As the saying goes, the key to success is hard work and determination. Kerby & Cristina Real Estate Experts, a RE/MAX Results team focused on the Minneapolis and West Metro areas, demonstrates that principle in spades. The husband and wife team of Kerby and Cristina Skurat have built a business from the ground up that continues to grow and evolve each day as they work to become number one in the Minneapolis area.
“Our dream is to build the most trusted and referable real estate organization in the Twin Cities Metro area,” said Cristina “To do that, we strive daily to ensure that our attitude meets our core values of integrity, dependability and providing our clients with creative solutions to their housing needs.”
“My personal goal as a real estate professional is to rewrite our reputation. We are more hated than car salesmen because people think we are only after the commission check,” said Kerby Skurat. “That may be true for some, but not for all of us. We love working with our clients and providing them with a service that will impact every facet of their lives.”
In this business, success is quantifiable by the revenue generated by gross commission. In 2013, the team was fortunate to earn a spot in the RE/MAX Hall of Fame as well as receive Diamond Club recognition. Kerby and Cristina are quick to note that while they are honored to share company with only five other teams in the state who won the Diamond Club Award in 2013, money isn’t everything. Success can also be measured by the clients who refer them to you and reach out when they are ready to move into a new home. Their goal is to gain and retain lifetime clients who feel confident in reaching out to the team regardless of their situation – moving up or downsizing; selling or buying.
Kerby and Cristina always have their clients’ best interests at heart. In fact, Kerby has been known to talk sellers out of putting homes on the market on occasion when it doesn’t make financial sense, encouraging them to explore renting it out to hold as an investment.
“When clients come to us about putting their homes on the market, I think about what kind of advice I would want if our roles were reversed,” he said. “As a certified home selling advisor, it is my job to help clients determine the value of listing their home versus renting it. I analyze each client’s individual situation and provide them with the tools they need to make that decision for themselves. I value the opportunity to gain a lifetime client and give them unbiased advice when asked for my opinion.”
Kerby and Cristina agree on one indisputable fact, they love their team and attribute their overall success to the bonds that have formed within their work family. “We have, hands down, the best team in America,” noted Kerby. “They have a winning combination of grit, determination and an ability to deliver that can rival any team in the nation and forthat, we are forever grateful. We could not have grown so quickly without them.”
How it All Began …
No business begins in exactly the same fashion or for exactly the same reasons. For Kerby & Cristina Real Estate Experts, it started with love. Although very different, Kerby and Cristina were bonded by the same important fundamental values: faith, helping others and a strong sense of business. Their differences are not only what attracted them to each other as a couple but also what makes them such a strong real estate team.
Kerby grew up in a small town in West Central, Minnesota with a population of 223 fulltime residents. Instilled with a firm sense of work ethic, he started his first job at the age of 12 as a chicken butcher at a local plant. Over the next six years, Kerby worked his way through the ranks to night manager. He then decided to pursue undergraduate studies at Hamline University, earning degrees in business and social studies. He was hired right out of school by General Mills, concentrating on business operations for high-profile accounts. In 2006, he turned his hand to commercial real estate for a period of time. After gaining invaluable experience, he decided to pursue residential real estate – his true passion – in early 2008.
Cristina was raised in Mexico City and grew up as quite the world traveler, spending many years immersed in foreign cultures. She earned her communications degree from the University of Minnesota with a minor in business management, and spent much of her early career working to support small business through her role as a property manager in the Twin Cities and participating in various educational projects in India, Philippines, Brazil and Mexico.
Only a month into the couple’s relationship, Cristina accepted a position to work in the Congo with HEAL Africa for over a year. While in the Congo, she taught business skills to women who suffered from sexual violence or who had a lack of access to basic health care. Over the course of the year, the couple kept in touch via phone and email, but it proved too much of a stretch to keep them apart. With a ring in his pocket, Kerby traveled to the Congo to surprise and propose to her.
“After moving back to Minnesota when we got engaged, I didn’t have a job and it was the worst part of the market crash,” remembered Cristina. “I spent a year working for a local nonprofit and ultimately decided that I belonged in a more entrepreneurial setting, where my energies can make a difference. I wanted to solve problems and help people. Real estate made sense. Working together with Kerby to make an impact in our community was the perfect fit.”
Cristina utilized her communications background on behalf of her husband’s clients and his real estate firm for about a year prior to becoming official business partners. Today, Cristina focuses the majority of her time on the buyer side of the business and Kerby concentrates more on listings.
“I love nothing more than meeting new people, setting them at ease, learning about who they are, what they love and what they need, and relating with them according to that,” said Cristina. “In my current role, I get to combine my strong analytical skills and understanding of the big picture with my innate interest in helping people by providing sound advice in laymen’s terms to our clients about one of the biggest decisions they will ever need to make – purchasing the right home.”
Today, the team not only consists of buyers and sellers agents, but also a structural engineer who is instrumental in providing essential home inspection feedback, in addition to running the team’s operations. They also provide a trusted list of recommended contractors for almost every imaginable trade, making the Skurats’ team a nearly one-stop shop for resources.
Arsenal of Tools
Like many of their competitors, Kerby and Cristina utilize technology to reach out to as many prospective buyers and sellers as possible. They not only actively market their listings online utilizing traditional sites such as MLS, REALTOR.com, Zillow and Trulia, but also via their Facebook page and other social media outlets. While online postings are an invaluable asset, the name of the game is exposure. Ensuring that they reach all potential buyers and sellers, the team also uses their own Plymouth newspaper, direct mail and networking to market their listings; they know not everyone iscomfortable with technology.
“We have such a wide range of demographics in our community that we want to make sure to reach out to as many people as possible,” noted Kerby. “That said, we can’t overlook traditional forms of advertising for our clients such as direct mail campaigns and word-of-mouth opportunities through networking in the community, in churches and for Cristina, within the Latino community.”
With this combined approach to marketing their listings, the team is growing exponentially. In fact, their home sales numbers year-over-year are astronomical. In 2011, the team sold only 60 homes. In 2012, they joined RE/ MAX Results and they sold 120homes; 2013, 192 homes; and this year, their goal is to close 240 home sales, a goal that is well within their reach.
The Big Picture
Looking to the future, the Skurats will continue to grow their team to include more agents to attend to their growing list of clientele. With a goal of selling 300 homes per year, they have their work cut out for themselves.
While work is undoubtedly an important part of their lives, they also continue to support missionaries and educators in other countries and would like to expand their offerings to include more international business training. In fact, Cristina has been involved in supporting smaller nonprofits that help women in the Congo become self-sustaining through small businesses. She has also held a seat on the board of directors of Global Planit, a nonprofit helping other nonprofits with technology. They are both involved in their church and enjoy cooking dinner with good friends.
Above all, they are consciously trying to make more time for the most important thing in their lives, their family. The light of their lives, 19-month-old daughter, Viviana, has made them take a step back and enjoy the role of family in their lives. Both Kerby and Cristina honestly love what they do, but they are learning to become more focused and dedicate quality time with Vivi, because their daughter will only be young once. They enjoy spending time away from the office in the sunshine and taking walks in the park every morning to start their days during the spring and summer months. It gives them much joy to relax together as a family.
All in all, they are committed to excellence in the service they provide to their clients, and view their business as an opportunity to serve each client with unique care. They are continually grateful and humbled by the referrals they get every year, and they are keeping their eyes and minds on ensuring their business remains above the crowd.