In this episode, Carlos talks with Lucas Lechuga, a seasoned real estate professional with over 15 years of real estate sales experience and a member of the Master Brokers Forum – a distinguished, invite-only organization comprised of South Florida’s top residential real estate professionals. Known for his unparalleled market insight, Lucas is a consistent, top-producing agent, owner, and founder of the Miami Condo Investments website.
Carlos: I’m very honored to have our next guest on this show. His name is Lucas Lechuga. He’s known as the Condo King of Miami, and right after this show, I invite you to go to Google and type in “Miami Condos for Sale” and see who shows up number one organically there again. Welcome, Lucas! Tell us a little bit more about you and how you started.
Lucas: When I lived in Chicago, I was an equity options market maker with the Chicago Board of options exchange. So I worked there for 40 years. It was, I don’t know, like some audience members may or may not know what an equity options market maker is, but it’s basically like one of those guys that are in the pits that are yelling “Buy, sell, buy, sell!”, so I was one of those guys that you see on TV that are yelling and blah.
It was an amazing job. I ended up moving to Miami in 2004, after that. And I got into real estate. But before that, I didn’t really wanna get into real estate because I didn’t want to do sales. I didn’t want to be that pushy sales guy. Cause like for me, sales was all about. Being pushed, and I didn’t like that connotation of it.
I moved down here in 2004, but I started seriously thinking about getting into real estate in 2005. And she’s like, “Why don’t you look into getting into real estate?” And I’m like “No, I don’t want to be a salesman”. And she’s like “Don’t think about it that way. Think about it as you’re an educator” And I thought about that. I was like “You know what? You’re right”. And I came from a financial background, you know, I was a trader from Chicago.
So I’m like “You know what, I’m gonna take the whole real estate game and put it into price per square foot”. And makes sense to not only the average home buyer, but investors out there that are looking to invest in Miami because back in the day, the market’s different now, but back in the day it was a lot of investors.
Now you have a lot of end-users or second home buyers that are buying here, but 10 years ago, 15 years ago actually, now 17 years, back then it was a lot of people from South America, a lot of people from all over the world that was just putting money into Miami, just to park it, you know?
So they were buying condos and they wanted to know what made sense, and what was a good investment, so I started miamicondoinvestments.com in 2007.
And just to give some background on it, because a lot of people think this website just popped up, but it’s been a lot of work, you know, in 2007, I started it as a free blog. It was free. It was hard.
Carlos: I was about to ask you, why did you go that route? Why not print? What made you start Miami Condo Investments?
Lucas: In 2007, when I launched the website, the market was so low. There are a lot of people in that market. There are a lot of agents that I was friends with back then that got out of the game. Cause they’re like “The market’s dead, we need to go find another job”.
I attended a conference probably a few months before I started the blog and I remember the presenter saying “During a dead market, you need to spend more money than your competition because they’re all cutting back, you know, the market’s dead”.
So your competition is cutting back on marketing expenses and this is your opportunity to put yourself forward. So spend more money during the down markets, and then you’ll put your face out there, and I mean, I didn’t have money back then to do that, but I’m like “You know what? I could put my time”, which to me back then was my equity. You know, that was my value. So I started the blog and I started writing about the market and I figured: “I’m gonna invest, not money, but my time into this venture and you know, it may be two, three years, whatever, but at the end of it, when everything’s said and done, this audience hopefully will trust what I’m saying and what I’m writing, and then they’ll work with me”.
Carlos: For those who are maybe now wondering how to start a website, when did transactions start to happen?
Lucas: To be honest with you, it was a long time. I mean, there were clients in the beginning. I started the website in 2007. We actually just celebrated our 15th year anniversary. A lot of times maybe they were working with other agents, honestly, it didn’t hit really big until maybe seven, or eight years and it was because I was consistent. The people came to me seven, eight years in and they were like “Hey, I’ve been following you since you started, and I told myself, I was gonna work with you”. But let me backtrack. There were some people at the beginning that started following my blog right away and said “Hey, I wanna work with you”. But it didn’t get really, really big until probably seven or eight years.
So, I definitely got business. You’re one, you know, because I was very consistent, and not only was I very consistent, but I was writing back then about the market, which was kind of negative back then. It was about foreclosures and short sales. The market in 2007, and 2008 was one of the worst real estate markets that we’ve ever seen.
And like I said, I started the blog because I was bored because the market was dead. So I started writing about all the foreclosures. I started writing about the short sales and all that, and I started getting mentions from the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, I mean, huge publications. So they were all linking to my account investments because they would interview me and then they would mention me and be like “Hey, this guy’s writing about the mortgage implosion that’s happening in Miami”.
And I was not only writing about the mortgage implosion, but I was writing about mortgage fraud, which was a big issue back then. And a lot of people didn’t even realize that it was going on, but I remember back then, probably around 2009, Somebody reached out to me and said “Hey, the FBI is noticing what you’re writing, because you’re writing about the mortgage fraud, and they hadn’t realized what was going on in Miami, but because of what you’re writing, they now have their eyes on it and you’re right, it’s going on”.
