Honesty and integrity
Two words used by every salesperson in the world to describe their personal philosophy. While some do better at living up to that standard than others, very few take the words to heart the way Pete Mergens, the Broker Owner of Professional Pride Realty, has. It’s a value system he learned as a young man selling printing and packaging for a company headed up by his father.
“It’s how he did business,’ Pete said. “My dad worked for the same company for 44 years. He started at the bottom and worked his way up to become president. And he did it through relationships; by treating people the same.”
And that is how Pete has operated Professional Pride Realty for more than ten years, even if he didn’t really mean to become a realtor. He moved from selling printing and packaging to installing hardwood floors for new construction. Then one day a friend of his who was a realtor suggested he investigate the business. After some thought, and a conversation with his wife, he quit his job installing floors and with typical determination, spent the next two months learning, and studying to get his real estate license. He spent eight or nine years with Edina Realty, but when the economy crashed in 2008 and 2009, he decided it was a good time to strike out on his own.
But Pete’s transition was not an easy one. Like so many people at that time, he found himself overextended. He owned two homes, and was suddenly not bringing much money in. The result was a familiar refrain from the Great Recession. He filed for bankruptcy and short sold both of his houses.
“We lost everything we had.”
But he credits that experience for cementing his philosophy as a realtor, because along with his honest personality and personal need for integrity, he believes a realtor has more responsibility to their client than just finding them a house.
“I believe it’s why we’re successful here today. I sat in so many people’s kitchens who were about to do a short sale, and I had just completed two of my own. I tried to convince a lot of people to not short sell. A lot of people thought that was the thing to do. ‘Let’s just give up.’ But I wanted people to have the right information. I had been in the business and couldn’t see the forest through the woods. My goal was to sit there, and I’m not a financial expert or anything, but I did understand the mortgage crisis, what was going on and what people’s rights were.
“And four or five years later, after the market came back, those people came back to me and said ‘Thank God we didn’t do that, because of the information you gave us. And we want to sell our house now.’ And I was helping people who had been upside down, now walk away with $20, $30, $40,000. And that was enough to help propel them to get to their next home.”
Pete and his family made it through the tough times and landed on their feet. Ten years later, he owns a company that employs seven realtors and an office staff he thinks the world of.
“I care dramatically about every single person who works here,” he said. “Sandy Deutsch is our office manager, and she’s an incredible person. My sister Laurie is my licensed assistant. I am very specific about the character and the person who works for me.”
He said much of the way he conducts business is also a function of where he lives.
“Northfield is community-based town, it’s Northfield-centric. Not that the big box store [philosophy] don’t work here, but people are cognizant of ‘Oh, that’s my neighbor’ or ‘That’s my friend.’ Some of my best friends live in this town. All you have to do is dip your toe in the water or peak your head in the door and you will be welcomed. It’s an amazing community from that perspective. And that has led me to where I am today.”
Pete and the realtors who work for him take a more old-school approach to selling. He believes in the relationship between client and realtor, and he believes in treating everyone the same. To him, a client with a $100,000 home has as much value as a client selling a $1 million home. The people with Professional Pride Realty will work as diligently for both as they possibly can. And that becomes more important as the real estate industry changes, and more people look to internet-based companies to sell their homes.
"What’s going to happen is you're going to lose the personal service of real estate. The most important thing for my clients to understand is what I provide. Because people don’t understand what their legal responsibilities are. The fact is you can stick a sign in your yard and probably have a buyer by the end of the day. But you don’t know their qualifications to actually buy your house. You don’t really know what your home is worth. You might think you know, but are you leaving money on the table? What happens when something goes wrong, because something was not done right along the way? The consumer has a lot of information, but they don’t understand how to use it. Let us handle it. We’re the experts.”
That expertise, along with the personal philosophy that he has instilled into his company is what he believes sets Professional Pride Realty apart.
“It all goes back to my dad’s principles. Honesty and integrity. I will not compromise that. It has never been about the money. It’s about the relationship. And if you put the money second, third or fourth, or wherever you’re going to put it, it will always be there.
“Just focus on what’s in front of you, and it will come back tenfold.”