One of the things that sets great brokers apart from okay ones is having a crystal clear focus. The best brokers choose a deep niche to mine for business and build reputation, allowing them to become the go-to professional for that area.
Bullpen client Mason Fiascone found a clear and underserved niche as a multifamily broker in the tertiary Inland Northwest market. He relentlessly pursued that niche to drive around $65 million of sales volume in his first ~2 years as a broker.
From marketing & sales to real estate
In 2020, Mason was moving from a corporate career in consumer packaged goods marketing and sales with Unilever to commercial real estate, at first as an investor. After underwriting hundreds of deals, Mason’s went under contract on his first property just as the pandemic hit. It didn’t take long for the deal to fall through.
Regardless of the setback, Mason was confident he wanted to be in real estate and started looking at other roles in the industry.
“Corporate work just wasn’t for me anymore,” Mason says. He didn’t want to have to start from the bottom of the ladder in corporate real estate roles like lending or asset management, either. Mason quickly realized the entrepreneurial, self-starting nature of brokerage would be a better fit. “It was a good fit for how much I enjoy finding new business,” he says.
Choosing brokerage in a tertiary market
The Inland Northwest region, which includes Spokane, the Tri-Cities, and Wenatchee in Washington, Coeur d’Alene, ID, Hermiston OR, and many more small markets, is very much a tertiary market. They are all the kind of places prospective brokers used to fly right past on their way to bigger cities and primary markets.
But tertiary markets are now attractive investment destinations, buoyed by pandemic-era disruption and cap rate compression in big cities. According to data from Real Capital Analytics, investment in tertiary markets grew by 56 percent from 2019 to 2020.
Mason saw this activity and noticed that the Inland Northwest region didn’t have an existing “reigning champ” broker for the middle market multifamily property type. He decided to orient all of his professional efforts around filling that gap, building a business plan that focuses exclusively on brokering multifamily sales around the Inland Northwest region.
Developing a unique value proposition
Next, he did something crucial for any growing real estate firm: research.
Mason says he researched not only the local real estate players but firms in other regions and big cities too. “I studied what brokers in the primary markets do, and what the shops like CBRE and JLL have.” It was this process of research and development that led to Mason developing his unique value proposition with Paragon Group. “I’m the local specialist with primary market polish,” he says.
This unique niche leverages skills that Mason gained in his time with Unilever, such as how to write effectively and concisely for numerous pairs of eyes and how to implement processes and best practices to improve subsequent outcomes.
It also allows Mason to better serve his target market, which is largely mom and pop real estate owners. “It’s taking the binder full of receipts and turning it into a P&L statement.” And, he says, it’s knowing that you can’t court that 60-year old owner of $20 million of property with Facebook ads.
Primary market polish
Combining best practices from some of the top brokerages in major markets with his deep local area expertise, Mason pursues business with a range of strategies.
- Building market presence with outbound calls, mailers, etc
- A monthly newsletter showcasing original data, not just recent sales
- Twitter, where the owner himself may not be active but his son or grandson might be
- Delivering exceptional outcomes to build repeat business and referrals
Developing that flywheel took a lot of planning and research, and it also took additional labor. “I created some of that primary market polish for myself with Bullpen and other hiring solutions,” Mason says.
When he was starting out, Mason was doing everything himself: dialing owners, underwriting properties, listing, touring, closing transactions, and beyond. This is a common brokerage challenge, regardless of market. Brokers that operate at a high level often find it hard to identify trusted help that can be relied on to operate at a similar level of sophistication.
Mason realized that he needed to dedicate as much of his own time as possible to his personal highest and best use: meeting and communication with property owners. He first hired a Bullpen freelance analyst to underwrite deals and check his blindsides, giving him measurably more time to focus on clients.
Having increased his pipeline with the help of the analyst, Mason then hired a marketing manager through Bullpen. “This team of two has started to work together now,” Mason says. “My analyst helps me win more deals, then that deal goes to our team marketer.”
Whether real estate, professional services, or any other field, balancing sales development with fulfillment is one of the great business balancing acts. By using Bullpen’s talent, Mason was able to keep his business in equilibrium while growing fast.
“It’s about building a sustainable business and adding value to clients,” Mason says. The team he built over the last couple years is both scalable and sustainable, one hire at a time.