October 4, 2021
6 MINUTE READ
Sophia began her career at a payments company, as an unpaid intern when she was a sophomore in college. “The guys who started the company went to the same school as I did. We were introduced, and I was really excited about working in startups so I decided I was going to be their intern. They said ‘Sure, but we can’t pay you,’ but then after a couple of weeks, they said ‘You’re adding so much value; we need to pay you!’” Shortly thereafter, the company raised their first round and asked her to stay on instead of returning to school, which she did.
Originally, the plan was to defer school a year, to work and gain experience and then return to finish up at school. “But then, we started growing like crazy and the next thing I knew, I had been there almost four years and I was the Director of Customer Operations.” In this role, Sophia ran the support team, the risk team, and the account management team — basically serving all of the incoming clients in a non-sales capacity through support and account management.
Sophia recalls her early days at the startup with fondness. “It was an amazing experience, being one of the first members on the team and getting to see something grow from basically a bunch of friends in a conference room in Palo Alto, to this big company that was acquired by JPMorgan Chase a few years ago. It was an amazing experience that forever instilled in me a love of building something from nothing in a company.”
Sophia came to Reali after realizing that she was ready to take a different path in her career. She had been working for various startups, traveling extensively, when she came to the decision that she was ready for a change. “I wanted to join an industry that I could become an expert in, get years of experience and stick with one thing that I could learn all about and change for the better.” She decided on real estate, since she has always had a love for the industry and knew it was ripe for change. She started by becoming an agent, then joined another real estate firm to start up their California operations. There, she was exposed to the cash offer and real estate trade-in concepts, which were new in California at the time.
It was here where Sophia connected with Peter Verprauskus, in Reali’s Business Development department, through social media. He explained that Reali was considering introducing their own cash offer and trade-in programs, and explained a bit about the company and its culture.
Through these conversations, Sophia came to realize that Reali was a better professional fit than where she currently was. She then joined the Reali team to start the Trade-In and Cash Offer offerings in the summer of 2019 and the rest is, as they say, history.
“The opportunities that I’ve had in different companies and building different customer operations teams in real estate has allowed me to combine these into what we need to do, both to create our Trade-In and Cash Offer offerings and then scale them.”
“I’m very passionate about Trade-In and Cash Offer. The real estate industry hasn’t changed much in many, many years. And the things that have changed about it are incremental changes — the way the brokerages are run, the technology agents use to track their transactions. It’s very helpful, but it’s incremental. And Reali’s Trade-In and Cash Offer programs are not incremental,” explains Sophia.
“For example, Cash Offer is a complete shift in how a person can win a property that they want. The market has shifted so much in the past 5-10 years that cash offers are becoming the norm, and they allow the people who have them to compete in ways that others can’t. I think what we’re doing is really leveling the playing field for all of our clients to make them into cash buyers, to empower them to win the house they want or to get a discount that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to negotiate. It really brings them to the table, when they wouldn’t be invited otherwise. And I think that’s something that’s just truly amazing.”
Before joining Reali, Sophia also saw a need for Reali’s Trade-In program first hand, when her in-laws needed to sell their existing home and buy a new one.
“I got to experience first hand through my family how terrible that process is,” she jokes. “It was too big, my mother-in-law couldn’t go up and down the stairs anymore… it was a useless house to them. They needed to sell it in order to buy their next one. It ended up sitting on the market for a while, until they finally got an offer. They moved into a friend’s pool house, thinking it would just be for a few weeks until they found their next house. They lived there for 10 months before they found their new home.”
Even after finding their new home, she continues, it needed renovations and updates. “They spent months updating their new home, and eventually moved into their new home… a year and a half after listing their existing property. Luckily, they were able to live somewhere that wasn’t charging them rent; otherwise, that could have been tens — if not hundreds — of thousands of dollars in a short term rental.”
How can Reali’s Trade-In program help? “What Trade-In does, it eliminates all of that. You move one time. You reserve the house you want with the equity you already have built up in your existing home. You get all of the benefits of selling a vacant property. You get the benefits of an all-cash offer. You only move one time. It’s truly changing how people who currently own a home move into the next one,” says Sophia. “I can’t imagine myself going through any other process, or other people I know and love. I wouldn’t let them. These are two game-changing experiences.”
The driver responsible for Reali’s success and the change that is being brought to the customer is the people. So which of the Reali core values does Sophia most closely align with, personally?
“I think Own It, is the value I would say,” she says, confidently. “There are so many people who are involved in making a Trade-In transaction go, from start to finish. It’s a wildly cross-functional effort. And I think every single person on that team fully embodies the Own It value. We’re laser-focused on making sure that our clients have the best possible experience. Every single person is willing to jump in at any time, answer any question, push anything forward. I see it every day in every transaction that we have through Trade-In. Every single person on the team is truly owning the experience and making sure that it’s done right.”
To learn more about Reali’s Cash Offer or Trade-In programs, or to apply for a mortgage online, contact us today.