TOP REAL ESTATE AGENT IN VIRGINIA SAMUEL CACHOLA
Sam Cachola is the owner of Reality Realty Professionals LLC, a paradigm-shifting real estate company based in Northern Virginia. Sam’s company leverages his Reality Check ProcessTM to evaluate, educate, and empower clients to make the best real estate decisions, which may even include foregoing homeownership. His service-based approach and philanthropic efforts have ensured Reality Realty Professionals are able to give back to clients, the local community and our nation.
His vision statement underpins the foundation of his company and highlights a refreshing change in a bottom-line focused real estate market: “To change the way real estate is conducted on a global scale by committing to the readiness and stability of both our communities and clients, empowering them to make sound real estate decisions, rooted in clearly defined goals, season of life, and fiscal wellbeing.”
His approach, has evolved into a calling, a calling for service to his clients, community and nation. This has led to the receipt of numerous local, regional and national-level awards and over a million dollars in charitable donations and savings for his clients.
Sam Cachola has had a lifelong obsession with real estate. “I grew up poor in Patterson, New Jersey, where I lived a highly transient lifestyle residing in apartments or with relatives. Home ownership symbolized stability,” Sam explains. When he would go to the super market he would always pick up the real estate magazines and look through them. “My parents thought I was crazy, most kids were looking at comics and coloring books. There I was combing through real estate adds,” Sam said. He can remember seeing the prices and wondering how people could afford to buy a home. At that time in his life, homeownership seemed impossible. Sam’s perspective changed overnight when a Marine Corps recruiter contacted him in his senior year. “It was a full court press to get me to sign on the dotted line. I did not go easy and it took several months for me to sign. They went over every tangible and intangible benefit of earning the title “Marine.” None of the education benefits or monetary benefits could sway me. They had me on the ropes with the pride, respect, testing yourself, serving my country, etc., but I was not convinced it was right for me. Then out of nowhere, the recruiter brought up the VA Home Loan benefit, explaining I could buy a home for “no money” down. My ears perked up, I was laser focused, and started peppering him with all kinds of questions related to home ownership,” Sam explained. “I knew not to trust a recruiter’s explanation, so I left his office and immediately drove to a local bank. I asked to see a loan officer and had him explain to me what the VA loan program was about. It all checked out,” Sam said. He can’t recall who thought he was crazier, the recruiter or the loan officer who had to indulge the questions of an anxious 18-year-old!
Then the Gulf War kicked off and the call to serve overshadowed the rest. “I enlisted at 19, and went to Parris Island on Sept 4, 1990 with a passion to serve and clarity on how I was going to ‘stabilize’ my life with a home.” Sam explained. As he looks back now, Sam realizes that joining the service in general, but especially during a conflict does not exactly lead to the definition of stability. As you may have guessed, Sam was not achieve the American dream of home ownership for some time, but finally took the plunge at 23 y.o. when he was permanently stationed in Virginia.
The milestone was bittersweet, as the ‘support and guidance’ he received from his real estate agent was disappointing to say the least. The agent was all about the money and the deal. There was no effort put into what was “best” for Sam beyond, “how much can we get you qualified for?” “As I began to live in my new home, I realized I was too young to be so far away from services and activities I needed to be close to. It was literally commuting two hours a day to work, an hour away from any college I needed to attend, and an hour away from any social life,” Sam explained. Logistically, it was a nightmare and personified the saying: “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get.”
Once Sam settled in and reflected on the advice he received from his realtor, he remembered a lesson taught to all Marines: “If you learn something valuable, you need to share it with your fellow Marines.”
“I learned a lot and said to myself, ‘I’m going to get my real estate license, do this better, and save people from the pain I went through.’” The key question was: What had to be done better? After all, the banks approved the loan, the house was structurally sound, and it met all the square footage requirements. What was missing? “My life overlay was missing. No one ever asked me where my job was, what I liked to do in my free time, what my current/future responsibilities were, or what my future goals were? The process was executed purely from budgetary and transactional perspectives, not from a whole life perspective! Agents and lenders assume you have thought this part through for yourself, and to some degree they are right, but the fact remains the agent and lender have a deeper understanding of what it means to live in their area, the time-cost associated with it, and the long term financial consequences. You just can’t sell your home, roll over negative equity like a car, and get on with your life if you don’t like your home. You are stuck for three to five years at a minimum or become a landlord by mistake!” Picking a home you “like” is the easy part! Picking a home to accomplish life in is the hard part.”
