Dana Green In Their Own Words interviewDana Green


Score Card

  • # 1 agent in sales volume in Lafayette 2007-2016, in Lamorinda (Lafayette, Moraga & Orinda combined) 2011-2016 and in Contra Costa County 2010-2016
  • # 31 “Wall St. Journal/Real Trends Top 1000 Agents in the U.S.” list for 2015
  • # 6 “Leading 100 Agents in the Bay Area” list for 2016
  • $151 million in sales volume in 2016
  • $850 million in career sales to date
  • Ranked #2 company-wide in Pacific Union in 2016

Dana Green has firmly planted her flag as the pre-eminent Realtor in Lafayette where she was born and raised, and whose service to the community has earned her rightful acknowledgement as a true daughter of the city. This marketer by training has remained Lafayette’s #1 producer since 2007, with no intention of abdicating the role. With her life-long commitment to the region, coupled with a database that any aspiring networker would kill for, she exhibits the traits that epitomize those who “own” their marketplace—love of place, passion for the craft, zeal for the sale and an ever-increasing need to experiment with the new, not to mention hard work, discipline and a competitive instinct that drives market leaders to rule their kingdoms.

On work and career
I was a Communications major with an emphasis in Public Relations.  I had done a mid-course internship with a marketing company in Alameda so I went to work for them as marketing coordinator. Following that, I worked in marketing for Spectrum Foods in San Francisco which managed 14 restaurants.  After I had my first child, I started my own marketing company in Lafayette, Green Marketing & Event Planning, operating out of my home with accounts that included the Exxon Oil Refinery in Benicia and the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek.

In 2004, I decided I wanted to market homes and do it through staging because I loved marketing and design. I thought about real estate at that time, but I feared that it was all-consuming– a 24/7 proposition.  Ironically, my fear came true!  But I thought, “I know how to do design.  I’ll buy inventory.  I’ll stage homes.”  My staging business was called The Tailored House and I still operate it today, very successfully, with more than a million dollars in inventory.

On getting into real estate sales
As a stager, I knocked on realtors’ doors, brought them baskets of goodies and said, “Complimentary Staging Consultation — $250 value.”  They would hire me because I did it for free–nothing out of their pocket. As I was staging homes, I was able to get a good look at the properties.  Because I was so connected locally, friends and clients would say, “If you ever see something special, let me know.”  So I started finding buyers for the houses.  The Realtors would give me a nice bottle of wine and say, “Thank you,” and I’d end up with the hand-holding calls from the client throughout the transaction—all work and no reward. So, I wanted to know how I could get a referral fee instead of a bottle of wine for putting all those buyers and the sellers together.  I was told, “You’ve got to have a license, and you’ve got to hang it with somebody to get a referral fee.”  I said, “Well, I can do that!”

After I got my license in 2005, I worked at Pacific Union/GMAC in Orinda for the first 9 months. They had a great training program, but that was it.  I was on my own.  So I started making relationships.  I met Ellen Anderson, who was managing Intero Real Estate Services at the time, now J Rockcliff, and joined her there. Ellen is still my manager to this day and a tremendous part of my success.

I got a call out of the blue from Mark McLaughlin, Pacific Union’s new owner, asking to meet for a cup of coffee. I found him to be savvy, personable, intelligent and interesting. His pitch was, “Come to Pacific Union.  This company is going places.  Marketing is an area where you stand out.  I can help you stand out even further.”  I told him, “It will take two things–a Lafayette office, and hiring my manager Ellen.”  He got in the car and called Ellen.  Ellen joined Pacific Union.  That was that! We initially set up shop on my dining room table and then moved to our current office location eight months later. Mark delivered as he said he would.

On Dana vs. the herd
We stage all of our listings at no cost. It is profitable for me because it helps create a brand. People will walk into my open houses and say, “We’re working with so-and-so, but we come to all of your listings because you get the best listings and they always look great.  How do you do it?” The answer is that we stage listings for all of our clients. It’s expensive.  It’s a lot of work.  It’s a risk.  And it’s got to be great every time.  Originally, staging drove my real estate business.  Now it’s the other way around.

My average sales price hovers around $2 million and can go as high as $39 million.  But I’m at a place in my business life where I’m looking for the “happy” situation– that first-time home buyer who is seeking a community where they can raise their family. It’s a happy relationship for me because I’m introducing them to a lifestyle and a community in which they can settle. They’re going to become my friends.  I’m going to see them in town, get to know them and watch their children grow up.  I’ll get to be an advisor to them on all aspects of their lifestyle—offering opinion, recommending vendors, providing guidance. I love being a facilitator and an authority on the place. It’s like being the Mayor of Lafayette–without the politics.

On how she runs her business
I have a trusted support team of five—two realtors who handle listings and buyers plus a lead stager and a marketing coordinator. My husband, who is a realtor and attorney, takes care of inspections and disclosures. I’m the rainmaker—getting the business, negotiating and closing. Annually, my salary overhead runs approximately 30% of revenues and I’m spending more than $250,000 on marketing support, including a lot of print and digital advertising.

I’m at a point in my career where it is important to select the right business and the right clients.  It’s really about, “Can I develop a trust with the seller or the buyer, so that I can do my job well?”  If they don’t trust me, it’s not worth it. We are very systematic and organized.  We’re a machine in what we do.  When a client partners with me and follows our recommendations for house preparation, we can hit it out of the ballpark together.

On what’s happening in the East Bay
In the last 12 months, I’ve been experiencing a big wave coming from the Peninsula, people cashing in and wanting to move here.  They’re realizing that they can have a comparable home and lifestyle with less pressure or stress.  This is still an environment where people believe in family, education and community. That means you can get a better lifestyle with incredible schools for the kids. When I’m conducting an open house for say a $3 million house, 10 people will walk in the door and four can be from the Peninsula.

I used to put a listing on the market on Monday because the brokers needed to see it first on Tuesday.  Now, I like to put a listing on the market on Thursdays or Fridays so that the Open House is the first time the property is exposed to the public, who pounce quickly. I don’t need to get the brokers in first anymore.

 On confronting fears and challenges
The costliest mistake I ever made was with another realtor who was starting a business. It was the classic “shiny object” that sounded so great that I invested $25,000 out of my IRA.  I was a newer agent at the time.  The venture failed, and my money was gone. At the end of the day, I got a call saying, “It’s gone.”  Not an, “I am so sorry, and I know how hard you worked for that money.  Thank you for trusting me.”  Just blew me off. The learning from that was:  (A) be careful of the shiny object.  (B) I don’t ever want someone else to feel the way I was made to feel.

On December 1st each year, I start getting nervous because I’ve got all these people depending upon me for an income. I get fearful that I’ve peaked and that “it’s not going to happen”. I also get nervous that people will think I’m unapproachable at this point in my career, which is totally not the case.  You always need to be touchable. I will take a listing of any size and price — if you trust me!

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