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First Person

How Erinn Nobel Stopped Chasing Leads and Built A Better Real Estate Business

“No more shiny objects, just singular focus and maintaining that client connection.”- Erinn Nobel, Managing Broker, Growth & Development Leader at eXp Realty Washington State.

Here are a few highlights:

  • Why having deep relationships with other real estate professionals is good for your community.
  • How sharing everyday moments on Instagram can help you stay relevant.
  • Why the decision to stop chasing leads was the best thing she did for her business.

Rather read it? Check out the transcript here:

Erinn Nobel: Perfect.

Mike Schneider: Welcome back to another episode of our First Person series, and I'm excited to have Erinn Nobel, managing broker at eXp with us today.

Erinn Nobel: Thanks, Mike. Happy New Year.

Mike Schneider: Yeah, thanks for being on.

Erinn Nobel: Like, we got to meet in person finally.

Mike Schneider: We actually got to meet in person. We've been on the phone before--

Erinn Nobel: Yes.

Mike Schneider: --and now, now we get to actually hang out. Well, as always, this is about the intersection of relationships--

Erinn Nobel: Mmhmm.

Mike Schneider: --and business, particularly in real estate.

Erinn Nobel: Yes.

Mike Schneider:  And so, I'd love to start just rewinding all the way back to, how did you get into real estate, and why?

Erinn Nobel: Oh, good grief. Um, okay, gotta rewind a long time.

Mike Schneider: Yeah, rewind.

Erinn Nobel: [vocalization]

Mike Schneider: Tell us the story.

Erinn Nobel: Back in-- remember the 90s? Um, so, in 1998, I moved from Seattle to Bellingham and I could not get a job. My degree was in industrial design. And so, I got a job at the Bon Marche flipping rugs for seven dollars an hour and decided that was kind of a dead end road. Uh, and then my partner at the time suggested that I go into real estate. I thought, "Oh, that's crazy. Why would I do that? That has nothing to do with my degree." So I got my real estate license, uh, and, there it began. Um, became a real estate managing broker and I've been pursuing, just, the path since basically 1999, back when we used to have the real estate books and--

Mike Schneider: Yeah, yeah.

Erinn Nobel: --pre-computers. We didn't have anything, any MLS online.

Mike Schneider: Sure.

Erinn Nobel: Everything was--

Mike Schneider: Yeah.

Erinn Nobel: --based on the book, flipping through pages. We didn't use cellphones.

Mike Schneider: Yep.

Erinn Nobel: It was all agent to agent.

Mike Schneider: Right?

Erinn Nobel: So, talk about being relational. It was all about building those communities and those bonds.

Mike Schneider: In person.

Erinn Nobel: These deep bonds in person with the other--

Mike Schneider: Yeah.

Erinn Nobel: --other agents. 

Mike Schneider: [crosstalk] That's really interesting. Actually, I haven't heard that brought up in a while. But, do you think that's part of why this industry's so relationship driven?

Erinn Nobel: : I certainly do. I really, I really do. It's, it's-- that's where I see the most success--

Mike Schneider: Uh huh.

Erinn Nobel: --from brokers that have been in the business for a long time. They have very-- they forge very deep bonds--

Mike Schneider: Mmm.

Erinn Nobel: --uh, and deep meaningful relationships with other real estate agents or realtors in their community.

Mike Schneider: That's a, that's a really good point. In fact, just about everybody we have on the show, we ask them how much of their business comes through relationships.

Erinn Nobel: Mmhmm.

Mike Schneider: And in general, it's 75% plus.

Erinn Nobel: Mmhmm. Absolutely.

Mike Schneider: And so, you've seen that to be true in your, in your experience and career too?

Erinn Nobel: I sure do.

Mike Schneider: Tell us a little bit about your, your role right now and all the things you're working on in real estate.

Erinn Nobel: Sure.

Mike Schneider: Where, where did you come since you were a managing broker? What does that look like?

Erinn Nobel: Well, yeah, I mean-- the big shift in, in, uh, 2008, 2009 as you know, the market tanked.

Mike Schneider: Yeah.

Erinn Nobel: My business tanked. I sold one deal. It was just, just awful. I had to start rethinking the industry. What am I gonna do to reinvent myself? Um, I was 40. I was not highly technical, did not know how to lead generate. Tried to build my own website. I mean, I was trying to reinvent myself and hold on for dear life as other new agents came in and basically were kind of taking over the business. So, that scared the pants out of me. So I started looking around and thinking, "Okay, I'm at my comfortable little boutique brokerage that I'd been with for 15 years." Loved it there. It was, it was home, until I opened my eyes and started thinking, "Okay, this is a business. This is about Erinn. This is about my family. This is about making money, ultimately." Um, and that's when I discovered eXp Realty. One of my very best friends, Debbie Biery, had joined the company with her partner Glenn, who was the founder of eXp in Bellingham. And she shared her story with me. I thought, "My goodness, this just knocks my socks off. This is the brokerage of the future. This is where real estate is going." So I joined the next day and it's just been a crazy ride ever since. So--

Mike Schneider: Wow.

