After beginning his career as a real estate agent at the age of twenty-three, Jimmy Rex almost immediately became a top producer. After just a few more years, he burned out and took a break from the field before coming back and finding success a second time around. In addition to his own thriving real estate career, today Jimmy also owns the Real Estate Coaching Company 100K Agent Blueprint. In his new book, The Next Wave of Influence in Real Estate, Jimmy shares some of the strategies he’s learned by talking to one-hundred of the top millennial agents in the United States today, as well as a few more seasoned real estate agents.
Jimmy shares some of the lessons he’s learned in his own career as a successful real estate agent, from his former lives as a standup comedian and the owner of a meat selling business, and some tips for making it to the top, while enjoying life in the process.
Nikki Van Noy: All right Jimmy, so walk us through how you went from being a twenty-three-year-old rock star real estate agent to broke and burned out?
Jimmy Rex: I got into the business in 2005. In my first full year, I actually closed sixty houses and I thought I was God’s gift to real estate. I didn’t realize that it was probably the easiest market to sell homes in the history of mankind. Then all of a sudden, 2007-2008 hit and I was working twice as hard, making a third of the money.
It wasn’t even the money that burned me out. I called a lot of for sale by owners back then, and I would go and I would meet with these people that were trying to sell their house, and everybody was upside down. Nobody could sell their home. I mean, you’d sit across from people and literally they were having a divorce as they are sitting there, and it just weighed on me a lot. In 2008, I listed one-hundred-eighty-seven for sale by owners and I sold fifteen of them.
I was just really down about the whole market, and about real estate in general. I just felt like I wasn’t working very well, and I got depressed about it. I decided to take a break for a little bit and try to get back on fire for the business.
Nikki Van Noy: So, you saw both extremes of the industry right off the bat.
Jimmy Rex: I remember my first year I think I sold fifteen homes I never even saw. People would just call me to say, “Hey, I am buying this house from this builder. I put your name down as the agent.” I was like, “Oh, wow thanks.” I remember one time a check showed up and it was for $13,000 with my name on it. It was some guy that I met one time who didn’t know anyone else to put down as an agent and I am like, “This is the greatest job in the history of mankind.”
That was the market that I came into and I was lucky. The one thing that I did really well was that I hired the best coaches, even then while it was going great, and so I was learning a lot. I was learning the business. When it did crash, my income was a third of what it had been. I went from making $450,000 in my second year to $130,000 in my fourth year. It was very difficult in that sense, but I was still the number one agent in our office.
Nobody was making money. Every other agent was depressed. The entire thing was just very negative, I guess you could say.
Nikki Van Noy: From the beginning with those two extremes do you have a big take-away, both from when the market was booming, and then a big take-away from when it tanked?
Jimmy Rex: Yeah, I think the big takeaway from when it’s booming is when things are going great, that is when you need to double down. The mistake that I made is that you work twice as hard when the market is not going well, and you still don’t make any money. When it is going great, that is when you need to double down. That is when you need to really put the effort into being your best and that is where you see the most reward.
Then when the market tanks, I guess if I can look back on just one thing, I would say to really pay attention to the parts of the business that maybe other people are missing. The agents that quickly shifted into short sales and foreclosures, for example, made more money in the downturn. The people that worked on all that stuff did great and it was the people like me that were trying to do business the traditional way that were struggling really badly.
Nikki Van Noy: That makes sense. So, regardless of the fact that you came in during a high time in real estate, you still came out of the gate as a top producer. How did you do that?
Jimmy Rex: I think the best thing that I had going on for me is I was very active even before I was an agent. I had a meat business where I sold steak and chicken door-to-door and I had done standup comedy. I actually had produced a TV show. I have been going out and meeting a lot of people and I just wasn’t afraid. I’d served a two-year religious mission where I was going door-to-door literally for two years from nineteen to twenty-one, and I knocked on doors for ten, eleven hours a day.
I just wasn’t afraid to talk to people. You know selling meat was a ten-hour day, just knocking on doors asking if people want to buy steak and chicken, and so, I had no fear of the phones. I had no fear. I didn’t realize how few people in the business were actually prospecting and to me, it was just normal. I said, “Well, of course, I need to talk to people and if I don’t know anybody, I’d better just find out who wants to sell their homes.”