SOLVING THE PROBLEM
“I tackled the hard parts, a client’s understanding and the Agent philosophy,” Sam said with enthusiasm. “I focused our client evaluation on their season of life, responsibilities, and life goals emphasizing to clients that real estate is a life decision, not just a budgetary consideration. Time is your most precious resource, not money. When you make a six-figure housing decision, it had better be rooted in saving you time or improving your quality of life. If not, you work 10 hours a day, sleep for 8, and leave 6 hours for you to be the person, spouse, parent, friend, and citizen you need to be. It’s about quality of life, not a tax write off, or worse, about the elusive promises of equity.”
“My agents had to shift their paradigm from the traditional mindset of marketing, financially qualifying clients, and contractual details to gaining clarity on a client’s life goals. We take more of a coaching approach with keen understanding on how real estate can either positively or negatively affect their objectives. In short you have to cut through all the marketing hype, friends advice, and HGTV euphoria and assist our clients in answering one key question, ‘How will this real estate transaction help you achieve your goals?’”
In order to articulate this much needed paradigm shift to Sam’s team he coined the term, “CaremenshipTM vice Salesmanship.” “CaremenshipTM is catchy for sure, and I get questions on the spelling and the meaning daily. It’s different for clients and agents, but has a central theme for both: Responsibility.
“1. Clients Responsibility: For clients, CaremenshipTM means taking control over your life, your time, and your future. Why do you expect an agent to care more about your life than you do? I’m amazed at how many clients attempt to turn their financial lives over to us without hesitation. Big dollars equal big fear, and most would rather just “delegate” the burden but the fact remains it is YOUR LIFE, YOUR TIME, and YOUR DIME. Clients taking responsibility for their desired outcome is paramount. The best intentioned agent will fail you if you cannot articulate your future goals and the direction you need to take to accomplish them.
2. Agents Responsibility: A salesperson focuses on their needs. An advocate focuses on another person’s needs. CaremenshipTM for my agents serves to remind them they are stewards and their role is to advocate. Humility, selflessness, service and expertise are cornerstones of advocacy and why I expect my agents to work tirelessly in their pursuit to gain an understanding of their client’s purpose. In doing so my agents stabilize clients’ lives, ensure sustainable acquisitions, which in turn stabilizes communities and by design our economies. It is from the heart, pure from the start, and in one word pays homage to Zig Ziglar who taught, “Sales is something you do FOR people, not TO people” and the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
As for the spelling, CaremenshipTM with an ‘e’ plural versus CaremanshipTM with an ‘a’ singular, it was done to drive “home” the point to both clients and agents that by not ensuring they have the ability to sustain their housing decisions, their inability to do so will negatively impact our community and our global economy. “We are all connected, and when you focus on the sale and not the life, the negative outcomes affects us all. If you have any doubt of the impact the client, realtor, and lender relationship can have on the economy, just take a look at how the mortgage crisis several years back impacted our world’s economy,” Sam explains.
His mission to ensure people didn’t make the same mistakes he had culminated in Sam’s creation of Reality Realty Professionals, a full-service, award-winning company built around what he now calls his Reality Check ProcessTM. “I built the business on a commitment to guide, protect, and stabilize clients’ lives, focusing on their season of life, current responsibilities, and goals, then working with them to develop courses of action to achieve those goals. Housing is a life decision, not just a budget consideration. Evaluation, education, and empowerment are the cornerstones of our unique Reality CheckTM process.” Sam’s process has resulted in a thriving business allowing him to focus on his clients’ responsibilities and goals. “It’s about CaremenshipTM versus Salesmanship.”
