Penny Nathan’s career in real estate began in 2000 when she started selling homes in San Diego. Today, she serves as president and CEO of Ascent Real Estate, Inc.
“Real estate first drew my attention as a business in which I would have a deep, intrinsic interest,” says Nathan. “It offers the stability that homeownership provides to society at large, and one that affords an equal opportunity as a start-up to excel based upon one’s personal efforts.”
While the San Diego market was somewhat flat year-over-year at the beginning of 2017, this hasn’t stopped the firm from an aggressive growth strategy. In fact, Nathan says Ascent is looking to add to its agent count and open offices in new geographic areas as it grows.
“Our philosophy is to hire, develop, retain and make sure the culture of our company stresses our ethics and standard of practice first,” says Nathan. “We don’t treat agents differently based upon their sales performance. New agents are typically referred to us by our existing agents. Retention is a process of knowing the business plan and goals of each agent, and catering to serve them as they need to be served.”
The firm looks to attract agents by offering sound mentoring and mastermind learning, with a commitment to ensuring its agents are ready for any scenario.
“Real estate concepts aren’t simple,” says Nathan. “The process and circumstances vary, and those details directly impact the best advice or course of action. Webinars aren’t enough to deeply train agents. Role play and case studies or scenario training, live and face-to-face, are the best training.”
Nathan laments that the biggest challenge in the industry today is poorly trained agents working in the industry at large, as well as brokers condoning the poor practices that come along with unprepared agents.
“They’re doing a disservice to the reputation of quality REALTORS®, ” says Nathan. “Often, consumers in a transaction are unaware of the processes and complexities that can come with the purchase and sale process. A poorly trained agent with little to no broker involvement and supervision is causing harm to the consumer, the cooperating broker and the industry.”
That’s why Ascent training includes a great deal of education on communication skills, in addition to teaching agents how to better focus on understanding the reasons why their clients are buying or selling a home. Once they know this, they can help navigate clients toward the best possible outcome.
“Sales is nothing if listening and communication skills are not well-established,” says Nathan. “Consumers are inundated with information and data, yet, they often lack understanding and knowledge. Real estate is a professional vocation that requires an in-depth understanding of trends, laws, economics, finance and construction, among other things.”