Erinn Nobel: --I joined as agent 337.

Mike Schneider: Yeah.

Erinn Nobel: Now we're over 16,000 agents across the nation and three provinces of Canada. And part of my role has been elemental in kind of building out the company, um, opening different states, opening different markets, putting all the pieces together to make that happen. 

Mike Schneider: Yeah.

Erinn Nobel: So, I've kind of stepped back, away from that now.

Mike Schneider: Sure.

Erinn Nobel: Um, stepping back a bit, away from sales as well.

Mike Schneider: Mmhmm.

Erinn Nobel: Um, pursuing different avenues and some interesting AI stuff, so--

Mike Schneider:  Cool.

Erinn Nobel: Yeah.

Mike Schneider: Well, that's exciting. We get excited about AI. But, I'd love to hear a little bit-- everybody on here always says, "Yeah, this is a relationship driven business." 

Erinn Nobel: Yes.

Mike Schneider: And I'd love to hear specifics or stories on, how have you seen that to be true, either with your business or at eXp? What, what is--

Erinn Nobel: Sure.

Mike Schneider: How-- what does it mean that this is relationship driven? Do you have some specific stories or examples?

Erinn Nobel: I do. And there's so many things that come to mind but the first thing that actually comes to mind, um, I guess that is relevant to me right now be-- is working at eXp and building those relationships. We work at a cloud-based brokerage, meaning we don't have bricks and mortar offices. We don't have offices at all.

Mike Schneider: Right.

Erinn Nobel: So, people are always curious, "How do you build those relationships and how do you foster that sort of community?" I've built a big referral business at eXp because of the type of relationships that we've been able to build within the cloud-based platform and, and the virtual world that we operate in.

Mike Schneider: Uh huh.

Erinn Nobel: Um, relationships where, yes, we're meeting avatar to avatar sounds kind of weird.

Mike Schneider: And so this is with other agents across-- for those that don't know, this is with other agents across the country you're talking about, or--

Erinn Nobel: Yes. Across the country and in Canada.

Mike Schneider: They're in Canada.

Erinn Nobel: And eventually across the globe.

Mike Schneider: Sure.

Erinn Nobel: But, it's amazing how you can building these relationships and attend classes and collaborate together and, and boost each other up and then when you meet at a real life event, you hear somebody's voice across the room that you recognize and you go, "Oh my gosh, there's Patricia." And it's a running and hugging. I mean there, there aren't any barriers to break down--

Mike Schneider: Yeah.

Erinn Nobel: --because we've already fostered that, that relationship. So, in turn, what that has built is a enormous referral-based business for me.

Mike Schneider: Mmm.

Erinn Nobel: Because everybody knows that, "Oh, Erinn's the realtor in Bellingham. You refer your business to her."

Mike Schneider: Yep.

Erinn Nobel: So it's, it's-- that's the first thing that comes to mind.

Mike Schneider: Yeah. No, that's a great example. Um, and I'm curious. As you think about your clients and your client base--

Erinn Nobel: Mmhmm.

Mike Schneider: --what are some examples-- and part of what this season is about are things that agents can go an implement. So, are there things that, as you've now been in the business for a while--

Erinn Nobel: Mmhmm.

Mike Schneider: --and you've built up a great network--

Erinn Nobel: Mmhmm.

Mike Schneider: --are there tips or tricks or things that you would say, if you're gonna do one thing in 2019, do this? So, follow up and stay in touch?

Erinn Nobel: Right. Right. Gosh. One thing.

Mike Schneider: It can be a couple things.

Erinn Nobel: Follow up and stay in touch. Um--

Mike Schneider: Yeah, I mean, you've got, you've gotta network. How do you, how do you do that? Is there, is there something that you've found really works?

Erinn Nobel: I, I-- Yes. Um, I'm still working on-- my, my goal for 2019 is focus, number one is focus.

Mike Schneider: Uh huh.

Erinn Nobel: No more shiny objects, just singular focus. Um, and maintaining that client connection and being relevant and true and likable and fun and Erinn.

Mike Schneider: Mmhmm. 

Erinn Nobel:  Um, but how do I do that without feeling salesy. I want to come--

Mike Schneider: Mmm.

Erinn Nobel: I want to be authentic.I want to be me. I want to have fun. I mean, that's what this is all about. So, a big platform for me has actually been-- well obviously, First is fantastic for that. Um, but Instagram has been fantastic as well.

Mike Schneider: Okay.

Erinn Nobel: I think I've seen a lot of my clients, kind of, dry up in Facebook.

Mike Schneider: Uh huh.

Erinn Nobel: I've been feeling like Facebook is kind of starting to ebb a little bit. Um, whereas Instagram is still more about showing a story or telling a story through pictures--

Mike Schneider: Yeah.

Erinn Nobel: --and through stories and being relatable--

Mike Schneider: Mmm.

Erinn Nobel: --in, in that moment.

Mike Schneider: Can you give some examples--

Erinn Nobel: Like, not in a [crosstalk] way.