“I realized at the outset that I had a daunting task ahead of me; create and develop a customized training course that could be distilled down and executed with our clients to determine the life and fiscal realities, before moving towards a sale. I call it, “Reality CheckTM” and we can go through it just about an hour.” The Reality Check process is very similar to what is used by financial planners, but it differs from the normal questionnaire in that it focuses on the typical 5 to 7 year holding period of a homeowner and the outlined goals clients would like to achieve during this time frame. “I built the business on a commitment to guide, protect, and stabilize clients’ lives, focusing on their season of life, current responsibilities, and goals, then working with them to develop courses of action to achieve them. Housing is a life decision, not just a budget consideration. Evaluation, Education, and Empowerment are the cornerstones of our unique Reality CheckTM process.
“In one hour, we are able to achieve life changing results for our clients! It’s hard to quantify how grateful our clients are for their Reality CheckTM, but I believe it is the reason we receive referrals. It warms our heart when we get referrals citing our CaremenshipTM philosophy and our Reality CheckTM process. It’s a lot of work up front and may mean we steer a client away from purchasing a home at this time, but the rewards are priceless.”
Sam had to change the way he trained his team as well. “If you want different results, you have to do things different… we train how we are going to fight, so to speak,” Sam said. There are three unique parts of Sam’s team’s training: a published required reading list, Tony Robbins Unleash the Power training events, and Dave Ramsey Financial counselor training. “It all begins with mindset and there is no better way to change the mind than to read! I require them to read Simon Sinek, “Start with Why”; Rabbi Daniel Lapin, “Thou Shall Prosper, The Ten Commandments of Money”; and Daniel H. Pink, “Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” for instance. There is zero emphasis on marketing, selling, or lending and 100 percent focus on purpose, planning, and motivations.” His agents are then encouraged to attend Anthony Robbins Coaching event, Unleash the Power Within, to gain a better understanding of themselves and what drove them to a career in real estate. “Four days of focusing on the science of success, what motivates you, and developing a personal road map for success, has been invaluable for my team. The new concepts presented in the written material, actioned over four days with Tony and his team equal a knockout punch when it all comes together!” Sam emphasized. The final step for Sam’s team is to attend the Dave Ramsey Financial Counseling course. “It is the only course I have found focused on the handling of sensitive life topics and fiscal objectives that also provides tools to facilitate the conversation. Not only do my agents receive premier training on how to conduct an interview, they gain a better understanding of their financial situation, and the tools needed to build a stable financial future. As a result, they lead by example and don’t pressure clients to close,” explains Sam. “It has given my team insight into how to best partner with first time buyers and well-established clients alike. There is no better course on the market to help you guide a first time home buyer or be value added when plugged into an established team of trusted financial advisors, accountants and life coaches.”
Sam also requires his agents to take the Accredited Buyers Representative Course, the Certified Residential Specialist course and to attend a Graduate of Real Estate course. These core courses focus on the service and support side of real estate versus the business side. “My agents are then at the ready to focus their client interviews on responsibilities, goals and timeline discussion, versus an impersonal budget review and approval process.”
Sam’s team also leverages the latest technology to service the needs of both his buyers and sellers. He tells his team, “It’s imperative that we move at the speed of life!” “We use the industry leading Dot-loop software, which enables all key players in a transaction to coordinate, communicate, and execute from one platform anywhere in the world. This ensures efficient transparent transactions and compliance actions by all. We also pay for all our clients to have access to the MRIS system so they can have instant access and keep their fingers on the pulse of the market. This puts all parties on the same page with facts, not opinions. Additionally, we leverage apps such as WAZE to assist with commuting decision, as well as, robust mortgage apps to ensure our clients not only know what their mortgage payments will be, but to understand the taxable consequences of their decision.”
When selling a home, Sam’s team has a professional videographer create video home tours. The videographer uses drones to capture aerial footage of the home and surrounding area. “We put our money where our mouth is, ensuring our client’s home is thoroughly showcased and presented in its most positive light. We then upload this footage to all MRIS sites, third party sites such as Zillow, the national Fine Portfolio Magazine, and we even pay to put it on international marketing platforms to reach potential clients overseas.” Sam explains.
