For the second installment of the Future of Real Estate series on the Union Street Media YouTube channel, Rachel Allard, Senior Vice President of Strategy, sat down with Jim D’Amico of CENTURY 21 North East. Jim D’Amico was named the 2019 Real Trends Game Changer and is highly respected in the real estate industry. CENTURY 21 North East is the 8th largest CENTURY 21 franchise in the country and 10th largest globally.  

Jim D’Amico started in real estate in the late 80s – doing property management stuff like painting and fixing hot water tanks and renting apartments here and there. While he admits he didn’t really like that type of work, he was still learning the real estate business. When he got out of college the job market wasn’t the best, but he had his real estate license and he thought “well, I might as well use it.” So his dad and his partner suggested he go to CENTURY 21 because “they have the best training.” He started working at a local CENTURY 21 and after a year he went back to his dad’s office. Shortly after, the CENTURY 21 franchise in Chelsea came up for sale. “So I was 24 and I said ‘let’s do it!’” D’Amico’s first brokerage was known as “CENTURY 21 D’Amico and Associates.

I rode the roller coaster all the way to now.

– Jim D’Amico

In 1996, mergers and acquisitions were seen as the best way to grow your business, so D’Amico and his team began acquiring as many companies as he could. He notes that there were some years where they acquired 15 brokerages and others where he bought 0. D’Amico notes that it was important for him to do these acquisitions through “honest handshake type deals, and we try to keep all the agents on staff.” Two years ago, D’Amico changed his franchise name to CENTURY 21 North East to better represent the large service area they were now covering. Last year was a big transition year for them as a team and they knew that going into 2020 they really wanted to focus on their agents.

 D’Amico says that COVID allowed them to focus on that instead of being distracted by everything else. D’Amico started hosting twice-weekly Zoom meetings for all of his agents and that these meetings have been beneficial for connecting their team during this time. D’Amico admits that the pandemic has been “challenging, but I happen to like change.” In addition to the current Coronavirus pandemic, D’Amico also addresses the Black Lives Matter movement and how diverse his agents are. He felt it was important to get together as a company and have a conversation, to let people be heard and feel supported. Supporting the community is an integral part of the CENTURY 21 North East brand and in the current climate, where you have “low inventory, people are angry, there’s a lot of uncertainty with people’s jobs and businesses so we’re trying to help as many people as we can as fast as we can – with that you take on a lot of responsibility.”

Real estate has always been in D’Amico’s blood and he says that while he’s incredibly busy most days, he feels like he’s retired because “this is just what I do, this is my life it doesn’t feel like work.” With that being said, real estate is a business and with business come partnerships, some that work out, and some that don’t. Three years ago D’Amico was paying Zillow $50 per lead. “I was one of the first adapters of Zillow and I was getting tons of leads,” but as more and more agents started joining Zillow he saw the cost per lead going way up. At the time he was trying to get away with just using the CENTURY 21 franchise website. “People would comment on how lousy the website was and now we have one of the best websites in the area and our lead cost has dropped way down.” Over the last three years, the CENTURY 21 North East website, c21ne.com, has gone from ranking for 0 keywords to ranking for over 1700. 

D’Amico also notes that he really strived to differentiate his brand by focusing on the areas and property types that were less popular with the other brokerages such as multi-family homes and the communities surrounding Boston, not just the city itself. “I love having the differences in territories because when one is slow the others pick up.”

As far as the advice he would give to his younger self just getting started in real estate, he says that infrastructure is the most important thing – infrastructures such as systems, software, personnel, and strategic planning. He says that if you have ambition in the space, you need some sort of plan. When the market receded in the early 2000s, D’Amico says there were a lot of things he wished he knew then. When the Coronavirus hit they had the right systems in place because they had gone through the recession. He also notes how important vendor relationships are at times like this. 

 

You can learn more about Jim D’Amico and CENTURY 21 North East on their website at c21ne.com.

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