We sat down with Lyndon Smith with Edina Realty, following his receipt of the 2023 Minneapolis Area Realtor® of the Year award. Smith is a long-time leader at MAR who has served on MAR’s board of directors, the executive committee and as chair of the diversity, equity and inclusion committee. He also contributes to the community through his support of the MAR Foundation which provides grants to housing non-profits in the Greater Minneapolis area. Smith has been a real estate agent with Edina Realty for more than 25 years.
REAM: Can you tell us about your experience in the real estate industry and how you got started as a real estate agent?
LS: I started in the real estate industry with one rental property. After acquiring several more, one at a time, I had a dozen properties that I managed and maintained. After about 10 years, I decided to start buying properties to rehab and sell. I was flipping houses before that term was widely used. My father-in-law, who was a real estate agent, encouraged me to become an agent. He thought I had the personality and demeanor to be successful. The knowledge I gained by purchasing and selling multiple properties led me to the decision to become a real estate agent.
REAM: Tell us about your career prior to becoming an agent?
LS: Prior to embarking on a career in real estate, I had other businesses. I ran a plumbing business for several years. I managed a local band for several years. And I started a company that produced customized promotional items for marketing. Our specialty item was photo business cards, when there were very few companies in the country doing them. Many of our customers were real estate agents, lenders and insurance companies.
REAM: Can you tell us about the specific project or transaction that earned you the Realtor® of the Year award?
LS: It wasn’t one specific project or transaction that earned me the Realtor® of the Year for the Minneapolis Area Realtors®. It has been a career-long endeavor of dedication to my clients, holding myself to standards of professionalism and following ethical practices. In addition to serving my clients to the best of my ability, I serve the real estate industry by mentoring new agents and participating on the local, state, and national associations of Realtors® as well as donating to their foundations. I also serve my community with local volunteer experiences like Habitat for Humanity and others.
REAM: How has receiving this award impacted your real estate practice and business, and how do you plan to continue your success in the future?
LS: I have not noticed an impact on my business yet, but it’s early in the year. I will leverage this accomplishment to increase business and to augment the volunteer work with nonprofits. I will continue to serve God, my clients, my colleagues, my associations, and my community to the best of my ability. I feel truly blessed to be acknowledged for the work that I’ve done.
REAM: Can you talk about the role your commitment to professionalism and ethical practices played in your receipt of this award?
LS: My commitment to professionalism and ethical practice has made me the agent that I am today. In every transaction, I look out for the best interest of my clients and treat every individual with respect and equity.
REAM: Can you discuss your approach to working with clients and helping them find the right property?
LS: Nothing makes me happier than a happy client! I always start with giving each buyer a survey to start the discussion about the clients wants and needs. I observe and listen to them while we are looking at houses to get a better sense of what they’re looking for. I allow them all the time and showings they need to find the house of their dreams.
REAM: Can you walk us through a particularly challenging sale you have worked on and how you navigated it?
LS: My seller accepted a cash offer and two weeks before closing a lender sent me an email with a pre-approval letter for the buyer. I made multiple attempts to contact the buyer’s agent. When I didn’t hear from the agent for a week, I tracked him down and showed up at a restaurant where he was having lunch. After this conversation and a call from our lawyer, my client was able to close, only a few days after the closing date, with the terms of the original contract.
REAM: How do you stay current with changes in the real estate market and market trends?
LS: I’ve been a real estate agent for 25 years and have seen a lot of changes in the industry. I keep up with the changes by reading articles from real estate journals and publications. I also serve on committees at the local, state and national associations, keeping abreast of current trends and initiatives. I’m on the Realtors® Political Action Committee (RPAC), so I’m familiar with new bills for real estate that are being introduced to congress.
REAM: How has the real estate industry evolved throughout your career?
LS: The real estate industry has evolved tremendously in my years of being an agent. The internet has had the greatest impact both for clients and agents. When I first started, only agents were privy to listings – in a book! Buyers had no access to information about houses for sale other than through an agent. Now clients can access listings online. Technology improved from faxing, scanning and e-mailing to electronic purchase agreements and signatures. I can help clients buy or sell a home from anywhere in the world.
REAM: Can you tell us about an early mistake you made and how you were able to correct it or learn from it?
LS: In my third year as a real estate agent, I made the mistake or letting my emotions get the better of me when I was dealing with a transaction. The other agent was not following standard business practice, and I confronted him. My frustration alienated him and my clients lost the transaction. I was very disappointed in myself and regret not representing my clients as I should have. I made it a priority to never let that happen again. One of the first things both of my mentors told me was we are supposed to keep emotions out of business transactions. Especially our emotions. I strive not only to keep my emotions out of the transactions but also help other agents and my clients curb their emotions.
REAM: How do you manage your time and prioritize tasks to ensure that all of your clients are satisfied?
LS: Prioritizing tasks and time management are necessary for the juggling of multiple responsibilities to make clients happy and satisfied. I gather information from both buyers and sellers in a survey. I have a daily schedule which includes tasks in addition to meetings with clients. I start each morning with meditation to set the tone for the day.
REAM: Can you talk about a unique or innovative approach you have used to sell a property and how it was successful?
LS: I do have a few unique and innovative strategies I use for listing presentations and networking with other agents. That being said, I hope you understand I am not going to divulge my secret weapons. But what I will say, figure out what you do best and put a spin on it so it is different than how every other agent does it.
REAM: What’s a piece of advice you would give to a new agent as they are beginning their career?
LS: There are several things a new agent can do to get their career off to a good start. Have your manager/broker connect you with a mentor that has a high level of professionalism and integrity. Take classes, attend seminars, read articles and books, and listen to podcasts about how to sell real estate. Get involved with your local Realtor® association – something I wish I had done in the beginning of my career. This will catapult your knowledge and your business.
REAM: Tell us a bit about yourself outside the office.
LS: I have a wonderful work-life balance. Where do I begin? My passions are my wife, traveling and helping people. I love to travel around the world and immerse myself in the culture of the people were every we go. I have done medical missions in the Philippines and the Dominican Republic with my wife. I also volunteer for several local nonprofit organizations. I love to dance; my wife and I do ballroom and Latin. I sing, both in the shower and on stage in community theater productions. I play pretty much any sport there is and coach the softball team for my office. I coached baseball, football, and basketball for almost a decade for my sons’ teams. I love to exercise; my wife says I’m a little compulsive. I love to laugh, smile and spend time with my family and friends.