Top 5: Side’s Diverse Presence at Inman Connect Now 2020

Pictured above, Side Founding partner agents from left to right: Michael Silva, Founder of Happen Houston, David Oliphant, Founder of Ocean Blue Real Estate, Nicole Lopez, Founder of True Houston, Kofi Nartey, Founder of Society Real Estate + Development, and Alex Wang, Founder of Rainmaker Real Estate. 

1. Celebrating badass women in real estate leadership.
Side Co-Founder and Chief Broker Officer Hilary Saunders joined Warburg Realty President and Inman Editor-at-Large, Clelia Peters, for an insightful chat on women in real estate leadership roles.

2. One of Side’s newest partner agents launches his new brand, enabling him to diversify his services to support his niche clientele.
Kofi Nartey explained why he moved to Side to diversify his company’s service portfolio and provide the best service to his niche clientele.

3. Offering much-needed brokerage diversity, Side is a model unlike any other. 
Designed exclusively to support only the best agents, CEO Guy Gal explains why Side built a model to support agents who are breaking the mold by providing the highest level of service. 

4. Inman Innovator Award recipients are honored for creative efforts to engage unique local communities in a time of crisis.
From Inman: “Each year, Inman recognizes innovation in the real estate industry with its Inman Innovation Awards. This year is different. We asked Inman readers to nominate special acts of service and leadership by industry figures during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Ten were honored, including Side partner agents; Kristina McKann, Founder of Chroma Realty and Nicole Lopez, Founder of True Houston.

5. Geographically diverse; Side partners with the best agents in California, Texas, and Florida.
Donnie Pingaro, Side’s Managing Broker for Florida, shared the impact of COVID-19 on his local market. 


The Full Scoop

1. Side celebrates badass women in real estate leadership.
In a candid chat, Side Co-Founder Hilary Saunders and Warburg Realty President, Clelia Peters discuss the history of real estate leadership gender diversity and discuss what unique traits women bring to the table in leadership roles.

Editor’s note: In addition to having a well-balanced corporate leadership team, we’re proud to share that 43% of Side’s founding partner agents are women. 

Benefits of a female-dominated industry.
Peters kicked off the session by posing an interesting question. She says, “Real estate has historically been a business led by women, but it’s been under-discussed as a field where pioneering women leaders have been really successful. Why do you think that is? Why haven't we acknowledged this as a field full of really badass women?”

Hilary Saunders replies, “It has to do with it being an old industry. It's similar to the legal industry in that there are amazing attorneys, partners, judges who are women who have just kicked the socks off careers. But when you think of a traditional lawyer, you think of a white man in a suit. [Similarly, real estate] was traditionally run by men, but it carved out the opportunity for individual agents to be very successful because they had control of their schedule. Women could take the kids to school, go do three deals, pick them up in the afternoon, and make dinner.”

What unique traits do women bring to leadership roles in real estate?
Peters and Saunders agree that women’s strength in leadership can be attributed in large part to a combination of unrelenting focus and empathy. 

Saunders says, “Even in a corporate structure, there's a compassion element and empathy element that women bring that provides a whole different viewpoint. I think it has to do with our inherent nature to bring people together and [create] some kind of harmony that elevates everyone at the same time.” 

Peters elaborates, “In a male paradigm, power is a pyramid; in a female paradigm, it’s a circle. [When] we're facing a crisis, and in an increasingly globally networked world, it's interesting to think about collaboration. [Being able] to get everyone on the same page is becoming a more necessary skill than getting everyone to follow your orders.” 

Saunders provides a great example. She says, “When you're in a heated negotiation and an agent coming at you is ‘fire and brimstone,’ women have a way of diffusing that situation. Getting to brass tacks and looking at the actual issue, not at all the other crazy that's going on around them. They focus really sharply.”

We’re privileged to have such strong female leadership, both on Side’s executive team and within Side’s partner and associate agent communities. Our company vision and values support the women in leadership movement, and we’re excited to continue building a diverse network that celebrates the differences that make us dynamic.

>> Watch the replay

2. One of Side’s newest partner agents launches his new brand, enabling him to diversify his services to support his niche clientele.
Kofi Nartey explains why he decided to make a big move to go small by partnering with Side to diversify his service portfolio and build his real estate legacy. 