Mike Schneider: We've heard that on, from a couple different people.

Erinn Nobel: Okay.

Mike Schneider: Not so much the Instagram, which I love. So I think that's a great idea, is, if you're gonna pick one platform, pick one.

Erinn Nobel: Mmhmm. Mmhmm.

Mike Schneider: Instagram would be a great one. But how do you make yourself relatable on Instagram. What should people be thinking?

Erinn Nobel: I'm just me. I'm, I'm absolutely me. I share my story about everything from--

Mike Schneider: Uh huh.

Erinn Nobel: --you know, oh, walking the dog or, just the little things in life, walking my son up to the bus stop and then he decides to climb the bus stop thing and, you know, stand up there. Or, you know, oh, there's an-- I'm walking home and there's an eagle in the yard. I mean, it's little stories. It's sharing moment and perspective of my life and the day of Erinn.  And, I'm a mom. I have three children.

Mike Schneider: Mmhmm.

Erinn Nobel: I'm married. I've got a hectic lifestyle. I work full time. I travel quite a bit. So, what does that look like? How does this manage-- how does, how is it manageable?

Mike Schneider: Yeah.

Erinn Nobel: Is it relatable to people?

Mike Schneider: How do you build that into your day? Is that--

Erinn Nobel: Mmhmm.

Mike Schneider: I mean, obviously you can do it while you're on the go but are you, are you posting three or four things a day or once a day or twice a week? How do you-- what do you do there?

Erinn Nobel: That's an awesome question cause I've kind of gotten close to figuring that out, I think. [laughter]

Mike Schneider: I, I think it's a huge question. I think--

Erinn Nobel: Yeah. Uh, well it's hard because you don't want to be present and on social media and on your phone all of the time. So what I do is just take pictures of moments and then I just put my phone away. And then I take time for myself when I, when I find some good time to actually sit down and, and create a social media post.

Mike Schneider: Cool. I think that's a really good example because a lot of people have been saying, "Open up a little bit more about your actual, what's going on in your life and who you are outside of, you know, selling real estate."

Erinn Nobel: Mmhmm.

Mike Schneider: Um, but the actual tip of, how do you do that? So you're snapping the pictures throughout the day--

Erinn Nobel: Mmhmm.

Mike Schneider: And then at some point when you find 15 minutes, you're putting that into a story?

Erinn Nobel: Mmhmm.

Mike Schneider: Is that how it works?

Erinn Nobel: Yes. I-- like, a, one case example I've got. As you know, we are in the digital age--

Mike Schneider: Mmhmm.

Erinn Nobel: : --so we have these electronic lock boxes--

Mike Schneider: Sure.

Erinn Nobel: --which don't always work. [laughter]

Mike Schneider: Oh no. Really?

Erinn Nobel: Right? So, they can be really frustrating, especially when you've got a client standing behind you and it's raining and you want to gain access to this house and you've refreshed you're phone and the thing is just spinning and it's cycling and it won't open the key box. So, I decided to just make a funny story out of that one day. The day in the life of a realtor fail. [laughter]

Mike Schneider: Yep.

Erinn Nobel: Um, but it's telling a story about, you know, how, how technology fails, how we created kind of a bonding moment with the client that was a newer client.

Mike Schneider: Yeah.

Erinn Nobel: First time home buyer, did not understand how the key boxes work, and it became a funny story and kind of a, a favorite post of a lot of people.

Mike Schneider: Wow. I think that's a great example because there's a little bit of vulnerability but you turned that into something and people see how you handle challenges. That's really cool.

Erinn Nobel: Yeah. It's authenticity-- authenticity, obviously. But, yeah, it's, it's just being authentic and, and being true to myself. And that feels good.

Mike Schneider:  Mmm. That's really-- I really like how you phrased that. Is there anything, if we rewind we'll end with this, you know, three or four years, that you wish you had known about the relationship side of this business before that you know now?

Erinn Nobel: Oh, boy. Um, yeah, it's-- [laughter] You know, if I could've gotten rid of that phase of my life where I was chasing leads--

Mike Schneider: Mmm.

Erinn Nobel: --um, for a couple of years doing heavy internet lead generation, trying to grow my database and ignoring my sphere of business. I wish I could just turn that chapter-- throw that book out the window, cause it, it didn't resonate with who I am. It didn't feel good.

Mike Schneider: Yep.

Erinn Nobel: My business suffered.

Mike Schneider: Yeah.

Erinn Nobel: I mean, nothing, nothing really moved forward.

Mike Schneider: Yeah. And the reverse of that-- you know every hour you're putting into relationships is something that you're building for five years from now, right?

Erinn Nobel: Absolutely. Absolutely. I'm building a business 10 years out.

Mike Schneider: Well, thank you for being vulnerable on our show. But I love the example of how you're actually using Instagram to go through your day, let people have a little window in, have some vulnerability and, and really connect. 

Erinn Nobel: Great. Thanks so much for having me.

Mike Schneider: Thanks Erinn.

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