Real Estate Agent Magazine sat down with a luxury real estate agent from Beverly Hills Ivan Estrada of Ivan Estrada Properties to talk about the transformative power of social media and his career. Ivan shares his insights into how his background in accounting and his early career as a recording artist have shaped his success in real estate industry. 

REAM: How did you discover your passion for real estate, and what made you decide to pursue it as a long-term career?  

IE: My passion for real estate actually began at the Marshall School of Business while I was attending the University of Southern California in my sophomore year. I had attended a conference that dealt with both residential and commercial real estate on campus, and I came to the realization that a lot of the skills needed in order to be successful in this business, I already naturally had. It intrigued me, but felt that it wasn’t the right time for me to pursue it as I felt having a solid finance and accounting degree would help me in real estate at one point. After 3 years as a CPA in public accounting, I felt that it was time to pursue my purpose which was real estate. It was something that I had come to realize in college, but knew that life is all about timing so it took 3 years to finally pursue my dream. 

REAM: Can you tell us more about your early career as a recording artist and how it influenced your understanding of branding in real estate?

IE: By the age of 12, I was signed to a major artist management deal as well as a record company. The first thing my manager told me after the deal was signed was, “You are now a brand. Everything you do, everything you say, how you walk, how you talk, and how you dress matters. The world is watching.” I found that to be very similar to the real estate business. Everything we do and say through our social media, brochures, marketing, messaging, how we dress and show up to clients matter just like it did in the music industry. One big huge part when it comes to branding is passion. The passion that artists have really shows in the music and how they show up in the world just like it does in the real estate.

REAM: Can you share some of the key lessons or skills from your accounting background that have proven valuable in your real estate career?

IE: There are 3 skills and lessons that I have acquired that continue to further my success in the real estate business year after year. First one is to be detail oriented. In the accounting industry, there is no room for error. Every little detail mattered. From the accounting work to the reports, every detail always came together to produce a successful outcome, which is the same in the real estate business. From the details from our staging to our listing descriptions and how we decide to brand and market ourselves – every little detail matters. Second is to be in constant communication. I was in communication with various personnel from CFOs to controllers to CEOs, and being able to communicate effectively and efficiently was something that I have been able to do in the real estate business with my clients and other brokers to be able to not only get to the end goal together, but also to be able to do it in a time effective way. The third is to be able to follow through. In accounting, if you had an appointment at 2pm with the CFO, you had to be there at 1:55pm or else you would be late. In real estate, it’s important to follow through with your clients, with other brokers. If you say you are going to be there at a certain time or provide a certain item, just do it. A lot of agents are missing this crucial part.

REAM: Could you describe the moment when you realized that real estate was your true calling and purpose?

IE: The moment I realized that real estate was my true calling and purpose was when I first met with my first manager Fran Hughes at Coldwell Banker on the Sunset Strip. She was so magnetic and energizing, when I spoke to her I felt like I was at the right place. I knew that this was the beginning of an incredible career for me, and I felt that she believed in me. I had this feeling that I just knew that no matter what happened, there was no turning back. 

REAM: Over your 12+ years of experience in real estate, what are some of the most significant changes or trends you’ve witnessed in the industry?

IE: The most revolutionary has been social media. When I started in the business, social media was not seen as a big opportunity to brand yourself or market your properties. Throughout the last couple years, real estate agents all over the country have built businesses through social media including myself. I was one of the first real estate agents on Youtube to start their own real estate channel “The Real Estate Minute” by Ivan Estrada, which was what catapulted me to my real estate success.

REAM: Can you elaborate on the Brand With Ecosystem you’ve created, particularly Brand With Purpose, Brand With Video, and Brand With Podcast, and how they relate to your real estate career?

IE: The Brand With ecosystem is everything I’ve learned as a business professional and also in real estate. It’s all of my tips, tricks, and secrets on how I’ve become successful over the past 12 years. Brand With Purpose is a book that I wanted to give to the next generation and anyone who’s looking to start their own business, giving them the keys and inspiration to follow their passion and find their purpose. Brand With Video is a course that I put together to help real estate agents get comfortable in front of the camera so that they can better market themselves and properties. Brand With Podcast is a podcast designed to bring on other highly successful brands with inspiration to help the next generation, with guests such as Belinda Carlisle, Kendra Wilkinson, and Princess Sarah Culberson of Sierra Leone.

REAM: Can you discuss any memorable or significant real estate deals or projects that have shaped your career or personal growth?

IE: That would be 1350 Lindridge in Pasadena. This was a beautiful mid century modern home that was completely renovated, and I was part of the entire process. It was really memorable because the seller took a ton of my input throughout the entire process. I was able to learn a lot about the construction process, the building and construction management, as well as really understand mid century homes and architecture at a much different level. It was also one of my first high end homes that I had sold, which gave me the confidence to think bigger and sell higher end homes to build a successful luxury real estate business.

REAM: What advice would you offer to aspiring real estate professionals who are just starting their careers and seeking inspiration and guidance?

IE: My advice would be to love this business more than anything and to realize that being a real estate agent is not just about selling houses, it’s about helping people. You have to love helping people and being part of a memorable experience. When people are buying and selling homes, there’s a life change happening. For instance, there could be a new baby coming, or a job relocation, there might be a divorce or death. You as an agent, you are the vessel that makes this transaction possible. So my one piece of advice is: know that this business is about being of service and not just about selling houses.

REAM: How are you involved in the local community?

IE: Through writing my book Brand With Purpose, I had the pleasure to visit many schools around Los Angeles and also partnered with community groups and organizations to give away free books for students in need. The community partners include META Foundation, LEAP Foundation, Junior League of LA, USC Lambda Scholars, The Harmony Project, and Youth Business Alliance. I had the opportunity to speak to the next generation of entrepreneurs and real estate agents, to share my personal story with them – my story of facing obstacles and how it was possible for me regardless of coming from limited means and where I grew up in Los Angeles.

REAM: What is something your colleagues would be surprised to learn about you?

IE: Working in Beverly Hills as a luxury real estate agent, many of my colleagues thought that I grew up with money and also lived in Beverly Hills. I actually grew up in Eagle Rock, California – my mom and dad are both immigrants from Mexico. My dad was a janitor and still is a janitor, and my mom was a seamstress at a factory in downtown Los Angeles. I grew up with very limited means but with a lot of love and incredible parents. People always think I come from money, but I don’t. I worked my way all the way up little by little to success, regardless of my economic background.

REAM: Is there anything else you would like to add?

IE: The key to success in this real estate business is understanding that the business is constantly evolving, and so should you. It’s important to always stay on top of any new tools and technology, as well as always learning more about the business itself. Take courses whether it may be business, accounting, personal development, etc. and have a spiritual practice like meditation or attending local service to help you get through the hard times. In real estate you have ups and downs, and it’s important to really be well rounded at all times to keep both your humility during the good times and hopefulness during the bad times.

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