Broker Spotlight: Nick Van Assche, Sea Glass Properties
Name: Nick Van Assche
Title: Broker and partner
Experience: 16 years
Location: U.S. Virgin Islands
Brokerage full name: Sea Glass Properties
Rankings: Sea Glass is no. 1 in sales on St. Thomas 2017 through 2021
Team size: About 30 licensed agents
Transaction sides: From 2017 to 2022, sides for Sea Glass St. Thomas and St. Croix are 2080
- $150 million in sales in 2021
- $70 million in sales in 2020
- $60 million in sales in 2019
What do you wish more people knew about working in real estate?
The most successful people in this industry are running businesses, whether it is a brokerage, a team or a self-employed agent. These businesses have budgets; some more formal than others. Most people do not understand that while this industry affords you flexibility, it still requires the vast majority of us to be tied to it just like any other business.
To take it a step further, we do more than just “get paid.” The best agents understand how to maximize value for their clients, whether that is getting the best price on the property or navigating hurdles such as inspection issues or financing problems.
Tell us about an epic fail you’ve experienced since you’ve been a broker. What did you learn?
Early on I was hyper-focused on growth and so we opened an office on another island and then shortly after attempted to open one more on another island. It was rushed. It was the right idea, but the wrong time. Both failed.
These failures reinforced that this business is a marathon. I think it is important to point out that the average person will only notice your successes. They don’t see all of the risks we take day in and day out. They don’t see the times we failed or didn’t prevail. Don’t give up. Use data to make calculated decisions. Trust your gut.
What’s your top tip for freshly licensed brokers?
Show up. Do your homework. Know your market. We often joke about the “ABCs” of real estate: Always Be Closing. But as a new agent, you might ask, “How can I close if I don’t know where to start?”
So, keep it simple. Stop thinking about closing as a commission check and start thinking about it as a task. You have a lead on the phone: How do you get their email? Or you are at a showing: How do you identify what is important to the buyer and what they like or dislike about a house? Or you don’t have anything going on: What value can you provide to another agent?
And then within all of that, make sure you set goals — weekly, monthly, yearly — and where you want to be in five years. If you are feeling super ambitious, set some 20 or 30-year goals.
What makes a good leader?
Empowerment. The best leaders empower their team. So what does that mean? I believe that you need to let your people make mistakes and then you need to be there to help them learn from those mistakes. Sometimes there are two different ways to do a task. Your way. The wrong way. I disagree with this. I think it is important to give them the ability to learn and grow.
To be clear, not everyone is a leader. Some people are great managers. Some people are great salespeople. Some people have great ideas but cannot execute on those ideas. Understanding your own abilities is important.
What’s one thing you wish every agent knew?
I wish everyone knew more about the Virgin Islands! No passport required. We are part of the United States. Our process is just like in the states. We have conventional loans (although fewer providers). We have title insurance backed by companies such as First American and Fidelity. Our buyers still obtain surveys and home inspections.
But we have one advantage. Our market offers economic development incentives which provide a 90 percent exemption on federal income taxes for qualifying businesses whose income is sourced outside of the Virgin Islands.