We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Brent Humpherys a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Brent, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today Are you happier as a business owner? Do you sometimes think about what it would be like to just have a regular job?
Operating our own firm has been a wonderfully rewarding experience! We spent eight years with a major international brokerage and enjoyed much of it, yet we have been so blessed to deliver a brand which closely mirrors our own values and is laser focused upon service delivery. With our business being real estate, you can imagine just how much time we spend in the homes of our clients. There’s something really wonderful about being able to approve a client’s request on the spot and not need to call the office (or regional headquarters) and ask for approval. Decisions can be made in an instant, and this improves the service we are able to deliver to our sellers and buyers. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that many people dream of being a business owners so they can be self-employed and be their own boss. The reality is that in a true service delivery model, the self-employed can be more accurately labeled the “client-employed.” Businesses live or die based upon the client’s experience and satisfaction with the engagement!
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
I’d be happy to – thanks. My wife Carrie and I have been married 26 years and have four sons – three in their 20s and grown and gone, with our fourth graduating from high school in a couple of months. We live in Carlsbad not far from where I purchased my very first property at the age of 23. I’m a third-generation real estate broker whose family has been representing buyers and sellers in California since 1967. In the late 80’s and early 90’s, I attended San Diego State University where I graduated with a four-year college degree in real estate. I’m passionate about this field and serving others, and I grew up in a home where both Mom and Dad had their broker’s license. I actually started assisting Mom in the office and at open houses when I was 8 years old. I vividly remember Mom dropping me off at a new listing she had which was about two blocks from our home before my 10th birthday. I would hand out cookies, pour lemonade and greet people, but I was not permitted to answer questions about the property, or even how many bedrooms it had, as that required a license! The many experiences I had working alongside Mom and attending so many real estate seminars really forged in me an intense desire to work in this amazing field and offer clients the same high level of service I witnessed Mom deliver over and over again. It has been so satisfying to have our clients continue to publish only 5-star reviews on all websites where agents are rated, and I’ve never had a review less than 5 stars. What I enjoy most in this business is tenacious negotiation for buyers and sellers, properly preparing a home for market after touring it and providing a list of recommended tweaks or improvements to the client before publishing the home for sale. In recent years, it has been wonderful to be able to market properties in neighboring Orange County, Los Angeles County and Riverside County, all based upon word of mouth from fellow clients. Our farthest listing was San Jose in Northern California, with runner up in Goleta/Santa Barbara. Though we certainly do the majority of our business within San Diego County, it’s great when our name offered to out-of-area sellers and we can study market data and activity in neighborhoods previously unfamiliar to us. We now have solid marketing folks throughout California and have the capacity to provide service throughout the Golden State. If we or the prospective client feel more comfortable with a local agent right in their community, we have a database of contacts and in many cases have a relationship with a local agent who we can either refer the client to, or participate with in the marketing and sale of the home.
Any stories or insights that might help us understand how you’ve built such a strong reputation?
Reputation is the oyxgen that fuels a business, and we remain laser-focused on client satisfaction from the very moment a prospective client contacts us, throughout the engagement, and certainly after the property closes. We communicate to our clients from day one that our mission is to deliver service excellence and help them achieve their goals, and that our intention is to create raving fans of our service. The big service metrics certainly involve putting more money into a seller’s pocket at closing, but we also pay close attention to smaller ones, such as how the client likes to communicate (text, call, email, group chat, Zoom, etc.) We ask a number of questions at the beginning of our engagement and then do all that we can to keep the client fully informed about everything throughout the process. But reputation among clients is only one part of the story. We know that maintaining an excellent reputation among fellow agents is critical to our success. “No scorched Earth” is so important! In the process of a seller’s agent and a buyer’s agent wrestling for their client’s needs during a transaction, it’s almost automatic that friction can develop, so we do our very best to treat fellow agents with respect and dignity, and remind them that we both have a role to play, yet this can be done courteously and with professionalism. While we aim to be as tenacious as possible in negotiating what our clients are hoping we’ll deliver, we do so as winsomely as possible! That agent with whom we are fighting for what our seller wants could well be the listing agent on the next home we’re showing to another client of ours! Just last week, we had the incredible pleasure of delivering keys to our client after they closed on their dream home. The home had a stack of truly competitive offers, but the listing agent we knew from a previous transaction, and we leveraged our positive experience with this agent and we were actually informed that it was the way we worked together before that had tipped the scales in our favor and got our client the home. Occasionally, we’ve had the great honor of actually representing fellow agents on various transactions. It isn’t common, but we’ve given the best representation and service we can, and the agents have gone out of their way to publish a 5-star review! We’ve also been incredibly blessed that Humpherys Homes & Estates’ founding broker, Sandi Humpherys, delivered impeccable service during her 41 years of being licensed, and was greatly respected among her peers before passing the baton when she retired. When folks Sandi had represented over the years have turned to us to serve them, we do everything we can to deliver the same service to them, yet with all kinds of new tools and technology which were not available when Sandi was representing clients.
What’s been the best source of new clients for you?
The best source of new clients for us, kid you not, has been our clients! Close to 90% of our business is repeat clients and word of mouth referrals. Many families have made repeat purchases and sales with us, and just last month, a client we represented in 2003 engaged us to sell the home we had sold them 19 years ago and had us represent them in their pursuit of a new home, and the sale of an investment property we had sold them. It was wild to be out looking for properties with this family and have a college student along for the ride who was a baby when we’d represented them the first time. We have also posted heartfelt stories on social media (with our client’s approval, obviously) about some truly memorable transactions, and folks who’ve interacted with the post have contacted us and indicated that they, too, would like to work with us. Serving clients and coming alongside them during these significant chapters in their lives is both an honor and a privilege, and sometimes feels like a dream!
Not applicable. All images taken by agent for marketing use.