I really focused on for sale by owners at that time because I said, “These people put a giant red sign in their yard that says I don’t have a real estate agent, but I have to sell my house.” If that is not the best lead you’re going to run across, I don’t know what is. I will say that once I built up my sphere of influence, once I built up my database, that is when my business really took off, and that was in 2010. That is when I really started to build something that I actually enjoyed doing and that’s how I have done it since 2010.
Nikki Van Noy: You started real estate so young. It is crazy that you already had all these lives before you even got to that point at twenty-three.
Jimmy Rex: I had a kid who asked me to go to lunch the other day, a twenty-year-old and he said he had all of these different ideas in his head and I said, “Dude, just start trying stuff.” Do things, be out there, meet people, join groups, join charities, find value in yourself, and give to as many people as possible. Then you will settle in what you enjoy doing. But in the meanwhile, you’ll create yourself as an asset to who knows how many people, and that is going to change your life.
That is what I was doing. I had a lot of energy. I was excited about life and wanted to figure it out. I wanted to make money. I wanted to do and experience a lot of things and so, I was just hustling.
Nikki Van Noy: Even though you were in different fields, you were still learning things that were totally applicable once you got into real estate.
Jimmy Rex: I was going up to very successful people at twenty-one-years-old and doing a pretty difficult pitch, and I got a lot of them to commit to working with me. I would sit down with some guy that is in the sales house, or some woman that normally would be intimidating, and I just wasn’t afraid of them at all.
I was like, “Yeah, I will talk to you just like I would talk to my buddies,” because I was so used to speaking to high-end people. Even when I sold meat door-to-door, I quickly realized that the wealthier people bought a lot more meat, and so I would go to the rich neighborhoods with the nicest cars. That’s who I would target to try to sell these huge cases of meat to. In every industry, I was learning skills.
I did standup comedy. I learned how to present. I learned how to present and all of those kinds of things that you have to bring to the table because I think the reason why I had so many people trusting me, even though I was so young, was that I just had so much energy. I was so confident that I was going to be their best choice, and people pick up on that. I brought a lot of what I learned from those other industries into real estate.
Nikki Van Noy: I feel like a superpower is having the confidence to go up and talk to anybody.
Jimmy Rex: Yeah, for sure. It is a problem you see a lot with younger agents. They say, “What if I just send videos to all these people over Instagram? What if I just sent out a mass text?” I’m like, “What’s wrong with you people? Pick up the phone, go approach somebody, go talk to them, and your odds are so much better doing those things.” That’s the way to actually have success.
These younger generations get a little awkward talking human-to-human and it is not their fault. It is just the world we live in with technology, but the more you can get out and face people the better. That was the beauty of my two-year mission. We didn’t have phones. We didn’t have anything. We just went door-to-door every single day and that was a huge blessing for me.
Nikki Van Noy: I feel like in any industry, the phone or face-to-face is a huge advantage because so few people do it now. People are starved for that interaction and it really is a differentiator and it is such a simple thing.
Jimmy Rex: It really is. I am grateful that I grew up in a time where that was the case. I remember when I was a sophomore in the baseball team. I just made the team and I was so nervous I was going to get cut. I was so happy I made the team. I wanted to impress the coach and we had this contest that whoever sold the most t-shirts was going to win a batting glove. And everyone on the team if you didn’t sell at least ten, for every one you didn’t sell, you had to run a mile.
I went out and I just started hustling. I knocked on every door in my community. There were fifty of us on the baseball team between JV and sophomore varsity. After, he said, “All right, who sold more than ten,” and it was half of us. And he said, “Who sold more than fifteen?” There were five of us. He’s said, “Jimmy, how many did you sell?” It was one-hundred-sixty-five.
I just wanted to play on the team, and I wanted to show coach how serious I was. I literally went door-to-door just canvassing my neighborhood. I’d go to all the teachers in the hall. I hit up everybody and learned to talk to people and sell.
Nikki Van Noy: Okay, so let us rewind a little bit. You mentioned that you took a break early on. Tell me a little bit about that break, what happened to you then, and how it led you back to real estate again?
