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Conversations With a RealtorThe Property Joes Group: Meet Joe Diosana and Keri JosephsonInterview by Jonathan Coleman | Written by Melanie GreenBehind The Property Joes Group is the power duo of Joseph “Joe” Diosana and Keri Josephson, two realtors focused on growing their relationship-based business and coaching new real estate professionals.Before The Property Joes Group partnered with Keller Williams Realty, these two came from completely different business backgrounds.Joseph “Joe” Diosana spent as much as 90 hours a week working behind a closed door, completing software integrations for the Oracle Corporation. Then he decided to use that workaholic enthusiasm to get into the real estate industry.He earned his real estate license in 2004 and started working in the industry part-time.“Just because you’re in corporate and you’re trying to make a transition to real estate doesn’t mean you’re good at real estate,” Diosana said. “It just means you’re making a transition.”He knew he needed to learn how to speak to people, and quickly gain their confidence and trust to become a successful realtor. In 2012, he earned his broker’s license and used his networking circle to expand his brand.In 2017, Keri Josephson jumped into real estate after Hurricane Harvey. Before then, he managed a national sales team and traveled each week. But when he came home, Josephson was learning “through osmosis.” He would hear Diosana’s conversations about real estate everywhere, from their car to the dinner table.As Josephson saw Diosana building strong relationships with clients locally, he realized that he wanted to stay home more often too. He knew his management and sales skills would come in handy as a professional realtor.But the transition going from a trusted salary to a commission-only role required planning. Diosana took two years to grow his business while still working to pay his expenses. And with a child in college, Josephson knew he needed “some kind of cushion” and saved enough money to pay for a year of living expenses before his career change.“Even starting during Harvey, I was able to make the jump without exhausting all of those funds, which was nice,”Josephson said.From Hurricane Harvey To the COVID-19 PandemicDespite the COVID-19 pandemic, Josephson was able to double his number of listings, largely due to strong relationships he already built.“I was really fortunate to have a strong network in place, but my network didn’t necessarily see me as a realtor,” Josephson admitted. “I think in the beginning, they trusted me more for a buy as opposed to a sell. As time went by, they began to see me more as a professional in the real estate market as opposed to [ just] someone that could help them find a house.”Diosana agreed.“We’re a relationship-based business,” Diosana explained. “We’re intentional about that. We don’t door knock. We don’t cold call. We have a high level of trust and a high level of confidence because we’ve been around a bit.”Today, Diosana and Josephson teach about their process of nailing referrals, in addition to serving as realtors. To date, the largest class they’ve taught is 60 students. And in what has become the norm during the pandemic, they started to lead classes and coaching sessions through Zoom.Passion In Real Estate Partnerships and CommunityIn addition to educating other real estate professionals, Josephson is passionate about helping people go through the process of determining if they’re looking at the right home in the right neighborhood for their family.“I get to see where people are going to put their stuf f,” Josephson said. “How they’re going to live. How they’re going to raise their family. Where they’re going to raise their family.”“When we’re done with a transaction, it’s almost as if we never had friends because we tend to gravitate toward those folks,” he continued. “They are our friends at that point. We stay in touch with them, so it’s just that sense of community. We have a very strong sense of community.”With Josephson’s proven sales background, Diosana confirmed that those networking instincts would work to his advantage.“[Keri] can sell anything, he just needed to understand the product,” Diosana said. “Once he gets his arms around that, he [is] just able to take off.”Diosana was able to teach Josephson the platform of processes, systems and people for real estate so that the duo could grow their businesses together.“Our income is dependent on how hard we work versus somebody else making a decision,” Josephson said.Each of the realtors manages their own book of business, but come together as needed to solve problems and to help each other out when the business demands it.“Where the synergy comes from is being able to sit down and figure it out,” Josephson said. “How do we move forward with this deal, or the complex environment that we’re in, and try to work with title or whatever it might be?”Approximately 75% to 80% of real estate practitioners are solo. However, there are upsides of establishing a team, such as scalability and getting a quick start through mentorship and access to business systems. When Josephson started, the average income for first-year realtors was around $18K. That salary is why a lot of realtors may not make it past the first year. However, The Property Joes partnership gave Josephson a better start through coaching and mentorship.