James Kastner and his team of 4 other agents make up District Residential, an agent team that’s part of the Slate Properties brokerage. Prior to signing on with Slate, James spent 12 years in San Francisco where he founded a real estate marketing and consulting services company.
He sold the company and moved to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for one year, before, on a whim, choosing to relocate to Washington D.C.
When he started comparing the digital marketing capabilities between the coasts, he discovered a huge opportunity as the established D.C. brokerages weren’t marketing well at all. In fact, marketing largely consisted of offering a lock box and leaving black-and-white printouts from the MLS on the kitchen counter of the seller’s home.
Not only does James have a great website – check the site as it gives ‘the nod’ to the popular Netflix show, “House of Cards” – but he and his team go a step further by creating custom websites, including the floor plans, for every listing they manage. They also provide powerful brochures than have more in common with a sleek and stylized 12-page catalogue than they do a traditional real estate pamphlet.
His team also creates the furniture staging experience with high-quality furniture owned by the brokerage and even bring a housekeeper to ensure that everything looks polished and inviting by the time of the first open house. All of this happens in 7 days or less.
Where did all these efforts get him?
James went from $0 to $30 million in just over a year and a half. He even made the Washingtonian Magazine’s Top 100 list this year for best real estate agents. This list is based on both sales volume as well as personal reputation.
Building a Winning Team and Brand
When James came to D.C., he was heavily recruited by other brokerages, including Compass, which had recently moved into the area and started acquiring smaller brokerages while promising technology, apps, and marketing resources.
When he was deciding between Compass and Slate Properties, he quickly realized that Compass would own any branded content that they created on his behalf. This would lead to a situation in which he’d be creating a business around their brand, and if he didn’t want to have all that work go to waste, he’d be forced to stay with Compass for the balance of his career.
So, he opted instead for a boutique brokerage, Slate Properties, where he could create his own brand.
Excited, he now knew he needed an online presence equivalent to the large destination sites and digital brokerages, like Redfin and Compass.
His research led him to iHomefinder and MarketBoost.
There were several places where James could have gotten market stats and nice website graphics, but he needed to do more if he was going to compete against Compass. He needed something that would showcase him in a top-notch light and support his marketing activities.
MarketBoost gave him the ability to register clients for specific content and automatically send market reports, including recently sold homes, inventory levels in the area, and recent price changes. This way, clients who have already purchased can receive relevant content about their home and neighborhood.
This contrasts with the traditional “farming” method, in which agents will send direct mail to the same 500 people for 30 years. James knew, however, that everyone has different needs, and the lack of personalization could harm an agent’s personal brand.
MarketBoost also made it easier for James to define and create niche content. He doesn’t need to send a D.C. market update to everyone when he can send highly personalized content, instead. So, now, when they close on a home, the agent can stay top-of-mind with highly relevant market reports. In brief, MarketBoost provides the following:
- Automated report generation – MarketBoost gives James the ability to register clients for specific reports and automatically send them. This way, even people who have already bought a home can receive relevant content. That means he can focus his efforts on people ready to buy and sell and leave lead nurturing to MarketBoost.
- Custom market creation – Defining markets is tricky in D.C. For example, Capitol Hill is technically in Old City, but the actual boundaries aren’t well understood. MarketBoost maps neighborhoods, providing site visitors – even those relocating to the city – with a firm understanding of the local area.
- Niche marketing – James created nearly 50 markets. Each of these markets leaves consumers with the explicit feel that James and his team fully understand the local market. The site shows how quickly properties sell, if they sell over-ask, and how much inventory is on the market. James also adds a custom write-up for each of the 50 markets. This provides site visitors with a solid understanding of the local market – even though he’s only been selling locally for 3 years.
In just a year and a half, James took these tools and created a great team that is focused on long-term success and growth. MarketBoost empowered James and his team to take advantage of the huge opportunity that was open and waiting for him in Washington D.C.