Sam’s team also participates in several direct marketing events throughout the year to get in front of potential clients. “Real Estate is about people. Technology can be leveraged to serve our clients’ needs, but people buy and sell homes. We work tirelessly to put humanity back into the insanity of the real estate marketing process.” Reality Realty participates in events like the National American Veterans Ball, Armed Forces Expos, National Night Out Law Enforcement program, and local events like the Potomac Nationals’ Military Appreciation Night. All of this volunteer work in the community gets Sam and his team in front of hundreds of thousands of people a year.
Sam’s “CaremenshipTM” philosophy, Reality CheckTM process and his unique training plan all serve to help his agents assist clients in answering his industry changing question, “How will this real estate transaction help achieve your family’s goals?” “Helping to answer this question and tailoring all efforts around achieving clients’ goals ensures their safety, security, and ability to sustain their quality of life. It also allows for maximum flexibility for when life happens and adjustments are needed.” When selling, Sam’s clients are better able to action the next chapters of their life with confidence knowing they have an integrated plan for their next real estate acquisition firmly rooted in their established time line, life plan and their fiscal well-being.
“We’re doing it right!” exclaims Sam. “My elite team of 12 of highly-qualified CaremenshipTM trained agents enjoy a 95% rate of repeat and referral clients. When you are selling a family a home for the 3rd or 4th time, you know you’re doing it right” Sam said. “Focusing on the clients ‘why’ versus the ‘how to buy’ is so refreshing for our clients that love to pay it forward.” Helping clients to gain clarity on their true purpose of buying a home is a philosophical departure from the usual real estate focus on marketing and selling, but it works well for Sam and his agents, who believe if you put your purpose first, quality sales will follow.
Sam’s team has been recognized both locally and nationally. His team won the Entrepreneur of the Year 2013 and Military Friendly Business 2012 from the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce. In 2016, the People of Distinction Humanitarian Foundation awarded Sam the People of Distinction Humanitarian Award on Capitol Hill. “It’s an interesting and humbling experience” Sam said. He credits his team’s success in large part to the support of his lender Mike Sanchez (Guaranteed Rate Mortgage), the highly flexible and supportive MBH Title company, Adam Bird of Heroes Media Group, The Heroes Alliance Network, The American Veterans Ball, and many others who have embraced his vision. “It is all about service, synergy, and alignment with likeminded individuals. The Purpose with a ProfitTM model works! It’s good for our clients, our communities and our country,” Sam explained.
Sam’s team is extremely active in his community as well, supporting several non-profits and offering special incentives to community heroes who enable their community to thrive. “I serve on the board of directors for the Heroes Alliance Network for the Dutiful, the American Veterans Ball, Pinups for Patriots and Stafford Junction. My goal is to support my community, our nation’s children and countries Heroes,” Sam said.
Sam created a Heroes Realty ProgramTM within Reality Realty Professionals, donating 20% of their commission to active duty,
retired, reserve, or volunteer military; law enforcement; firefighters; EMS first responders; nurses; educators; and clergy. “We relied on these national and community servants to protect us, keep us healthy and enrich our souls. Ensuring they understand what it means to buy a home from a stability and financial perspective is the least we can do for them. The last thing I want is a community hero taking on extra risk to pay a bill. We need our community heroes focused on soothing our souls and making us whole.” Sam said. Additionally, Sam’s team donates a percentage of their profits to sponsor dozens of local athletic teams, coaches, community hero fundraisers, and numerous charities to sow seeds in his community. “The money part is easy, the time people put into our community and youth is priceless,” Sam said.
In his free time, Sam loves to fish, boat, hike, travel and serve his community! Professionally, he remains committed to his vision: “To change the way real estate is conducted on a global scale by committing to the readiness and stability of both our communities and clients, empowering them to make sound real estate decisions, rooted in clearly defined goals, season of life, and fiscal wellbeing.” Now that’s a worthy goal and one his clients appreciate!