5 Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Real Estate Industry

Our co-founder and CEO, Pete Kamboukos, was interviewed by Authority Magazine about the most important things agents need to know to succeed in the real estate industry. Below is the full article, which can also be read here.

 

As a part of my series about the ‘Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Real Estate Industry’, I had the pleasure of interviewing Pete Kamboukos of KP Elite | Zaback Group (KPZ Group).

Pete Kamboukos has been in the real estate industry for over 20 years. As CEO of KP Elite | Zaback Group, his primary role is maintaining the team’s strategic vision. He is constantly analyzing the real estate market and then breaking it down into market updates for the team. This keeps our agents ahead of the curve as they know where the economy’s heading, what’s coming next, and when to expect it.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Real Estate industry?

So, my backstory is that I actually started in finance. I have a degree in finance and initially thought I would pursue that route. While I was in college, I worked on the financial planning side for Sun America in their high net-worth client division. That’s where I was first exposed to real estate and various other industries, which opened my eyes to new possibilities.

I took the path into real estate through connections I made and began over 20 years ago in the new construction side of real estate. At that time, I worked for what was the fourth-largest builder in the country. I loved it and had the opportunity to travel around the country, experiencing different markets and aspects of the business.

Over the years, I have been exposed to various facets of the industry including construction, lending, sales, operations, investment, and development. This comprehensive exposure got me hooked.

Now, 21 years later, I am co-founder and CEO of the KPZ Group real estate team and work with LPT Realty as our brokerage.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or takeaway you took out of that story?

One story that comes to mind is about follow-up and how crucial it is in the real estate business. Early on, when we were starting our real estate team, we always emphasized the importance of follow-up. It’s not the client’s job to follow up with us. We need to reach out consistently because we never know what’s going on in their lives.

One particular example is a lead we received whom I never met or spoke to. Initially, I reached out daily for the first week. Then weekly and then monthly, alternating between phone calls and emails. But I never heard back.

This went on for almost six months. Then, one day, out of the blue, I got a phone call from the client saying they were ready to write an offer that day. I was scrambling because I had never spoken to them and didn’t know who they were. But they had been seeing my follow-ups and finally reached out. We met, wrote the offer, got them under contract, and they moved into their home. It all worked out great.

The lesson here is persistence in follow-up. Don’t give up after a few attempts. You never know when someone might be ready to move forward. Consistent follow-up keeps you on their radar.

Do you have a favorite “life lesson quote”? Can you share a story or example of how that was relevant to you in your life?

I have a bunch but one that I’ve been thinking about lately is, “It’s okay to be wrong, it’s not okay to stay wrong.” This quote has many applications in our business and it’s particularly relevant to me personally.

We never have all the information and can never be 100% certain. So, we make the best decisions we can with the information available. You don’t want to be paralyzed or frozen, waiting for perfect timing or trying to gather all the information. You do the best you can at the time and move forward, hoping your decisions work out.

However, if things don’t work out, it’s okay. In our industry, decisions are not life or death. They are business decisions. You want to move forward. But if you see that something is not right or you’re going down the wrong path, change it and change it quickly.

For me, this means not being afraid to make decisions, try new things, or go in different directions. But it’s also about not being stubborn. If you realize you’ve made a wrong turn, turn around and make a better decision. It’s about being humble, not being scared to make decisions, and staying nimble.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

One of the things we’re currently working on is integrating AI, specifically AI calling and AI assistance. We’re developing new ways to merge CRMs, lead generators, and calling systems. AI is becoming inevitable, and as we work with these AI assistants, callers, and bots, they’re improving every day.

I believe that within a few years, every agent will have an AI assistant, which will enhance their capabilities and create a better experience for clients. Some agents might be afraid of AI, but it’s not something to fear. Instead, it will take the best agents and amplify their abilities. AI will provide more information, streamline backend operations, and enable agents to accomplish much more.

I don’t think AI will replace agents, as some fear it will. But it will certainly replace certain tasks and enhance the skills of top agents. This will ultimately lead to a much better client experience. That’s something we’re focusing on right now.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

The big differentiator with our team is our proven, systematic processes and systems that enable agents to truly build their own business. We have a very repeatable process. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.

One of the first things we do is identify the path each agent will take, meaning the style of business they will pursue. As I always say, everything works. Just tell me what you’ll still be doing six months from now. Whether it’s working on social media, leveraging your personal sphere, handling internet leads, or collaborating with referral partners. We identify their path and provide proven, repeatable systems and processes to support them.

