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Triangle real estate firm Lee 3 Team began more than a decade ago with a family partnership led by Jordan Lee. In 2017, Lee 3 became Nest Realty Triangle and continues to dominate the local real estate market. Having sold more than $200 million since its founding, Jordan tells us how his team achieved overwhelming success.

Cut From the Same Cloth

Jordan Lee says he and his mom, Jane, are cut from the same cloth. Despite how similar they are, Jordan didn’t always plan on being a Realtor like her. “I originally thought I wanted to be a lawyer,” said Jordan. “Then I realized I just like to negotiate. Combine that with being a huge people person, and real estate felt right.” He started selling real estate his first day out of college. In fact, he already had his real estate license at graduation.

He began at the same firm as his mom, though they didn’t work together initially. It was a large company with multiple offices and hundreds of agents on staff. “What I quickly realized,” Jordan said, “is that clients came to us for who we were, not who we worked for.” He believed he could be as successful with drastically less overhead by going out on his own.” Jane and his father, Gene, decided to make the jump as well and Lee 3 Team was born.

Risks Pay Off

Jordan was right and the risk paid off. “Of the 4,000 agents in the 4-county area, we have agents in the top 50,” Jordan said. “Some of the others on that list spend over $200,000 a year on advertising alone. We spend about $5,000 and compete on the same level.” What he saves in expenses, he makes up for in hard work. “Our team has grown, but we are all still highly efficient and put in serious hours,” he said.

Jordan says that rather than rely on a big advertising budget, most of his clients come from word-of-mouth. “Two days a week, I’ll call up an old client and take them to lunch for a little face time,” he said. Since the beginning, the team has sold more than 1,300 homes and Jordan says a good portion of the sales came from a core group of about 150 clients who he keeps up with. “I just had a closing that was my seventh transaction with the same couple in the last 13 years,” he said.

My Currency is Time

Although Jordan tries to save where he can, he quickly learned one place he couldn’t cut corners is in hiring quality staff. In the beginning, he would handle all the paperwork for the sales, answer the phones, and schedule appointments. “I would think about the expense of a full-time employee and think I could just work more and do it myself. I would look at it simply from a dollars and cents perspective,” he said. But eventually, the workload got too much to handle and he hired a full time closing coordinator. “I couldn’t believe at the end of the year, she had more than paid for her salary by freeing me up to be out producing.” He says this marked a big shift in his thinking. “I realized that as an entrepreneur, my currency is not the dollar, it’s my time. Now I don’t sweat the dollars nearly as much as I sweat my time.”

No Substitute for Experience

Like many other sectors of the professional services industry, real estate is undergoing changes brought on by technology. Buyers and sellers have more resources than ever before online. But this doesn’t worry Jordan. “A good Realtor is worth their weight in gold,” he said. Jordan says that only about 10% of for-sale-by-owner homes sell at fair market value and they spend considerably longer on the market. “There’s no substitute for experience,” he said. “Imagine you’re drowning in the ocean and a rescuer comes to save you. You’re both in the same circumstance; the only difference is the rescuer is a good swimmer and he enters the water poised. Same thing in real estate,” he said.

Take Care of People First

Jordan says the key to success in any industry is being honest and trustworthy. “If a deal isn’t right for our client, we tell them to walk away,” said Jordan. “We don’t have any interest in selling one house to one client one time. We want to sell six houses to one client over the course of 30 years.” He says his company ethos is to take care of people first and the rest will take care of itself. “Besides what you’re going to do with your life and who you’re going to spend it with, the next biggest thing on that list is where you’re going to spend it. That’s what we get to help people with and it’s a huge privilege.”

Padgett’s 3 Wise Questions:

  1. What are the three most important keys to success? “Hard work. The ability to connect with people. Sincerity and being genuine.”
  2. If you had one more hour in each day, how would you spend it? “I would spend it with my daughter.”
  3. If you could have lunch with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why? “John Mayer. Back in the 90s, I was a musician and knew him. It would be good to catch up now that he’s had so much success.”

For more information on Nest Realty Triangle, visit www.nestrealty.com/triangle.