REALTOR® Profile | Vicki Monteagudo

Fueling Her Entrepreneurial Fire - Tri-Cities broker-owner Vicki Monteagudo develops a system that helps new and long-time agents achieve unprecedented levels of success in the real estate industry.

Vicki Monteagudo

It didn’t take long for Vicki Monteagudo to realize the magnitude of her entrepreneurial spirit. In fact, this REALTOR® was just 10 years old when she started thinking about what type of business she’d like to run.

“My entire family was entrepreneurial,” says Monteagudo, owner and designated broker at Century 21 Tri-Cities Central Realty and Yakima-based Century 21 Central Realty. “I came from a long line of farmers, restaurant owners, and funeral home owners—all of whom helped to stoke my own love of business ownership from a very young age.”

Knowing she wanted to run her own business at some point, Monteagudo majored in business administration and marketing at Washington State University, where she got her first exposure to the real estate industry. “My family didn’t move around much and I’d never even been to an open house in my life,” says Monteagudo, who broke into the industry by working as a broker for several new homebuilders in her region. After several years as a Coldwell Banker broker, she scratched the entrepreneurial itch by opening her own brokerage, Century 21 Tri-Cities Central Realty. Two years later she started Century 21 Central Realty about 90 minutes away from the former.

Vicki MonteagudoLicensed since she was 21 years old, Monteagudo says she always had her heart set on owning a brokerage versus working for another broker. While working for Coldwell Banker, for example, she was essentially “running a brokerage within a brokerage” with her dedicated listing coordinator, transaction coordinator, graphic designers, videographers, stagers, and photographers. “I developed an ironclad system for selling properties,” says Monteagudo, whose approach allowed her to sell 173 properties within a one-year time frame. “It’s a great system that really allowed me to maximize my time and leverage the talent of others.”

But something was missing. As Monteagudo sat in her office among a sea of other REALTORS®, she still longed to run her own company. She also wanted to share her systemized approach to real estate with other brokers. “I watched a lot of people struggle as they tried to wear a lot of different hats—taking their own photos, making their own videos, and trying to manage buyers and sellers,” says Monteagudo. “Burdened by all of those tasks and responsibilities, these brokers were never able to specialize in one or two lucrative areas of the industry; they basically just had to do it all.”

Knowing that her own system was effective, and realizing that she could probably use it to lead others to greatness, Monteagudo started thinking about how she could share her approach with other brokers. “I knew the only feasible way to do it would be to open my own brokerage,” she recalls. “That way, those brokers wouldn’t be paying a brokerage fee, but instead they would pay a service to use my system.”

Monteagudo’s hunch has paid off. Today, she runs two offices where 38 brokers (32 at Tri-Cities and six in Yakima) rely on her systematized approach to an industry where many REALTORS® run themselves ragged 100 hours a week to keep up with the demands of the business. By focusing on per-broker production, Monteagudo has cultivated a pool of real estate professionals whose current sales volumes far surpass what they were achieving at their prior brokerages.

“It’s both exciting and gratifying for me to take a broker and help her sell more within 12 months than she did during the previous three years (while working for another brokerage),” says Monteagudo, who in 2014 worked with a broker who sold more than 30 units during her first 10 months working for Century 21 Tri-Cities Central Realty. “It’s amazing to be able to watch these turnarounds and know that the system I developed is helping these professionals be extremely successful.”
Making the switch from broker to broker owner comes with its fair share of obstacles and challenges, but Monteagudo is one business owner who has taken those hurdles in stride. She credits her marketing education and love of leading others to success with helping her smooth out any transition-related bumps and feels well suited for management, coaching, and leadership. “It’s actually been very exciting,” says Monteagudo. “I love the coaching and mentoring involved with bringing in a new or existing agent and watching him or her really develop. That’s very rewarding to witness.”

To ensure those brokers’ chances of success, Monteagudo makes herself available to them on a 24/7 basis, provides one-on-one coaching, and even answers text messages during the wee hours of the morning. “They know that they can reach out to me for anything; I have an open-door policy,” says Monteagudo, who especially enjoys helping long-time real estate brokers elevate their careers to new levels. “There’s nothing like watching someone who has been at the same productivity level for 30 or 40 years achieve new, higher levels of success.”
Monteagudo’s enthusiasm extends outside of her office doors and into the local marketplace, where she maintains a positive and bullish outlook on the year ahead. “There are a lot of great things happening in our local market, where about 31 percent of the market comprises new construction right now,” Monteagudo explains. “As a company we’re very strong in new construction. We really understand the logistics of raw land, land acquisition, development, and new community construction by local builders.”

