How do you fill a 13,000-square-foot real estate office with successful agents who use about 100 desks, offices and meeting rooms?
If you're Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in La Mesa, you rely on Chuck Sackett. He is branch manager/broker-associate at the rambling office overlooking Interstate 8 toward La Mesa to the north and El Cajon to the east.
With a career in real estate since 1972, Sackett is chief recruiter for the agency. He came out of retirement a few years ago to help out at the former Prudential Real Estate branch and hasn't left since.
"Recruiting is a major part of my job," he said. "We have over 100 agents. Most are full time. Coming back into this office, some of these people I recruited 25 years ago."
"Some of it's luck, some of it's who you know. I have some experience and know a lot of people. If they're happy and they say to people out there that they're working with, 'Come in and see Chuck,' the recruiting feeds on itself. They're happy, so they bring their friends in," Sackett said.
"The bigger army always wins. So the more people you recruit, the more successful you are just because you have more agents. I think I've recruited 35 people so far this year. As for support staff, one employee has been here 22 years, another 10 or 15, and another 12. It adds so much stability to an office like this. It makes my job real simple," he said.
Sackett grew up in Mission Hills, started selling homes there at when he was 27 and stayed in the business. He has lived in East County the past 15 years and is quick to tout its praises.
"The average home price $425,000. That's what's so good about East County," he said. "I think it's the best-kept secret in all of Southern California. You can buy a three-bedroom, two-bath house with a pool for $450,000 or so. Where else can you do that? The 'June gloom,' we don't have it. In 20 minutes, you're downtown."
Without disclosing numbers, Sackett said 2013 was a good year for the office, and 2014 is shaping up well thanks in part to the many agents he has hired. Midrange-priced homes are selling best, he said.
"My top agent's gross commission income was over $1 million last year," Sackett said. "You'd think someone like that is selling coastal properties in Coronado or La Jolla, but there is a chance to make a generous income out here selling homes, because they are more affordable."
After more than four decades in residential real estate, Sackett said, he still looks forward to coming to the office. Helping other agents succeed is his great motivator.
"It's a different day every day," he said. "I enjoy that part of it. Having so many people in the office, they've all got something going astray somewhere with something. So it's fun to be able to help them out. It's not necessarily that they need the answer, it's that they need somebody to ratify that they're doing the right thing.
"And giving new people the opportunity to make that kind of money -- $400,000 or $500,000 a year is a pretty good living,” he said, “and you can do it out here if you apply yourself."
Photo by Glenn Grant