11 Jul What The F? | F. Ron Smith, Partners Trust
F. Ron Smith is a founder of Partners Trust – a real estate firm which, distinguishable by its consistent attention to detail, has earned a loyal and discerning clientele.
How did you get started in real estate?
I was born and raised in Texas and came to LA after college. My first job was at WME and that is where I worked for 4 years and met my wife Tracy. My family had been in real estate in Texas and I always had been intrigued with real estate, so that lead my pursuit in that field.
What was the origin of Partners Trust?
I had been working with Coldwell Banker for 15 years and left there to work at Sotheby’s. In September 2009, I got together with 4 good friends and we started Partners Trust, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. The catalyst to start Partners Trust was the desire to work with people whom I liked, with a common goal and drive. I find, that in life, when you surround yourself with people you like and have a common goal and common drive, the only option is success. We started in 2009 in the abyss of the economy and it just felt right. Today we have 5 offices – Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Pasadena and two in Santa Monica. We have 140 partners and did nearly $1.9 billion in business in 2013. And it just keeps getting better. We are internally owned and everyone at the company has the same goal and drive. I am proud to be part of it!
Why the name Partners Trust?
Coming up with the name was an interesting evolution. We had many meetings in our backyard in Brentwood and we met often. We each had our smart phones and Googled many potential names. One of my partners, Nick, stated that we are all partners here and Richard said very tongue in cheek, “you got to trust that”. Interestingly, with ‘Trust’ in the name you have to get clearance, as its synonymous with banking. It took 6 months to secure the name. The name really feels grounded, dependable, not flashy – and really representative of who we are.
Is there a hiring criteria?
We have an unspoken criteria in bringing people on. There is no exclusivity – it’s a very welcoming environment, and our number one goal is for people to get along. That is a high priority for us. There is a vetting process, which is more of a communal conversation to make sure everyone is comfortable
What are the strengths of a good realtor?
I think the strongest quality for a good realtor is accountability, and demonstrating through actions the care and the responsibility that is involved with the transaction. Getting an accepted offer is just the start. There is a plethora of documentation, and you really want to make sure you have someone who is engaged in the entire process – not just the now, but the entire long term process. I also think a good realtor should be equally as concerned with the second and third transaction, rather than just the first.
Does Partners Trust attract a certain type of client?
I am often asked if there is a set type of client or profile that we look for. I think there is a specific clientele that wants to do business with us because there is stability in what we do. We are not a flashy group, but we pride ourself on dependability and that is what resonates with our typical client.
What is your view of the current real estate market?
Today’s climate in real estate is one of the most unusual arenas that I have seen in 25 years. We have low-interest rates, tremendous equity built-in homes, people staying in their homes longer and a tremendous desire from Santa Monica to the Hollywood Hills to buy homes that are done. The competition is extreme but we are laser focused. With the lower interest rates, it’s easier to get loans. The inventory is at a 20 year low, and therefore, it makes it very competitive. That combined, we have more realtors than we have had in the last 15 years which creates a very competitive environment for both buyers and sellers. And with that backdrop, I believe cooler heads prevail. According to a report by the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, the prognosis is very solid until 2018, barring something catastrophic.
How do you see the future of technology in real estate?
The absolutely fascinating thing is the information available online, which enhances the value we bring as that of a consultant. Technology is here to stay. The ability for a consumer at 3am to search and get intimate details on financing, history and configuration of the home is available to everyone. We embrace that. Our job is to help them process this information and act as consultants to educate the client.The online services such as Redfin are great allies. They provide information that empowers today’s client, and which is complementary to the services we provide.
What is Leverage?
We came to the realization about 18 months ago, that we needed to have the ability to network on a national and global level. Similar to Partners Trust and its culture, we sought to create a network of like-minded, independent companies which have exclusivity in their market and can freely exchange referrals, information and business practices in their locality. We are now in 120 markets, growing daily, with over 200 offices that did a combined business of 27 billion dollars. It’s a pretty powerful network. What makes Leverage unique is the ability to deal president to president, with no additional fees of any kind… It’s pure in its intention and has been very successful. Every company is vetted, which means if you like your realtor in LA, you are going to like your realtor in Austin, Texas. We are like-minded owners, like-minded companies. For consumers it’s one-stop shopping. They can go to leveragere.com, take a look at the different city sites, get educated and be referred to the best quality companies, to help them make their move.
What are your plans for the next 5 years?
The goal is to continue to grow Partners Trust. We are soon to be in Malibu and looking to expand past Pasadena. The goal for Leverage is to be in 500 markets by 2016. For me personally, I have a wonderful partnership and look to be able to do more business and reach out to more great clients.
What do you do to relax?
I love to work out. I like to be in the back of the room at Soul Cycle so I am not mocked for my lack of ability compared to those in the front row. I like to travel. I like to find the best vintage tequila possible. I love eating out. Our expansion of Partners Trust and Leverage into new areas is going to afford me the opportunity to find new restaurants in places I had never even thought of previously.
Last question…What the F?
When I moved to LA, my first job was at WME and there was a talent agent at the time named Ron Smith. He didn’t have the best reputation. I found that I was escorted out of a number events, being confused with him, so I added the “F” and it’s been that way ever since. It can be ‘F’ for fantastic or ‘F’ for f’ing. Either way, it has a positive tone and it is certainly a conversation piece. It will be F. Ron Smith for a while.