Top office pivoted from information gatekeeper to trusted adviser
By Robin Roenker
You don’t become the top-producing single office (for sales volume) in the RE/MAX network for five years running without having a reputation for great client service. Jim Wanzeck, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Masters Millennium in the Denver suburb of Greenwood Village, says his 118 agents will do a billion dollars in real estate sales this year.
Wanzeck was honored at last March’s R4 with not just one, but three top awards: Broker/Owner of the Year-Single Office, Top U.S. Single-Office Volume, and Top Single-Office Volume in the global network. He says his passion for real estate sprung from his knowledge of homes from the inside out.
While majoring in political science (with a minor in real estate) at Colorado State University, Wanzeck paid his way through college by working as a framer and carpenter. As he was helping build new homes one summer, he was struck by the professionalism of the Realtors working to sell the properties. He decided then and there to put his knowledge to use as an agent.
Wanzeck earned his real estate license right after college and has been honing his sales skills ever since. His knowledge of the construction industry has stayed with him all these years, influencing his career – from his work as the developer of four major custom subdivisions in Denver – to the metaphors he uses when mentoring his agents today.
“I feel RE/MAX Masters Millennium gives each agent a great opportunity to succeed,” says Wanzeck, who founded his current agency four years ago, after more than three decades with RE/MAX Masters. “But, you know – and here’s the carpentry analogy coming in – we have the tools in the toolbox, but if you don’t pick up your tools, it doesn’t matter where you are. You’re not going to be successful.
…we have the tools in the toolbox, but if you don’t pick up your tools, it doesn’t matter where you are, you’re not going to be successful.Jim Wanzeck, on the opportunity to succeed at RE/MAX Masters Millennium
“Our Realtors have three big advantages,” he continues. “The first one is the brand, the second one is the company, and the third and most important one is their integrity and the way they treat people – because that’s what people are going to remember.”
Having been courted by other companies between his tenure with RE/MAX Masters and the launch of RE/MAX Masters Millennium, Wanzeck never considered leaving the RE/MAX brand. “The RE/MAX network is better than any network on the planet,” he says.
While his office continues to break sales records, Wanzeck says that at this point, he measures success in terms that aren’t monetary. “My goal is past the financial aspect,” he says. “I want to build the best mousetrap and have the best RE/MAX office in the country.” (Spurring on that drive is the fact that Wanzeck can literally see RE/MAX World Headquarters – located just a mile or so away – from his office window.)
Wanzeck’s two sons, Travis and Tyler, are agents with RE/MAX Masters Millennium. And while he’s proud that they’ve followed in his footsteps, he’s quick to note that “it stings a little” when they take a client away from him. “I’m still competitive,” admits Wanzeck, who keeps an active portfolio of listings and also serves as the chair of REcolorado, Colorado’s largest Multiple Listing Service.
Weathering the Market
The tightness of Denver’s inventory, mixed with soaring property prices, has required agents to work grueling hours, Wanzeck says.
“The housing environment in Denver the past four years has been a hard test for real estate agents,” he says. “You’ve felt if you took a weekend off, you’d lose an opportunity. Now we’re starting to shift a little more toward a normal market, and everyone can breathe a little bit.”
Wanzeck believes the difficult market has made his agents – and himself – better Realtors. “You have to wear so many hats in order to get consumers to understand what’s going on in the market,” he says. “It’s caused us to excel.”
In addition to building a powerhouse agency, Wanzeck has recently turned his attention to technology development, having launched a branded property search app called Homendo (pronounced “Home ’n Do”).
He believes the app represents an acknowledgment that agents’ role in the real estate market has changed over time. “In the 38 years I’ve been in the business, we’ve gone from being the gatekeepers of information to now being trusted advisers,” he says. “As agents, we have to make that transition – and it’s a tough transition for those of us who have been in the business as long as I have – because we have to change the way we do business.”
While online listings, apps and other tech advances may make it easier for clients to search for homes, they still turn to agents for expertise in navigating the complex buying/selling process. “There are so many potential landmines in a real estate transaction,” he says. Guiding clients through that process is where Wanzeck and his agents focus their skills and attention.
“We have a full-service team – from transaction coordinators to on-site lenders, movers and even full-time handymen – so that our agents can move the transaction process along as smoothly and successfully as possible for our clients,” he says.