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Exploring Life & Business with Doug Smith of Douglas Realty

Today we’d like to introduce you to Doug Smith.

Hi Doug, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
Before I started Douglas Realty, I was in the IT business. I worked in multiple areas of the industry for 27 years, developing a passion for real estate in the final years that led me to where I am today.

By the early 2000s, my interest in (and subsequent knowledge of) real estate had grown to a point where I realized that a lot of the different brokerages out there at the time were incredibly similar at their core. Back then, most real estate companies used technology on a very limited basis, and the traditional model was very top-heavy with a lot of overhead. It was here that I saw an opportunity for change – one that was not only possible but according to my research, long overdue. What if I could apply my vast technological expertise and my years of business experience to the old-school real estate industry, and create a new category of brokerage? I knew that a new model could revolutionize the way agents did business – now I just had to figure out the details.

The goal was to create a company that was the perfect blend – taking the best parts of each business model and leaving behind the things that didn’t serve the customer well. This new category of brokerage would prioritize and support agents in a way that would ultimately allow them to better serve their clients, and grow a stronger business. To do this, we would need to set aside the traditional approach and create our business model from the ground up, with the simple goal of promoting agent success at the heart of it all. And so the vision began to take shape of a real estate company that offered their agents the industry’s best technology, paired with around-the-clock exceptional support, and supplemented it all with a higher level of education, business development, and resources.

After taking time to hammer out the details, do the research needed, and design my business plan, I had one final step to conquer – getting my real estate license. Our industry requires you to have a real estate license for at least three years before you can apply to become a broker (and in my case, owner) of a real estate company. I got my license and used that time to supplement my years of research with real-life real estate experience, allowing me to perfect my business plan even more as I went.

My three-year anniversary finally arrived in November of 2008. If that date sounds familiar, it’s because our nation was in the midst of one of the largest financial crises in our history – caused in part by the banking and mortgage industry (with a direct tie to housing). My dream was finally within reach – just as the world collapsed into financial uncertainty, with real estate companies everywhere either consolidating, downsizing, or outright shutting down.

As I was surrounded by voices telling me that starting my own real estate business in that economic climate was impossible, I kept going back to one thing – this business model works. The industry needed a change now more than ever, and I wasn’t going to let uncertainty or fear stop me from making my move. I was confident in my business plan and knew that if I stuck to it every step of the way, I would be able to forge a path straight through all of the turmoil and come out on the other side.

As we come upon our 13th year of business, I’m happy to share that we did exactly what we set out to do – make a much-needed change in the industry and create a new category of real estate brokerage that would set agents up for success, and support them all the way through it. Through determination, innovation, and steady, focused growth, we have built a quality-first business that truly delivers both world-class service and results that speak for themselves.

We have been recognized by INC Magazine for five consecutive years as one of America’s fastest-growing privately-owned companies and was elected Best Brokerage on many platforms, including the Gazette Readers Choice, Baltimore’s Better Business Journal, and West County Magazine. Furthermore, our agents are consistently being recognized in their own communities, for everything from doing good business to being good people.

Through it all, our core purpose remains the same as Day One – to focus on our agents (and ultimately their clients) and let the rest follow. We give agents the confidence in and control over their own business while providing the culture they crave, allowing them to Forge Their Own Path – just like we did.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Launching a brand new real estate business amidst a financial crash is certainly the most obvious challenge that comes to mind! It required a level of focus, dedication, and sheer willpower like no other time in my life, but I knew that if I worked the plan, it would be successful. I took my time to make sure we were hiring experienced, quality-driven professionals, and to work out any kinks that came up along the way immediately and efficiently. As a result, we quickly developed an outstanding reputation in the industry, which has helped us continue to grow.

As I’ve learned throughout my life, the road is hardly ever a smooth one – but it’s usually worth it. I’ve had my fair share of challenges, and I’m a firm believer that there is something to be learned from each and every one. As our business grew bigger and bigger, I often had to take a step back to evaluate new aspects that had arisen and figure out how the company would manage those new challenges while still remaining true to our core values. The most valuable resource at those times is often my team, which has slowly grown alongside our company and features incredibly dedicated individuals.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
Douglas Realty is both a residential and commercial real estate brokerage. Though our home base is the Baltimore-Metro area and Anne Arundel County, we have nearly 500 agents active throughout all of MD, DC, VA, PA, and DE. Our strength lies in our people and our services – we provide as much support, technology, and resources as our agents need in order to run their businesses and serve their clients. In addition to our real estate services, we have also added in both title and mortgage through our sister companies, Coastline Mortgage, and Admiral Title Group.

This allows us to provide incredibly efficient services to the agents and consumers involved in a transaction, adding to the five-star customer service experience that we strive for at all times. Because of our unique business model and the steps we have taken as we’ve grown and expanded, we can facilitate a complete real estate transaction in a much shorter timeframe than usual, while also reducing the overall cost for the consumer – a win for everyone.

Business details aside, I think our culture at Douglas Realty is one of the things I am most proud of. It’s a top priority of ours to support our community and our neighbors just as much as we support our agents, and we are always looking for new ways to help. Every year, we participate heavily in fundraisers for charities such as the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation, The Anne Arundel County Food Bank, and the Kamryn Lambert Foundation. Our agents get incredibly involved in the process: helping spread the word, donating portions of their own commissions, and even issuing fundraising challenges to one another to get the ball rolling!

We also try to remain aware of ways we can give back to the community, and frequently host free community events like Breakfast with Santa and Trick-or-Treating. In February of 2020, we collected hundreds of hand-made valentines from local schools and daycare centers and hand-delivered them to residents of nursing homes throughout the area. Though the pandemic has made some of our previously planned events difficult to have, we’ve enjoyed the challenge of finding ways to still embrace our culture and spread the love, even from afar.

Are there any important lessons you’ve learned that you can share with us?
It’s always about YOU! It’s not about me, the company, or the brand – and it’s definitely not about the money. It’s about you, the person sitting in front of me at that moment. Whether it’s a client, an agent that’s been in the business for 30 years, or someone brand new to the industry, my first question is always “How can I help YOU”? In all of my years in business, I’ve seen it proved time and time again that if you focus on the people involved in each situation, and how you can serve them best, success will always follow.

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