Justin Shea unquestionably represents the new guard of luxury brokers. Blending and bending the tenets of real estate, technology, marketing, art and culture, Shea has forged an enviable career. His unique approach to the industry shapes HōM | Distinct Properties, which he founded at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.
We talked to Shea, who is also our exclusive agent in Paradise Valley, Arizona, about his leadership at HōM | Distinct Properties and his vision of the real estate market in Arizona, about his inspirations and aspirations, about his ability to transform a space and connect with his clients.
How did HōM | Distinct Properties come to be? How big is the team and what makes it stand out in the local luxury real estate market?
HōM | Distinct Properties is made up of 10 individuals, aside from myself. Our constant effort in our marketplace is to disrupt the normal way of doing business - we call it “Pattern Interruption.”
We aim to do things differently by acting in ways that take the pressure away from, and off our clients. A great example of that is our policy of “no transactional surprises;” our goal is for our clients to have a full and detailed account of what to expect not only in the next step, or what to expect as far into the future as we can see, but also what to expect of the people we’re dealing with in the transaction and how we’re managing their expectations.
We also promote standards of quality that are hard, if not impossible, to recreate without our eye. One example of our standards is our use of fresh flowers … for every showing … and not just those supermarket-special flowers in a vase either, no; we actually design arrangements based on the architecture of the home, keeping in mind who we believe our target buyers are, in order to enhance and reinforce the quality and the beauty of each listing.
HōM | Distinct Properties is a catchy name. How did you come up with it? What does HōM mean?
The old adage “back to the basics” is where the name HōM | Distinct Properties came from - hōm is the phonetic way to spell “home;” I literally looked up “home” in a dictionary for inspiration, and loved the way the phonetic spelling looked, as simple as that sounds. I loved the way it reinforced not only my background and interest in the English language, but it also became a symbol of the team itself, it became a moniker of what we’ve set out to do in our industry: build from the basics.
You were licensed in both Arizona and Texas. Why did you decide to base your team in Arizona? What is it about the market that attracts you?
I was licensed in Texas, but do not hold my Texas license any longer. I was attracted to Arizona first by the look of everything – it's unlike anywhere else in the world, and I think most people who live here and visit say the same thing. I’ve always loved being distinct, and Phoenix provides a confluence of people from all over who appreciate the very same. The market has always been among the most notable in the country, and has an amazing year-round attractiveness due to all our industry and tourism. Paradise Valley, specifically, has some of the best spas and resorts in the country, and relaxing, in my book, will never go out of style.
What is a typical day for you at work?
I start my day with a cup of coffee or two, glancing at emails that I may need to jump on right away from the night. As long as there aren’t any “fires” to put out, I’ll do some yoga and cardio, then fix a nice breakfast and head into the office. Most of the time, I’m popping into the office to print something, collect marketing material, or speak to someone, before I’m running out to meet someone for lunch or coffee. After a meeting or two, I usually have showings, and I’ll go have some fun looking at houses with people. I’ll usually head home after showings, and work from my office there, catching up on emails, texts and phone calls. After those have died down, I’ll turn to marketing initiatives I’ve laid out, and look to see what the next day brings. I often joke with my clients and team, although it’s somewhat serious, that I don’t have a 9 to 5 job, I have a “from-when-I-open-my-eyes-to-when-I-close-my-eyes” job.
You are keen on art and fashion and design. How these interests translate into your real estate career?
I’ve always found influence from world that surrounds me – I love art and fashion and design, because those are the things I see every day. They inspire my mood, my vision, and what makes me curious and ambitious. Needless to really say, when my clients come with experiences from one, or all, of those worlds, it makes me very happy. Real estate is the common canvas in all three of those genres – all three of them live in your home as representations of you.
You owned two other businesses before launching your real estate career, how these experiences inform your leadership at HōM | Distinct Properties?
I learned a lot as a small business owner, and undoubtedly the best lesson is ‘effort.’
Those years set me up for the success I have now by being unforgiving – when you’re in business for yourself, you either learn quickly, or you stop trying – I learned a lot! I compartmentalized setbacks, thinking, “I exist with a purpose, and although the method I tried didn’t work, my purpose is still the same.” I just kept trying, and that’s the greatest lesson I share with my team – we will always have another solution to present.
As a young real estate agent, who utilizes the latest digital opportunities in the industry, what do you think is the next big thing in the presentation of properties?
A lot of people play into the hype of latest and greatest technology, but one thing I’ve noticed my clients appreciate more than anything is a human connection. If you think your differentiator is technology in this industry, a medium that is ever-evolving, ever-changing, and forever being mirrored and replicated, you’re sadly mistaken. With money and time, I can recreate anything you do with technology. The one thing I can’t do with any amount of resources is recreate you. I think the next big thing is a balancing act, one that maintains a sophistication in presentation that drives innovation, and one that also incorporates measures that alleviate the constant battle of inhuman experience. The key, in my opinion, is being your authentic self.
Images courtesy of Justin Shea