Lives of The Realtors: Mitch Ribak Before Real Estate

Posted by: Mitch Ribak on August 26th, 2008

It’s been an interesting road I have had so far in my life. My goal was always to be successful and I have been. I have also lost just a little more than I have made in my lifetime. I was thinking about that today.

Then I started thinking about the past 8 years in Real Estate and how it has all come to where I am currently. I started thinking about when I decided to get my license and really had no idea what to expect. I know it seemed like one of the easiest things in the world. Yeah right!

There was no way it was more difficult than running an Internet Company, flying 25 days a month to some hotel or conference and speaking about how radio groups needed to learn how to use the Internet to grow their business.

One thing most of you don’t know about me as my first Internet business was a Dating Service. Not only did I have the dating service, I had an advice column called Oh and there was the radio show, Ask Mitch The Date Doctor, that played on 45 radio stations around the country.

So, yes, my venture into the Internet back in 1996 came from my imagination that there has to be a better way to do business.

I worked for Great Expectations Video Dating Service as their Director from 1993 to mid 1996. It was the only time since I was 23 that I hadn’t worked for myself. I spent half of 1996 trying to find a company that would build a dating software for me that I could use over the Internet.

Funny thing was that at that time they all told me it wasn’t possible to do data integration over the Internet. I didn’t believe them of course so for a half a year I searched and talked to tons of companies…it just made sense to me.
Finally I found a company that said they had heard of a new type of software that would allow me to do everything I wanted. My customers would now be able to see pictures and profiles of people over the Internet.

It took a lot of persistence and work, but in the end it was built. I was one, if not the first online dating service. I thought it was pretty cool.

Within a year I came up with the idea to private label the dating service with radio groups. It just made sense to me. I could put the radio stations name on the website, they would market it, I would do the fulfillment and we would split the money. It was the beginning of affiliate marketing.

Incidentally, I have a point with everything I’m talking about. You might guess what happened when I tried to start this affiliate marketing program. Of course, my tech guys said it wasn’t possible but they would give it a try.

By the way, have I mentioned my next thing about affiliate marketing? My members at The eHomes Realty Network are going to find out shortly. I’m very excited…but let’s get back to the story.

The end result was 125 radio stations and over 500 other major websites had their own custom dating service all tied together with my company managing the back end. It also made sense to add content, a flower shop, a chocolate store, an advertising platform, a things-to-do listings program and a coupon program. That little dating service affiliate idea went out at, pardon the comment, 100MPH.

My first real complete website cost me $950,000. You heard right!

I learned so much from running my Internet Company. I mastered Pay Per Click Marketing and I mastered Affiliate Marketing. I learned how to teach the Internet to a thousand radio station owners sitting in an audience.

I became Mr. Internet in Radio Ink Magazine and I critiqued websites for radio stations.

Maybe you are starting to see where I gained my experience. I was heartbroken when the Internet Bubble BURST! I lost everything. It was 6 years of hard work, a contract for $80 Million dollars to close in 2 months. Retirement was two years away. My end game, like I had planned at 40 years old. Instead, at 40 years old I was starting over. So you can imagine how I felt when the Real Estate Bubble started bursting.

So I was thinking the other day what has happened over the past 8 years. I knew at the beginning of my Real Estate career I would make the same commitment to Real Estate as I would with my many other businesses I have started.

Did I ever tell you about my paintball business…that was awesome. I was in such great shape back then! Ask me sometime it’s a good story!

When I started my Real Estate business I made the decision to write my business plan. From day one I had my next 8 years figured out…mostly.

I knew that the first thing I was going to have to do was learn about several aspects of the business. I had to learn how a Realtor should market.

I had a small ad agency for a bit and had spent millions of dollars on advertising over the years so that wasn’t too hard.

The hardest part for me was that I didn’t know anyone in Brevard County Florida except my girlfriend, now wife. Other than that I had spent the 2 years that I had lived here on the road all the time. So not only did I have to figure out how to market myself, I had to figure out why people would choose me over the other 2500 Realtors at the time (currently we have 4,000 Realtors in the area.).

The first thing I had to do was throw myself into the community. I had to get known!

I volunteered at the golf course so I could play free golf. I played every day and got to be a 9 handicap (now I’m’ more like a 15). I joined a bowling league even though the smoke killed me! On top of that there was Ping Pong twice a week and baseball every Sunday. Then throw in a few First-time Home Buyer Seminars along with a Community Home Buying Program Seminar and lots of giving back and volunteering in the community.

Actually when I look back at it, this was my job. Have as much fun as possible, be the life of the party and let everyone I met know I was a Realtor. The best part about all this….it worked. I forgot to mention using my phone skills to convert lots of floor calls.

By the end of my first year I had sold 36 homes and never looked back.

So why am I telling you this?

My point here, with everything I’m writing, has nothing to do with me. It really has everything to do with you.

I’m writing this because what I see mostly in the Real Estate world are a bunch of Realtors who don’t have any plans. What is your end game? Have you thought about where you are going and how you are going to get there. Most of the people I talk to don’t have an end game.

