Altos Research Mike Simonsen Top of Mind Podcast LabCoat Agents Tristan Ahumada

Lessons from a Top 1% Agent with LabCoat’s Tristan Ahumada

By Mike Simonsen on January 10, 2024


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Mike Simonsen

Mike Simonsen is the founder and president of real estate analytics firm Altos Research, which has provided national and local real estate data to financial institutions, real estate professionals, and investors across the country for more than 15 years. An expert trendspotter, Mike uses Altos data to identify market shifts months before they hit the headlines.

In this episode of the Top of Mind podcast, Mike Simonsen sits down with Tristan Ahumada from LabCoat Agents to talk about how agents should be using social media and other marketing tools to build their business in 2024. Tristan shares what he learned as a leader on Facebook’s real estate market advisory board, offers tips on how to use Altos reports with clients, and discusses his high-impact, values-based social media strategy. He also gives his take on what the next 10 years will look like for real estate agents and the business.

About Tristan Ahumada


Tristan Ahumada became Rookie of the Year at Century 21 at age twenty-four, his first year in the real estate business. He is now in the top 1% of all real estate agents in the U.S. Tristan also created LabCoat Agents in 2014 as a Facebook group and has grown the popular social media page to over 137,000 members. He is the CEO and founder of A Brilliant Tribe, an online community builder and social media strategy company. Tristan strives to help people throughout the world as a Fortune 500 consultant, leadership and growth coach, and a People editor for Success Magazine.
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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • How Tristan built the largest Realtor social media group: LabCoat Agents with 137,000 members - and Realtor newsletter with 500,000 subscribers
  • What he learned as a leader on Facebook’s real estate market advisory board
  • How he uses Altos reports with clients, including fun social media ideas
  • His values-based social media strategy, and how other agents can adopt it
  • Why the algorithm “favors the extreme,” and what that means for his approach
  • His Like, Comment, Message process for social media growth
  • Why Google is still better for paid ads than social media
  • How he leverages AI in his work with clients and his team
  • What the next 10 years will look like for real estate agents and the business

Resources mentioned in this episode:

About Altos Research

The Top of Mind Podcast is produced by Altos Research.

Each week, Altos tracks every home for sale in the country - all the pricing, and all the changes in pricing - and synthesizes those analytics to make them available before becoming visible through traditional channels.

Schedule a demo to see Altos in action. You can also get a copy of our free eBook: How To Use Market Data to Build Your Real Estate Business.

Episode Transcript 

 Mike Simonsen (00:02):

Welcome to the Top of Mind podcast from Altos Research. This is the show where we talk to real estate industry insiders and experts about the trend shaping the market today. Enjoy the show.

Mike Simonson here. Thanks for joining me today. Welcome to the Top of Mind podcast. For almost four years now, we've been sharing the latest market data every week in our weekly Altos Research video series with the Top of Mind podcast, we like to add context to the discussion about what's happening in the market from the leaders in the industry. Each week, of course, Altos research tracks every home for sale in the country, all the pricing, all the supply and demand, all the changes in that data. And we make it available to you before you see it in the traditional channels. People desperately need to know what's happening in the housing market right now. The 2024 market is showing really fascinating signals already. So if you need to communicate about this market to your clients, buyers and sellers, go to altos and just book a free consult with our team.

We'll review your local market and how you can use market data in your business. So speaking about communicating about the market, I have a terrific guest today, Tristan Ahumada. Tristan became Rookie of the year at Century 21 at age 24, his first full year in real estate. He's now one of the top 1% agents in the us. This claim, by the way, is verified by Real Trends. I looked it up. So that's great to know. If you're not familiar, real, you have a searchable database so you can go see the top performing realtors in the country. And Tristan is among the very best. Tristan also created Labcoat Agents in 2014 as a Facebook group for real estate professionals. And that group, he's grown that group to over 137,000 members. He's a social media strategist, a frequent speaker at many levels, different real estate events and brokerages around the country. So Tristan's a master communicator with video, with social media on stage. So I asked Tristan to join me today so we can talk about talking about the market, reaching people who need to understand and make decisions, and we'll talk about his business, his journey, and whatever else we can learn along the way. So Tristan, welcome. Thanks for joining me, dude.

Tristan Ahumada (02:24):

I'm happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

Mike Simonsen (02:26):

Awesome. So let's have some fun. So let's start with background. Tell us how you got into the business and what your journey has looked like and why you started Labcoat Agents 10 years ago.

