When did you start working in the field of real estate?
That’s a funny question, because real estate is really my third rodeo. After graduate school, I taught high school and then college English and writing. Next, I worked as an editor for a publishing company in Boston for several years.
It was only after we moved back to California, and my husband (who is a real estate salesperson) started needing some help, that I decided to get my license. And then it snowballed. I got my broker’s license a few years after that, and now look at me.
When I was a little girl, I always imagined that I’d be a teacher. I guess I technically still am.
What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment?
Well, I was super excited that Barbara Corcoran agreed to endorse my first daily planner for real estate agents. That definitely made my week, and possibly my year. I’m also really proud of all the businesses I have created, but especially Short Sale Expeditor®. I started that with an idea that agents needed short sale training and assistance, and that became an awesome multi-million dollar idea. Obviously, the distressed property market has changed, but I still consider that my baby.
Why do you think you are so passionate about real estate?
I don’t really consider myself to be a passionate person, but I know that I do have a lot of energy.
I read this book—it’s fiction—called Netherland by Joseph O’Neill. One of the characters talked about how complication represents opportunity. How the more complicated something is, the less competition there will be. And, that really stuck with me because I could identify.
I love a good challenge. And real estate can be that challenge because the market is always changing. I always try to figure out where the complicated idea or niche is and run towards it—because everyone else is running away. It just keeps me on my toes, and keeps my mind active, and that’s what I like. Not sure that answers the question, but I hope it makes sense.
You obviously like to read. Have you read any other good books lately?
Well, I just finished A Dangerous Fortune by Ken Follett, and recently I also read Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs. But, as far as non-fiction stuff for real estate agents and entrepreneurs, let me think what’s on my Kindle: The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss, Made to Stick by the Heath Brothers, The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, and Instant Income by Janet Switzer. I’ve read all of those fairly recently.
What have been your biggest challenges?
Good question. My biggest challenge is perhaps a blessing and a curse. I’m impatient, and I want people to see it my way. I can credit that with my success with short sales. But, it’s also a sort of a curse because I want agents to embrace and regularly systematize their use of productivity tools in order to see increased success. And I’m constantly trying to figure out how I can better accomplish that goal.
You are always so organized—even with so much on your plate. Is there some tip or tool that you believe can help others get better organized?
Well, I always try to follow a regular routine. It’s boring, I know. But, it works for me. I have certain days that I write, certain days that I hold meetings, stuff like that. As far as productivity tools, right now, I have all Apple products—a MacBook Pro, an iPad, and an iPhone. Because they all sync so well, I’ve found that I’m more productive as a result.
Oh yeah, I’d be a fool if I didn’t mention that agents could get better organized with Pipeline Planner—shameless plug, sorry.
East coast or west coast?
That’s a hard one. I’m from Los Angeles, went to college in La Jolla, and grad school in Boston. I live in San Diego County now, but still have a special place in my heart for Boston—except when it snows.
Favorite television programs?
I like(d) Downton Abbey, Shameless, and I really liked Weeds. I thought the writing on Weeds was genius.
Cats or Dogs?
Right now I have one dog—have had many dogs throughout my adult life. Never had any cats.
Yankees or Sox?
Sox… and Padres, of course.
In-N-Out Burger or Five Guys?
Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks?
Dunkin’ Donuts, when it’s available to me. Not sure why there aren’t Dunkin’ Donuts shops on every corner in San Diego. Hey… there’s a good business idea for someone.
Wow. That makes me sound important. Well, I guess my main message is that nobody has any excuse for not getting stuff done—generating leads, selling homes, creating a business, inventing a product. Whatever. If I can do it, anyone can!
Want More Melissa? Here’s Her Professional Bio
Melissa Zavala is the broker of Broadpoint Properties, and the founder of two administrative services companies for real estate professionals—Short Sale Expeditor® and Transaction 911. She is also a real estate trainer who assists agents across the nation through coaching, mentoring, and speaking engagements. Melissa and her programs have been featured in various publications, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Inman, and the San Diego Union Tribune. She is a columnist for The American Genius, The Real Daily, and was nominated for the 2011 Inman Award for Real Estate’s Most Influential Leaders.