As told to Danielle Accovelli
The Official South Bay Realtors of the Los Angeles Kings, Rob Freedman and Greg Geilman have certainly made their local mark, taking the helm of innovative initiatives to elevate the real estate community. At the core of their philosophy is an unwavering dedication to providing a superior client experience and being the best agents possible through learning and teaching, a concept that has earned them numerous RE/MAX accolades.
How did you both come to RE/MAX and what is unique about the company?
ROB: I have been with RE/MAX since 1984. At the time, RE/MAX was by far the most innovative real estate company in the world. The concept was to make each agent a small company unto themselves, charging a desk rent fee rather than taking a large percentage of the agent’s commission. Agents were responsible for their own success with the company as a diligent partner in helping them achieve their goals. This brought only the most productive and professional agents together under one roof. Other companies followed with their own version of this concept, but RE/MAX was the innovator and helped push the real estate community to a new level.
GREG: I moved to RE/MAX because they had the strongest presence in the areas where I wanted to grow my business. We have 18 offices along the beach from Palos Verdes to Santa Monica. Plus, our international reach is unmatched.
Having both lived and worked in the South Bay for some time, why has this area continued to be such a covetable market?
ROB: I have lived in Redondo Beach, Torrance, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach. Each city has its own unique character and personality, but all share a connection to the beach lifestyle and are convenient to Los Angeles. There is no more land to build homes and nowhere to expand, so these cities continue to gentrify in a positive way. Limited inventory is a hallmark of the cities, which always seems to put upward pressure on prices and desirability. Moreover, the families that live in these areas have put a lot of their personal time and energy into local schools, which has made schools throughout the South Bay a big draw.
GREG: Great people in a great place will always create a covetable place to live. The South Bay just has the perfect blend of beach and luxury and great weather.
Greg, with your favorite childhood game being Monopoly, it is clear that you developed a passion for real estate early on. What about the business most appeals to you?
Although I really enjoy the ‘game’ aspect of Monopoly, I definitely don’t treat people’s real estate deals lightly. I love coming up with creative solutions to problems. Every deal is so unique and often requires us to think on our feet to keep things moving in the right direction.
How has your extensive background in technology helped you pioneer the online real estate community?
GREG: I’m always thinking, ‘How can we do things better? How can we improve the status quo for the customer?’ Sometimes technology provides that solution. I love how technology and the Internet have dramatically changed our entire industry. People are always asking if I’m afraid of the big third party websites taking over, and I say, ‘No!’ Zillow hasn’t been in every house that’s sold in the last three years. Trulia doesn’t know the floor-plan or the quality upgrades of a remodel. That’s part of the value our team brings to clients.
Greg, talk about your role as Technology Director of Leadership Manhattan Beach?
I like streamlining and efficiencies. I also enjoy volunteering to give back to our community. I was on the Board of Directors for the last three years and was able to help Leadership Manhattan Beach become paperless and build their digital archive.
Rob, you studied architecture at Cornell University, then moved to California to pursue a music career before settling on real estate. How have these transitions helped inform your work today?
Goethe once said that architecture is frozen music. I also believe the contrary is true— music is melted architecture. I have been blessed with a balanced left and right brain; I enjoy the creative and the analytical aspects of this business. Being creative with the knowledge to back it up has literally made and saved my clients millions of dollars throughout the years.
Clearly, my architectural background from the top architecture school in the country provides benefits every day to my clients. I can help them visualize the possibilities in spaces that seem limited.
Rob, what can you tell us about Villa d’Arte Development Company?
A natural outcropping of my background in architecture is development. I have been building and assisting others in building high-end homes in the Beach Cities since 1986. My wife and I founded Villa d’Arte Development in 2003 to continue this legacy. We are proud of the homes we have built and lives we have touched. Most of these homes broke price point records for the areas in which they were located. More recently, we expanded the company and became general contractors with some amazing building partners, forming First Light Development in 2012. We currently have some 14 projects in various stages of development. Greg and I are pleased tobe able to complement our cutting-edge brokerage with all of these varied value added services under one roof. This is entirely unique in our business. Buy. Sell. Build. Manage. Invest. This is our manifest.
Can you elaborate on your “Add value to everything you touch” approach?
ROB: Our business is quite simply based on the concept of trying to help the greatest number of people possible achieve their piece of the American Dream. We hire, train and teach our team members to think about their actions this way. We seek to make our customers’ experience superior. A very wise real estate trainer once told me that if you want to make more money as an agent, just be worth it. I think about that every day. I want to be better every day, learn and teach every day, provide superior service to our customers and clients, and help other real estate agents elevate our role as professionals.
Rob, you won RE/MAX’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. What are the cornerstones of your success?
I have worked diligently over the past 35 years building a business of which I can be proud. I have achieved every award RE/MAX has to offer with uncompromising dedication to my clients’ interests, and an ability to achieve their objectives. I realized long ago that if agents bring nothing more to the table than listings from multiple listing services, they better find something else to do. We are consultants for our clients… We edify, and help them make the best decisions under a specific set of circumstances. We continue to be innovative in the negotiation process, creating wins for our clients without causing others to lose. The two reasons why Greg and I make such good partners is we complement, but do not duplicate, one another, and we always try to help.