As part of their commitment to the new construction market, Monteagudo’s companies recently helped “carve up” two different 30-acre plots of land into what are now the Spencer Estates and Hyde Park communities. Through those initiatives, agents attend city hearings, manage ever-increasing infrastructure costs, plan out the products and floor plans, and work closely with local builders to bring the projects to fruition. “This is definitely the most fun aspect of our jobs,” says Monteagudo. “We can put our stamp on these projects, which have really helped us become the star of our industry.”

Of course, Monteagudo also deals with her share of market-related challenges. On a more global level, for example, she says technology has had a major impact on the way consumers buy and sell real estate. With nearly 100 percent of buyers searching for homes online first, for example, the days when simply establishing a solid relationship with those consumers translated into a commission check are long gone. No longer funneling money and effort into TV, radio, and print advertising, brokers like Monteagudo are putting a lot of time into figuring out how consumers want to receive their information—and what mechanisms generate the highest response levels. For example, she says her companies recently launched a new, user-friendly mobile application that consumers can use to search for properties, learn about agents, and review customer testimonials.

Even with mobile and other technology tools at their avail, Monteagudo says her brokers are continually being challenged to find new ways to reach out to and effectively engage homebuyers and sellers.  “At this point, we’re basically trying to forecast in advance exactly where the customer is going,” she says, “without having any blueprint telling us what that next step actually is.”

Vicki Monteagudo

As the owner of one of the smallest-yet-fastest growing brokerages in her region, Monteagudo has elevated per-broker productivity to the point where her companies consistently rank among the top four offices for production levels. That success hasn’t gone unnoticed. As a winner of the Century 21 Double Centurion Award for Washington State and several per-agent productivity awards, Monteagudo’s offices receive regular accolades for their accomplishments. She gives credit to the people around her for helping to make her business dreams and accomplishments a reality.

“I’ve surrounded myself with excellent individuals who are specialists in their own rights,” says Monteagudo, who recalls a time when she was an individual broker who wore entirely too many hats. “I’m not the best graphic designer, but there I was using Microsoft Publisher to create all of my marketing materials.” She used a similar approach with property photography and many other aspects of the real estate business. “In the end, I realized that it made much more sense to bring on people who were actually talented in these different areas,” she explains.

Monteagudo’s approach differs from that of other local brokerages. On average, for instance, her offices employ three times as many staff members as any other office in the area. “Out of the 70-plus offices in the tri-cities area alone, we’re the only brokerage that does what we do,” she says. “We have listing coordinators, contract auditors, business development professionals, and individuals who are in charge of broker development, growth, and education. We’re very layered in terms of the services that we offer to our REALTORS®.”  That layering of services has been put in place for a key reason:  to ensure that brokers have the time, energy, and resources necessary to create relationships with buyers, sellers, and other members of the community.

And speaking of community, the brokers at Century 21 Tri-Cities Central Realty and Century 21 Central Realty are tightly intertwined with the regions that they serve. Every year, for example, the companies donate their time selling a 2,000-square-foot home that’s been built from the ground up by local high school students. “We’re continuously getting involved with community events,” says Monteagudo, who also serves on the board of directors for the United Way and is active with groups like Junior Achievement and DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America). “I was a DECA member for four years while I was in high school,” she says, “so I’m pretty passionate about giving back to that organization.”
Being Extraordinary
As she looks at how far her two companies have come over the last few years and assesses their prospects for the year ahead, Monteagudo says she’s extremely pleased with the progress. She’s also eager to keep up the momentum by continuing to round out her teams, getting involved with more new construction projects, and helping brokers further hone their individual success strategies. Comfortable with this level of future planning, Monteagudo admits that there was a time when most of her energy went to putting out day-to-day fires.

“I think if you would have asked me years ago, ‘Where do you think your real estate career is headed?’ I would have said ‘Oh goodness, you know, I’m working on today and setting myself up as best I can,’” says Monteagudo, who has since learned the value of incorporating longer-range planning into her business approach. Still, she says her favorite strategy is just keeping her nose to the grindstone and focusing on growth over any other type of long-term planning strategy.

“It’s still hard for me to wrap my arms around where our company is going to be in 10 years, but we’re developing at a high growth rate,” says Monteagudo. “As an individual broker I basically just compounded the number of units that I sold on an annual basis, and now I’ve just fanned that approach out across multiple agents and offices.”

To other brokers who either want to start their own brokerages or step up their individual productivity levels, Monteagudo says having a passion for the industry—versus just a desire to generate commission checks—is a great starting point. “It doesn’t take a lot to become extraordinary versus just ordinary in the real estate industry,” she says. “If you’re truly passionate about it—and if you don’t let the almighty dollar drive your decisions—you’ll go a long way as a broker.”

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