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Real Estate Agent of the Month Bobby Lieb

From Discos to Escrows

By Susan Cushing

“I’m a people person,” says long-time local REALTOR® Bobby Lieb of HomeSmart Elite Group. Enthusiasm emanates from this charming entrepreneur as he shares about his business and the reputation he has earned throughout the Valley.

Some might say he’s a chip off the old block. Lieb’s father, Herb, reigned king of the disco scene throughout the 1970s and 1980s, with a distinctively colorful Runyonesque flair. As a young boy, Lieb was shuttled between his divorced parents, spending holidays and summers with his dad. In that timeframe, however, he seems to have inherited his father’s expansive personality.

And, after college, Lieb joined up with his father to run a private nightclub.

“It was pretty amazing,” says Lieb. “I have to admit; I was nervous about working with my dad full time. I’d never really spent any great length of time with him before.”

Under their leadership, however, The Jockey Club quickly became one of the most popular Phoenix clubs. The experience was life altering in other ways too. When the club’s DJ suddenly left, Lieb contacted a friend to ask for a recommendation.

“In walks this beautiful girl,” Lieb says. “She hopped in the DJ booth and did an amazing job. When I passed the booth, though, I noticed records scattered everywhere Halfway through the night, I casually walked over to her and said, ‘Hey, you’re doing an awesome job, but could you do me a favor and straighten things up a bit?’ She looked me straight in the eye and responded, ‘You see the people dancing?’ I said, ‘Yeah,’ and she said …” He pauses, as though reliving that long-ago night, then, with a chuckle finishes, “Well, let’s just say she put me in my place. I walked away thinking, ‘I like this girl!’”

And like her he did. He had just met his wife, Mary- Ann. The couple just celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary.

From the Nightlife to Real Life
When they sold the club in 1985, Lieb took his share of the profits and tried his hand at commercial real estate. Unfortunately, a down economy ensured it was a bad experience. So, when his dad asked him to start a new club, he felt an obligation to accept.

“To be honest, I didn’t want to go backwards,” Lieb says. “On the other hand, this was an opportunity to earn a stable salary.”

For the first few years, the Uptown Plaza Jockey Club was doing well, but by 1989 Lieb began to reevaluate his situation.

“The first club was great,” he says. “I was single and in my 20s. This time around, I was married with a new baby son, and it just wasn’t fun anymore. I was ready to strike out on my own.”

Just about this time, Phoenix’s number one REALTOR® Mark Moskowitz approached Lieb. “He said, ‘I would love to mentor you. You seem to know everyone in Phoenix, and I think you’d be great at this.’ And, I just thought, that’s what I want to do!

In the beginning, with family responsibilities on his mind, Lieb tried to work both jobs with disastrous results. He would work at the club until 3 a.m. and then try to be effective during the day. When he fell asleep during his first open house, he knew it was time to make a decision.

Master Mentoring
Fully committed to his new career, Lieb continued to hold open houses for Moskowitz while learning the business by going along on listing appointments. It didn’t take him long to have his own buyers and listings. He was slowly building his business.

Moskowitz wasn’t the only successful REALTOR® to recognize young Lieb’s potential in the industry.

“I learned an incredible amount from Mark,” notes Lieb, “but Ronnie Gilbert, who had run the Vidal Sassoon salons in London, also became an important influence in my life. To this day, I can call him up to discuss anything. Oft en he’d say, ‘This is what you need to do,’ and I might not agree, but would follow his advice and he was never wrong.

“I was definitely blessed to have two such amazing mentors,” he adds.

Now that Lieb is teaching his own monthly real estate class, he stresses the importance of getting a mentor.

Flying Solo

After six years with the team, Lieb knew it was time to test his wings. Putting together his personal marketing plan, he determined that his approach was going to be to focus on his own local community. He and his wife were raising their two children in North Central, so he decided to focus his business locally.

“There were many well-established REALTORS® in North Central, but I decided, this was my home and where I wanted to focus my business,” he says. “I began my marketing by sending out personalized letters, using a bit of humor, and sent out sports magnets, so that my name would be up on refrigerators.”

Nearly 25 years later, he’s one of the most recognized names in the business, and is routinely named the top producer. What makes this even more impressive, is that he earns this spot working entirely alone, while competing against large teams.

“Not entirely alone,” Lieb quickly amends. “Kathy Wright, my assistant is just incredible, and there’s no way I could have done any of this without her!”

Celebrity properties are always high profile, and usually very interesting endeavors. Based on his reputation and growing network, Lieb was hired in 2006 to list the biggest celebrity house in the area, that of Senator John McCain.

“It was quite an honor, especially because it was obvious they had a lot of faith in me,” he says. “But I have to admit, it’s kind of funny because it isn’t usually front-page news when you lower the asking price on a property. But, I guess when that house is Senator McCain’s it is front-page news!”

Ironically, Lieb has sold that same, rambling 14,000-square-foot home, twice since that initial sale.

Secrets of Success
So what is the secret to this disco dynamo turned REALTOR®? According to Lieb, it’s quite simple. “When people hire me, they get me,” he says. “Many larger teams will have the big guy go to the appointment, sign the deal, and then hand it off to one of the team members, and the client never sees him again. My buyers and sellers can always reach me. I always answer my calls. Granted, sometimes those calls aren’t so pleasant, especially when you have to break it to a seller they need to lower the sales price. But, the bottom line is, I’m the one they hire and I’m the one that’s going to be working my butt off to make them happy at the end of the day.”

While he still works seven days a week, he makes a point to carve out time for his family and friends. He also plays a lot of golf and works out every morning. The kids are grown now. Sean, who played college football, now works in commercial real estate at Cushman Wakefield, and daughter Juliann just completed her master’s degree in sports psychology from Argosy University. And his son, Jesse, is the manager of three Phoenix Orange Theory fitness centers.