Tristan Ahumada (02:41):

Yeah, man, it's a 10 year anniversary this year, or 2024. I started in 2004 right out of college, and I was living in a room with my wife at my mom's house, and I asked my mom what I should do with a history degree, and she said, look, real estate agents drive nice cars. And she was right. So I jumped into the business, man. I went to law school at the same time and I didn't finish law school because real estate took off crazy, and then it didn't, and then it crashed, and I was like, damnit, I should have gone to law school fully. Anyway, that was the journey. Then I started speaking around the nation after we went deep with online leads through 08, 09, and took me all around the nation, and then I kept on getting the same question, how are you converting online leads at a higher rate? What are the processes, tech systems? And so my wife said, you should start a Facebook group. And that's when I started a Facebook group just to answer those questions. And then it took a life of its own and the rest is history and the

Mike Simonsen (04:05):

Rest is history. So online leads, at the time 2008, there was some social media things starting to happen. I know I started blogging, I think it was 2006 in that time, writing about the market and things. What was it at that moment where you said, oh, this is the path for me

Tristan Ahumada (04:27):

Was nothing else was working for me at the time. I came from a marketing background. So I'd sell ink cartridges, windows, door to door. Back in the day, dude and expireds, door to door was not working oh 7, 0 8. And so I came across, and you might know Craig Proctor, I think Craig, I came across one of his PDFs that said, Hey, you should try Craigslist. And I was like, oh, I'll try Craigslist. So I posted a few posts, it's like, Hey, properties, take a look. And people started inquiring. I'm like, whoa, wait a second. This is crazy. So I save one works, how about 20 in an hour and 20 worked in an hour. I'm like, how about 60 to a hundred in an hour? And then my account got blocked,

But that's what started it. I was like, whoa, this is insane. And then I went to Google AdWords with Tiger Lead back in the day with Howard, and then I came across because they're local to me. They're Westlake Village, their headquarters was in Westlake Village, and they called everyone locally first, and my last name is with an A. So it was just the luck of the Draw man. They called me and said, Hey, we've got a new product called Co-Broke Connections. And I'm like, that sounds like Craigslist. And I'm like, I'll take the whole county. And they said, okay. They didn't know what they had, I didn't know what they had. And I literally went from a few hundred to thousands of leads a month and I didn't know what to do. And so that's where it came. I was like, oh, let's figure out the systems and processes.

Mike Simonsen (06:17):

That's amazing. That's really quite a journey right place at the right time, but also a willingness to try things. A lot of times we are like, we have our hurdles of like, oh, that's garbage stuff out there. Why would I do that? Really? It says a lot about your openness at that point.

Tristan Ahumada (06:43):

Thanks, man. It was fun. We failed all the way to the top,

Mike Simonsen (06:49):


Tristan Ahumada (06:49):

You know, you know how that is.

Mike Simonsen (06:51):

I I've on a long journey myself. So then you started the Facebook group, and that was not until 2014.

Tristan Ahumada (06:59):

2014. So by that time I wanted to do a blog or I wanted to do something. I remember, you remember the tech savvy, savvy agent guys, right? Steve Elli, Chris Smith. And I'm like, ah, I want to do something like that to help the industry. And so I ran it across my wife, president and board member of Oh my. And she said, I started a Facebook group and I was like, Facebook. So I listened to her and obviously she was right. The thing blew up in that process. I learned a lot of things though. One of them was my wife's always right, that's number one. No, but aside from that, social was way more powerful than I gave it credit than I was initially giving it credit to. And I'm like, what else am I not paying attention to on social? So then that started taking me to different routes like Instagram and then when TikTok came across TikTok, YouTube.

And so we've gone deeper in all of these and discovered that there's still a long way to go. But I'll tell you one thing that, again, just being at the right place at the right time with the right mindset was when we were running the group, we were also testing out Facebook lead ads before anybody else. So Facebook dropped them in 2015, and we immediately started testing those out in real estate. They were in the audience when I was speaking one time, and then they came up to us and said, you're running Facebook lead ads really well, and you have a Facebook group. Can we fly you up to Palo Alto to explain to us what you're doing, how you started and how we can help out? I'm like, yeah, we'll do that. So we got flown up to Facebook's headquarters, and then we got flown up again and then again, and then they said, Hey, we want to start a real estate advisory board for the nation. Can you help us? And I'm like, yeah, I'll help you. So for four years we consulted Facebook and Instagram, and then we opened the doors to connect them to directly with Keller Williams and other real estate brokerages. So then they started building out lots of tech with companies, but that was a different journey, which then opened other doors, man.

