After spending most of 2020 considering it, Daniel Willey decided to take the leap and open his own real estate company in March of 2021. The pandemic made him start to think about what’s really important in life, and he felt like what was most important was helping people. And Lifestyle Real Estate was born.
How does working in real estate help people?
Daniel worked for several franchises before branching out on his own, including big names like Century 21 and Coldwell. He says working with big brands helps new agents start out, but that help comes at a cost. All brokerages have royalty fees that need to be paid monthly to the organization. The commission is also split between the agent and the brokerage. While working at various brokerages, Daniel asked if he could give a portion of his commission to buyers to help with their down payment, or to sellers to help with repairs. Every time, he was told no. This is when he realized, he could open his own real estate company and still make the same amount of money while also helping people. He could take the money he was saving on commission splits and monthly dues and give that back to buyers and sellers. He said he frequently gives buyers around between $10-15k to to help buy down their interest rates. He also gives money to sellers to help with repairs so they can list their home at a higher price point, and ultimately make more money selling their home. “If our clients succeed, we succeed.”
Why did he choose real estate for his career?
Daniel is a second generation realtor, but he didn’t get his start in real estate. After moving to Long Beach in 2013, he was working as a store manager at Old Navy. He was their youngest store manager at the time. It was there he learned management skills and customer service skills. When they consolidated stores and his position was terminated, he decided to pivot to real estate. He knew that real estate required a similar customer service skillset, and between that and his love for people, he could provide real estate services at a greater scale and customize the buying and selling experience for his clients.
Any advice for first time buyers?
“Find your people. Make sure you choose an agent who’s interested in your needs. Do they ask questions? How well do they listen? Do they ask why you want a home, or why owning a home would change your life and your lifestyle?” This is why he chose the name ‘Lifestyle Real Estate.’ Daniel told me a story about a couple he worked with that wanted to buy a home. They were retired and wanted to find their forever home. They specified that it needed to be a home, and not a condo or townhouse. They wanted it to be in Seal Beach, specifically, and they wanted a craftsman. After looking with them for a couple months, they weren’t able to find anything that fit their desires that was in their price range. Daniel began asking them questions about why they wanted a house, and what lifestyle they were looking for. The couple realized on their own that they were really looking for was a place to call home, in their budget, that they owned, that was walkable to Seal Beach shops and restaurants. They ended up buying a condo at Marina Pacifica between Long Beach and Seal. Because Daniel asked the important questions, he helped this couple figure out exactly what lifestyle they wanted and he was able to get it for them. “Sometimes we don’t know exactly what we’re looking for until someone starts asking us questions and we get to the root of it. Having the right person can help you unlock your needs.”
What advice would you have for people who are currently renting but who want to buy a home?
“People who rent have an especially difficult time coming up with down payments. Which makes sense because they’re spending $2-3k/month with no tax benefits, no write offs or deductions. Occasionally there are federal funds available to assist first time buyers, but they aren’t always obvious. For example, there are first time buyer grant programs, where all you need is 3% down, but they come and go under different names. This is why you need to know the right professional who can help you. They do include some rules and restrictions, but they’re fair, like you have to live in the home for 3 years. But most first time buyers plan to do that anyways.”
Anything else you want to add about Lifestyle Real Estate?
“I’m just grateful that I can use this opportunity to change people’s lives. That I created a profitable business and can still raise other people up along the way. So much money is being consumed by the big companies, but now instead of me lining their pockets, I’m using that money to help other people.”