Often with partnerships, opposites attract. Individuals with opposing talents and diverse strengths merge to form a union which becomes more powerful than if those individuals would be on their own. This is true for Rob Sanders and Brent Jackson, Principals of The Rob & Brent Group at TTR Sotheby’s International Realty.
Rob and Brent admit they are opposites in many ways. However, when it comes to real estate, they are unified in their shared passion for redefining real estate in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. They are both hard-working and driven to provide clients with an unparalleled real estate experience.
Their vision took shape immediately once they established their partnership in 2007. The duo quickly went to work laying the foundation and building their team of hand-picked professionals. Today, The Rob & Brent Group is well known in the region and consistently ranks among the area’s top producers. Last year, the team had more than $100 million in sales with over 100 transactions. In 2017, they had sales of over $115 million. They are licensed in D.C., Virginia, and Maryland.
Rob and Brent met through a mutual friend. “When he partnered us up together, he said we would be a perfect fit because we’re night-and-day different,” Brent recalls. “Rob is a people person, very animated and expressive, full of energy, he’s an ‘in-your-face’ type, and isn’t afraid to say what’s on his mind,” he laughs.
Rob agrees. “I’m constantly on the go, non-stop. Having a military background taught me a lot about time management — what needs to be done just needs to get done. Brent is a hard worker, very analytical, with a driver personality. He is a hard-nosed, down-to-business guy.”
Their work and personal styles differ as well. Brent is an early riser and prefers to stick to a strict schedule: up by 4 a.m., in the office by 8 a.m., and working the phone between 9 and 11 a.m. For lunch, he likes to relieve stress with a game of basketball at least four days a week, and in the afternoon, he is usually back in the office.
“I have an open-door policy because it’s important to be available to your team as a resource and encourage approachable communication,” Brent reports. He makes an effort to leave his evenings free between 6 and 8:30 p.m. to spend time with his family — wife Andrea, son Finn (5), and daughter Isabella (20 months).
On the other hand, Rob frequently burns the midnight oil. He comes in later, around 9:30 or 10 o’clock in the morning, but often works until midnight or later making sure clients’ needs are met — even if it means responding to an email at 2:30 a.m. Rob manages to carve out time in his day for his stress relievers — running, weightlifting, and recently golf, which for now may or may not prove to be much of a stress reliever!
“Because of our different work habits, our clients can reach us from 4 a.m. to midnight every day, virtually around the clock — me in the early morning and Rob late at night,” Brent points out. “We’re focused on customer service first and results second. If your main focus is on the customer, results will naturally fall into line. We like to say that we’re ‘customer service-oriented and results driven.’ Most importantly, our approach is team based. Even though individuals can shine, we all work together cohesively as a team. It’s vital because everyone has different roles.”
Rob mentions that it is this targeted teamwork approach which sets The Rob & Brent Group apart. He states that each person brings his or her unique strengths to the table, whether it’s expert negotiating techniques, the ability to produce exceptional advertising and marketing pieces, the knowledge to handle technology and research, or the enthusiasm for working an open house. “We all have different skill sets, but we complement each other perfectly, so you’re getting the best of all worlds when you hire our team.”
Both Rob and Brent bring a wealth of experience from various careers to the partnership. Brent has been selling residential real estate in the D.C. area for almost fourteen years. His interest in the industry began during his college days at West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia. He started buying property as an investment while he earned a BS in Business Administration with a concentration in finance. He later went on to earn an MBA from the University of Maryland.
When his wife, Andrea, was accepted to NYU after graduating from law school, they decided to keep the properties even though they were moving to New York. While there, Brent was a pharmaceutical representative for GlaxoSmithKline, winning several awards and recognition for his leadership and marketing skills. It was after his wife was offered a position in a D.C. law firm that they decided to sell the West Virginia properties and bought their first home in Northern Virginia — sight unseen. While still in New York, Brent took the real estate exam, passing the Virginia portion, and jumped head first into real estate full time after they moved, never looking back.
Rob’s foray into real estate came somewhat serendipitously. He grew up in Glenn Dale, Maryland, graduating from DeMatha Catholic High School followed by the University of Maryland. As he ventured out on his own and began looking for apartments, he knew he wanted to be in the heart of D.C. He found a property in Dupont Circle that was a perfect fit — with a bonus rooftop pool sealing the deal.
Shortly after moving in, one of the first things he did was head up to the pool and dive in, splashing a girl sitting next to the edge. After their unconventional introduction, they hit it off right away. As they were talking, she mentioned she was a real estate agent and invited him to come with her as she was showing properties later that day. By the end of the evening, Rob had not only signed a contract on one of the properties they toured, but had also agreed to partner with her to sell real estate part-time. That partnership lasted a few years until he met Brent, and he then began working exclusively with him.
Rob retired as an Allstate Agent, but he balanced the demands of both jobs for a few years before forming The Rob & Brent Group. “Working both careers was one of my biggest challenges. Realistically, I worked two full-time jobs for several years. I think I only took one ‘real’ vacation during that time. However, I was always able to prioritize what needed to be done and still meet high expectations for both jobs,” Rob shares.
Since forming The Rob & Brent Group, they have been Top Producers and on the No. 1 Team with most transactions year after year. Each of the last two years, their total sales volume was well over $100 million, and their total career volume is over $750 million. Brent states that once the two of them decided to form The Rob & Brent Group, their year-over-year growth had surged exponentially, sometimes up to 40 percent in the early years.
Honors include recognition as a Washingtonian Magazine Very Best Agent and Top Producer, and also ranking on the Wall Street Journal Real Trends Top 150. They have won TTR Sotheby’s International Realty Awards annually since 2006.
For Brent, one of the challenges he has had to overcome is that he is a perfectionist. “I have had to learn that I can’t control every aspect of a transaction. Sometimes a deal will fall apart for different reasons. We have to learn from those transactions and move on to the next. We’re constantly in improvement mode — assessing how we can become better. I am passionate about furthering my knowledge in all aspects of the industry, continually reading, going to seminars, listening to podcasts.”
It isn’t surprising to hear Rob and Brent suggest that, when starting a team, an agent should match up with a partner who has the same work ethic as they do, but with a different personality style. “Embrace diversity,” adds Rob.
For up-and-coming top producers, as well as new agents, Brent advises that they maintain a daily schedule and are systematic with the methods they utilize for growing their business, i.e. marketing systems, open houses, prospecting, previewing properties, letter writing, etc. “Have a systematic marketing campaign and review it quarterly. Many agents send one flyer and don’t get a response, then never hit that target market again. Be the master of something, whether it’s your building, your block, or your neighborhood. Corner that niche.”
Rob agrees. “Farm certain buildings, start with your friends or neighbors and market the buildings in which you live. Send out mailers, set goals and stick with them. Give out at least five business cards a day.”
Brent encourages new agents to be a sponge and learn as much as they can from as many people as they can. “Every agent wants to be interesting, but it’s more important to be interested,” he says. He adds that it is equally important for the top 500 agents to remember to give back and help young agents succeed. “Applied knowledge is powerful.”
Rob and Brent attribute their success to their determined work ethic, knowledge of the industry, and drive for success. They acknowledge that even though parts of their personalities may differ, it’s their shared core value of simply being nice guys that most likely is the main reason for their success. Brent concludes, “In real estate, everyone has an ego. Everyone wants to be important. What’s most important is to be kind.”