Mike Simonsen (09:35):

Yeah, yeah. Well that's cool. So one of the things that I was thinking about when you're talking about using these channels for communication, reaching people is I have over really just the last four years been doing video with Altos, and as soon as I started doing that, I was like, wow, why haven't I been doing this for a decade? It took me a long time to recognize that I should be doing video. It took a pandemic for me to sit there and go, oh, wow, the market's going to tank for the pandemic. I'm going to tell people what's happening. And then it didn't tank. And so I started doing the videos just because I was assuming that the market was going to crash, and I had no idea about it. But one of the things that strikes me in communicating about the market, especially on social media and video and YouTube, is that, so we have, I dunno, 15,000 followers on our YouTube channel. The biggest real estate YouTube channels are orders of magnitude more. And those folks are, for the most part, housing crash. People

Tristan Ahumada (10:58):


Mike Simonsen (10:59):

They talk about every day there's some crash, the American consumers, all of the things and have been for years. And so my question to you is how do you think about communicating in these channels when there is a clear path to success, meaning viewers attention? And even if that is, there's that thing, and to me it feels like a disingenuous way to pursue attention. I agree. But my question is to you, how do you think about communicating in these medium?

Tristan Ahumada (11:41):

I've thought about that man. And believe it or not, I've talked about it with Gary Keller, Glenn Sanford, we've had conversations deep specifically about this and we've all noticed, and it's apparent to you that the extremes is what the algorithm favors all the time because it gets more views and it makes sense because that's what they want. They need more eyes on their stuff and extremes are going to get it. They're going to ride the coattails. And so we decided really early on that that's not the brand we want to have. So it really comes down to you, the listener or the person who's going to use social and say, what are the values that I have? What are the principles that I'm going to use when I create content? Because I could easily go the other route and bait and switch people. I have all of the tools, I have all the knowledge.

I could totally do what some of these people do, but I don't. That's because I'm here to help people out. I'm not here to tell you one thing and then do something else. It's just not my style. Even though you and I, dude, I follow you on X, sometimes it's just like I can't, it's so crazy how some people just bait people to make money. I'm like, people are just being baited. So you can get sold on whatever coaching membership program they're going to sell you. And it's crazy to see that people fall for that crap

Mike Simonsen (13:23):

And they demand it. It's wild. Okay. So you said you have followed some values when you create contact. Yeah. Do you have those written values or articulated? Yeah. Tell me your values. We

Tristan Ahumada (13:37):

Do. We had to outline these because through going to social, you also get a lot of hate. And sometimes if you're not used to it, actually all the time, if you're not used to it initially, it hurts a lot. And you have to kind of go through the process of just getting used to that and saying, oh, I understand this world. You either shy away from it or you embrace it and continue to grow. And in that process, I created something I called ipar. It's an acronym. I had to remember the acronym. I had to remember it. So I made it into an acronym. That's what happened. And I would start with K, even though, but I couldn't figure out an acronym that I could remember that started with K, right? So let me start with K, because I do a lot of the things that I do. Krispy Kreme, donuts, that's the

Mike Simonsen (14:35):


Tristan Ahumada (14:36):

With a K, it's kindness. So I do my best to lead with kindness. No matter how many times I've been bashed, how many stories have been written about me that are fake, I approach it this way. I'm like, you know what? Everything I, I'm going to lead with this. Do I fail sometimes? Yes. Is it seen as a weakness? Sometimes yes. But it really keeps me grounded in how I connect with people. So kindness, how I treat others. Now let's go to the top and what I do with innovation, right? It's not necessarily creating a product. It's not necessarily creating things from scratch or any software. It is tightening up processes that are seen as innovative. So we simplify the complicated. And I realized that early on with when I was getting online leads, and I'm like, wait a second, there's a process here. Let's just be able to duplicate it regardless of what type of lead we get.

So in what we do, when I showcase anything on video social, I do my best to simplify the complicated. And that in essence is seen as innovative. So I then is s, there are systems and processes involved in the things that we do. And again, I want to give those to people. Hey guys, look, you've seen the door knocking thing. I created a system. Here it is. Just use it, tweak it, make it your own in your area systems. Next is people, people first in building communities, not only on Facebook, but in newsletters, because I've got a 500,000 person newsletter, I realize that people always have to be first. You've heard of first principles. I know you read a shit ton. First principle is the idea of just, well, where do we start when it comes to anything? Well, when you look at communities, if we look at the most basic part of a community is the feeling of belonging.

It goes with the human emotions. And if I look at communities, I need to put people first and more importantly the type of people that I want to surround myself with, that I want in my communities. I always put people first. What does that look like? It depends on the community and the people I want to attract. And then next is awareness. It's been a big one for me because I've connected with people deeper on social because I'm aware of what they're saying. I take their comments. As long as it's not some craziest conspiracy comment, Mike, I take their comment and I validated. And that's part of being aware of other people's differing opinions. And I think in the world that you and I live in, it's almost like an anomaly to agree with somebody that has a completely different opinion than you. And so that's helped me on social as where, so I'm like, you know what?

