PorchLight’s Heather Heuer On How She Teaches ‘Less Is More’ And Guards Against Discount Brokerages

In Eave’s “How I Did It” series, leading real estate professionals share how they thrive in competitive markets, persevere in the tough times, and fulfill their clients’ dreams. In this six-week series, DMAR’s 2018 Excellence Awards winners share their wisdom with Eave.

Heather Heuer was at PorchLight Real Estate Group for only a few years before the founders, Amy and Carol Bayer, first asked her to be a managing broker. Her management talent was clear: She’d been a general manager in her first career, and she loved to teach the other agents who were stopping by her desk.

“You know you don’t want to be doing open houses anymore …” she remembers Amy and Carol saying to her.

Heuer resisted for a little while, in part because she loves the hands-on work of real estate, meeting people, and the fast pace of it, and in part because she tends to be measured in her moves. She’d spent 12 years in her first career, and carefully learned the ropes as a real estate agent for five years before moving to PorchLight.

In 2012, her second child came along, and moving up to managing broker, where she could control her schedule, made sense.

She’s never looked back. Named Managing broker of the Year at DMAR’s 2018 Excellence Awards, she is now president and employing broker of PorchLight, overseeing all aspects of the company and a team of more than 173 agents, teaching them, in essence, how to trust in their relationships within the community to bring them business.

“We teach people, ‘Less is more,’” she says. “It’s a really cool thing to build that realization.”

How did you come to real estate?

I spent 12 years in food service. I was the general manager of a Canyon Café (one of a national chain). I’d met my husband, the corporate chef there. At a certain point, I realized that if I wanted to have a good relationship with him, it would be better if we weren’t both working morning, noon and night in food service.

I knew I liked meeting people, and a fast pace. I talked to the agent who sold us our first house and she offered to let me come on as an assistant. After a year, in 2005, I joined the team at Prestige Realty, which later merged with RE/MAX.

We were the third-highest producing team at the DMAR awards in 2007.

How long did you stay there?

Five years. But at a certain point, I was tired of being accountable to the team and wanted to do more on my own. PorchLight, which was established in 2006 by Amy and Carol Bayer, was a newer company and I loved the camaraderie. We did workouts together; we had parties.

What does it mean to teach an agent to be relationship-based?

A lot of firms teach that you need 600 people in your customer “farm.” That’s true; there’s nothing wrong with that. But you have no idea when someone is going to pop.

What we teach is that if you have about 50 active referrers, people who you have close relationships with — who know you as a go-to person for real estate — they will help you develop an active pipeline of about 100 people.

You’ll know and can plan for when people will need to buy and sell.

How long does it take to develop that referrer base and pipeline?

About six to eight months. That can be tough. People still need to do open houses while they build those stronger leads. We teach: People who visit the open houses are people lovers. They can become part of your referral bases.

What’s the biggest obstacle to this mindset shift?

A lot of people are afraid to talk to their friends and family about what they do.

How do you scale this knowledge?

We have PorchLight University, where we offer 40 CE credits. PorchLight is also a full-service brokerage, so agents can focus on relationships. We do staging, measurements, putting out open-house signs … everything.

I spend a lot of time coaching these skills.

What standards do you have for agents?

In the first year, you need to hit $4 million. After that, $6 million. We have some agents who have $10-$30 million in sales.

What challenges do you see going ahead?

Keeping agents aware of their own value. There are always going to be discount brokers. There will be robotic agents. But a robot can’t teach you how to negotiate a transaction, or help a family figure out the best time to move for their kids’ schools. Full-service means having deep foresight and knowledge.

Tip for an agent starting out?

The more you know about the marketplace the better. But a lot of it has to do with staying true to yourself. Know what you’re good at, so you can take those things to the next level.

Anything you want to add?

It means a lot to me to have worked through the ranks and to have the respect of the agents and staff that I have. I can’t say enough about the agents in our office. I have a staff of agent leaders and staff leaders. I’m honored to work with an incredible team.

Eave is a home lender providing white-glove mortgage service to savvy, enterprising buyers of luxury homes in Colorado.