This approach allows agents to build a business without having to figure everything out on their own, which would take forever and can be very expensive. Instead, they can step right into our systems and start building their business.

It’s more than just coaching or training. It’s about providing true plug-and-play systems.

One story that stands out to me involves an agent who had been in the business for about a year. He had a family and kids to support, and he pulled me aside one day to thank me.

He said, “Pete, coming to this team has changed my life.” He shared personal stories about how his wife looks at him differently now, how he’s able to provide for his kids, and how they can take vacations. Things he was never able to do before. It was because of joining our team and plugging into our processes.

That story sticks with me. And that agent is still on our team today.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

When I first got into the industry, my first mentor was Mike Jones. He truly took me under his wing as I was just starting out, working with the home builder. Mike was there at the beginning, helping to boost my confidence when I made mistakes and recognizing my potential. He gave me opportunities that led to significant growth in my career.

Thanks to Mike, I was able to travel to other cities and offices around the country, gaining exposure to different people in the industry and within our company. This exposure allowed me to move into various positions, all because Mike had confidence in me from the start. He was there when I stumbled, helping to clear a path and giving me the chance to try new things.

It wasn’t like he was handing anything out. Instead, he saw the potential in me and provided opportunities to grow. For that, I am incredibly grateful.

Pete Kamboukos, Austin Zaback, and Keith Anderson - Co-founders of KPZ Group

Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Real Estate industry? If you can please share a story or example.

Absolutely, here are three things that excite me about the real estate industry right now.

1. Industry in Flux and Change for the Better: The real estate industry is currently in a state of flux. And while many agents are concerned, I believe these changes are for the better. This evolution will elevate the best, most professional agents — those truly dedicated to their craft — and help separate them from the pack. Agents who view real estate as a hobby will feel more pressure to reconsider their involvement. This shift will ultimately benefit full-time, dedicated professionals and lead to a much better experience for clients overall. For example, the integration of advanced technologies and tools has already started to streamline processes, making it easier for dedicated agents to provide top-notch service.

2. Enhanced Information and Property Viewing: The way we access information about properties is improving rapidly. Clients can now look at properties, get detailed information, and view everything in one place more efficiently than ever before. Over the next several years, these capabilities will continue to get better and better. For instance, virtual tours and 3D property walkthroughs have revolutionized how clients can experience properties without having to be physically present, providing a richer, more convenient experience.

3. Opportunity for Newcomers: Real estate remains one of the few industries where someone can enter with a relatively low barrier and low cost and have the opportunity to build a sustainable, life-changing business. While success is not guaranteed, the potential is significant. A story that comes to mind is about a new agent on our team who started with minimal resources but dedicated themselves fully. Through hard work and leveraging our systematic processes, they were able to grow their business from the ground up and achieve substantial success within a few years. This story exemplifies how dedication and the right support can transform someone’s career in real estate.

These aspects of the real estate industry are what truly excite me about being a part of it.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest? Please share stories or examples if possible.

Things that concern me about the industry…

Number one is the affordability issue, which is a national problem. This has arisen from various factors, including regulations and long-term underbuilding.

The second concern is the increased involvement of institutional investors in the home purchase market. While it’s not as extreme as some fear stories suggest, we are seeing more companies, funds, and larger institutional players entering the market, which wasn’t the case 5, 10, or 20 years ago. This growing trend will continue to impact both how we run our businesses and how our clients experience the market.

The third concern is the public perception of agents and the industry as a whole. Recent lawsuits involving the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and commission-related issues have tainted public perception. Stories surrounding these lawsuits often obscure the reality of how the industry operates. A significant part of this problem is due to some agents treating this profession as a hobby and not providing the best service to their clients. While these are the exceptions rather than the rule, they tend to spoil the reputation for everyone.

To address these concerns, I would suggest three reforms.

First, raising the standards for agents could greatly benefit the industry. Implementing higher entry standards, such as apprenticeships, would ensure that those entering the profession are dedicated and well-prepared. This would counter the misleading perception from TV shows and social media that make the industry seem easy and overly lucrative.

Second, addressing the affordability issue by considering reforms like the portability of mortgages could be beneficial. If mortgages were tied more to individuals than properties, it could help alleviate some of the financial pressures and make home ownership more accessible.

Reforming the current MLS system would be highly advantageous. The current system is fractured and siloed, with different rules, costs, and standards across regions. This inconsistency complicates the process for agents and affects the client experience. Unified reforms could streamline operations and enhance efficiency, ultimately benefiting both agents and clients. This is why some portals like homes.com and Zillow have gained traction, as they address gaps left by our fragmented MLS system.