Awareness, I need to continually push that forward. And then R is resilience. I need to have that in our industry, especially when you're out there, you have a target on your back and people are going to hate on you. They're going to love you, and you have to take both. And so you're going to get knocked down and you just have to get back up. And if you don't, then that's where you end up failing. But you've got to figure out how to get to where you want to get to continually. It's never going to stop. And so that's part of the resilience. And then K is kindness, but those are the principles that I operate with on social media.

Mike Simonsen (18:19):

That's amazing. I am taking some lessons for sure have done social media for a long time, but really in the past four years with the video work, it's really fascinating having that reach both with the personal connection people form with you from the video, which is different from their connection with their writing. And because you can, we talk about the market, people have very strong opinions about the market and they literally call me a liar,

Tristan Ahumada (18:51):

Dude. Yes. I'm watching.

Mike Simonsen (18:53):

It's the wildest thing.

Tristan Ahumada (18:55):

It is, it is, man. At some point you have to think, do I even continue on this specific thread or do I just start a new one? It's not even worth

Mike Simonsen (19:07):

It. Yeah. I

Tristan Ahumada (19:08):

Watch the people that, dude, I watch the people that call you a liar, and I'm like, this is crazy. I follow you.

Mike Simonsen (19:14):

Yeah, on X,

Tristan Ahumada (19:16):

It gets crazy.

Mike Simonsen (19:17):

It gets crazy. Okay, that's terrific. I took some things there. I'm going to implement some of that, thinking foremost as I go and I starting to get better at my social media work and my video. You're awesome, buddy.

Tristan Ahumada (19:35):

You're doing very

Mike Simonsen (19:36):

Good. Thank you. Okay, so that's a great lesson. So let's shift for a second. You do obviously a lot of work with agents and teaching agents how to communicate. What about your message with buyers and sellers right now? I mean, you still run a big real estate business, so what's your mechanism and what's your voice and message for home buyers and sellers? Right now, we're in this crazy world where suddenly everything is unaffordable, but people are still transacting, people are afraid. We've been expecting a recession for two years. What do you tell people now?

Tristan Ahumada (20:24):

Yeah, so early on, one of my other failures was not doing a great job with my past clients or my sphere because of online leads, right? We were so heavy on online, we're like new leads, new leads, more new leads, more new leads, and what happened to my past clients? So 2015, I started shifting over to taking care of our past clients and our sphere. And what we noticed is that that created its own form of attraction to continue to use us. So for us as a real estate company, we focus a lot on attraction. And that means there's a recent stat that we've been using a lot of this is internally that 95% of the homeowners aren't transacting right now. Only 5% are on average in a year. And if we look at that and say, well, what are we doing with the rest of the 95% of the homeowners that opened up our eyes and saying, God, we need to take care of them during now this 10 year average that they're not doing anything.

And so what we did is we built another acronym for you. We built a system that I reverse engineered from saying, why are we getting one referral a day? What's going on? And the acronym is hop. And I didn't start with O because that to me is the most important one because OP didn't make sense. So it's hop and it's your brand needs to meet them at home, online and in person. And these are your core past clients, core sphere. So people that would recognize you if they saw you at a supermarket or anywhere in your community, and here's how it works. My brand's going to meet them at home with either, it could be either or all of them, depending on how much money you make. It could be as simple as you picking up handwritten notes from Target or Amazon. They're cheap. It's like 10 bucks for a few is your brand meeting them at home with a handwritten note card that you're writing, and if you don't have money, you better be writing them.

But if you have some money, go to handwritten or audience or some other company have that automated. Next postcards, they actually still work. Just the messaging has to be right. So they're getting postcards from us. Next, we put a lot of our clients, our core past clients in sphere in a quarterly gift that is sent out to them. And you can use a company like Client Giant or whoever, I don't care. And then the fourth one is some type of magazine that they get that's value driven. So 4, 1, 2, 3, it doesn't matter. Your brand needs to meet them at home, monthly, quarterly, whatever you want. Next is, oh, it's online. Your brand, and this is the most powerful one for us. Your brand needs to meet them online. So that means you need to have, and I go to the free ones first, but you need to have a newsletter, and that newsletter needs to provide actual value, not, hey, spring forward fallback value.

What does that value look like for me in the community? I'm concerned about what's happening here. What are we building? Tell me how it is to live here and what I should do, right? Newsletter online also encompasses remarketing. Retargeting. There's no reason your whole database shouldn't be retargeted or remarketed to, its pennies for the amount of people you can retarget on social. 70% of Americans are on Facebook, dude, that's 70% of your database on average. Everyone should be. And like I said, it's like you could do a dollar a day. So that's happening. Next is social. And a lot of people don't use social, but a lot of our past clients are on social and I go and search for them on social and connect with them on social. We have a simple thing that we do daily as a team where I created this one for, while I was consulting with Facebook, I did it for their other verticals, and then I added it to real estate.

