Broker Q&A: Syd Leibovitch – Rodeo Realty
Posted by Who's Who in Luxury Real Estate — April 21, 2014
Syd Leibovitch, president and owner of Rodeo Realty, Inc., discusses the path his career has taken and why his company is so successful. Rodeo Realty, the largest single-owner real estate firm in California was a recipient of the Best Brand Integration award at the 18th Annual Luxury Real Estate Fall Conference.
How did you get your start in real estate? I actually got my start while I was still in college at UCLA. I got my real estate license on winter break and sold a couple of houses my first weekend. I was studying economics, sociology and banking and planning on going to law school, but I found that real estate was something I was really good at and had a passion for.
What path has your career taken? I began in sales, right out of college. Originally I never intended to have a career in real estate. It was more a job that I would do while I was finishing college before going to law school. For some reason, I was very good at it. In fact, my goal was to make $10,000 the first year and learn the business and I did more than that my first month. After a couple years, I was the top agent in my office. At 25, I thought I could do this better than the people in charge and I opened my own office. At the time it was called Paramount Properties, which we later changed in 2001 to Rodeo Realty. At first I sold real estate and had agents working for me; that was in 1986. By 1990 we had two offices and a couple hundred agents. Between the early 1990’s recession and the earthquake in 1994, that was a tough time. Fortunately, my agents and I really excelled in that marketplace and gained a lot of market share. In fact we opened a third and fourth office right after the earthquake. By 2001, we had nine offices and about 600 agents.
As much as I loved selling real estate, I realized that competing with my agents took on a dynamic that would never allow the agents at the company to thrive in a way that they could if I stopped selling real estate. Those early days were fun days, but it was more of a big real estate team. In order to get the very top agents, I knew I had to step back. Running the company was taking time away from real estate and selling real estate was taking time away from running the company. I knew I had to make a decision: did I want to be a huge real estate salesperson or have a big real estate company. There were two big real estate companies then: Fred Sands and John Douglas. My goal from when I was 25 years old and opened the company was to compete with them on their level and at their size. As I quickly realized that the mid-sized companies dominated the marketplace not only hear but throughout the world. You need to be a certain size and have enough revenue to offer support to the agents that they are looking for. After I stopped selling real estate it was a shock because I had given up a lot of income to do that, but it has worked out very well. Now we have 1,200 agents and our agents are among the finest in the industry. It’s incredible.
Why is your company successful? I think that having one owner, and one who has sold real estate, allows us to do things much differently than everybody else. For example, whatever you are doing you try to differentiate yourself from your competition. Rodeo is really unlike any of our competitors. One of the reasons is that Fred Sands and John Douglas were bought by big national corporations, which changed the dynamic. I’m certainly not there yet but I’m getting closer every day to that big mid-sized company. I think the size creates the revenue and not having to split the profit with a bunch of partners and not having to pay franchise fees allows me to provide more services and support to the agents.
I have two goals. The first is that when a Rodeo Realty agent goes on a listing appointment if they are interviewing three people, the Rodeo Realty agent will be the logical choice as an agent because of the things that we do for the agents as far as print advertising, marketing, international exposure and internet exposure. Our in-house print shop does great brochures, just listed cards, property cards, and anything else that is needed. It makes things so simple and seamless and inexpensive for the agents that our agent can promise marketing that any other agent would have to commit to the amount of a car payment to match. I think that really helps. My second goal is to make sure that real estate agents are able to market and brand themselves in a way that will help them become a brand of their own in order to get to the next level. I think our management, staff and I get the greatest satisfaction by seeing agents excel. If you are reading this and you are a Realtor, run any Rodeo Realty agent that you know in the MLS the year before they got here and the year after they came here, and you’ll see how much more they have sold. Many have tripled their income.
What are your favorite parts of your job? Seeing real estate agents achieve a level of success they never thought possible and knowing that my management, marketing team and I were a part of that success is definitely the best part for me. I love coaching the agents.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work? Nothing. All I do is work and run but to me it’s not really work.
For more information on Syd or Rodeo Realty Inc., please visit www.rodeore.com.