Real Estate Agent Magazine sat down with Soo Yu of Eastern Realty, Inc. Yu is a licensed Realtor specializing in industrial and commercial property sales, with a strong expertise in residential and commercial developments.
REAM: What inspired you to become a real estate agent, and how did you get started in the industry?
SY: The inspiration came mostly from my mom and my brother. For a very long time, they pushed for me to become a real estate agent, but I did not think that was my path. Long story short, I was laid off from a management position and went through a kind of a withdrawal from being a workaholic. After that, I took the real estate exam and got my license. I put my shyness away and started reaching out to tell everyone I met that I am a real estate agent.
REAM: Tell us a little about your previous career?
SY: Yes, before I stepped into the world of being a real estate agent, I wore a few different hats. I was in the Telecom industry as a strategic sales manager for several years. I built my career as a professional interpreter for the Korean-English language. I also worked as a radio program host and producer for Korean FM radio.
REAM: Can you tell us about your background and how it impacted your career?
SY: I grew up in an immigrant family with conservative Christian values. Growing up, amongst many things, I was taught to always be honest, do good, love others and work hard to earn honest money. A lot of these values have become second nature. I was not the perfect child or a teenager per say but, life has a funny way of circling back to you. Having a strong work ethic and genuinely caring about people makes me good at what I do.
REAM: What’s a piece of advice you would give to a new agent as they are beginning their career?
SY: Listen more than you speak. It’s all about what the client wants and what the client needs.
REAM: What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the real estate industry during your career, and how have you adapted to those changes?
SY: Times of COVID and shrinking of inventory. First, COVID was something that everyone had to go through. We all had to step back and strategize, understand what works and what doesn’t in the ‘COVID scenario.’ But at the end of the day, most clients want and need consistency. You can find opportunities when you simply change your mindset. So, I kept at it and kept flexible with changing scenarios. With ‘lack of inventory’, I adapted by not only focusing on being a listing agent but have been thriving as a buyer’s agent by utilizing the knowledge of being on the seller’s side. One other thing that’s been great is the cross-state referrals.
REAM: What are some of the most important skills or qualities a successful real estate agent should possess, and how have you developed this over time?
SY: I want to say, time management, self-discipline and being genuine but not gullible. I always felt that time management skills and self-discipline went together, hand in hand. Being a self-employee means you have all the freedom in the world but, it also means, there is no one else accountable except for your own self. In the beginning, I tried using a memo book, then an electronic device and even an alarm feature in the phone to never be late or miss an appointment. Now, I realize it’s not just about putting appointments in the book. I learned to create my own structure and follow through. Flexibility is gold but, without a frame or structure to keep as a boundary, it may lack sustainability.
REAM: What are some of the most rewarding aspects of being a real estate agent, and what keeps you motivated and engaged in your work?
SY: There are lots of rewards of being a real estate agent but for me, on a personal level, knowing how blessed I am to be able to help others is one of the most rewarding aspects. Being able to enjoy the freedom of setting my own schedule, being my own boss, working and getting to know new people almost every day, encountering client’s joyful moments, the amazing feeling of knowing that I helped a client, or their family is gold. What motivates and keeps me engaged is the fact that I can do what I love the most every day! Along with that, I get paid to do what I love. Of course, seeing my clients smile with joy at the closing table makes me want to do better. I love it when a previous client calls to say thank you or when a referral from clients, colleagues or friends comes my way.
REAM: . How are you involved in your community?
SY: I have volunteered with a few nonprofits for the past several years. At this time, I am the 2023 vice president for AREAA.org New Jersey Chapter and 2024 president-elect for Northern New Jersey Chapter. I got started with this organization because I met some amazing people from AREAA back in 2019. Unlike the name, not everyone who joins is Asian and the organization is quite diverse with all types of amazing people. Through the 44 chapters, there are over 18K+ members nationally. I truly love the passion and willingness to help others. AREAA.org is dedicated to promoting the AAPI community’s sustainable homeownership by creating a powerful national voice for real estate and housing professionals. In the past few years, AREAA has advocated for changes that are now visible and helps not just the AAPI community.
The #NoOther campaign has given AAPI’s the check box in the Census, categorized as “Asian” (Korean, Japanese, Chinese, etc.) instead of “OTHER” box.
Last year, AREAA advocated for the alternative credit bill (HR123) and now the bill is officially ‘Introduced’ in Congress. This bill helps buyers with lack of credit when obtaining a mortgage. It allows additional credit rating system for use by mortgage lenders, specifically, the program utilizes one or more commercially available credit scoring models that apply additional credit information about borrowers who have insufficient credit histories for purposes of determining their creditworthiness for mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration.
REAM: What do you enjoy doing outside of work? Hobbies? Sports?
SY: Outside of work, I enjoy traveling to small cities and beach areas. I really enjoy cooking but these days, I enjoy the joy of finding deliciousness wherever I am. Of course, last but not least, I enjoy watching football and golf.