In a digital age, real estate clients come to the marketplace prepared. Buyers typically search on their own for many months before engaging an agent to represent them. And we know this just isn’t about being casual, most people want to avoid engaging the wrong professional. But how do you know you’ve got the right agent? Is it 5-star reviews? Sponsored ads on social media? Sure, this is a good start. But if you dig deeper, you’ll see it’s about chemistry. You should hire an agent that makes you feel empowered. “Meet the Agents” is the guerilla realty guide to our professionals.
Meet Rachel Rabinowitz
How long have you worked in Real Estate?
My first sale was a luxury Inner Harbor townhouse in November of 2006. It was an auction sale and at that time the housing bubble had just started to burst. As it turns out the next four years were an uphill battle. I was fortunate to be working with Tranzon Fox, the Mid Atlantic regional office for a nationwide real estate auction firm. In 2011 I added a second real estate license with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage’s Roland Park Office. In 2014 I left Coldwell Banker and started by own independent brokerage, Guerilla Realty.
What made you decide to go Indie?
Real estate was changing. The big players were no longer the franchise brokerages; arguably they were the technology companies including Zillow and Facebook. This may seem like a negative, but it actually leveled the playing field. My role evolved to a content creator. No matter who my clients hired, the first four “hits” for their house online was Zillow, Redfin, Realtor.com and Trulia. If I created exceptional content to be shared via the MLS IDX feed, my clients would have a competitive advantage. With this in mind, a lot the trappings of the franchise brokerage lost relevance for my business. Once I became my own boss, my commission split radically increased.
What makes your real estate practice unique?
We all bring our own life experiences to our professional practice. For me, I had a background in the art business, including working with galleries and auction houses. From my time with The Sotheby’s Institute of Art London, I had learned to research and catalog precious objects, including the chain of ownership (also called provenance). The breakthrough for me was an understanding that this approach could be applied to real estate, especially in a city like Baltimore where we’ve got a lot of 100 year old + properties. This is something that technology can’t replicate, and I see it as one of my competitive advantages.
I also need to give credit to the sharp minds at Tranzon Fox who taught me accelerated marketing. It’s the idea of developing a campaign-style strategy to sell real estate in challenging markets. In simple terms, if you had to sell a house in 30 days no matter what, what would it take? That type of thinking led me to explore guerilla marketing.
You just started your 6th year with Guerilla Realty, what did you learn in your first five years?
Being surrounded by great people is everything. I’ve got three agents who’ve been with me five years, and that’s an honor. Life threw me a wonderful curveball shortly after I launched my brokerage, I found out I was pregnant with my daughter Eden. So if you can imagine, my first year recruitment went a little something like “Want to join a pregnant rookie broker who is figuring all this out?” – frankly its amazing they did.
We’ve just crossed $75,000,000 in sales, which was 345 properties, and I reviewed every single one of those contracts. In terms of production, that’s not big numbers, but when you are a working mom and a small business owner it’s okay to celebrate your success without the burden of comparing yourself to everyone else.
What makes Guerilla Realty different?
We’re straight shooters. Our signage is black and white and say’s “For Sale” – and that’s radical because most real estate signs around town say “the so and so team of the so and so brokerage” – what about the matter at hand, hello? Let’s focus on selling the house. And god forbid an agent puts their picture on a sign, that’s grounds for termination in my office.
We charge our clients zero administrative fees. Who likes being charged fees? This practice continues in-house where I am proud to say I’ve never billed my agents for anything. Paying for xerox copies? Buying your own business cards? That’s a nickel-and-dime approach that doesn’t suit me.
We are committed to fair housing and equal opportunity. All of our agents are paid exactly the same, and while I am not the only broker doing this, I can share this practice came from my frustration of seeing agents of color be paid less for the same work at my former brokerage.
I was born in Baltimore City. It’s an unavoidable truth that this city is economically segregated. My hope is to continue to promote all neighborhoods without bias. The percentage of African American homeowners in Baltimore City is far too low for the population. I recently read it’s as low as it was in 1968 when Title VIII, the Fair Housing Act, was passed over 50 years ago. This needs to change. It can and it will. When we refer to ourselves as “Baltimore’s Modern Real Estate Company” this is an example of what we have in mind.
What’s next for Guerilla Realty?
Expansion. We’ve got some great things coming up early next year and I’m so excited to share all the news when the time is right. In the meanwhile, our sister company Guerilla Construction has been dominating our growth as they become quite in-demand for contemporary renovations. We remain committed to challenging ourselves to find clever, cool, and creative ways to sell real estate. Recently one of my agents commented, “95% of agents out there aren’t a good fit for guerilla realty”. That was enlightening. It helped me realize in expanding our brokerage, we really are in search of a small group of exceptional creative professionals. I like the challenge of finding the needle in the haystack.