Carlos: What makes you create your content on the way of switching the strategy? What are you trying to go after? What’s your audience for Miami Condo Investment today?
Lucas: Well, I mean, it’s an evolving market. I think back in the days in 2007, and 2008, when I watched my blog, that was pretty much the only format to get your word out. And now, because of technology, things have changed, things have progressed and technology has gotten better.
After blogging, people started using social media to get the word out, and I’ve always used a combination, I’ve always used my website and social media, and then it became a video. Actually, I started doing videos back in 2010, but the quality back then was terrible. It was so pixelated that you couldn’t really even see anything. Now the quality’s amazing, it’s like you’re in the same room as people, I’ve actually sold a lot of properties from videos alone.
And so there are people, and it’s not because of the content. It’s more because they get to know me, and I think that’s how blogging and social media, and video have evolved. It’s all been about getting to know you because these people don’t have realtors in Miami, for the most part, a lot of them don’t. Especially the international buyers, they find websites or social media or videos, and they get to know you and the person that they feel the biggest attachment.
They’ll hire you. They’ll trust you. They create that trust with you because of the amount of content, quality content, and strategic content that you put out there. And, you know, that’s a hundred percent, we agree with you a hundred percent on that.
Carlos: How much would you value your digital ecosystem?
Lucas: I’ve actually been asked that question a lot. If you would’ve asked me probably like five years ago, I would’ve probably said something small, like a million or something. Maybe 10 years ago, I’m gonna say a million, but, um, it goes up every year because every year I’m putting in more and more content into it. So it’s growing. Now I have three full-time employees. I have a weekend assistant and we’re all pushing content to the website. We’re adding more buildings. So to me, the more buildings I have on the website, the more money. The website brings in because obviously there are more leads and all that. To answer your question, I hate to be put on the spot, but 10 million, let’s put it that way.
Carlos: A lot of people come to us and ask us and they tell us “Hey, I want to build that website”. And I keep telling you, I can’t quote you because this is years and years and years of work, and it’s a very, very time-consuming product.
Lucas: Yeah, I don’t even know how would I duplicate it. Let’s go backward. Let’s say that I lost the website today and I wanted to do it all over again. The thing is I would be able to does it again twice as fast as anybody’s starting from scratch, ’cause I’ve already done it, you know? So I’ve already learned the ins and outs. I already know exactly the pitfalls of running a lot of websites and all that. I know how to do Search Engine Optimization, which is probably one of my expertise.
I’ve never hired an outside company to do the SEO for me. I’ve always done that for myself, which, um, yeah, I’ve read about it.
Carlos: How do you see the SEO going along now with Google algorithms and AI and Cortana?
Lucas: I think the video’s a big part of it. As human beings evolve in the content that they wanna see, I think Google’s evolving with them. I think video is a big part of it. The questions we ask in Google, that’s a big part of it too. Cause that’s AI. I mean, AI is what’s providing those answers.
So, if you’re in the top, I don’t like to say top three, because the third position probably doesn’t even get clicked on very much, but in the top two, you need to be number one in order to drive a lot of traffic.
Carlos: What would you recommend to a new agent today, especially when you are in such a competitive market, and like you said, at number one for a long time now? What would you recommend to a starting agent who’s maybe thinking, you know, getting their brand or creative website out there, what would be your personal advice to them?
Lucas: I would go niche, and that’s my best advice to anybody that’s starting brand new is to find your niche. If you’re doing condos, find a building or two buildings that you wanna specialize in and be the expert in those two buildings. If you’re doing single-family homes, find a subdivision or two, and that’s your bread and butter, you know, that’s your niche. Always you’re into your niche, do equestrian houses, you know, it’s a perfect blend.
Carlos: Anything that you wanna say for those viewers or that maybe today’s the first time they’re meeting you?
Lucas: Find your niche, and work at it. It won’t be easy. It’s all about dedication. Furthermore, it’s all about consistency. That’s the key. You have to be consistent about it and you can’t expect quick results.
You really need to go into it and say, you know what? I’m not gonna get one sale from this for six months, but I’m gonna do it every single day. I know after six months I’m gonna get some clients. That’s the mentality that you need to go into.
More about The Pipeline
The Pipeline is a conversational podcast hosted by Carlos Concepción, Chief Sales Officer at www.tremgroup.com, a real estate business accelerator platform that combines the power of innovative technology, proven marketing strategies, and experts working alongside.
TREM Group has scaled real estate professionals to 9-figures in yearly sales, by helping them boost their brands, dominate their local markets faster and generate higher financial returns year over year.
The Pipeline’s goal is to share knowledge and provide awareness of how top real estate producers leverage the internet’s power to achieve their business goals nationwide.