Jimmy Rex: I was burned out. I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I said that I needed to do something that I enjoyed and so I decided that I was going to coach a high school baseball team. I was going to help coach baseball and then go back to school for a few months. I did that, and I loved coaching high school baseball, and I was really enjoying being in school again, and finishing my degree.
Then after about three or four months, I realized that I didn’t have any money, and I missed doing real estate. I got excited again to do real estate, and that was really important for me because I immediately was able to jump into back into it full speed. I hired a guy to be my coach. I had seen him present before and he is the best I have ever seen at selling and presenting, and you know he wasn’t cheap.
I hired him and we went on what he called a listing binge. My first two months back, I think I listed, in the first month, thirty-two homes, and the next month twenty-nine. I was back. I was all-in again.
Nikki Van Noy: Speaking of coaches, over the years you’ve connected with mentors whose names we all know like Tim Ferris and Tony Robins. Tell me some of the big things that you took away from them.
Jimmy Rex: I’ve had a couple of special opportunities that a charity I work with, Tony is a big part of. I have been able to spend some time with him. Tim Ferris, I am close friends with his girlfriend, and we spent a couple of days together. I have had some really neat opportunities and a bunch of other cool mentors. Bill Pipes has been my personal coach for seven, eight years. He is one of the top real estate coaches in the country.
Each one of these people you get around you can see the different things that make them successful. The one thing I have learned is just how intelligent these people are, how much they really dedicate to what they are doing. I think so many people see an end product like Tony Robins, but what you miss is how much time that guy really spends becoming Tony Robins to put so much into each speech and each time he is teaching something. I saw it.
I have a podcast called The Jimmy Rex Show and I formed it after Tim’s podcast. I interview exceptional people, mostly in my community in Utah, but I’ve had some pretty big people on there, NFL players, and politicians, Mitt Romney, huge business leaders. There was a basketball player here in Utah, Donovan Mitchell. He is one of the top players in the NBA right now and he is a friend of mine.
He told me, “Yeah, I will do the podcast,” and it was funny because I was frustrated because I tried to reach out to him two or three times, and it just didn’t work out. I was talking to Tim Ferris and I said, “Who is the hardest person you’ve ever got on your podcast?” He said, “Well, I am super proud of it, but LeBron James. I literally had to set up that interview twenty times before I finally got him to agree to actually do it. The thing literally got rescheduled almost twenty times.”
I said, “Oh, I guess Donovan twice canceling or not being able to do it isn’t such a big deal anymore.” It taught me how much effort even Tim Ferris, who was the number one podcast in the country at the time, it took him twenty times to get that interview that he wanted. I learned this is not an easy thing. No matter what you are doing. It is not going to be easy, and there is real effort you’ve got to give in order to be successful.
The Host Gets the Most
Nikki Van Noy: In the process of writing this book, you spoke with more than a hundred fellow real estate agents about some of their tips and tools for success. I am fascinated by the fact that you are a leader in the field and still seeking out information from other people. Talk to me a little bit about your mindset with that.
Jimmy Rex: I have always said the host gets the most. You are going to learn the most by teaching other people, and I wanted to find out what the successful millennial real estate agents are doing. Somebody actually reached out to me and he said, “Hey, I am going to write a book about the most successful business leaders and millennials that I know of and you came to mind. I’d love to interview you for my book.”
I said, “Oh, sounds great,” and I was thinking about that and how cool it would be to have one just specific to real estate agents. That is where I got the idea for The Next Wave of Real Estateand to interview the top one-hundred millennial real estate agents. I scoured the internet, and I had to hire a company to find me one-hundred rock stars in the real estate industry. It was so fun because it was all these interviews I was doing, and I was learning so much.
I was seeing the things that other agents are doing because we all have our own way of doing real estate. It is very different agent to agent. Those that were having the most success, it was really cool, because you could see the common factors in each one. Then you could see the little things they were doing differently. I know I got the most out of doing it. I also thought about it and what I would have given for a guide like that when I started in real estate.
I would have given a lot to have a book or a resource to just see what these other people are doing. To be able to learn, “Hey, you know what? It is not unique to have success at an early age in real estate,” which when I first got in, it was like, “Oh, if I could ever sell twenty bills a year that would be amazing.” The next thing I knew, I was blowing right past that, and if I had any idea how many I could have sold–I probably would have sold a lot more from the beginning.
