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Coral Gables Realtor Leverages Technology to Dominate the Local Market

by | May 13, 2016


By Chris Umpierre

MIAMI Staff

Scared. Depressed. Fearful.

All of those adjectives described Jorge Guerra Jr. at the height of the Great Recession. The Coral Gables Realtor’s income had come to a screeching halt just as he and his wife were preparing for their first child and building a dream home.

“It was one of my most depressing times,” Guerra Jr. said. “My wife and I thought we were done. All of our equity was gone. I would joke with my wife that we weren’t building the house of our dreams. We were building the short sale of our dreams.”

With his livelihood and future on the line, Guerra Jr. made a dramatic change in how his firm bought and sold real estate.

Instead of going the traditional route and waiting for consumers to walk through the door, Guerra Jr.’s Coral Gables-based Real Estate Sales Force (RESF) firm started using the Internet, immersive HD video and grassroots marketing to expand its reach to new clients. Today, RESF’s use of social media, HD virtual walk-throughs, aerial videos and grassroots branding campaigns have received national acclaim and helped the brokerage expand to 350-plus agents and five offices.

“Jorge is always the first in using the latest technology and he’s not afraid to take risks, which in this industry is rare,” said Christina Pappas, the assistant district sales manager at The Keyes Company. “Realtors like to stick to what they know, but Jorge goes above and beyond. When you look at what he’s doing with technology, it’s not just one angle. He utilizes every angle.”

For Guerra, using technology to sell real estate is a necessity in today's tech world.

“Real estate is no longer about curb appeal. It’s about web appeal,” Guerra Jr. said. “About 98 percent of real estate consumers are going online to look at properties. I realized in order to grow my company in today’s market, front-end video marketing was the way to do it.” 

Forced to Innovate

Guerra Jr. was a top South Florida Realtor before the Great Recession. He had twice sold 550 pre-construction homes in one day and was named the Builders Association of South Florida’s Broker of the Year in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

But the 2007-09 housing crash pushed him to change all of his traditional Realtor thinking.

“I was forced to innovate, forced to get creative,” Guerra Jr. said. “There was a lot of competition out there. Everybody was using the common ways to sell real estate so you had to change your game. You had to tell (clients) why you were different.”

A 2007 visit from a friend, who was studying at a New York film academy, started Guerra Jr.’s shift to video. During the visit, the friend showed him a short video podcast on the Internet, which was in its infant stages at the time.

“I had an ‘Aha’ moment,” Guerra Jr. said. “I realized if I could videotape real estate that it would be my value proposition. It would differentiate me from everybody else.”

Creating HD Virtual Walk-Throughs

Guerra Jr.’s first step involved purchasing an expensive camera. He has since expanded to HD virtual walk-through videos, aerial videos, QR codes and more.

HD virtual walk-through videos of properties have proven incredibly successful, Guerra Jr. said. Once produced (they are labor intensive and require a learning process), the videos save Realtors from showing consumers properties that don’t interest them. The videos also deliver excellent analytics.

RESF’s HD videos cut the firm’s showing time by 90 percent. Before his agents show consumers a property, they ask buyers to take a look at the HD walk-through video of the property. If they like what they see in the video, RESF’s agents will then show the consumer the property.

“It allows our agents to have more time to find clients,” Guerra Jr. said. “Imagine a world where every property is videotaped. Consumers can still take online tours of properties and see what they want. It’s a game changer, especially environmentally, when you think of the travel time saved.”

Leveraging Social Media

RESF posts its HD virtual walk-through videos on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms.

QR codes are attached to social media posts, allowing consumers to be taken directly to RESF’s YouTube channel.

Guerra Jr. utilizes online analytics to alter his strategy. YouTube’s analytics, for instance, allows Guerra Jr. to see where and when his videos are being watched. These are important statistics to report to a seller wondering how their sale is going.

It’s one of the few ways to measure real estate marketing. At a time when Realtors still print 15,000 real estate fliers, Guerra Jr.’s firm easily collects 15,000 views on videos.

“The coolest thing about video is it’s a phenomenal listing tool,” Guerra Jr. said. “’Let me show you our last listing.’ You can put video links at the bottom of emails, on a website and more. Video is a gift that keeps on giving.”

Paying it Forward

Now as chairman of the MIAMI Young Professionals Network, Guerra Jr. is passing on his video/social media knowledge to other Realtors. Guerra Jr. routinely holds MIAMI info sessions on how he is leveraging social media and video. His YPN group hosts social media classes for MIAMI members.

“Millennials have this rap that we don’t play well in the sandbox. Well, Jorge is the exact opposite,” Pappas said. “He doesn’t care if you are his competition, he is very willing to help competitors use technology. He wants to make this industry better as a whole, not only his agents.”

For Guerra, that’s his major mission.

“People ask me, ‘What is your goal, Jorge?’” Guerra Jr. said. “I don’t have one. I’ve blown away all of the goals I had in life. I’m in a fantasy. I just want to provide substance to other people. I want to help others. Some brokerages are still using the old techniques. The game has changed.”

GUERRA BIO

Name: Jorge Guerra Jr.

Board position: 2016 MIAMI YPN Chairman

Employment: Broker and owner of Real Estate Sales Force (RESF)

Achievements: Before opening his firm, Guerra was one of Doral’s leading real estate agents. He twice sold 550 homes in one day. The Builders Association of South Florida named Guerra Broker of the Year in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Family: Jorge and his wife, Dinorah, have two children, Dominic and Alec.

Did you know? Jorge went to college with plans on becoming a doctor (his brother and sister are physicians). He completed one semester in pre-medicine at Barry University before changing course and going into real estate

ABOUT THE PROJECT

Getting to Know MIAMI Leaders highlights the 2016 presidents and chairmen of the MIAMI Association of REALTORS®. The leaders are: Chairman of the Board Mark Sadek, Residential President Carlos Gutierrez, Commercial President Maria G. Juncadella, Broward President Donna Reid, Young Professionals Network Chairman Jorge Guerra Jr. and JTHS President Susan Gaieski.

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