Implementing these changes would help improve the industry, making it more professional, accessible, and efficient for everyone involved.

What advice would you give to other real estate leaders to help their teams to thrive and to create a really fantastic work culture?

One key lesson we learned through trial and error when bringing agents onto the team is to ensure they match your core values and have a positive attitude. These elements are crucial. We’ve shifted our focus from hiring top producers or highly experienced agents to finding individuals who align with our core values and are willing to work hard. We can teach them the rest.

For leaders out there with an organization, the same principle applies. You can train for skills, but you can’t teach the right attitude or cultural fit. When bringing on new agents, prioritize their alignment with your core values, their willingness to work, and their fit within your team culture. This approach leads to the best culture and working environment and eventually a thriving team.

Ok, here is the main question of our interview. You are a “Real Estate Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non-intuitive things one should know to succeed in the Real Estate industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?

1. Don’t go it alone: One piece of advice I always give to newcomers is to find a good mentor, coach, or team. Real estate can be an extremely tough industry to navigate alone, and many people don’t make it without support. When I first started, my mentor Mike Jones was instrumental in my success. He helped me boost my confidence, provided opportunities, and guided me through challenging times. Without his support, my journey would have been much harder.

2. Consistency and perseverance are key: Success in real estate isn’t about being the most talented or having the largest social media following. It’s about who continues to do daily activities, follows the process, and sticks with it. I’ve seen countless agents succeed not because they were the best salespeople, but because they were incredibly consistent and persevered through tough times. One of our agents, for instance, wasn’t the most charismatic or experienced, but her consistent efforts in following up with leads and maintaining her daily routines led her to become one of our top performers.

3. Ask better questions: Early in my career, I had a plaque on my desk that read, “Ask better questions.” Often, we get tunnel vision and focus too narrowly on solving immediate problems without stepping back to ask broader, more insightful questions. For example, instead of just trying to close a deal quickly, asking questions like “What is the client’s ultimate goal?” or “Is there another way to achieve this?” can open up new perspectives and solutions. This approach has often led to better outcomes and more satisfied clients.

4. Don’t reinvent the wheel: Many new agents feel the need to do things their way, but real estate is an industry with well-established, proven strategies and processes. Instead of trying to create everything from scratch, use these tried-and-true methods to lay a solid foundation. Once you have these fundamentals in place, you can customize and vary your approach. One new agent on our team struggled initially because he was trying to develop his own methods. After he embraced our established processes, he quickly saw an improvement in his performance and success rate.

5. Clients care about their needs, not your credentials: Clients aren’t interested in which brokerage you work for or what awards you’ve won. They want to know how you can help them solve their problems or achieve their goals. Every client has a specific issue they need resolved or a goal they want to reach, and your job is to assist them with that. For example, one of our agents was initially focused on showcasing her awards and accolades. Once she shifted her focus to understanding and addressing the clients’ specific needs, her client satisfaction and referral rates increased significantly. Remember, clients care about what you can do for them, not about your resume.

Because of your position, you are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would inspire a movement focused on comprehensive financial literacy. This is something that is not taught in schools, yet it’s crucial for navigating life successfully. We often encounter clients, especially first-time homebuyers, who are dealing with credit scores, mortgages, and financial statements for the first time. They need guidance on savings, investment accounts, and understanding how debt works.

Not just in real estate, but in life in general. No one is teaching people what they should be doing with their money or how to manage debt. Some fortunate individuals have parents or mentors who teach them these vital skills early on, but too many people learn through the school of hard knocks. By that time, they’ve often made poor financial decisions that put them in difficult situations.

If we could avoid these pitfalls through early financial education, it would be hugely beneficial. Financial literacy affects all aspects of people’s lives, causing stress in marriages, limiting life choices, and preventing people from achieving their goals, such as buying a house or pursuing a dream job. By equipping individuals with the knowledge to make informed financial decisions, we can significantly reduce these stresses and open up more opportunities, making it a game changer for many.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Please check out our team website at https://kpzgroup.com

We are constantly sharing educational, informational content for real estate agents.

And if any agents are looking to work with us, they can reach out to us there as well.

Thank you for your time, and your excellent insights! We wish you continued success.

About the Author
Logan Derrick
Logan Derrick is the Marketing Manager for KPZ Group. He is a lead generation expert specializing in content marketing, SEO, email marketing, and social media management. He develops and runs magnetic lead gen strategies that drive real business growth and success.