It's what I call like comment, message. And they liked it a lot. Facebook loved this because it hit on a few dynamics, and that's number one, it's free. Everyone can do this organic. And that means if I'm scrolling through Mike, I'm going to just use X, right? I'm scrolling through, I see you, and I'm like, oh dude, great post. I like it, right? I hearted it. Then I'm going to comment, I'm going to read through it. I'm going to be like, oh, that's awesome, dude. Good book. By the way, I picked up a book that you put out the other day. I forgot what it was. I'm like, oh, I'm going to pick it up. The one you had on your bedstand, maybe it was like two or three months ago, you said, I go to this one all the time, and I read it.

I was like, oh, got it. Anyway, comment. You like, you comment, right? And then here's the extra piece that we sometimes don't do, and that's we message them privately. If they're already our friend or following them and they're following us, I'm going to message you. Or if I have your cell phone, I'm going to text you. And if you want to go a little further, some people feel comfortable with this, I'm going to video message you. So what happens is multiple things happen there. One is you're providing the engagement necessary for you to actually start growing. Because a lot of people think, well, I have to post to grow. Yeah, that's one option. If you really want to get the engagement you want though, you've got to engage, right? That's one. The other piece that happens is you make people feel significant. I don't know about you, but I post, so people like my shit.

I don't post, nobody likes my stuff. So you fall into that psychologically, it's like, oh, got it. You're making people feel good. That's number two. And number three, here's the part that Facebook loved when I like comment and message, it prompts you to think for the most part, well, what's Tristan up to? Lemme go check. And as soon as you click on my profile, you just hack the algorithm for the next 20 to 30 minutes. Now I'm going to populate your feed if I'm posting. And that's how it works on Instagram and Facebook and LinkedIn. So if you do that, often enough people will text you and messages like, man, you're on my feet all the time. I'm like, yeah, it's crazy, right?

Mike Simonsen (27:29):


Tristan Ahumada (27:29):

Got that message this morning from one of our past clients, and so that's what they loved and that's what we should be doing. So online, and also, dude, I don't know about you, but all of our competitors as real estate agents, the big portals and even new home builders, they're using Google AdWords and then they're taking the leads or they're selling them or giving us referrals off of them. And so why not just go and use Google AdWords on your own? Just type in if you're listening to this type in homes for sale in and then put your city, chances are very high, you're going to have one of your competitors at the very top, and there's usually three or four if it's a bigger city. And so we do Google, PPC heavy, and we market on there often. So that's online. Again, another option there. And do you guys use Google PPC in what you do?

Mike Simonsen (28:31):

We have experimented with paid over time, not successfully at all. Altos is an expertise business. And so the relationship is, oh, these guys know what they're talking about. And so the link from like, oh, I want market data to, it's more like you get into our universe, and in fact the posting and the video and our webinars and things like that is like, that's how we help people develop their relationship to trust us and those kinds things. But this is terrific because I can tell you a couple of things that as you're talking, I know when you comment on Twitter X on something, I post, I recognize, oh, Tristan's paying attention. And I've had that experience with you with a comment that you've made on my Twitter post that is, I understand exactly what you're saying here and I appreciate it. And the things about retargeting is really fascinating. We've done a little bit of things like that. We don't do paid. We haven't done any real paid marketing at Altos in years. Well, you

Tristan Ahumada (29:59):

Don't need to, man. You've attracted some amazing teams and brokerages that just distribute your, I distribute your stuff all day. So valuable, right?

Mike Simonsen (30:11):

Well, and that's what works for, we do it a, we give away a lot of content as opposed to paying for things. But there's like I'm learning here, this is terrific. It's really great. Here's the

Tristan Ahumada (30:21):

Online, well, there's a piece on the Google PPC that I just want to drill down because we've done this since the Google ad, since oh 8, 0 9, and that's when we were working with Facebook closely. They wanted to understand why we were spending so much money with Google, and we looked at the way people interact, and this is what we came up with. In short, when people are scrolling through Facebook, the intent is much lower. I'm looking for family, maybe news, just what's up in general. And I see a listing and I'm like, oh, or a carousel ad with properties. I'm like, cool, kick click. And then I'm like, oh, my info. Sure, go ahead. That's the intent for the most part, when you're going to Google, the intent is so much deeper. I always see it's middle of funnel to even a little bit lower, meaning about bottom of funnel ready to go, because I'm typing in homes for sale in Malibu, close to Pepperdine University that I can use as rentals enter.

