Real Estate Agent Magazine sat down with Bob Van Allen of Coldwell Banker Tomlinson Group to discuss his career as a broker and the real estate industry as a whole.
REAM: What first drew you to the real estate industry?
Van Allen: When I purchased my first home as a young college grad, I had a truly remarkable experience. Many of my friends, however, did not. I heard lots of horror stories. It made me wonder what separates the great agents from the not-so-great. I thought it was something I could excel at.
I have a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics and a bachelor’s in music theory. (I know, I’m a nerd!) I worked right out of college as a semiconductor engineer for a couple of years and learned that I needed more. My entrepreneurial drive took over and I made the plunge into real estate!
REAM: What one trait most differentiates between a successful agent and an almost successful agent?
Van Allen: There’s an it factor that’s hard to put your finger on. The drive to succeed, set big goals and have the confidence to go after them whole-heartedly is probably the biggest part of that it factor. The great agents also find systems that work for them and consistently execute those systems day in and day out.
REAM: What advice do you have for a REALTOR considering becoming a broker?
Van Allen: I received my broker’s license almost as soon as I could qualify for it, not because I intended to be my own broker necessarily, but because I wanted the professional education. Being able to call yourself an associate broker (or designated broker) carries a certain level of clout within the industry as well as with consumers. I think those REALTORS who are also associate brokers have an extra appreciation for what it takes to run a real estate company and keep everyone and everything in compliance.
REAM: What do you enjoy most about your day-to-day job?
Van Allen: Without a doubt, coaching agents and seeing them succeed in their business is the most satisfying part of what I do. Our agents are partners in business. Whenever I see their professional growth, I’m filled with pride for them and our company. I also love visioning for the future of our company and recruiting people to be a part of that vision. From our administrative staff and managing brokers to brand new agents and experienced professionals, I personally like to be involved in hiring as many of these positions as possible.
REAM: Tell us about your mantra, “If you help enough other people get what they want, you will get what you want.” How do you apply that to your business?
Van Allen: I’m a big Zig Ziglar fan, and this mantra has stuck with me ever since I first read it early in my real estate career. We are in a people business, not a property business. We work in relationships, not transactions. You have to give before you can receive, in business as well as in life in general. When we think about the other person’s position and how we can help them, people naturally become attracted to us and want to work with us.
REAM: How are you involved in the local real estate community?
Van Allen: I’ll be honest, it took me a while to become involved beyond my own company, but several years ago I volunteered to be on the grievance committee for the Ada County Association of REALTORS (ACAR). Serving for a couple of years, I learned a lot that I’ve applied toward training and coaching agents. I’m now a member of the board of directors for ACAR and am excited to be involved in the leadership as we advocate for homeownership and navigate the complexities of our industry today.
REAM: What are some of your hobbies outside of the office?
Van Allen: My family is very important to me and I enjoy spending as much time as possible with them. My wife, Erin, and I have been married for 7 ½ years and we have two young boys, Carter and Jack. I like to play golf in the summer and ski in the winter, and I’ve just started getting into woodworking and making furniture. I also put my music degree to good use from time to time and play the piano for community musical events, churches and the occasional wedding.