A Time of No Hopes
For many people living in the United States, the 2007 financial crisis took everything from them. They lost their homes, the lost their businesses, and some even lost their families. In almost complete parallel to the Great Depression, the economic situation we are facing now made many lose the motivation to strive for greatness and to put everything on the line.
However, there was one man, who defied all odds and continued to pursue after success. Not a single roadblock could stop him. What kept him going? His passion for people and his passion for selling homes.
Meet Walt Danley
Walt Danley is a real estate mogul that did $140 million in sales simply in 2012, with a combined effort of over $2 billion with the rest of his Walt Danley Realty. He shows the world, even in times of great recessions, that money is to be made. Walt has been recognized across Arizona for his work in the luxury-home market for several years. Determined, Walt Danley continues to inspire several young men and women throughout the world who aspire to be successful like him. See what advice he has to offer and what major factors led to his own success.
1. Introduce yourself. How did you get started? How long you have been in the industry?
My name is Walt Danley. I moved to the Valley from Portland, Oregon in 1977 to sell spec houses a friend of mine was building. Unfortunately, he passed away shortly after I arrived so I was basically unemployed and in an unfamiliar town. Since I had already obtained my real estate license, I decided to try to sell houses. I found out pretty quickly that I had a knack for it. The process was gratifying and I enjoyed helping people find the perfect place to call home.
I decided early on to focus on high-end homes and I was “Rookie of the Year” and the top-selling agent in my office in my first year in the business. I worked really hard – 7 days a week for months at a time. I really wanted to know the inventory, so I spent a great deal of time looking at everything on the market. This was long before computers, email, fax machines and cell phones. The MLS was not online – it was a book. The only way to really understand the market was to get in your car and see what was available.
2. What keeps you motivated when you come across obstacles? Better yet, what is your “why” for doing the things you do?
The need to eat is a powerful motivator. Also, I realized that a large portion of people in my industry were not able (or not willing) to put the time into really understanding the market. I wanted to be the guy that knew about every house on the market. That way, when I had the opportunity to interact with a buyer, they would know that they were working with the right person. Although I had innate negotiating skills, which I have honed over the years, I realized early on that knowledge of the inventory was the most critical thing. A great negotiator with zero market knowledge would never get the opportunity to negotiate. You have to know which houses to show the buyer before you can negotiate on their behalf.
3. What is the biggest challenge in selling a house?
The biggest challenge is keeping everyone involved in the transaction (the buyer, the seller and the other agent) focused on the desired outcome. The buyer wants to buy. The seller wants to sell. The agent wants to earn a commission. If you are not careful, egos can get in the way. My primary role is being a problem solver. There are issues that can derail a deal that come up in nearly every transaction. My job is to patiently work through the issues one at a time in order to achieve the desired outcome.
4. Because you run one of the biggest real estate agencies in Arizona, do you still physically sell houses?
Yes–I am intimately involved in the day-to-day process of selling homes. It’s my favorite part of the job.
5. It has been 5 years since the 2008 financial crisis. Where is the market at now, compared to 2009 and 2006?
Prices are still far away from their highs, but significantly above the lows. Prices are headed up at a steady, but reasonable rate. I think properties are still a bit undervalued. Regardless, it’s still a great time to buy.
6. What is an average day like for you?
I am up early in the “AM”. I read the paper and watch the news. I work a little from home in the morning and am in the office by about 10:00. I have appointments and phone calls throughout the day. I usually get home around 6:30p.m. and work for another 2-3 hours. I don’t typically come into the office on the weekends, but I work every day.
7. As an entrepreneur, what have been your struggles in creating a real estate empire?
I think “empire” is an overstatement. Being the “biggest” or the “best” was never a goal of mine. I just wanted to do a really good job for my clients. After a few years in the business, I realized I needed some help to take care of my clients. I began hiring people who shared my ethics and philosophy. Over the years, I have grown my team to have over 20 people. They are all top-notch at what they do. Great agents, great marketing people, great business people. No one person can do it all, so I’ve surrounded myself with specialists. The model has really worked well for me and my clients.
8. Approximately, how large of sales did you have last year?
I sold nearly $140 million last year.
9. What does it take to be successful in the real estate industry?
There are no shortcuts in this industry. It takes hard work and long hours. You have to love what you do and you have to be a good listener.
10. As high school students, we overlook the power of reading. What are your thoughts on the importance of it and are there any books you would recommend to the readers at home?
I am a voracious reader. Many of the books I read revolve around running my business. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras and Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap– and Others Don’t by James C. Collins are a couple I have read recently.
Unfortunately, I think reading is a dying art. It seems like the attention span of many people, especially young people are limited to 140 characters.
If I could give one piece of advice to a high school student it would be to always have a book that you’re reading. It doesn’t have to be something heavy like Ulysses or War and Peace. Try the Harry Potter series or a book by Jane Austen. Reading is active thinking and those who think actively will out-perform those who think passively. Plus, it will make you a much more interesting and well-rounded person.
11. Do you have a favorite quote?
I have two. One that is relatively new and one that is perfectly suited for high school and college students:
“Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” Will Rogers
“Opportunity looks a lot like hard work.” Ashton Kutcher
12. Closing thoughts and any other advice you’d like to give to others looking to follow up in your footsteps?
- Find something you’re truly passionate about.
- Work hard.
- Treat EVERYONE with respect.
A very genuinely nice man, Walt credits his success to the catalyzing factor of strict passion. From the very start, Walt Danley had built his entire career on four components of honesty, knowledge of the market, understanding the needs of his clients, and simply hard work. From being recognized as the top selling agent in Arizona for 7 years consecutively, Walt Danley and his organization of the Walt Danley Group have sold more houses than anyone in the state, becoming an authority for many.
If you’re ever looking to buy a luxurious home in the Valley Walt Danley Realty is at your service. Lastly, if you have still have questions unanswered that you’d like be asked, you can contact their office at (480) 991-2050.