As a former juvenile probation manager, Jessie ‘Weno’ Dominguez made a career jump over to real estate in early 2014 and he hasn’t looked back. The Othello, Washington-based Imagine Realty Group agent recorded 220 transaction sides in 2022 for a sales volume of $141.067 million, good enough for a spot in the 2023 RealTrends + Tom Ferry America’s Best Real Estate Professionals agent and team rankings.
RealTrends recently sat down with Dominguez to chat about the most rewarding parts of the real estate industry.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Brooklee Han: Can you tell me a bit about how you first got into the real estate industry?
Jessie ‘Weno’ Dominguez: I worked for the county as a probation manager for juvenile court for about 10 years. While I worked there, I wanted to be a real estate agent on the side or get into real estate somehow as my family had rentals, so I was always intrigued. My uncle had a lot of the rentals and I used to go with him, and we would talk to the agents. I also already had another business on the side doing décor and venue arrangements for weddings and corporate events.
But while I was working for the county I decided to run for public office and I had the events business and during the campaign I felt like I was going to win and I was so busy managing everything that I decided I needed to quit my job, and my wife, being the most amazing person in the world said, ‘What’s your backup plan?’ and I didn’t have one. She was fine with me quitting, but she also wanted me to have a plan in case I didn’t win the election, so I decided that if I lost, I’d get my real estate license.
So, I lost my election and immediately got online and started my real estate license training. I took my test in February 2014 and I haven’t taken a day off since.
BH: How has your experience working with event planning and venue design helped you as an agent?
Dominguez: It has actually helped me out more than I thought. Weddings and funerals are the most stressful events that you are ever going to have to deal with and as a planner you are dealing with multiple personalities, and it is a high stress environment. In real estate you are dealing with people all day and you need to have great customer service and be ok with last minute changes and you need to know how to be agile and to be ok with being the person in the middle trying to make sure everyone’s best interests are being looked after.
BH: You do a lot of new construction business. How did you first get involved with this sector of the market and why do you like working in it?
Dominguez: In our small town everybody knows everybody and I knew a builder because we used to do church events together and he bought a piece of land to develop when I was getting my license and I said, ‘hey, I’m getting my license, wait for me and I’ll sell the homes.’ At that time he didn’t have an agent and was just starting off. I finally passed my test and I went to him and told him that I would double his sell in a year and he said, ‘Let’s do it.’ So, I did an open house on the new homes there and I had so many people come through and I just started working. Since then, he has basically given me all his homes and from there on we just haven’t looked back.
Now I am more involved in looking at land and the development aspect. I work with the team to help design floor plans, so all aspects. We build really high-end homes and one year I had 30 people say no because our homes were too expensive for them, but they still want a nice product, so I talked with Angel, my friend, and told him we were losing s segment of the market. So, we developed a product together and came up with the plans to do a whole new series of homes and they just took off. Being a part of all that has been great. It is not easy. New construction is terribly time consuming, but if you can make it work for you, it is definitely a great place to be.
BH: What has been one of the biggest challenges you have faced in your real estate career and how have you overcome that challenge?
Dominguez: In real estate you never get to punch out. Working for the county, at five o’clock you get to go home, so my biggest challenge has been figuring out how to punch out and I still haven’t. Last year at one point I think I had like 56 homes pending at the same time and if I don’t answer the phone, I’m going to get a lot of upset people. So, I am learning how to detach and punch out, but it has been a huge challenge.
BH: To what do you attribute your success?
Dominguez:I always give credit where credit is due, so first is the good Lord, who has helped me and blessed me to get through all this. The second is my wife. She is my admin and is absolutely amazing and keeps me accountable. And third, I am powered by Professional Realty Services International, it is a company based out of Spokane and they have made it possible for me to really be able to expand.
BH: What are three things you do every day that you feel set you up for success?
Dominguez: I am a man of faith, so I pray in the mornings. I have to shift my mindset every morning because by the end of the day you are just worn out and that carries on to the night and it used to carry into my mornings, so now I try to wake up in the mornings and pray to shift my mindset. I also try to go to the gym at least three times a week early in the morning. And I always work on improving my communication skills and become a better communicator with my builders and clients and other agents, that is just key.
BH: What do you like best about working in the real estate industry?
Dominguez: What makes me really happy is that I was a juvenile probation officer and manager for all those years and I know that I have now sold houses to some of the juvenile I used to serve that had no hope and no future and that just shows me that there is always hope. Working there I felt like I could change lives and I miss it, but now I get to work with people that never thought they would be homeowners and it brings me so much joy.
BH: What is your best piece of advice for new agents?
Dominguez: Surround yourself with some really good agents. Who you surround yourself with will really tell you who you are. And really interview where you are going to land. When I first started, I didn’t know that, I was just happy that they hired me. Always expect the unexpected and never give up. Real estate is not for everybody. It can be cutthroat, but that is not what I want in my brokerage culture, so find the right fit for you.