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Q&A: Navigating Real Estate Realities with Tara Limbird

Tara Limbird

Tara Limbird owns Limbird Real Estate Group with her husband, Nick. Before getting into real estate in 2004, she worked primarily in mortgage lending. The Limbirds started their real estate team in 2010 and went independent in 2015, opening an office in Rogers.

Today, Limbird Real Estate Group has three locations, around 38 agents and about 15 support team members.

From the outside, the role of a real estate agent often seems like a very independent job. How do you invest in and manage your agents in such an environment?

When you’re an agent, and you’re self-employed, you’re an independent contractor. So no one is telling you what to do, what time to be there, how many hours a week you need to work. Even though we’re a brokerage, we operate as a team. We have set standards on our team. We are not the agency that’s going to have the most amount of agents — we don’t want that. In the world of real estate, only about 20% of the agents do about 80% of the business, and we’re not looking for just a license hung in a picture frame on the wall. We want top-producing agents that know the market. They have a lot of clients.

We’re heavily invested in each of our agents. Most brokerages … have fees. You have to pay so much for rent there, and you pay so much per transaction … for this and that. On our team, we pay for a lot of the expenses, and we pay for the training … and the leads. I know every brokerage wants their agents to succeed, but if they don’t, it’s kind of like, ‘Oh, well. No money gained and no money lost.’ But with us, we have a lot to lose because we invest so heavily in our team members.

It’s hard to go a day without hearing about the high cost of housing. Has the increase in cost of living affected Limbird?

I’ve been in real estate now for right at about 20 years. Back in 2004 and 2005, it was an amazing market — one of the best markets in history. Then we had the recession and housing crisis, and then after COVID, it’s just been weird. But the one thing that remained the same, I realized, is that no matter what’s going on with interest rates and no matter what’s going on with housing prices, everyone has to have somewhere to live. We work with investors and landlords … and what we figured out from years past is sometimes you have to pivot on what you’re focusing on. In 2004 and 2005, we worked with a lot of builders, and when the housing crisis came, there wasn’t a whole lot of builders left. We pivoted, and we started to work with a lot of banks that were working on foreclosures and short sales and investors. You have to pivot, and whatever the market is requiring at the time, you have to put your feet in the sand to stand your ground. If you want to stay in business … you have to learn how to be very flexible … so you can maneuver the fluctuations that come your way.

As real estate agents, we don’t have anything to do with the pricing of the homes. Ultimately, it’s whatever the buyer is willing to pay. It’s our job to help guide them on what sold recently that’s most similar to their home … to market it and get as many eyeballs on it as possible.

I never want the economy to dictate whether or not we’re successful, and there’s a list of activities that we do every single day that lead to home sales. So long as we know we’re going to do our activities, sometimes in a harder market we may have to increase the number of those activities.

In 2022, Limbird Real Estate Group crossed over the billion-dollar mark. When you think back on your team’s growth, what advice do you have for someone working their way up to that point?

I think being patient to some degree. We see a lot of other real estate agents and teams, not even just in our area — we go to a lot of conferences across the U.S. We’re in contact with a lot of agents, and we try to emulate the ones that are doing very well. But we also see some that maybe have been in the business a year or two and are trying to get to where we are by year three. And that’s not to say it can’t happen; it most certainly can. But sometimes people are a little impatient of building [a business]. It’s like building a house. You have to build the foundation and get it good and solid, and then you start putting up the walls, and you start putting a roof on it. Sometimes, when you don’t do things in that order, you may have some big success within, but you know the house is not built well, and it crumbles down.

A lot of times people, especially in the real estate world, get a real estate license, some business cards off Vistaprint and think, ‘OK, why is my phone not ringing off the hook right now?’ You have got to go out there and find the business, and then you’ve got to nurture the business. Not everybody that you talk to about buying a house today wants to buy a house today. They may want to buy a house six months from now or three years from now. Did you stay in touch with them? Do you provide value to them? Are they going to remember to reach out to you three years later if you haven’t talked to them in three years? That’s what our team does. We can feel more confident and have consistent results.

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