I wanted to create that. I know how grateful I am to my first mentors and the people that taught me when I first started. Hopefully, I will be able to give some of that back to all of these new agents and agents that are coming into the business.
Nikki Van Noy: Of these one-hundred people that you talked to, is there any bit of advice that really stands out in your mind that came out of left field, and that you just wouldn’t have thought of yourself that really resonated?
Jimmy Rex: No. To be honest, it was actually the opposite of that. All these agents had so much in common. There were pearls I was picking up from each interview.
I loved to hear how success leaves a blueprint and to catch that same blueprint from all these agents having huge success. They’re organized, they do the hard things, they are very good at knowing what to delegate and what to do themselves, they just all had a lot of the same characteristics. They did it their own way, they kept a schedule, they were very good at lead follow-up and things like that, but they all had the same characteristics that any successful people or person has.
That was the coolest thing to me was to actually be able to pinpoint success by seeing such a large sample of people doing it.
Nikki Van Noy: Okay. I’m assuming that these people also covered a broad expanse, is that correct?
Jimmy Rex: We had an agent from almost every state. We had agents working in every type of real estate field, some just do property management, a few are brokers, but most are agents. We had agents doing as many as four-hundred deals a year and some doing thirty or forty, but just having a very successful business doing that.
What You Can Learn From Millennials
Nikki Van Noy: Okay. Let’s talk a little bit about what you think that perhaps older generations of agents can learn specifically from millennials.
Jimmy Rex: The one thing that millennials are doing that is really cool, and I do it myself, is they’re using these tech tools. If you’re still doing the old school game it’s not very fun, if I’m being honest. My first five years of how I did real estate, versus the last eight years is just night and day. I literally build my entire client base now by throwing parties and going on vacations with my friends, and working through Instagram and Facebook, and by staying in touch with as many people as possible. I can stay in touch with so many more people thanks to social media at no cost or very little cost. As opposed to back in the day, if you wanted to reach the masses, you had to spend so much money on marketing and mail out’s and billboards, or you had to make a million phone calls. It’s just so much more productive to do it through the technologies that are existing today. One of the best parts about the book is I ask each agent what’s their secret marketing tool to get clients, and a lot of it revolves around social media and technology.
Each interview has one or two little pearls–things each agent is doing. If you add them all up and take the ten or fifteen, or twenty that you like best, there’s no doubt in my mind anybody that reads and implements it will double their business.
What Millennials Can Learn
Nikki Van Noy: Let’s look at that question in reverse–is there anything you think that millennials can take away from some of the older generations of realtors?
Jimmy Rex: Yes, that is where we go back to the face-to-face thing, it’s so important to get out and talk to people. If you’re only trying to use social media, and you’re not doing any of the face-to-face stuff, you’re just not going to be able to make it work. Even if you get a million leads through some kind of social media channel, if you’re not doing good follow up, if you’re not relentless on the phones and throwing a lot of events where you can see people in person and talk to them, then you’re not going to be able to close the deals.
I put four or five older agents in the book that are all doing three-hundred plus deals. I wanted them in there to show a contrast and to show a little bit of what the older agents do that makes them so successful. Nothing replaces face-to-face contact or making phone calls. The number one thing I get from the older agents, or the agents that have been around forever, is they spend so much effort making calls and keeping that communication with their SOI.
Nikki Van Noy: So, let’s talk to any listeners who are thinking about making the jump to real estate but have not done it yet. What is the one really compelling thing you can tell them about why they should go into this field?
Jimmy Rex: Real estate is the only business I know of where you can literally make millions of dollars a year with less than a hundred hours of training to get into it. I don’t know anything else like it, except maybe starting your own business. For me, it was the perfect career. I love being around people, I love talking to people. For me, what a blessing that I picked a career that I get to just go be friends with people and everything I’m doing is business related.
I went to a cabin this weekend with twelve friends and it was a business thing. I looked around the room at one point and I saw every single person but one, I had helped with a house. My friends and I are going to the lake on a houseboat this weekend, and I get to go play on a house boat for three days, and there will be thirty people there and ten or fifteen clients, and another five potential clients coming up.
