Broker Spotlight: Dana Jensen, Realty Connect



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Find out how a career downturn led this founder and CEO of Realty Connect to create a way for agents to stay active under adverse circumstances.

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Name: Dana Jensen

Title: Founder and CEO

Experience: 21 years (licensed broker in 50 states)

Location: Reston, Virginia

Brokerage name: Realty Connect

Team size: 3,000+ agents

Why did you get your start in real estate?

Honestly, I got my salesperson’s license on a dare. My wife was an agent at the time. I kept giving her marketing ideas to the point of annoyance, so to shut me up, she said if I thought my ideas were so great, why don’t I get my own license and try it myself. So, I did and here I am 21 years later.

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How did you choose your brokerage?

I became licensed in 2003, but when the housing market crashed in 2008, so did my real estate career. Without having any sales to justify the investment, I couldn’t afford all the MLS fees, association dues and Realtor expenses. I didn’t want to just quit and lose my license, but without the tools to sell homes, no broker would hire me. Why would they?

It was frustrating to have worked so hard, invested hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars into a license I couldn’t use anymore. I didn’t want to let my license expire or go inactive, but there were no other options. That’s when the light bulb went on.

So after I got back on my feet a few years later, I started Realty Connect to give agents an easy and affordable way to keep their license active and make money as a real estate agent.

What do you wish more people knew about working in real estate?

How challenging and competitive the industry can be. As a new agent, it’s hard to know who to trust, and you have to be willing to make a lot of mistakes in order to learn. But if you don’t invest your time and resources wisely, you might not last long. This is why almost 80 percent of all new agents exit within their first year. They don’t plan to fail. They just fail to plan.

What’s something you know now that you wish you knew when you started?

What I love most about real estate is that there are 100 different things you can do with a license. If your first thing doesn’t work out, just try one of the other 99.

Tell us about a high point in your brokerage career

Becoming a licensed broker in all 50 states was a fun challenge. Because of the order I did this in, I was able to obtain reciprocal licenses in eight states. The rest required me to complete each state’s pre-licensing courses and pass their broker exam.

Texas had the longest broker pre-licensing course (270 hours), but California was right behind them (240 hours). Luckily, I was able to take most of my exams at nearby PSI and Pearson Vue locations, but there are some states that still require candidates to take their exam at a testing facility within their state, so this involved a lot of flights, hotels and travel.

What’s your top prediction for 2024?

I believe the effects of the NAR settlement are going to present the most significant challenges to the real estate industry since the housing market crash in 2008. But I also believe this is going to create lots of new opportunities, so agents and brokers who embrace what’s coming next and adapt will own the new market.

Tell us about an epic fail you’ve experienced since you’ve been a broker

My biggest learning experience was 2008, when I focused my entire business on new construction home sales. When the market crashed, new construction was one of the hardest-hit areas of real estate. My entire business evaporated overnight. It taught me to diversify.

What’s your top tip for freshly licensed brokers?

Have a plan. Don’t make the mistake of thinking what worked for you as a salesperson will work for you as a broker.

Name 3 people you admire

  • George Saab, my first broker, for teaching me how to be a hurricane instead of a tornado.
  • Donald Miller, author of Building a StoryBrand for writing the most amazing business book I have ever read.
  • My co-founder and wife, Dilly Jensen, for supporting my vision despite all the risks.

What makes a good leader?

Learning from your mistakes so you don’t repeat them. Admitting “I was wrong” and “I am sorry” are signs of strength, not weakness. Encourage people to give you their honest opinions. Amateurs want praise. Professionals want feedback.

What’s one thing you wish every agent knew?

Money management is probably the biggest mistake I see agents make. Here’s a simple strategy:

Go to your bank today and open four new checking accounts. Name them: (1) Business, (2) Taxes, (3) Marketing & Expenses and (4) Personal.

Then, start depositing your commission checks into your business account. From there, move 25 percent to Taxes, 25 percent to Marketing & Expenses and the remaining 50 percent into Personal.

Using this strategy keeps your money balanced and will help prevent many common financial mistakes agents make.

Know someone who should be featured in an upcoming Broker Spotlight? Nominations, please, to brokeredge@inman.com.

Email Christy Murdock





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