation.
The most important piece of my business in my opinion is to have a really genuine connection with people and understand their goals. That takes communication sometimes over a couple of years. So, you get really close to your clients if you know what you’re doing.
What percentage of your business is repeat versus new business?
Most of my clients are new clients. I’m only four years into the industry. You hope that most of your clients are not going to sell the home that you sold to them within four years. A lot of my clients, send me referrals for friends of theirs. But almost all of my business is still new. Often the expectation in this industry is that you have to wait like 10 years to start getting that turnaround at significant volume.
What percentage of new business is relationships versus referrals versus advertising for you?
I would say probably 60% referrals for me and personal relationships and about 40% marketing and advertising. The other thing is that with the referral business, people tend to trust you right off the bat because somebody they trust told them to use you.
So, navigating that original acquaintance is a little faster. Whereas maybe meeting an online lead or somebody who called off on one of your signs, you’re still earning that trust a little longer. They may have met six agents over the last week and they’re still deciding what they want to do.
How do you build new relationships right now?
I am really big on picking up the phone, and I’ve always been that way since the beginning of my business. When COVID wasn’t a thing, I would also go sit down with people for coffee or beer sometimes and keep it really casual. I definitely think the way to communicate with people is just to treat them like you do people you care about.
So, I call. And I don’t just talk to them about real estate when we catch up, I see where they’re at and make sure that they’re feeling taken care of and thought about. And then if something’s needed, then I’m there to be a resource.
Otherwise, I think just making that phone call and saying “hi” humanizes the experience. That’s what makes the transaction a little bit warmer and more valuable. When we get to the tail end of things, you feel like you actually have a relationship with your agent. You feel that you didn’t just sign a lot of paperwork and close on a house.
How many new relationships do you build per week, or per month?
I would say, I’m probably building at least 10 new relationships a week. I try to hit somewhere between that 30 and 40 per month. They’re all at different levels of communication. Some people are hot to trot, ready to buy, or ready to sell. They want to meet with you right away. And some people, we make an intro call.
I made a call this morning to a woman I had connected with about a month ago. At the time she was working with another agent but didn’t want to work with them anymore. So, she is navigating cancelling her agreement with them as she was unsatisfied with their representation. I was following up with her this morning, just checking in. I’m like, “Hey, how’s it going, are you still feeling like you’re getting let down?”
My advice is that agents should just keep those doors open. I might not end up working with her at all, but at the very least she knows that there are people out there that care. So, different levels, but lots of calls, lots of emails, and lots of zoom meetings.
Who has referred your business in the past? What business owners or local professionals have referred your business?
I would say a lot of my business is coming from my internal network and people that I’ve closed with in the past. Real estate’s a big pot. There are lots of third parties between escrow and title and lending. But they’re working with such a wide network that I think it’s hard for them to pick who to send a client to.
So, most of my business is coming from my immediate network; friends, family, and meeting people. Whether it’s out on a bike ride or going to a networking event. I can tell you, the more you open your arms the more that things fall in your lap. You’ve just got to be receptive and helpful. Value-driven.
Just two weeks ago, I met a client while riding my bike on Neptune and we were just talking and joking around and now we’re looking for a house. I didn’t even have a card on me.
The same applies here. You originally reached out to me, talking about our community. One of your first questions was why this place is so important? And that’s a perfect example. I can be on my little six-gear bike and riding around North County and just enjoying my city. Hanging out doing nothing and somebody might want to work with me. It’s a blessing.
To me it’s the energy you show up with and the willingness to be helpful that really opens the doors.
What forms of advertising work for you?
Definitely online marketing is the way to go right now. Signs on the ground is another good one, with active listings, that type of stuff. But most home buyers these days are searching the web. They’re using a few different resources that are online. They’re keeping an eye on inventory and that’s how they’re calling.
So, having yourself set up with strong social content, with a strong online presence is vital. Having places for people to go to see what you’ve done and why they should work with you. That’s the most important way to advertise yourself.
What forms of advertising don’t work for you?
Good question. I don’t think any of them don’t work, per se. I think it’s just that there’s less value in some. My team and I, we do a few flyers and things like that. Door knocking too. It’s not that they don’t work, I think you just get a smaller return.
So, depending on where you’re at in your career, you may want to dabble with online advertising before you invest in other options. Like flyers and mailers and things like that. Whereas, when you’ve got a bit more of a reputation and some more liquid funds under you, you can start to delegate where the funds go. That’s when there is more opportunity to tackle multiple avenues of marketing yourself.
What mistakes would you say you’ve made?
It’s so funny actually because I was just talking to an agent this weekend about this. The biggest mistakes I made in the beginning of my career was taking things personally. You cannot take things personally in this industry.
Whether it’s another agent or your client that is giving you heat and making you feel uncomfortable, you have to be thick-skinned. You have to be able to remove yourself from whatever is going on that is starting the tension. You’ve got to be able to say “this isn’t about me” and “how can I serve my clients still?”
It took some time to develop that. There’s definitely some sharks in this business. The biggest mistake I made was being like a sensitive girl and just being like, “you don’t have to be so mean,”. I want the same goal.
I learned over time, you just tend to laugh it off. After you’ve been in the business for a while, you realize there’s nothing personal about it. Some people just have a harsher approach. You have to let them take that in and behave the way that you want to be represented professionally.
You have to move forward from that and not let it get in your head. It gets you a lot farther and it also saves you a lot of late nights and a lot of stress.
How do you think about your budget for marketing, advertising, building your brand, growing your database, and generating leads?
About 30% of your volume should be getting sent over to marketing. So when you talk about breaking up your paycheck, you’re looking hopefully at about 30% of it going back into the business, 20% of it going towards your savings or some kind of retirement plan. This is important because you’re a realtor, a solopreneur. Nobody’s going to do it for you, but you. And the other 50% of it is going to go towards your spending money and personal use.
When it comes to your services, what do you do for your clients that make them rave about you?
Most of my reviews that my clients tend to use most commonly is that I was warm and that I didn’t ever miss a phone call. They’ll say that I answered all of their questions and that I was just honest with them. So, it’s a couple of things, but I think it’s that combination that is hopefully echoed throughout all of my answers here, which is that I genuinely care and that I understand.
I might have a hundred things going on but you need your answer. This is your big purchase or your big sale. The anxiety and stress that you have is my job to manage.
I think hopefully, with the testimonials that I’ve received that’s been felt by the people that I’ve had a chance to represent. That’s something that I remind myself of, to deal with that type of thinking when things are stressful for me, so I don’t pass it along to my clients.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
I think it’s that I’m still fresh in the industry. So I bring a little bit more of a passion and drive than maybe some of the people who’ve been doing this for 20 plus years. For them, it becomes more transactional naturally.
I’m so fresh in the industry and I’m hungry and professional. I don’t clock out at five o’clock, I answer my phone calls until later in the evening. And also, I don’t stop answering when we close a deal. If something comes up that you need to talk to me about I’m always the one that responds. Even if we closed two years ago.
And I think that is something really unique. I don’t stop being a representative because I’ve had my paycheck. I think that that’s something that is different and separates me from a lot of people.
What are your goals for your business moving forward?
Goals for me would mostly just be to continue to brand myself. I love working on my team, I love what I do long term. I’d like to just keep doing what I’m doing. But right now, I don’t have enough of a reputation to just have things sent my direction solely because of the way that I’ve operated in the past.
It’s one of those things. Consistency, keeping your head down and put the work in. And to do it with the same behaviours and energy every time. That turns into long term success and a reputation that has a backing to it. I think that serves you for a long time.
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