Today in our “Meet the Agent” series we get to know Collin Bray of CENTURY 21 Cityside in Boston. Collin is marketing his downtown listings on social media, his personal blog and via a YouTube channel. Read on to hear Collin’s marketing strategy, the story of his first sale (he was still in college!) and how playing basketball taught him the best skill for succeeding in real estate – team work.
C21: How did you first get into real estate?
CB: I was in my third year of college and my father who is our owner/broker asked “why don’t you get your real estate license and come do rentals for the summer?” I am glad I took him up on the opportunity.
C21: Do you remember your first sale?
CB: Yes. 334 Beacon Street. I remember it because the owner left me a message asking me to list her condo for sale. What is special about that message was I was sitting in economics class at my senior year of college. I learned a ton (I won’t go into the mistakes I made).
C21: When did you join the CENTURY 21 System and why?
CB: In 1979 my father decided he wanted to offer agents in Boston a quality real estate brand and better training. I joined this office because I love working with family. It was hard to say no to an office with nearly 35 years of experience and an excellent reputation within the Boston community. The CENTURY 21 System has excellent online training tools for agents.
C21: Your area of focus is downtown Boston. On your website you have a tab called “neighborhood & lifestyles” where you break down the specifics of each downtown neighborhood – Back Bay, North End, Beacon Hill. How do you help buyers decide which neighborhood is right for them?
CB: Most buyers typically already have an idea of where they want to live. Their price point is a big dictator of this and then lifestyle is second. Rule number one when pre-qualifying a client is to ask questions and then shut up – listening and then offering suggestions about what you like in a neighborhood. It is important to make the entire search about the client’s experience.
C21: If a new visitor to Boston only had 24 hours in the city, what are the three things he/she must see or do?
CB: 1) Visit the Museum of Fine Arts – it’s educational, engaging and fun. 2) Go to a live sports event. We have the Red Sox, Celtics & Bruins. 3) Visit the North End for dinner, followed by a drink at Legal Harborside. I recommend a Moscow Muel while you enjoy a picture-perfect view.
C21: Name the three qualities necessary to succeed in real estate.
CB: Team work, integrity and self motivated.
C21: Our company mantra is “Smarter. Bolder. Faster.” How do you embody the mantra in your day-to-day work?
CB: The reason for the slogan is because this is what it takes to be a successful Realtor in every market around the world.
Smarter – Competition is fierce in our market. I try to know the inventory, study the market and ask for other agent’s opinions. I just started doing listing presentations on my iPad.
Bolder – I take risks, make sacrifices and I am out meeting people all the time. I always ask myself to be a little unreasonable.
Faster – Twice the work in half the time. Multi-tasking is a crucial part of my business. You may see me calling a client, while texting another & e-mailing while driving to a showing. Just kidding – be safe!
C21: You write a blog called Back Bay Lifestyle. How does blogging support your business and what is your content strategy?
CB: The content strategy is simple (nothing about me!). The goal was to express to readers what it is like to live in the Back Bay. This is my primary marketplace and there so much available to residents. I write to keep my readers up to date about architecture, new restaurants, events, schools, unique home listings, new developments and more.
C21: You have a section on your website called CBTV where you showcase videos. How are you using video marketing for your business?
CB: CBTV has been a struggle to keep up to date because I need to consistently upload new videos. It’s a big learning curve for me, but I have started incorporating video into my new home listings as a part of the marketing.
C21: Are you using Facebook, Twitter or Google+ for your business? What seems to generate the most leads?
CB: Facebook generates the most leads because it is the most personal. There I am able to consistently remind my clients that when they think “Boston Real Estate,” I am the most qualified professional.
C21: You are involved with several local charities and also founded an organization, Cheers for a Cause, with three friends. Can you tell us more about that?
CB: Cheers to a Cause is a unique way for young professionals to stay involved in charitable giving without going outside of their budgets. We have hosted cocktail parties, a comedy show, a beer tasting and an art showcase for kids & local artists. Each event is in conjunction with promoting and raising money for a great cause.
C21: You are a member of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay and the Beacon Hill Civic Association. How do these memberships inform your day-to-day work?
CB: I am most active in the NABB where I am a part of the LBU (Licensing and Building Use) committee. This offers the neighborhood perspective on the impact of new or proposed changes in business licenses and of applications for commercial spaces. It is way to stay connected to business owners in the Back Bay and keep a pulse on new commercial spaces coming into the area.
C21: In addition to helping clients buy and sell their homes, you are an investment property owner yourself. How does being a property owner and landlord help you to better understand your clients?
CB: It gives me the edge of experience. Now I can tell my investor clients what expenses can be expected when managing an income property. I can walk into an apartment building or condo and know the rental values within minutes, which is valuable to my clients.
C21: Word on the street is you’re quite the basketball player. Do you still find time to shoot hoops?
CB: I LOVE hoops because it embodies teamwork, communication and a competitive environment. I play at 6:30am at Harvard Business School two days a week and will keep playing until my knees give out (knock on hardwood).