Known as the ‘LeBron James of Real Estate,’ Daniel D. Thomas puts people first and commissions second
By Deborah Kearns
Evidence of Daniel D. Thomas’ success adorns the walls of his office. Thomas hums with confident energy as he points out each framed real estate award, magazine article about his accomplishments, and photo of his family.
But it’s the yellow legal pad on his desk that grabs attention; on it he had written out his goals for 2016. The top entry reads, “Sell 75 houses this year.”
Listed neatly below were his reasons for wanting to achieve the goal: to prove to himself that he can, to help support his family, to defend his top agent ranking, and to become legendary – among others. Setting goals is a must in any good entrepreneur’s toolbox, but it’s merely a starting point, Thomas says.
“You have to build a blueprint for greatness,” Thomas says. “People want to get rich in this business, but they don’t have a rationale for how to achieve it. You have to make a plan.”
Thomas is well on his way to becoming one of the greats. At just 29, he has established himself as a formidable presence in his Bridgeport, Conn., market where his average sale price is $70,000. His drive to win in real estate – and in life – coupled with his persistence to get results, has earned him the nickname of the “LeBron James of Real Estate.” It’s a moniker he wears with pride.
The Sales Associate with RE/MAX Right Choice in Bridgeport has earned his way into the 100 Percent Club for the past several years, and he’s closed a total of 178 transactions for nearly $29 million in sales volume – $7.5 million of it in 2015 alone. But the numbers on his commission checks have little to do with what really motivates him. His driving force goes much deeper than that.
Ethics before commissions
On this sunny afternoon, Thomas cuts a dapper figure in a white button-down shirt, black vest and blue tie – always the impeccably dressed professional. His jacket is off, but Thomas says his RE/MAX pin never leaves the lapel.
“I get at least two deals a year because I wear my pin every day,” Thomas says, adding that the pin helps strike up conversations about real estate. “I wear it everywhere.”
Thomas’ marketing strategy also includes shooting a video walkthrough for each of his listings. They don’t have to be fancy, he says, but the previews let prospective buyers and renters get a sense of the space and learn something about Thomas. He often inserts lighthearted commentary.
I get at least two deals a year because I wear my RE/MAX pin every day.Daniel D. Thomas
“I walk through the home with a camera, and my clients feel like they’re going for a walk with me,” he says. “It also gives sellers a great keepsake to hold onto. But most importantly, it works to market properties and earn referrals!”
Bridgeport is a city plagued by a struggling economy and rampant crime. It’s also Thomas’ hometown, and his love for the city runs deep. He has to close a higher volume of listings to make a consistent six-figure income, but that doesn’t trouble him.
Although Thomas says he’s “fiercely competitive” and thrives on winning, he never puts a sale above his ethics.
“I won’t hide things that could hurt potential buyers,” says Thomas. For example, he relates a time when an aggressive international investor wanted him to sell a multifamily building that was virtually uninhabitable. “The investor wanted me to market his property for a quick sale while leaving out material facts, but I declined the listing. It didn’t feel right, and I won’t compromise my integrity to sell a home.”
It’s that intrinsic integrity that spurred Jeff Wright, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Right Choice, to pursue Thomas in 2011. Back then, the young agent was going it alone as an independent broker, but Wright saw his potential and wanted to help develop it.
“When I first met Daniel at a NAR Conference, I could see his passion for real estate and that he wanted to be great, but he didn’t beat his chest about it,” Wright says. “When I sit down with prospective agents, a lot of them tell me how great they are, but not Daniel. He told me he wanted to be like the top stars in our office.
“If you ask my staff who’s among the top five nicest people in our office, Daniel would be on that list. He’s one of the kindest, most sincere human beings you’ll ever meet, and he’s exactly the type of person I want in my brokerage.”
After a decade in real estate, Thomas is one of the top agents in Bridgeport. His career climb started from humble beginnings, and he worked hard along the way; nothing was given to him.
His mother, Pamela Thomas, struggled as a single mother to raise Thomas and his siblings, and worked multiple jobs to make ends meet. In high school, Thomas would come into school early and help the janitor open up. In exchange, he was allowed to study in the cafeteria before school started for the day. While other teens hustled on the streets, Thomas hustled in the classroom to earn his way to college, which he says was his ticket out of the life that awaited him otherwise.
While he was a full-time student at Sacred Heart University, Thomas’ mother gave him her last $500 to enroll in real estate school – a sacrifice Thomas has never forgotten.
“I turned her $500 investment into more than $20 million in closed sales, so I’d say it was a good investment,” Thomas says. “I can never truly repay her for making that investment in me.”
‘Stay at it no matter what’
Since joining RE/MAX, Thomas is watching and learning from the same superstar agents he’s admired from afar for years. He’s picking up valuable lessons along the way – and adding his own proven strategies – to dominate his market.
“One piece of advice I received years ago from my mentor, local developer Robert Scinto, was to stay in business no matter what and to pay down my loans,” Thomas says. “So many agents fall out of the business when they have bad months because they’re unwilling to do the necessary legwork. That’s why I feel I’m good at selling homes; I’ll do whatever it takes to make clients happy and close a transaction.”
His wife is also one of his biggest fans. Cameica Thomas says that no matter what her husband puts his mind to – whether it’s being a “super daddy,” giving back to struggling families in their community, or setting sales goals – he always goes “above and beyond” in inspiring ways.
“He gave up his commission once to ensure a family could get into a home,” Cameica Thomas says. “He really cares about making people’s dreams come true.”
As his profile rises and the accolades amass (he was recently included in Realtor Magazine’s “30 Under 30” feature), Thomas remains true to himself. His humility and kindness, along with his thirst for knowledge, set him apart in the business, says Wright, his Broker/Owner.
“Daniel is the type of person who gets things done,” Wright says. “He sought an organization that believed in him, and he’s found that place with us at RE/MAX. He’s the package deal.”
As for Thomas, he’s hungry and focused on his next goal to close 75 sold homes by the end of 2016. By the time he’s 40, he’d like to build and open a hotel with his wife, travel the world with his family, appear on a real estate show on HGTV or A&E, and build his family’s dream home. They might seem like lofty goals, but this is Daniel Thomas we’re talking about. Just like the NBA star he gets his nickname from, he has the heart of a winner.
“When I retire, I want to go out big like LeBron.”