We always tell our readers they can’t miss out on our latest Top Agent podcasts. But that’s especially true today. In today’s Top Agent podcast, Kosta interviews Steve Augustine, a literal real estate rock star based in Hamilton, Ontario.
The rock star part isn’t just from being a top realtor; Steve has been the drummer for Thousand Foot Krutch since 2001, and has been in around 3,500 shows across the world. TKF is a multiple-award winning Christian heavy rock band which has sold over 2 million albums worldwide.
On the real estate front, Steve is associated with REMAX Garden City brokerage, currently serving the Grimsby, Hamilton, Burlington and Niagara areas. Though he is a relatively new real estate agent, with three and half years of experience as a realtor, Steve has been involved in the industry since he was 24 years old. He and his mom purchased a rental property that catered to student tenants. Though the project was a financial success, Steve found it difficult to manage, since its tenants, having little experience living on their own, required constant attention.
A few years later Steve got into the property flipping, which he found fun and satisfying. He especially liked turning dilapidated buildings into livable and cozy homes. Eventually, Steve decided to get a real estate license in order to avoid any conflict on interest with his investor clients.
One of the biggest challenges Steve faced as a new real estate agent is breaking into an industry filled with veterans at a comparatively young age. Though he is 41, the average age for a real estate agent is 54. Many well established realtors have been in the business for over 30 years, and they themselves are well recognized brands.
Making good use of technology has helped Steve establish himself as a top agent. By staying in touch with his clients through a CRM, implementing a social media marketing campaign and disciplining himself to think like an entrepreneur, Steve was able to establish a good reputation as a realtor. That effort has paid, since now most of his business comes from referrals.
With over 57 transactions closed in 2017, Steve is definitely a rising star to keep an eye on. If you want to check out the full podcast, go ahead and click on this link. And if you want to see the full transcript, please keep reading below.
Kosta: Steve, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. I truly do appreciate it. Thanks for having me, man. Alright, so you have a pretty unique and amazing story to say the least, why don’t you kick things off by just telling our audience a bit about your background and how you got into the real estate game.
Steve: It started, I’m currently 41 back when I was 24. I have approached my mom about purchasing or rental property together. I had a few friends that I knew, some people that had rental properties and a few guys were doing pretty well and the student rental games. So I approached her about that and we did buy a student rental in Hamilton, in Hamilton together and it was a, it was kind of a smashing success from the standpoint of cashflow. But one lesson I learned on that little trip was just that, uh, you know, when students are booted out of their own homes and it’s the first time about, of the house, they’re, uh, they’re called you every 10 seconds about every little thing that happens all day. So it wasn’t without its sort of grief along the way from the standpoint of just management. But from a financial perspective it was a really great sort of shot in the arm to our financial picture.
Steve: So a couple of years later we ended up selling that and then move towards doing some flips together. And uh, and then I continued to do that even on my own and with a few different business partners, got into doing some, some flipping of property and I did prettywell and just kind of had fun, fun doing it to be honest. I really enjoy a ton of, of that process. I’m just making something that’s kind of fallen apart new again. Um, buyers seem to resonate with that as well when homes are on the market that show really well of course they, they seem to sell better for obvious reasons. So it was a, it was a pretty good little business going and that just sort of naturally progressed to the point where I had people approaching me pretty regularly just asking questions about real estate and how they could flip a property, how they can have an investment property and income stream from that, et cetera.
Steve: And just kind of naturally grew and organically grew into probably putting 20 or 30 deals together a year with, uh, with friends and realtors that I didn’t know. And I’m just just kinda helping helping people through that process. So long story short, I just thought one day man I need to get my real estate license and take the next step with that. So I did and um, I got out of flipping property just because it’s a bit of a conflict of interest with my investor clients. So now I just helped them on the buying side and selling side.
Kosta: Wow, that’s amazing. Thanks for sharing that. Yeah. Alright. So how long have you been a licensed realtor now? So I’ve been a realtor for three and a half years. Three and a half years. Are you still doing that? Twenty to 30 deals per year. Much more. Much more now?
Steve: Yeah, much more now because I’m now able to just sort of help anybody and everyone and so it’s just kind of opened the door on that business in a big way.
Kosta: Okay. Um, so in the few years you’ve been practicing as a real estate agent, what are some of the biggest challenges you faced?