“It’s so much more rewarding, fun and enjoyable to be able to work with those that know you, that like you and that want to be with you,” Josephson said. “Rather than work in a specific geographic area, I think it’s so much better, especially starting out and all the way through, to work with folks that are in your database.”When new realtors start out, he recommends writing down at least 100 local names in their social circles—from the gym to the church to social media connects.Josephson updated his LinkedIn to reflect his transition into real estate. His existing network noticed and congratulated him on his career change, some of which became his call list.“Texas is now the number one destination for the entire country,” Diosana said. “How are you taking advantage of the relationships you already established?”Outside of LinkedIn, both agree that it’s important to work one’s network. Josephson recommended taking clients to lunch and seeing them regularly.Diosana recommended having an open house to meet people who are already prepared to buy new homes and need reputable representation.“People who go to open houses are going to be ‘now’ clients,” Diosana said. “Who else is going to open houses—besides neighbors? Buyers, probably two months out. And sellers are about three months out.”Where Property Joes Plan To Go NextIn 10 or 15 years, The Property Joes anticipate having a bigger team and helping to develop even more real estate agents. Diosana strongly believes that when a new opportunity comes along, mentors may be able to help newbies in the process.Both realtors agreed that there’s power that comes from having a platform, along with the support of aligning with Keller Williams.Diosana said: “Our broker, especially this office, there’s a whole ton of training. We have legal. We have compliance. We have a 1-800 number hotline. In case we need a simple question answered or we have a complex problem that we need to navigate through, we can just check and make sure how we’re approaching something is right.”“There are a variety of things we do to make sure that people remember who we are and what we do,” he explained. “People get upset because a family member referred business to a dif ferent agent. And it was because they forgot their son or their daughter or their niece or nephew was a real estate agent. They’ve got to hear it from you seven to 10 times before they realize what you do. If your mother or your nephew can’t remember [your profession], why do we think someone we see three times a year is going to remember?”However, they do admit that being in a relationshipbased business has its pros and cons. An evening call with a friend, a wedding invite or even a cruise can quickly transition into real estate discussions, which can both blur the line in their personal lives while creating lucrative business opportunities.While Corporate America would consider it all “work,” for them it’s as much fun as it is work. And every social gathering is an opportunity for a new referral and an expanded network.Yes, Clients Do Judge a Book By Its CoverFirst impressions count. From punctuality to wardrobe to professional presentations, new clients have their eyes on everything. And The Property Joes know it.“We believe that you want to have a fighting chance,” Diosana said. “Because you usually only have one opportunity, and [clients] are going to formulate an opinion after that meeting.”While platforms like LinkedIn have served them well with real estate deals, neither is solely dependent on social media.“You don’t have to have a social platform,” Diosana said. “I think a lot of people get stuck. I got a website. I got some social platforms. They don’t do anything. You just need to know people, right?”For him, that means calling people, writing notes and following up—being physically present to people whether they were found by a friend or on the other side of a computer screen.And, according to Diosana, wardrobe can play a strong part in relationship building and competency. He recalls a story about running into a friend wearing ratty clothes on his way to sell a $4 million house. He assumed his friend would change his clothes first before meeting the client to avoid possibly jeopardizing closing this deal. The incident made him realize that even friends judge each other based on one’s appearance.Later, when a leader suggested he get a dif ferent car at the start of his career, he bought a 2009 Lexus. But shortly after the housing crisis, he wasn’t super confident about being able to afford to pay the car note. One key factor made him figure it out.“Something about getting in that nice car and thinking about having to pay for it got me in gear,” Diosana said. “Then wearing nice things got me in gear. Now that I’m in gear, I’d like to stay here. If I’m going to [visit] my doctor, that guy or girl better be wearing scrubs and a stethoscope. [Professionals] better look the part.”Josephson agreed, pointing out that physical presentation is a sign of respect.“I’m going to dress well for my client,” Josephson said. “And I’m going to make sure that, especially if they’re riding around with me, my vehicle’s clean and it’s a good vehicle.”That respect for themselves and their clients has been an essential part of their brand. From computer software to selling homes, the duo has used their separate areas of expertise to become a successful (and fashionable) partnership.“As a teacher to a student, I’m repeating, I’m remembering, I’m reciting, I’m regurgitating,” said Diosana. “The more you practice [what] you do, the [better] you’ll get.”