March's REALTOR® Spotlight: Richard Sparks
Congratulations to Richard Sparks, Associate Broker, Team Leader, and REALTOR® at Keller Williams Central. Richard is March’s REALTOR® Spotlight Winner, and was nominated for his integrity, strong ability to motivate and inspire his team and others around him. Do yourself a favor and get to know this amazing gentleman, and all he provides to the real estate industry, as well and some of the extraordinary places and experiences he's had so far in his life. We look forward to seeing even more of what you WILL accomplish, Richard.
Tell us about your real estate career (title, office, years, specialties, designations, etc)
I’m an Associate Broker and full-time REALTOR® for 18 years and have worked out of Keller Williams Realty Central for 17 of those 18 years, where I am also a member of the Agent Leadership Committee. I hold a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) Designation and also a Bachelor’s degree in Business and a Master’s degree in Education.
As a result of your designations and specialties, do you have any other complimentary services?
Since our specialty is in the age range of 50+ community, we’ve developed several programs to assist them in their transition both locally and across the country. When we first started specializing in the 50+ community, around 9 years ago, we discovered several disconnects.
The 1st Disconnect process of downsizing move incorporated a lot more individuals and in order to make it a successful move. The process of finding the vendors orchestrating the timelines and ensuring that all parties involved did what they were supposed to do, could be overwhelming for an individual. So we started another company designed to remove that burden from folks. We started a national relocation brokerage called Time2Downsize.com.
The primary objective of Time2DownSize is to act as the general contractor for the client and assist them in making all the necessary arrangements.
B. Estate sales
D. In-home care
E. Senior communities
F. Even funeral arrangements.
We are big believers in the “Get by Giving” mentality. Hence referring people to in-home care providers and Certified Aging in Place (CAPS) contractors. If aging in place is the best thing for them, then we will help them make it happen.
The 2nd Disconnect was the lack of centralized education available to the 50+ community. Whether it’s how to handle being a caregiver, how to get organized, or how to properly set up their estate—there is so much to learn. Hence, the older we get the more we need a new and specific skill set. That was the motivation for “Baby Boomer University."
Baby Boomer University (BBU) is our new podcast which brings experts from a wide breath of specialties to the forefront in order to share their knowledge with the 50+ community. Currently, BBU is hosted by Podcast Detroit but due to the overwhelming positive feedback we have received we are moving forward developing a BBU website and building out our own studio! This will allow us to increase the amount of content we can produce, which will allow us to have an increased impact on the 50+ community.
You’ve been nominated for being such a great leader and mentor; what is your best piece of advice to anyone new to the industry?
This is your business to build, so build with a value-added mentality. Meaning don’t only learn how to obtain business but on all aspects of the business so that you can truly add value to your client’s experience. Such as the product, title, mortgage, and even database management systems.
We learned you have a background in Marketing; how do you think your Marketing background & education plays into your career as an Associate Broker?
I think it has been very helpful. However, general marketing practices have changed so much that I am constantly re-educating myself on “best practices." For example, on March 18th I will be attending one of the largest Social Media Marketing Conferences in the nation. Just so I can stay abreast of the ever-changing world of marketing.
Which professional achievement are you most proud of?
I’ve won multiple awards through my brokerage and also the Real Estate All-Star Magazine Award for Metro Detroit. But the achievement I’m most proud of is developing a system that truly has a positive impact on our 50+ community.
What do you appreciate the most about being a team leader?
I love seeing people step outside of their comfort zones and grow as individuals and business leaders.
What is the most common “tid-bit” of information most people don’t know being a REALTOR®?
It’s not pronounced Re-a-La-tor, it’s pronounced Real-tor. But aside from that, basically that we are all “independent” businesses and it’s up to you to build your personal brand.
What piece(s) of technology do you incorporate into your business practices?
1. CRM Top Producer
2. Bomb-Bomb for video e-mails
3. A lot of equipment for video, social media marketing, and augmented “lives” ability.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being REALTOR®?
Helping people get into a better and healthier living situation. Some of the elders we have worked with get a whole new lease on life and that is really exciting to see.
What is the most difficult aspect of being a REALTOR®?
Primarily setting boundaries with people we work with. There is a crazy perception that we are a 24/7 profession.
Personal & Fun Questions:
Tell us more about you? (Interests, passions, hobbies, family, etc.)
I’m very passionate about my family. I love camping with my wife and two kids Nicho and Alli. We have been heavily involved in Scouts being the Scoutmaster for a long, long, time. Nicho is very close to becoming an Eagle Scout and my daughter Alli is one of the first female Scouts in the state. I also love scuba diving, playing guitar, and hanging out with my wife and friends.
Can you share with us some of your community service involvement and how you became interested?
I believe community service is a huge part of growing as an individual and I’m proud to say that not only am I involved in a charitable organization but 100% of my team are involved in various charities and community service. Personally, I’m the past president and a current member of the Sterling Heights Rotary Club. Also I’m the liaison of the “Family Program” for the Scouts BSA formally Boy Scouts of America. Lastly, I am the Scoutmaster for Troop 1402 BSA.
What is your life Motto?
1. Get by giving mentality.
2. Live in appreciation.
3. Handling life challenges my mantra is, "There had to be at least one person before me who had less opportunities than me, who was dumber than me, and who still succeeded. So if they were able to do it so can I."
Which personal achievement are you most proud of?
I was the first person in my entire extended family to graduate from college. I grew up in a lower socioeconomic environment which was impacted hard during the 80’s downturn. The hopes and expectations of myself, family and peers were to get work in a factory. I opted to join the military and, upon exiting—I worked my way through a Bachelor’s degree from Eastern Michigan University.
Following, I represented the State of Michigan in a cultural exchange with Japan. Which allowed me to work and study in Japan for a year. Upon my return, I worked and pursued my Master’s degree in Education. The best thing that came out of that journey was that several of my family members figured “heck if he can do it, I can do it." So a bunch of them pursued college degrees and succeeded. You never know what impact your actions will have on the people you care about.
Where is the most interesting place you’ve visited?
I’ve lived all over the country and abroad. I’ve climbed volcanos and mountains in Japan, whitewater rafted throughout our country and abroad. I’ve been scuba diving all over the world including Thailand, Cambodia, and cave diving in Mexico. I’ve hitchhiked a large part of Asia. But obviously attending a class at MiRealSource was the best!
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?
If it was a different time (1920’s would have been awesome) the Egyptian pyramids.
Who or what are you most grateful for?
Bar none my wife, Pam. If it wasn’t for her support and understanding—working in this industry wouldn’t have been possible. With the uncertainty and crazy hours your spouse has to put up with a lot.
What are your hopes for 2019?
To find and add three (3) people to my team. Finding individuals that are open to learning, coaching, and a desire for never-ending improvement coupled with a heart for the unique needs of our 50+ market.
Where can someone find more information about you and your team?
Our website as well as our two Facebook pages for content and to keep up with what we are working on.