And I'm like, dude, the intent is so massive. So this is why we go deep on Google, PPC over everything else because we're getting 'em at the right time before they have a real estate agent, but enough for them to have questions about my specific area. So there you go. And then we populate it that way. But online is big. And I'll go to the last one here, and that's P in person. One of my friends said, this business is nose to nose, toes to toes. And I was like, oh, that's really good. I had never heard that one. And it's so true. So in person, we've broken it down into three, and that's big events, which I don't like, but my team loves and small dinners, lunches, 3, 4, 5 people. And then my favorite one, one-on-one, the coffees, the sit-downs. And we've seen that the one-on-ones maybe because I like them and I prefer them, are just simply where you create the best relationships. And that's what all these other companies can't take away from us, the relationships. And that also is the reason that I love social so much because although we're throwing it out to a lot of people, when you're engaging on social as you, it's a one-on-one. I'm doing one to many, but you're engaging, and that's why it's so powerful. And so I go to coffee and it's like one-to-one on both sides. I just have to shut up and listen and not talk over you.

Mike Simonsen (33:17):

That's all. That's outstanding. A question on the shifting nature of the social world and TikTok is this unbelievable force, and is there intent there? And is there a message that, how do you think about that?

Tristan Ahumada (33:45):

Yeah, right now, I've primarily used TikTok to connect with agents and just give them updates based on articles. So we don't have that bad of a following. I think we're at like 36,000 followers on TikTok. But what we're going to test out is having a deeper conversation with people. We're noticing tiktoks trending for longer videos, and they're favoring them just over the last two months. And that's videos that are over a minute are now getting more engagement, more shares, deeper connect. So the thing that we're noticing is working on YouTube as well, is a lot more authentic videos, less edits, more natural thumbnails. People want to be able to connect with a real person. That's happened just over the last four to five months. So that's a very new trend, which is what we're testing out as well. I'll tell you one thing that's not dying out since you brought TikTok. It's the idea of community. I don't know if you watched Bezos in the last interview he did with Lex Free.

Mike Simonsen (34:56):

Oh, I haven't seen that yet. I've seen people talk about it. I saw some snippets, but yeah, tell me about it.

Tristan Ahumada (35:01):

It's good, man. He says, people often ask me, what are we working on next? Because I think the more important question is what isn't going to change over the next 10 years in our industry? And if I think about that for our industry, I think, well, this is how I reverse hop into it. It's like, well, what's not changing? Well, they're going to need us. They're just going to need us in a different way. They're always going to want to pay less. A hundred percent. They want to pay less, right? I can always guarantee there, but they also want the process to be as smooth as possible. That's not going to change. And they're going to want to associate with somebody that's extremely professional that can get them the most money if they're selling or get them the best home for what they want on the buying side.

Those things are never going to change. And if we can be able to express that and attract through that, I think we've got something. So that's what we are always looking. It's like how can we refine that? How can we express that better through storytelling? And when I look at TikTok, I think that is an opportunity for people to connect authentically. It's like Simon Sinek says, people aren't attracted to what you do. They're attracted to why you do it and how you do it. I'm like, oh yeah, that's so true. People connect with me because they have this feeling of who I am, and I'm like, oh, and why I'm doing it.

Mike Simonsen (36:37):

Interesting. Well, I appreciate how systematized you are in all of these steps that we're talking about, right? The s and i Spark is your systems, and I can really, really see it come through. It's really, really powerful. Okay, let's shift for a second to talk about the market. You're in Malibu, Westlake Village. What's going on in the market?

Tristan Ahumada (37:03):

Market's been pretty healthy here, man. Even when we were supposed to, this is what I did. I started following you more. I started following Lance more when it was on Fortune. I was like, who is this guy? I followed him and I followed, oh geez, Logan as well. I followed you guys through Covid because the very first thing I saw was like, this isn't crashing. People we're not paying attention. So I need the data because this isn't crashing. And so when I started looking at the data, I realized that it wasn't crashing and we were going to have a trajectory of awkwardness, and it happened. I was like, fuck yes. I mean, yes. And so here locally, you have all the stats and we looked at them. We didn't go through a really terrible time in Southern California. In fact, San Diego, Ventura County, LA County have been doing great.

