Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with Brian Kaley. Brian is one of the nicest and hardest working agents in the industry and in just a few minutes I learned why he is so well liked by his clients, friends and colleagues. Enjoy the interview!
Where are you from originally from, and what brought you out here?
I am originally from Wisconsin and my background originally before real estate was in the the restaurant industry. I did that for 20 plus years, moved out here in ’99 and got into real estate in 2006. So I’ve been in real estate for 12 years and am currently married with a son that’s 10 years old. We live in Littleton and love real estate, wouldn’t look back.
Interesting, what sort of things were you doing in the restaurant business?
You know I did everything from management to being a sous chef in the kitchen, went to culinary school and restaurant management. I did pretty much everything from front of the house and back of the house which gave me a really strong work ethic and good customer service perspective, more than anything. I try to carry that over even into the real estate as much as I can.
With all those repetitions of meeting people, did that help you with customer service in real estate?
It’s helped with how I approach working with clients. I try to find the things I can do work through problems and make transitions, and transactions for that matter, smoother. Every situation is different, but going at it with a customer service mindset has worked for me. I try to think outside the box on how I can make my clients happy and go for the win-win from there.
You said you were from Wisconsin, what town specifically?
Oconomowoc. It’s the only town in America that has five Os in the name. It’s a small town of about 12,000 people. Grew up, it’s about half our outside of Milwaukee and 45 minutes from Madison.
Oh wow, so that’s quite a change from the Denver Metro. What were the things that drew you to the Denver area?
You know family brought me out here. My brother and his family, then my parents moved out here. I moved out right after, well in ’99, but my brother he had lived out here since ’94 and so you know I visited a number of times. He came back to Wisconsin a couple of times and talked me into moving out here. You know I just love the outdoors, skiing, and golfing, and the weather is much nicer. Yeah, just never looked back. Pretty much came out and now I just go back to visit once in a while.
That’s neat that you came from a small town, I think that speaks to the type of person you are. What types of real estate have you been involved with and what do you focus on?
When I started 12 years ago I primarily worked with a lot of buyers, from first time home buyers to “move up” buyers to investors, then I did a ton of short sales for a while. Now I work with a variety of buyers and sellers. Still have a good pool of investors that I work with, so I’m constantly looking for fix and flip type properties or buy and hold investments because it’s a pretty good time for that, at least for the next few years.
Tell me a little bit about the places you’ve lived in Denver, the lifestyle and how that relates to real estate here?
My wife and I used to live in Wash Park West. We loved that whole feel of everything, the walk ability, you could just walk out your door and walk to parks and restaurants, or just get downtown in minutes. It’s such an easy accessible town as far as even public transportation and all that, and the venues with sports, and you know we love going to different games and really into the Rockies and all that. Plus you’re really close to the mountains to go skiing and all that. Now we live in Littleton which is half hour from downtown. We moved out there mainly due to schools as they are a little bit better out there.
When I’m working with buyers I’ll pretty much go where they want. I’ve been in the business long enough that I am very familiar with most areas of town, and if I’m not, I can usually do the research pretty fast and get familiar pretty quickly. A lot of my real estate transactions lately have been downtown as well as in the suburbs on the west part of I-25. So a lot in Englewood, Littleton, Lakewood, and other areas around there.
Do you have a favorite real estate success story that you like to share with people?
Hmm… A few really stand out but there was one about nine months ago where I helped some good friends of our find their property. They were looking down in Highlands Ranch, and we looked at probably only six or seven homes. They found one they really wanted but we went up against four offers. The seller had a deadline of 9:00 on a Thursday night. We went and looked at it at 5:30 and spent a good half hour, 45 minutes in the house. My buyers ultimately made the decision to write an offer.
I had really good communication and rapport with the listing agent and we got our offer in prior to that 9:00 deadline. Ultimately I asked them, “Hey, what’s it going to take to get this?” And he gave us a number that if, “Well if you’re above this you’ll probably get it.” Then I went back to the buyer and they were actually willing to go higher, but I ended up saving them a little bit of money, so they were excited about that. It wasn’t that we were the highest offer, we were actually a little bit lower but our financing was really strong. There was a couple of deals made with regards to the negotiation and timing. it all came together in literally about two to three hours. And we got ours signed before their deadline of that other offer and we got that house! And they live there now, and they are loving it. It worked out really well but it was pretty intense for a few hours there.