Steve: I would say, um, at first I kind of felt a little bit out of place age wise, which sounds funny being 41 because it’s not like that’s that young, but, uh, in this industry there’s an old guard for sure, um, from the standpoint of, you know, the guys that have been doing it for 30 and 40 years and really have their, um, their names built in their brand built and at first it sort of felt like maybe I was a little young. So that was something that I just sort of had to combat, um, started to market towards a younger demographic for sure. Um, to try and capture people that were more my age and that would probably be more interested in working with me. Um, that was probably the first challenge that I had. Um, to be honest with you though, like I think I had a pretty good base built because of that past experience that we talked about. So I, I didn’t have a huge barrier to entry to have a business right away, you know, it was more just getting new clients that I didn’t know where I felt that sort of strain where it was like, I don’t think people took it as seriously just from an age perspective. Um, and uh, you know, that was something I just had to combat more from the standpoint of marketing. I think.
Kosta: Yeah, that makes sense. Something I see a lot of realtors and entrepreneurs I can see in general struggle with is having a structured daily routine. I think that’s especially tough for realtors because you don’t really have a fixed schedule and your day to day things can sort of change on the fly and a lot of cases depending on the client’s schedules. For example. Um, are there any daily rituals or routines that you do to help your plan your days a bit better and help you get started on the right foot that you’re able to share?
Steve: Definitely man, I, I’m uh, I’ve been self employed since I was 16 and I’ve just, I’ve always sort of been a self starter, a standpoint of just getting up in the morning and wanting to make for progress and I’ve been really blessed to have some incredible business partners as well along the way, uh, that have all shared that quality, you know, we just have that sense that uh, you know, everyone’s getting up and getting after it and trying to make for progress on the business on a daily basis and that pushes you as well. A real estates. The first business I’ve had completely on my own where I’m just a solo on my own every day and just kind of having to get up and get after it. But I’ve found that to be freeing in some ways too. So it’s been kind of fun.
Steve: But I’m definitely some routine in some ritual for sure from the standpoint of, of running the business every day. I usually start with jumping into my crm and just sort of keeping in contact with all past clients. So I spend probably about a half hour to an hour every morning just sort of going through my list of past clients. I use a crm to help me stay organized with that and um, and just contacting them, keeping in touch, saying hi, seeing what’s new. Sometimes I’ll check their social media posts or, or, you know, things that I’ve seen since the last time I spoke with them. I just ask them how that’s going, you know, maybe they’ve had a baby or a birthday or bought a, bought a new car or something like that and just sort of try to connect with them and um, and just say hi and keep in touch. That’s probably the first thing I would do every day. And then after that I just try to stay really clean and organized on all communications. So email, text, I go through any past techs that I haven’t answered, get emails that haven’t answered yet. Try to make sure I cleaned that all up in the morning so I can start my day feeling like all my communication is, is cleaned up and taken care of.
Kosta: Perfect. How often do you reach out to your past clients?
Steve: It depends on where they are, where they are, I guess in the cycle of potentially buying or selling or just a past client. I’m so past clients I reach out to every 90 days and then I reach out to current sort of leads, like people that have reached out to me but I haven’t met with them yet. Um, they’ve reached out to say they’re interested in making a purchase or making a sale. I’ve tried to reach out every seven days to those, uh, those people. And then, um, and then I’ve got different categories set up. There’s probably about 15 categories I have set up with all different timelines on them depending on where they are in the cycle of buying and selling.
Kosta: Yeah, that’s really good advice. I think, you know, people business like real estate and actually most other industries, the followup and engagement process with existing and past clients. I so important. How much business would you say you get off of your referrals?
Steve: Man, it’s got to be 90 percent or something. Um, I haven’t actually like calculated that number, but you know, I can think back pretty quickly to say the last six months and I can probably count on a couple of hands how many times I’ve had a client that I didn’t know reach out right through somebody, you know, it’s almost always referral and um, and I think that communication piece really like that we’re talking about the, you know, following up with past clients every day that really helps spur that on because you’re constantly reconnecting with them and keeping front of mind. So when they’re in a conversation with a friend or colleague and real estate comes up, your name is the first thing that come into their mind, so they start to talk about you. Um, so I think that I agree with you, you know, that communication piece is super, super important and obviously referral in this businesses, I think everybody seems to share the same sentiment that referral is kind of the name of the game, right?
Kosta: Yeah. Another great way to keep in touch social media and uh, I can see that you’re pretty active on social media, which is great to see. Um, by the way I also, you’re, you’re part of a pretty famous band Tfk, uh, which has a over 1 million likes on Facebook, which is pretty insane. However, I also see that you’ve been able to garner a very big following on your individual social media accounts for your real estate side of things. Any tips you can share on social media and how others can leverage these social platforms and their marketing strategies?
Steve: Yeah. With the band, obviously we had a company work for us a think swells their name and they, um, they really, really proactive with social media. Obviously that’s their business. They meet directly with facebook and Youtube and you know, in person monthly just to sort of keep up on the algorithm and the things that are changing and how to sort of meet people where they’re at best. And I’m. So I would say I would say I’ve learned a fair amount of little tricks along the way from those guys more about times to post and ways to post and hashtags to use, etc. But at the end of the day, I think it really just comes down to being genuine, posting about things that are relatable to people and that relates to your business and then, you know, truly just commenting on, on, on posts of your core following and just staying engaged.