Even now you take a look at our stats, the epicenter of everything that happened that was bad was Austin, right? In the surrounding areas, which sucks. It sucks. But even now, as things are shifting slowly, we're on a trajectory upwards locally. And it's hard to explain that to locals when they're watching the rest of the world. Because if one thing was extremely apparent to us these last few years is that everything was very regional in our area, California, we lost a lot of people to Idaho, Texas, and other places. So people were wondering, how bad is it? But it really didn't get that bad for us here and now prices are still going up. We're still low on inventory, very low on inventory. And sometimes they need us to be able to explain, well, what is happening extremely low. And that's why I love going to yours, because when I go to Altos type in the zip code I have on the right, there's a table, and I literally just go command shift four, and I crop it and I text it to my clients.

That is what I do, dude. That's how easy it is. And they're like, well, whoa, thanks. And this is the one piece that has helped us out a lot. Every time I have a conversation with somebody before I have a conversation, if I know I'm calling past clients, my core fear, whoever it is, I know exactly what I'm going to give away. Meaning I've got something, Mike, I got something for you. Listen, once we hang up, I'm going to text this over to you. Take a look at it, let me know what you think. If it's from you, if it's from KCM, it doesn't matter because I'm driving value at every point of contact. And that's what I think a lot of real estate agents are missing. They end their calls with, yeah, listen, if you have a question, call me or I'll call you in a month. I'll call you in two months. Right? You miss such a big opportunity to impact them and say, oh, Tristan's always giving me value.

Mike Simonsen (40:19):

Yeah, for sure. That's great. You talk about screenshotting the market, little market profile table, the Altos report. When agents ask me about how do I do video and talk about the market, I say, take up your Altos report. Look at the market profile and read it. They go, the median price is this inventory is here, it's up this week. You're like, read the data to people. Dude,

Tristan Ahumada (40:48):

Actually, hold on. I didn't think about this. That little table that you have on your right, you could, for your area, if you're listening your area, snapshot it, put it in a green screen behind you on TikTok, stand in front of it and say, Hey, check out what's happening in the whatever city. And then you can take a look at days on market, which is awesome, right? Average price and all these other details that you can give a really quick snapshot on. That's a pretty good hack, dude.

Mike Simonsen (41:19):

All right. I can't wait to see people do it when if you're listening and you do it, send me and Tristan the link so we can check it out and share it. So the market is surprisingly resilient. This on the way up. Is that true at the super high end? Have you seen any softer share?

Tristan Ahumada (41:39):

No, it's been a little softer, but one thing we did notice is that, and I don't know where it's coming from, but dude, people have cash and at a high price, they literally, they make their own rules. I can't explain it to you, but 30% of homes in Malibu sell all cash. A lot of the times sell off market. I didn't even know it was for sale. I think luxury areas, extreme luxury areas are very different. And you can never guess because they're not the ultra high net worth individuals are operate by different rules. Meaning if they want to buy something, they could care less what the price is. They're like, I need that. And they come in, buy cash. So I think the ones that are watching get hit a little bit more are the ones right in the middle. So not the extra high prices, but the ones right in the middle, especially in our areas where you have now the LA tax mansion tax, which is ridiculously dumb.

Why that's really hurt luxury sales in that, I would say five to 20 million price point. When you start going up higher, at that point, nobody gives a shit. It doesn't even matter, but it's at right in between price point. You're now second guessing. It's like, I don't know. So that's what we've noticed, man. That's the sweet spot for tough times under our areas, you're looking at even like Santa Monica, let's pick Santa Monica, 1.5, 1.7. It's multiple offers, way, way low inventory. I think last time I checked double digits in amount of value that has gone up year over year, which is nuts. It's like, what? But yeah, in this market, I think here's what I'm scared of because I still think as great as people are predicting things, which they're not, I think that we don't know what's going to happen. And I'm scared of if rates drop too fast, then I think I would be concerned about a crash a year from now, a year and a half from now, because people come in, they now start pushing prices even higher, faster. And then the inventory that we were missing finally shows up because the rates are low enough for homeowners that locked in at 3%, 4% are like, I'll sell at four and a half percent. Maybe it drives prices up fast. And I think at that point we have an even more serious affordability issue in areas like ours. And that's concerning to me, man. Then I think, I don't know what happens after

Mike Simonsen (45:03):

That. Yeah, okay. So this is not an uncommon fear and the fear that I hear people ask me a lot, and it is, if rates fall, is there a potential flood of sellers that might come out and go, oh, I can finally sell, and so supply is going to get stimulated in general. I disagree with that. I think that what's going to happen is actually the first part of your hypothesis there, which is rates fall, demand stimulates, inventory falls because we're buying more. And so that's roughly what I expect to happen. However, you did phrase it in slightly different way than most of the times I hear the fear, and that is there's a lag time that so buyers buy immediately. Sellers are slower to adjust. And so we could get into an environment where we drop mortgage rates, drop this fall, this spring, we stimulate a lot of demand that pushes prices higher, and then the sellers at the end of the year start saying like, oh, maybe it's time at the same time as rates go back up again. And so now we have the supply and demand imbalance. So I could see how that, that's a nuance to think about for 2025 that I could see how that could potentially roll into place. That's a good way. That's useful to me because I've been, I'm out there slugging away going, no, when mortgage rates fall, inventory's going to fall. And when they rise, inventory rises. But maybe with the lag time, we get some tricky timing in there.

