Sam Olson, CRS®, Team Lead and Owner of the Olson Group, a RE/MAX Gold real estate team. The group of 10 dedicated individuals and agents serves all of our neighbors who choose to buy or sell real estate in western Nevada, and through our affiliation with Gold Nation, five Pacific states. Sam also serves as a trustee of Silver State Fair Housing Council and the Nevada REALTORS Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
1. Tell us more about your corporation and how you got into it.
We started The Olson Group in 2017 after two years at another real estate office, specifically to change the way things were done on real estate teams. Each of our agents is equipped and empowered to delight our clients and exceed their expectations. We are not just a high-volume team, we are a high-impact team. By offering the best performers the most competitive compensation packages in the city, a supporting and celebratory environment, and the power of the #1 RE/MAX franchise in the world, we make lasting positive impacts on the lives of our agents, our clients, and our community.
2. What is the current state of affairs where you work?
Our industry was deemed essential by the governor from the get-go, so most within the real estate industry were not broadly or negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns. In addition to navigating a global health crisis with a cataclysmic death toll, we had to rely on our core values to navigate the transition from a locally-owned brokerage to a branch office of the largest RE/MAX in the world.
By holding true to ourselves and our positioning statement “life. Abundant” the leadership team of the Olson Group made an agreement to work diligently to endure that our culture remained top priority. With inventory cratering and a generalized tension in the industry, this could have been overwhelming. Luckily, dominating 2020 has not been the daunting task we once imagined it to be – we hire the right people, give them the tools they need to be the best at what they do best in the correct environment, and help them bloom.
Fortunately, RE/MAX LLC has always been a merit-based company, where only the best in the industry are invited to affiliate, irrespective of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, race, ethnicity, background, marital or familial status. If you’re good, you’re good, and you belong here.
3. What do you see happening in your workplace in the next 30/60/90 days?
The real estate inventory faces a lot of challenges right now: a reckoning on past racist policies like redlining and blockbusting, equal housing lawsuits and anti-competitive business practices investigations, disastrously low inventory, a flood of inexperienced agents, and a nasty public perception. For the foreseeable future, inventory will remain tight as stimulus and low interest rates fuel borrowing, COVID-19-induced changes to workflow and political tribalism accelerate demographic shifts, and a persistent lack of home construction reduces supply. Prices will remain elevated as demand increases and supply decreases, constraining the free functioning of the marketplace. Ongoing eviction and foreclosure moratoria reduce a small but reliable influx of rotating inventory.
Those factors are all out of our individual control, and what we can control is the service we provide our clients and the value we bring. We can – and will – continue to help clients navigate a market on fire, and make the best choices they can, based on the best available information, at the time the choices must be made.
And mostly, as this constriction continues, we can remember that the real estate market doesn’t exist. It is amalgamation of hundreds of millions of decisions, made within the parameters of millions of transactions that create enough data that we think it’s a monolith. But that is not the case: those decisions are made on a human level, with human emotion and irrationality and a need to solve a problem. If we remain focused on the BIG WIN – the Client’s Win – we will make it through ok.
4. In what ways does your company, or you, champion equal rights and representation for, and amplify the voices of, the LGBTQ+ community?
According to a study by Iowa State University, same-sex mortgage borrowers are 73% more likely to be denied a mortgage loan than heterosexual couples, and on average, will be charged up to .2% higher interest or fees if they are approved. These are not small numbers: that increase in interest payments alone account for up to $86M annually, nationwide.
A Zillow study shows that LGBTQ+ homeowners are more likely to purchase less expensive housing than our non-LGBTQ+ cohorts – and this is even more true for LGBTQ+ buyers of color.
Our community is paying more to get less, and that’s one of the reasons that LGBTQ+ home ownership trails national homeownership 49% to 65%. 46% of LGBTQ+ renters fear discrimination in their future home buying experience, which while not quantified in the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals Housing Report (sponsored in part by RE/MAX), it is safely assumed that number is an under-count when it comes to our trans and of color community members.
RE/MAX LLC has been an integral community partner in advancing representation of the LGBTQ+ community within the industry, with early and enthusiastic support of the Equality Act and various LGBTQ+ focused trade organizations.
And when I sit at my desk every morning, I think deeply about those statistics, and weave them into the fabric of our day-to-day operations. I serve on Silver State Fair Housing Council and the Nevada REALTORS Diversity and Inclusion Committee and encourage my team members to participate in community outreach. We use trusted LGBTQ+ service providers within our company and recommend them for our clients. At the deepest level, we will not have equality as a community, until we have equity in our communities. It’s that simple. And it is imperative that my company recognizes and acts on that.
There’s also an unquantifiable power in being an out, proud, and successful business owner in a traditionally heteronormative industry – a role model I did not have and very much needed when I was younger.
5. Who is someone that has been an advocate for diversity and inclusion in your industry or workplace?
With all social movements, it is those on the front lines, the loudest voices, the flag wavers that get noticed. And attention should also be directed at those behind the scenes, quietly enacting policy change in organizations that level the playing field for our community. April LaBrie, the CEO of Reno/Sparks Association of REALTORS, is just that person. She has worked in collaboration with our local LGBTQ+ community to bring in educational courses that highlight minority communities, and has always been an ardent backer of equality initiatives.
Quiet, forceful and powerful allies can create real momentum in changing an industry.
6. What is something that the general public perhaps does not understand about your industry?
The general impression is that REALTORS are irrelevant, a dying breed, only in it for the money, and complicate what would otherwise be a smooth transfer of property between a buyer and seller. What most don’t realize, though, is that REALTOR usage is at an all-time high, with over 92% of transactions involving a REALTOR. Nationally, sellers who used a REALTOR averaged nearly an $80,000 higher sales price.
Not only are we experts in negotiation and marketing, we are advocates for the right of private property ownership and enjoyment. We are community builders. We are involved in local business organizations, local government, and planning decisions. We are your neighbors, your kids’ coaches, and small local business owners. And, we are highly and specially educated to help lay persons navigate an industry that accounts for 15-18% of US GDP.
7. Why did you join the chamber?
Joining GLCCNV was a natural fit – business professionals focused on advancing LGBTQ+ participation in the economy and growing the impact of the ‘gay dollar.’ Nevada has always been on the forefront of progressivism, and a vibrant, collaborative, and inclusive LGBTQ+ business community is vital to our state, our municipalities, and our community.
And I couldn’t sit back and let Las Vegas have all the fun!
Sam can be contacted via text at 775-313-6744 or email at Sam@OlsonRealEstateGroup.com, and welcomes generalized and specific real estate questions and collaboration opportunities from members and clients of members of GLCCNV.