Steve: Right. I think at the end of the day, it’s just time. I don’t think he can ever replace it with anything. There’s, I know there’s Bots and stuff out there on instagram, etc. But, uh, I think at the end of the day you can always see through that stuff. So just being personable and um, you know, makIng comments, liking on things. At the end of the day, that’s how I’ve done it. It’s not too, uh, too exciting from the standpoint of tips and tricks. But I think at the end of the day, it’s just a, it’s just important to be genuine and truly have an interesting your clients. And keep in touch with them in every way.
Kosta: Yeah, I agree. I think it’s really easy for, for someone to see past the not being genuine, especially on social media. Uh, what would you say to the realtors who, who don’t have social media and say, you know, my business is all about referrals. I don’t need social media.
Steve: I don’t know what I would say to them. I guess I would just my own experience being that social media has been a huge, huge lifeline to my business and to my listings. I’ve probably sold 20 houses in the last year off of social media. Um, you know, even even this week there was two, uh, two different offers that I put together for properties I had listed that were one from instagram, one from facebook, um, you know, and when you went asking them where they first saw, that’s where they first saw it, and then of course they, they follow the yellow brick road and get to the custom website you’ve built for or hop on realtor.ca and look up the address. Um, but at the end of the day I was the first point of contact for them, so, you know, I’m seeing it as a huge, a lifeline to my business and a huge part of the marketing footprint. so I would just say I think you’re missing out.
Kosta: Yeah, totally. One that speaks for itself, the fact that you know, you, you generate business or people who found you on social media so it doesn’t get more clear cut than that. And I’d say, how do you, how do you see technology changing real estate in the next five to 10 years, whether it’s, you know, related to social media or other.
Steve: Yeah, there’s lots of little different pieces coming out. Obviously all these pieces that are helping realtors be more connected to their clients and be more connected to their listings. Um, the amount of just exposure that we’re getting. Like I know through remax, we’re like 40 something languages, I think it’s 44 languages now. One hundred 20 countries that you’re listing goes out into. Um, it’s pretty crazy. Obviously technology is breaking all kinds of barriers instead of doing printing magazines, et cetera. It’s just kinda out there and one day, you know, everywhere and anyone can see it across the world. That’s huge. Um, but then the social media piece is obviously opening some doors there for sure, to, to connectivity with people directly. And I think we’re all in the same place. I think. Anyway, I guess I’ll speak for myself, but it feels like technology is almost gone a little too far where we’re reaching into people’s lives so closely and you’re getting text messages now and it’s getting to that place where you almost want it to take a little bit of a step back.
Steve: I guess, I think maybe moving forward things might become a little more maybe refined and simpler. As much as I know technology is going crazy and everything’s a growing like gang busters. I wonder if things might become a little bit, uh, we’re almost like my hair down a little bit and be a little more one place, you know, we’re all fighting for that one stop shop kind of thing. But sometimes I look at the way brokerages are set up and I wonder if at some point somebody isn’t, doesn’t sort of take over, you know, and there’s like more of a monopoly situation.
Kosta: Yeah, that’s an interesting point about social media and technology getting into people’s lives more so than ever. On the flip side, you can say that this is simply just the new normal and you either adjust with it or we’re getting left behind.
Steve: Yeah. Yeah, that’s, that’s probably fair. I think you have to stay on top of it because, especially from a business perspective, you just have to know what’s out there and what’s being used and how to reach people. Otherwise you’re just gonna you’re definitely going to get left behind. Right.
Kosta: Another question sort of business related. I know you, uh, you spent just reading your bio a little bit, you spent about a decade touring with the band and I’m sure you’ve gained a very unique and priceless experience overall with that. Um, are there any insights that you’ve been able to transfer over from the music business to your real estate business?
Steve: Yeah, I should probably update that. Bio is about 20 years actually. We traveled, yeah, about 3,500 shows across the world, which is kind of crazy. But looking back at it now, um, you know, it’s not like the band’s debt or anything right now, but we’ve slowed down on the touring side just with families and uh, getting older and you know, you’ve got other other things that take your time as well. But I’m definitely from the standpoint of the business side, there’s been a ton of things that I brought over. Obviously that whole social media piece was something that you learn a ton about in that world. I’m learning how to reach people that way and some digital marketing, targeted ads, et cetera. So we do a ton a ton of that with my business that really was just, I just kinda like copied and pasted from what we were doing with the band into my, my real estate business and it’s definitely paid dividends.