I just closed the biggest sale in the history of Utah–it’s a thirty-two-million-dollar house. I met that guy at Lake Powell, on a house boat, ten years ago. We really locked up our relationship on a trip to Hawaii five years ago. I just got the biggest commission check ever given out in Utah from that guy and he frankly didn’t need me to do the deal, but because we have such a good bond and relationship, he made sure I was on that contract.
For a career that’s just really cool, I get to build really neat relationships and have a ton of friends. I have a lot of freedom to work my time how I want, and that’s a plus and a minus. If you’re disciplined it’s beautiful, if you’re not, then it’s a real detriment to success. It is one of the only industries I know where you absolutely get paid for the value you bring to others. I’ll take that any day over getting paid based on tenure or time in a company or something like that.
Nikki Van Noy: Okay, if you could give listeners one little take away that they can immediately apply to their own business to see results, what would that be?
Jimmy Rex: The number one thing that I would do is that you’ve got to get a presence on social media. You have to. I’m getting forty percent of my leads through social media now. If you do it the wrong way, you actually turn people off. But if you do it the right way, you will attract so many people to you, they’ll want to work with you, and they’ll want to be part of what you’re doing. Really dialing in that piece of your business because the world is changing, and technology’s coming to the real estate industry.
It is all going to be about personal relationships and people are going to want to work with the market experts. You’ve got to create ways where people know that you’re that much better than any kind of technology they could use. They’ll go through the easiest route they think, which will usually be some kind of technology.
I think building those relationships, and especially through social media, is the key to anybody that’s wanting to make sure they stay on top of this industry.
Nikki Van Noy: Are there any red flags or really bad practices that could indicate to people that they’re going about trying to build business on social media the wrong way?
Jimmy Rex: The thing that I always say, if I could sum it up in one answer, is if you wouldn’t walk in to a group of your friends from different parts of your life and say that thing, then don’t put it on social media.
The big mistake, for example, is realtors who always post a house they just listed or something like that. You’d never walk into a room full of your friends and say, “Guys, look at this house I just listed,” They’d say, “What the hell’s wrong with you?”
That’s what you do on social media and they actually think the same thing–what the hell’s wrong with you? Why would you post that? They just skip it and with the algorithms nowadays, if you’re posting stuff that people aren’t liking or commenting on, it hurts you that much more on other stuff you post, so you become irrelevant.
It is important to create value in your posts. If you’re going to use real estate posts, what I like to do is I train people, and I show them how they can give the right property or what’s a good investment. I give examples of how I built my relationships with different clients and things like that, where you’d get a lot more value from it, as opposed to just trying to sell something on your page.
Nikki Van Noy: The common theme with you throughout all of this is there’s a lot of knowledge sharing in here.
Jimmy Rex: I come from an abundance mindset, and the more I share, the more I love, it just comes back to me. I had an agent literally last week call me up and he said, “Hey man, I watched a couple of your videos on YouTube before. You don’t really know me, but I’ve got six listings, they’re all my father in law’s and honestly, I can’t get them sold, and it’s causing some issues. I told them I know the best agent. I know we’ve never met, but I’ve seen your stuff. Would you be interested in taking these six listings and just pay me a twenty-five percent referral?” I got six listings in one day because I share information about real estate to other agents.
I come from a place where I know I’ll get mine and if I help enough people get what they want, I’m going to get what I want. It’s always certain, it’s always worked out.
Nikki Van Noy: Anything we haven’t gotten to that you want to be sure to share with listeners?
Jimmy Rex: You know, the book is really designed for any real estate agent to use as a manual. It’s not a book you sit down and read from front to back, but if you have five or ten minutes, you can read something useful. When the market was really tough, my real estate coach, who was a guy named Mike Ferry, who everybody is familiar with in this industry, he said, “You guys have to take mindset breaks to get your head right.”
I had a couple of different types of books I put in my car. One or two times a day, I would go to my car and just read things to get my head right–to get my head back in the game. The book’s designed with that in mind. If you’re struggling, if you’re looking for a little nugget, or if you’re just trying to get some confidence, and you want to lean on somebody else’s success, pick the book up, read a couple of interviews, read a chapter, read about a couple of agents and what they’re doing, or what they do when they hit a hard time, and it will put you back in a space where you’re able to be productive and be a good agent.
I think that’s what I hope people get out of the book is as you read it, you learn, and you get more confident in yourself and in the business.