As told to Danielle Accovelli | Photos courtesy of Cindy Gold Photography
F. Ron Smith, a founding partner of Partners Trust Real Estate Brokerage, focuses on innovation and effective collaboration within the real estate industry to consistently provide his clients with the very best service. With his considerable market and community connections, Smith has earned a loyal following of repeat clientele, many of whom have become close friends, making him one of the area’s top producers.
Here, the talented agent talks with DIGS about his many roles in the industry, passion for new construction and why the Westside is the perfect place to live.
How did you get started in real estate?
I had an entertainment background, working at William Morris, when I first came here from Texas, then started in real estate in 1989…and never looked back.
How did you become a founding partner of Partners Trust Real Estate Brokerage?
We started Partners Trust in June of 2009. I was working at another real estate company and four of us who eventually became founders had been having conversations about creating a company that really took care of the financial interests of individual associates. One of the challenges with the real estate industry as a whole is that it creates great autonomy, so individuals are largely working on their own; there’s something great about that, but there is also something challenging if you don’t have the resources or the connectivity. We said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we put together a company where people wanted to work together and help each other out, while also having a good time selling real estate?’
When we first started, it was the four of us with a temporary space on San Vicente, and within about a 90-day period, we opened up a permanent office [on that same street]. Six years later, we have nine offices, 240 associates, and we’re on track to do $2.4 billion in sales this year. It’s just a really good group of people and I’m really proud to be a part of it.
Having lived and worked on the Westside for your entire real estate career, what makes the area so covetable?
The thing that is so cool about the Westside is that it feels like a village. It’s got the same social quality and structure of a European village, and you definitely get a unique community vibe in each area. I’ve worked and lived here for 30 years and still really enjoy it.
How have your local expertise and strong community connections contributed to your success?
I think it’s my connection to the community; about 80-percent of the business that I do comes from people that I currently know, real estate agents both in my company and other companies; there’s an ease and comfort, where people know that if I’m doing business with you, I’ve got the knowledge and I’m going to be representing your best interests at all times.
What can you tell us about your role as co-founder and president of Leverage Global Partners?
Leverage is designed for independent real estate companies to connect, share business practices and exchange and refer business, yet still have the ability to maintain their autonomy. What differentiates Leverage from say, a referral network you would have at a larger real estate firm is the way that we have the network structured, president-topresident, where you can pick up the phone, call and say exactly what your needs are and be immediately connected with the right fit for your client. It’s also the ability to be able to share market knowledge without having to worry about competition. It works out really well; we have a great group of members.
What, specifically, fuels your passion for new construction?
What makes me passionate about new construction is the daily evolution and change in the design of real estate. If I wasn’t in real estate, I would have a massive Pinterest account and follow three or four websites just to see what’s new in the field. You know how some people are really into fashion or movies? I love architecture and design; and it’s wonderful to be able to follow it from year to year, observing the changes in styles and what people are looking for. The thing that is also exciting about new construction is that you have the opportunity to observe from the ground up, to watch a house come together and become a home. I have the opportunity at any given time to oversee or be involved in eight to 10 homes at a time, and it’s one of the best parts of my job.
In your opinion, why is it important to advise your clients on home staging, color schemes and landscaping?
Because of the amount of construction and remodeling that I deal with, I have a perspective that most realtors don’t have. I can give insight on the cost of remodeling and design choice options that clients may not be aware of. I can sit down and talk about who to go to for architectural plans and designs, or for flooring or painting or landscaping. I just really enjoy talking about the process.
What can you tell us about your work at USC’s Lusk Center for Real Estate?
I have an opportunity to be on a board where, even though I have been in this industry for almost 30 years, I get new insight and the chance to learn. Being a part of USC Lusk, I have the ability to interact with some of the brightest minds in the Southern California business community and in the country, where I can find out about commercial trends, industrial trends, economic trends, and then relate that back on a micro-level to residential real estate on the Westside. I feel very fortunate to be able to participate in this level.
You are also very involved in charitable endeavors on the Westside. Will you expand?
My wife of 27 years, Tracy, and I have always felt the importance of giving back. I’m a self-made person and I feel that it’s a privilege to be able to help others when you can. I have to give a lot of credit to Tracy for that, because she is actively involved in numerous charitable organizations, including the Children’s Burn Foundation, Concern Foundation for cancer research and many others. I’m really proud to say that Partners Trust has a charitable division, with 100-percent company participation; it means a lot to me that our company shares that same passion to give back to our community.