Jergler: A gnarly new voice in real estate

If you were to tune out the din of numerous voices talking shop this weekend at the National Assn. of Realtors Conference & Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center, which is expected to draw nearly 18,000 people in the real estate business from all over the nation, you'd hear some new voices.

"Hey, bra, you check out the latest home price index? It's sweet!"

That's not so far-fetched if you happen to be listening Matt Clements with Prudential in Laguna Niguel. To hear him you'd almost think he was channeling Keanu Reeves' surfer dude character in "Point Break."

But a plus to Clements' laidback persona and vocabulary is it may prove to be a sales booster with the X and Y generations, many of whom are about to enter the housing market for the first time.

And the 35-year-old Orange County local has earned the rights to sport his surfer-dude demeanor and vernacular — and even scarf down some shrimp and fries on Main Street in Huntington Beach.

As a pro surfer, Clements spent his youth — he competed successfully all over the world from ages 17 to 25, when he retired from the sport — living the Southern California dream.

Ten years later Clements hasn't lost the talk, the attitude, or the love of catching waves. In fact, he hasn't distanced himself much at all from the sport. His handle on Twitter and his gmail address are both: "suferrealtor."

He's taken that mindset, and what he learned as a young surfer who marketed himself and found his own sponsors, to the real estate game. It's a mindset Clements and others feel will increasingly appeal to a new generation of homebuyers.

A large percentage of those in Generation X, defined as adults ages 31 to 45, are now in their prime home-buying years, and many experts believe that when the market does start its turnaround, these will be the homebuyers who take the lead.

Clements, who sits on the board of directors for Orange County Assn. of Realtors, is president of the Orange County chapter of the Young Professionals Network, a national group started by the National Assn. of Realtors' magazine in 2006.

The group has grown to 15,000 YPN members nationally. Orange County's chapter has 178 members and counting.

"They're mostly ambitious new agents looking for some cool ideas from the other young peeps who have managed staying in this business through the downturn and prepare for the up-turn in the next several years," Clements said.

It's no surprise that the central theme in a group of young, tech-savvy professions is getting connected. And when they network, it's not your traditional attend-a-mixer-and-hand-out-business-cards activity. The entire spectrum of how today's young professionals communicate today is involved — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, iPads, smart phones.

Clements, who counts himself as the third generation in his family involved in the real estate business, views the next generation of real estate agents as the next step in the evolution of the profession.

"My grandfather was a Realtor in the 1950s all the way to the beginning of the 20th century," Clements said. "His business was traditionally really sharky — no one told you anything about their business, it was ultra competitive. To share was to sacrifice your own business."

But Generation X and Generation Y were "raised around sharing," he added.

"Sharing is culturally embedded in our Gen X and Gen Y personalities," he said. We like to share information. It makes us feel good. It makes us feel wise. Sharing is a feeling of gratitude."

And what better way to share than through the use of technology. The Orange County YPN is actively focusing its search for sponsorships and partners on the tech industry.

Among the group's current sponsors are Kodak, Century 21, Prominent Escrow, Real Kiss websites, iMortgage, Staples and Starbucks, according to Clements.

"We're currently in negotiations with Zillow and DocuSign for long-term deals," he said.

Among the potential sponsors the group is set to meet with at the Realtor Expo in Anaheim this week are: Oakley Graphics, Avis, Budget, 5 Hour Energy, Office Max, Top Producer, Bank of America, and about 20 others, much of them smaller high-tech firms, Clements said.

"See, tech is huge, cause it's always changing," Clements said. "We have to be at the front of the changes in order to interpret the best tools offered today. Something cool now isn't always cool a year from now. We align ourselves with who we would regularly use anyway. We also use the people who we like the most personally."

Clements said it takes more than just a license today to be successful in real estate.

"Today," he said, "it's learning and implementing the lead generation systems, writing your handwritten personal letters every day, calling friends in your social sphere everyday, the traditional door knocking everyday, asking for referrals from everyone, being the expert online, having savvy online marketing skills, having mad skills in video, being the expert on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn … if you do all these together, you'll succeed."

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