In fact, they don’t really have any game at all. They just keep doing the same thing, every year, barely getting by or maybe making a few good dollars here and there. Sure it’s a fun business and you meet great people. But what are you building? Are you running your Real Estate career as a business or is it running you?

The second year of Real Estate I added my Internet knowledge. It took a lot of time and a ton of money to build the Internet program that I had started building in 2002. By the end of 2003 I was selling a lot of homes and most of them were coming from the 5 or more leads I was receiving over the Internet. By the end of the year I had sold over 50 homes and I knew of 50 others that I had lost.

Oh yeah, I became so busy that my golf game fell apart, I stopped playing Ping Pong and had to quit the bowling league. I did manage to play baseball until March of 2005. A neck surgery put an end of a lifelong love affair of playing ball. It was one of the toughest moments of my life to date. That, and, of course, losing both my parents at too young of an age.

In 2004 I started my team and in 2005 opened my office with 6 Agents. Once I had built the Internet formula I just kept duplicating my efforts. It just made sense. If I could sell 50 homes a year and I could teach 6 other Agents to do this, then my program would work!

Of course, nobody told me about the Real Estate Bust that started 3 months after I opened my office. I can’t tell you how nervous I was. Everyone in the market was talking about how bad it is and how bad it was going to be. The media started talking their smack and the population of America followed right along. I’m not a big media fan but let’s not go there!

A funny thing happened as the decline kept happening. I kept growing. In 2006 we went to 10 Agents and in January of 2007 I doubled my space and grew to 14 Agents and the number 1 Real Estate Brokerage with buyers in the entire county out of the 500 agencies. Wow! All of the sudden I started receiving phone calls from Agents, at least three times a week, wanting to work for me.

In 2008 I continued to grow to 24 Agents. My Internet plan was good, but it became much better with the market falling apart.

We were profitable in 2006 when most Agencies didn’t break even. We made even more in 2007 while many companies were going out of business. We had 193 closings. And now in 2008 we are on track to close over (my goal at the beginning of the year) 250 homes.

So the Real Estate company is going well. Many people have told me how lucky I am that I was able to come up with this Internet plan. Honestly, it wasn’t luck at all. It was my plan since the day I decided to build my Real Estate business back on Sept. 10, 2001.

So where do I go from here?

Well, I already have my next plan in action and it actually launched the other day. I decided that the most important factor in life is to give back. There is nothing better to me when I have someone call me or email me thanking me for teaching them my 100MPH Marketing System.

Lisa has done great and earned over $220k in only her second year in business. Brian was an Agent trying to figure it out in Dec. 2006 and now I’m going out to train his 8 Agents that are earning a living selling homes through the Internet. My goal has always been to teach others.

That’s my end game.

I want to help as many people as possible. It’s the only reason I just launched The eHomes Realty Network. It’s my time to give back to Agents and Brokers. Some might ask why I don’t just give my services away. I thought hard about that.

In the end, I’m a businessman, but more importantly, if you don’t invest in yourself and your future you won’t accomplish your goals.

You have to have goals and you have to invest in your business. The eHomes Realty Network is my way of saving you the thousands and thousands of dollars it cost me to figure this all out.

So that’s my story I wanted to share. Hopefully you learned a little from this article. It’s all true stuff that I hoped by sharing would give the understanding that I believe every Realtor/Business person should know.

Remember, this is all about you. It’s up to you to wade through what is going to work and what isn’t going to work. I’m always here to help as most of you who know me know. But it’s up to you to take the first step, make a plan, put it into action and figure it out.

After all, if you don’t have an end game you can never reach the end!



6 Comments on “Lives of The Realtors: Mitch Ribak Before Real Estate”

Brian Brady

What an amazing journey, Mitch.

What’s most inspiring to me is that you started WITHOUT an internet plan; you hustled offline.

I think one of the best services you might offer, on the ehomesrealtynetwork, is business plan review. Then, online masterminding might be helpful.

When Mitch says that this story isn’t about him, it’s about us, he’s right. Look for similar failures in his story so that you might model his actions to produce similar success.

Mitch Ribak

It’s been the best education anyone could wish for. I always tell everyone that I have spent millions on my education. Failure makes victory all the better.

Leon Belenky, Sunny Isles Condo Specialist

Great story, Mitch. You have certainly had an amazing career. I think you make a good point about having a plan in mind–a destination where you want to end up. It gives you something to work towards.

James Boyer

What a great story Mitch.

I started down the Real Estate Internet Marketing road about 2 months after I and my family fell off the truck in Northern New Jersey. Not knowing anyone here and having a some what limited budget I just new that I needed to go where the buyers were. The sellers, well they can take longer to reach and I have been working on them as well. So far 90% of my business is directly attributable to my website, or blogging.

Keep up the great work and if you have any great information to pass along please my ears are open.


Why Bloggers Fail To Become Top Producers | BloodhoundBlog: National real estate marketing and technology blog | Realtors and real estate, mortgages, lending, investments

[...] long before he started in real estate.  You’re never gonna believe how he learned it.  I asked him and he told me: One thing most of you don’t know about me as my first Internet business was a Dating Service. [...]

Real Estate Taxi

Experience is one of the best ways to build character. This was a great read!

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