Your buyers must have been pretty excited.
They really were, yeah. As it turned out it was a very smooth transaction. They really appreciated everything and they’re loving it. I enjoy the process of looking out for their best interests and trying to get the best deal for them. It can be tough in this market where you find a good house there’s usually multiple offers, in a lot of cases, even in the slower times in the year, when that good house comes along you’ve got to be ready to move. That was part of just being not super aggressive but aggressive enough to, “Okay, let’s go all in and go for it, and negotiate.” We had a backup property that we would have gone to next if this particular one didn’t go through. Always good to be prepared but it worked out and they got the one they really wanted.
Good thinking, that’s great to hear. Looking at yourself as an agent, what do you attribute your success to in terms of your specific things that you bring to the table?
Experience mostly, and that stems from people that I’ve worked with, other agents that are either mentoring or just communicating with different agents, getting different ideas on the negotiations, and then learning from past experiences. When I did a lot of short sales years ago, I learned a lot about dealing with numerous different types of agents, both good and bad, dealing with banks, and with a lot of different trades in the business. You learn a lot from different situations so you are aware of what potentially could come up in a transaction. So when I am working through a particular purchase or a sale if I’m the listing agent, I can draw from my experience and counsel my buyers or sellers with, “Hey, this is something that could come up, more than likely it won’t, but here’s the way we’ll handle it if it does.” So that way there’s no surprises.
It’s the old adage of handle objections or try to minimize some negotiation tactics in advance, that way you kind of control the situations in a lot of ways. You can steer the conversations in a certain way, you know how other agents are going to present an offer and how they’re going to try to respond to a counter offer and those kind of things. So experience is probably the number one thing. And then agents that I’ve worked with in my office that are extremely experienced and just counseling and talking with them and working through different issues. They do the same thing with me, they ask me questions and that kind of thing all the time.
Great stuff. There’s so many agents out there that only do a few deals a year but you guys all seem to be full engaged in what you do. Tell me a little more about the culture with your fellow agents.
Yeah, I would say the culture in our office at the New Era Group is really great. If there’s a way that somebody else can help, they will. For example, if they have experience of a similar situation they share their insights and ultimately help you be a better agent. You know the more you help others succeed the better you’re going to do.
I’m going to quote Zig Ziglar on this, he used to say on his speaking tours and his books, “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” So if you help people succeed, it will ultimately come back to you. I truly believe that.
In the New Era office we have meetings all the time, mastermind meetings, or weekly coffee meetings where collaboration starts with, “Hey what’s going on this week?” Or “Has anybody seen anything different in situations?” Or the trends in the market, or you know it’s just kind of a collaboration of ideas and solutions if you need, or success stories, et cetera. And it always seems to help. The more you’re surrounded with people that are working and doing well just you can’t help but get that energy and try to do a little bit better yourself, it just keeps you motivated. I’ve been with a handful of different offices over the years, but the New Era Group is really a great team.
It sounds like a really positive environment, and obviously a key to your success. Next question for you. What’s your favorite thing about being a realtor?
I would probably say the freedom, not only of schedule but just making my own success whether it’s due to schedule … You know, I can go to my son’s school events, I’m not stuck to that 9:00 to 5:00 job. In the restaurant business it was really difficult with schedule because you’re working 10 to 12 hours a day and now that’s not the case. It’s just you have more freedom, it’s more enjoyable. If things come up in life you can adjust your schedule and there are times you work a lot of hours in a week depending on what you have going, and it’s more rewarding. When you help buyers and/or sellers find their dream home, or help them move on with their life to another stage in their life, then it’s very rewarding.
Buying and selling real estate is one of the most stressful things in a person’s life and ultimately it’s one of their biggest purchases. Helping them through that and making it smoother than what they expect is always a good thing.
What an incredible feeling that must help people like that with such an important life event.
It is and it takes time to get there, but when you get through those first couple years then you start getting that bug, and you start really seeing the rewards. In the beginning you’re just trying to figure it out, whether you’re figuring out contracts, or negotiations, or navigating through different types of property and all that. But once you get all the basics down, then it’s just fun working with a lot of different people, and people, for the most part, aren’t boring. [laughter] I love what I do and wouldn’t change it.
Sounds like being an agent is a really good fit for you and I can see why a lot of people really enjoy having you as their Realtor. Thanks for your time Brian.