Tristan Ahumada (46:53):

Yeah, that's the only thing I can see. But again, what we can see isn't the problem. Right,

Mike Simonsen (47:01):

Exactly. Exactly.

Tristan Ahumada (47:04):

But I'm not going to go freak out on the internet about it. Okay. Because enough people doing that right now. It's like something's going to hit this year. Who knows what it's going to be.

Mike Simonsen (47:13):

Yes. Okay. Real briefly, we're getting close to the top of the hour. This is terrific, Tristan, I really appreciate it. Tell me a little bit about running a real estate team and building a team over the last decade. I think you've got, how many agents do you have? 17. 17. That's what real trends told me. I looked you up today. And so tell me about running that and then running that now and looking the future and what you see happening.

Tristan Ahumada (47:47):

Yeah, so I'm always testing things out because I feel like I always have a feeling that I'm not doing enough and that I'm missing something. And I think it's a normal feeling for people pushing forward. It's like, oh, what am I missing? And that's a curse. And also I think it's a benefit. So I'm always testing out new ways to motivate our agents through different incentives. Charlie Munger always says, oh, he used to say is the incentives make the world go round. And so I'm always looking to incentivize our agents to stay in a team environment, because the one thing I noticed over the years from doing it wrong is that if you don't give agents in a team a feeling like they can grow in the team for a long period of time, they're immediately going to look to go elsewhere. And that's what happens in brokerages too. So what I did is I started allowing team, my teams that I have, and this is only my local team, we've also have expansion teams, but to be able to grow teams within the team and create partnerships outside of my current brokerage. So we're always looking to test things out, man, I'm never scared enough. I'm never scared enough to say no. I'm actually the opposite. I'm like, if I'm too scared to try that, what am I not looking at? As long as it's within the rules or gray area where I'm not going to get

Mike Simonsen (49:34):

Too penalized, like you're doing 60 Craigslist ads at a time.

Tristan Ahumada (49:37):

Yeah, that was the gray area.

Mike Simonsen (49:43):

You got to learn what the boundaries are. That's fair enough.

Tristan Ahumada (49:45):

But I think look, for teams, you have to look as a team leader and broker, how can I make it easier for my team to continue to grow in this environment as soon as they feel like there's no more growth when they're going to leave?

Mike Simonsen (50:00):

Got it. Do you have a vision for the next decade, big trends that we should be paying attention to or things that maybe I I'm not picked up yet.

Tristan Ahumada (50:15):

Yeah. I am noticing one thing, and I don't know how this progresses, but the idea of the single mega agent, I think nobody's paying attention to it, but Mike, with AI coming in so fast, there's no reason that I don't build out, and I've seen this in luxury. This is why I'm telling you in luxury markets, I've seen it. A single agent can dominate a luxury market. They do actually. And that single agent has a bunch of staff, like literally a bunch of staff and one or two or three showing agents or partners, that's mega agent and variations of it that I think has the possibility to grow in a metropolitan area, average price points with ai. Because if I can grab my phone and text whatever AI at the time is, and I say, Hey, I want to write up a contract for Mike Simonson, 2 million, 50% down, and here are the stats.

When you're done, send it over to him to DocuSign and send it over to, and then it's done, send it over. And then I have AI also set up everything that I need to with my TC to review the contracts, send you any details, put you on a nurture campaign. At this point, you create somebody that allows you to function and so many different levels on ai, and you're still going to have a showing partner. But now, dude, my cost is significantly down and I can do a lot more when we get there. And I don't think anybody's really paying attention to this because teams are the ones that are like, how can I leverage? How can I leverage? The mega agent isn't necessarily asking the question yet.

Mike Simonsen (52:21):

That's great. That is an excellent insight about ai and I love the thinking about that as the consumer goes back to your earlier statement, what's not going to change? The consumer needs someone to provide a smooth process of a professional, and so that gets the job done well, and that's not going to change, but it's the agent that can leverage the AI development to meet those things that aren't going to change.

Tristan Ahumada (52:52):

Yeah, that's it. That's a great way of putting it, man. And I'll tell you, I think, and I'll leave you with this, but I think with real estate, we're taught to, as salespeople, we're taught to always, even though we're told not to, but we're taught to say, Hey, look, I'm the best. This is what I've done. I give you a list of h

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