Why did you partner with Side to launch Society Real Estate + Development?
“Our industry is oversaturated with agents. You have to own your brand, and I've always owned my own brand. I've always been a team player, and I've always contributed in a major way - not just to my industry, but to the firms I was with. But that contribution isn't always repaid, and it's hard to capture that value. A lot of these firms start small, and they grow so rapidly that the same heartbeat that can power a bird, can't power an elephant. It can't keep an elephant alive.

I also saw a great opportunity to expand the offerings we're bringing to clients. We have the good fortune of working with a lot of affluent clientele. We're in a luxury market in LA, and I've built my brand on celebrity, sports, and entertainment clients. The conversation often transitions to, how do I build out my real estate portfolio? I help them buy or sell a home, but they want to invest.” Kofi explains that he often ends up helping clients learn how to invest with friends, buy multi-family units, or even buy and sell hotels.”

He says, “I have a few strategic investors and advisors, including Don Peebles, one of the largest African American developers in the country. He was part of the impetus for building out a new development arm of our business. We'll help assist with development types of projects because we are see a lot of that in LA and beyond. I wanted to create a firm that could facilitate [all these things], and by going smaller and niche, we can do that.” 

You opened this firm, and you've had success already. What's next? 
“If you watch sprinters, they run with their heads down. We're running with our heads down before we hit our stride - before we hit cruise control. Right now, it's recruiting and getting agents on board with all of the systems. We're bringing on higher-level agents. 

The early days are telling me, ‘you got this right, Kofi.’ We've taken on ten new listings and the first two weeks, which is pretty amazing. We've signed NDAs, and we're discussing two different hotel deals. We also had a syndication call for some investment opportunities. All aspects of the model are proving to be valid so far, so I'm excited about that.”

What advice do you have for up-and-coming agents and indie brokers?
“We're in a mature industry, and it's really important for people to have a niche, and to be known for something in a saturated market. If you nail it, [the thing] you're known for will be a convergence of your natural gifts, abilities, and personality - as well as your hard skills: market knowledge, expertise, and resources. 

You [can] own a geographic farm, a demographic farm (like seniors), or a merger of the two. [But] you have to have something that resonates with you; that you can own in terms of expertise. Build around that to build a brand that is quickly recognizable. When people think of your brand, they think, ‘oh yeah, they’re experts in this.’” 

>> Watch the Replay; Why I Went Small to Go Big
>> Watch the Replay; How are Indies Confronting This Moment

3. Offering much-needed brokerage diversity, Side is a model unlike any other. 
A ‘silent partner brokerage platform,’ Side was built exclusively to support the best agents; resilient, creative, resourceful agents who persist in times of crisis.

Side CEO, Guy Gal, says, “Side is special because our partner agents own their own business assets without having to operate a brokerage and assume those responsibilities. We’re creating a community that’s exclusive and qualitative.” Why?

“The best agents carry the industry; 20% of agents produce 80% of industry value, but the industry is not structured to support the best agents. Side’s vision is to support the very best agents in a way that existing brokerages cannot.”

Why hasn’t this model existed before?
“A top agent or team is not something brokerages contemplated 10-15 years ago; it’s a recent phenomenon that breaks the mold. So we created a new mold in the shape of those agents. While most agents average 5-7 transactions a year, Side partner agents do 40 or more. Not only is it not the same ballpark, it’s a different sport altogether. Side isn’t good at helping someone who does zero deals a year get to one; we’re good at helping someone who does 40 a year, double or triple that.” 

What traits do Side partner agents share?
In addition to being driven and entrepreneurial, Gal says, “Side partner agents persist; they’ve outperformed the overall market by 2.5X during this crisis. They’re resilient, creative, resourceful - and are always looking for how they can get it done.” 

How big of a role does technology play in Side’s brokerage platform model?
“We don’t talk much about tech because philosophically, it’s at its best when it blends in the background - but it’s a core part of our business model. During shelter-in-place, most brokerages couldn’t close deals for agents because transaction management was happening in brick and mortar locations. Side partner agents were able to transition seamlessly because we provide virtual transaction management through our proprietary platform.”

>> Watch the replay

4. Creative efforts to uniquely engage local communities in a time of crisis honor Side’s Inman Innovator Award recipients.
We’re absolutely thrilled that two of Side’s amazing partner agents, Kristina McCann and Nicole Lopez, received an Inman Innovator Award! Here are their stories, as told by Inman.