Steve: Um, but the biggest thing I think at the end of the day is probably what we kicked it off talking about is just that self starting rate, waking up every day and just getting after it. I’m the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life for sure was, was the music business and touring and um, that, that world is difficult. you know, you’re up at five in the morning to catch a 6:30 flight, uh, most days and uh, and uh, you know, you’re traveling at time and tired and working long, long hours and by the time you get onstage at 10:00 at night you, you know, you’ve been up a long time and, and put a ton of effort in. And then also fRom the standpoint I just a supply and demand, I mean the amount of bands that are out there always trying to take your spot. having to strategize and, and stay ahead of technology. And also just the way people are Iistening to music where they’re listening to music. Constantly trying to stay ahead of all that. And at the same time make a business of it. So you can, you can pay your bills, right?
Kosta: It’s another escape competition, that’s for sure.
Steve: No, and it’s good for you for sure. But uh, yeah, in that business, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s crazy. It’s totally crazy. So yeah, no, it was, it was a fun, uh, you know, obviously touring is, is great. I love the music and the creation of music. That creative side is what drives you. Um, but the traveling part of it is the hard part for sure.
Kosta: Yeah. Nice. Great advice. I’m switching gears a little bit. Uh, I’m a numbers guy. You touched on it a little bit earlier in our conversation. Uh, I love, uh, you know, getting into revenue, commissions, all that fun stuff. Are you able to share how many transactions you close last year or plan to close in the next 12 months or give a range?
Steve: That’s funny. I got asked this question yesterday. I didn’t know the answer, so I thought it was last year. That goes 57 transactions that I closed last year and I’m definitely ahead of that for this year. It’s definitely growing. I’m not sure where I’ll end up at the end of this year right now, but um, but, uh, it’s, it’s growing, which is always good. Right? And at the end of the day, if you’re not growing, you’re probably dying, right? So you want to be moving forward always. And uh, which was able to hire a full time assistant here in, in the last few months, which has been a huge, um, you know, shot in the arm, just giving me a little bit more time to be just that little bit more organized and, and, uh, have a little bit more time for the things that, that I need to do, but I can’t have somebody else do. And um, that’s been, that’s been fantastIc as well.
Kosta: Yeah, that’s amazing. A big time numbers. Thanks so much for sharing that. Um, let’s see you. I do want to be mindful of your time. I end off each chat with what I call the top three. So number one, your top real estate or business book.
Steve: That’s a good question. I’m actually in the middle of right now, a pretty cool. It’s called the mark. A luxury marketing group and it’s a mike, the fito does, does this, um, does this like court, it’s more of a course than a book, but there’s a book attached to it and um, it’s all about luxury marketing and understanding how to market luxury property and the things that people look for in that world and becoming a luxury specialist. That’s been my focus the last couple months have just been digging into that every spare second I have. And so I would say that’s probably my number one at the moment. Yeah.
Kosta: Okay, cool. I’m gonna. Check that one out. I haven’t heard of that one. Yeah, that’s pretty cool. Nice. Number two, your top vacation spot.
Steve: I would say in all the traveling I’ve done with the band, we’d be about 400 planes a year and uh, so by the time I got home I didn’t want to go anywhere else. So I would say, uh, in all my Traveling though, probably my favorite spot that I would want to go back to would be Switzerland, Switzerland. Really? Yeah. It’s pretty incredible there. It’s very beautiful and people are incredibly friendly. Yeah, It’s a wonderful country to, to check out if you haven’t been knowing, hadn’t been. Uh, definitely it’s on my bucket list, but it’s not too often that you hear Switzerland as a vacation spot. It’s a beautiful, beautiful place. Interesting. Um, and number three, you said you were 41 years old, so if you can go back 21 years, what do you wish your 20 year old self knew?
Steve: I’d probably say I would probably say that the power of investing, I probably would have gotten into a more traditional investing at that age if I had known better, you know, and put a, put a couple of hundred dollars a month away at that age. The compoundIng that that occurs by the time you’re 65, you’re pretty set people take that compound interest for granted, that’s for sure. Yeah. It’s not something you’re thinking about when you’re 20, right? No, no, no. And if you can think of it when you’re 16 here, really, really set. So, you know, at the end of the day, obviously you’re not taking money with you. It’s not, um, you know, but when we live here we still need it to live everyday. Right. So, you know, when you have kids and you’re starting to think about weddings and school and everything else that you have to pay for in the future, uh, it would’ve been great to make that move.
Kosta: And if people wanted to get ahold of you or reach out, where’s the Best place they can find you?
Steve: Alright, you can firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll contact them on there so you can always reach out to my cell, I’d love to hear from you.
Kosta: All right. Perfect. Steve, thank you so much. I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with me and I would love to do it again sometime. Awesome, costa, I appreciate you man. All right, Steve, have a good one. Bye for now.
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