Kristina McCann - Founder, Chroma Realty (San Francisco Bay Area, California)

Stuck at home like the rest of us during shelter-in-place, Kristina McCann came up with the idea of “flocking” the yards of homes with plastic flamingos to surprise a child on their birthday. 

Since then, she’s flocked close to 100 homes, with McCann and her 5-year-old daughter going out under the cover of darkness to spread some surprise joy the next morning. The idea earned coverage on NBC Bay Area, which called McCann a “birthday fairy” and has inspired other agents across the country to do the same in their communities.

Nicole Lopez Cummins - Founder, True Houston Real Estate (Houston, Texas)
After the closure of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo due to COVID-19, Nicole Lopez-Cummins and a friend created the Facebook group Texas Festival Vendors to help the vendors facing economic devastation in the wake of the closure.

To date, that group has done nearly $1.5 million in sales for small businesses, many in Texas. The group fostered a community of small businesses that now know each other by name and consider each other allies instead of competition.

>> See All Award Recipients 

5. Geographically diverse; Side partners with the best agents in California, Texas, and Florida.
Statewide, the Florida market experienced a massive 30-day transformation. Donnie Pingaro, Side’s Managing Broker for Texas, explains.

What kinds of market shifts are you experiencing in South Florida?
“We've seen a massive transformation in the last 30 days across the board in Florida. We're getting an influx of [people] from urban areas - Ohio, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. We feel it's about a three-month burst because it's mostly families trying to get in for school in early August. We've been telling our broker partners; the time is now to double down on your marketing and your actions because [there] are deals to be had in the next two or three months.”

What effect has COVID-19 had on your local market? What changes are you seeing?
“We’re not traditionally a multiple offer market for [single-family homes], but we see multiples on everything up to $8 million in Miami. [However,] our condo market is really flat. It's a new mindset - people are looking for space. They appreciate their own area, yard, and pool. Single families are off-the-charts high, and our condo market is still pretty lukewarm.”

What do you anticipate the local market will do in the second half of 2020?
“I’m a little more cautious about Q3 and Q4. The unfortunate ripple effects of COVID-19, with the unemployment rates and the small business owners being affected, may stagnate the market in the short term. Not to April and May standards, but there might be a little bit of a blip. I also feel there's going to be a lot of commercial opportunity [due to] a lot of turnover. Some of our commercial partners are excited to get into the mix and make sure their clients are being fulfilled.”

Huge thanks to Donnie Pingaro for sharing his local expertise and bringing us up to speed on what’s happening in the Florida market as we forge ahead in this massive market shift.

>> Watch the replay

BONUS: Crafting Cocktails and Building Brands; An Exclusive Networking Event
This well-earned happy hour brought together some of Side’s most dynamic partner agents to share their favorite cocktail recipes and their tips on how to develop an authentic brand. 

Hosted by Side partner agents, True Houston Founder Nicole Lopez, Rainmaker Real Estate Founder Alex Wang, and Ocean Blue Real Estate Founder, David Oliphant.  

>> Watch the replay
>> Download the Drink Recipe Cards

Additional Sessions Worth Watching

Nicole Lopez | Founder, True Houston - Questions to Ask Your Broker or Team Leader

No stranger to the spotlight, Nicole Lopez was also featured in a team-building panel, where she shared strategic advice with team agents on how to stay engaged with brokerage leadership.

>> Watch the replay

Kofi Nartey | Founder, Society Real Estate + Development - Indie Broker Q&A

Nartey joins a panel of indie brokers from around the country to answer questions posed by the session moderator and the audience. 

>> Watch the replay

Micheal Silva | Founder, Happen Houston - 

Huge thanks to you and your wife and business partner, Beth, for sharing your journey to developing your authentic brand, Happen Houston. 

>> Watch the replay

Leslie Appleton-Young | C.A.R. Chief Economist - Assessing the COVID-19 Market

A rapid-fire analysis of recent statistics gathered by the California Association of REALTORS®. These metrics, captured by surveys sent to brokers, buyers, and sellers, give us a firsthand look at COVID-19’s impact on the industry. 

>> Read the Highlights   |    >> Watch the Replay

Paul Levine | Managing Director, Sapphire Ventures - Why Money Isn’t Drying up for innovation

Levine gave an update on PropTech funding, what’s happening now, and what to expect moving forward in 2020.

>> Watch the replay

Thanks for connecting with us! Stay tuned to our social media channels (Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram) and to our blog for details on upcoming Side virtual events you won’t want to miss. 

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