‘My Competition Is Chick-Fil-A, Apple, and FedEx’: Joseph Magsaysay
“When it comes to social media, authenticity and being genuine is the most important thing,” he says. “People will gravitate toward that. They might not be ready to buy or sell a house today, but they might know someone who is.”
When Joseph Magsaysay decided he wanted to become a real estate agent in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, everybody in his life — including the agent who sold him his house — told him it was an impossible dream.
So he Googled classes for getting his real estate license, found one about two hours away in St. Louis and got his real estate license in two weeks.
“I came home and I said, ‘I’m going to make the ultimate sacrifice and make sure people will know me.’ And I didn’t eat at home for six months.”
Magsaysay became a regular at the same Starbucks, the same diner, and the same restaurants every day in Cape Girardeau. He helped 35 families buy or sell a house during his first year in the business, and 29 of those families included a bartender or a server from one of his regular restaurants.
“In such a small town, local banks don’t know what to do with the salaries that are coming from tips,” he explains. “And I don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. So I Googled again and found a lender in St. Louis — a bigger city, and more competitive — that was able to approve all of my first-time homebuyers and help them buy homes.”
His goal at this time in his career was to talk to a minimum of 20 new people every day. “It sounds impossible,” he acknowledges. “But you go to Starbucks and tell the person in front of you, ‘I’m having a great day, and I want to pay for your coffee.’ Of course, when they accept that, they have no choice but to be nice to you. And they might ask you why you’re having a great day, and then you can say, ‘I have 20 showings today.’ It’s really not pushy, it’s conversational.”
The next year he continued to eat out, but now that he’d made a reputation for himself in Cape Girardeau, “these restaurants became my raving fans,” he discloses. “Every time I entered the restaurant, they yelled ‘The best Realtor in town is here!’ And then everyone would look at me and say ‘Are you the best Realtor in town?’”
His love of fashion and exuberant personality, combined with the goodwill of his restaurant friends, helped open doors to some other demographics in Cape Girardeau: households containing surgeons and lawyers. He helped 150 families buy or sell a home in his second year in real estate, which was also when he started working with high-end or luxury homes.
“So then, I decided in year number three to move,” he remembers. He decided to go to St. Louis, a bigger city with more opportunities for him to help people buy and sell homes. Once more, he met resistance from his friends and loved ones, but he was determined to make it work.
“All of my Realtor friends in St. Louis said, ‘You’re a hillbilly — you don’t know St. Louis,” he says. On top of that, some people in his circle were convinced that his restaurant strategy would only be effective in a small town, not a big city.
“So what I did was attend open houses for two straight weeks.” He talked to the agents hosting the open house and learned everything he could about the neighborhood and the property through them.
Today, after eight years as a real estate agent, Magsaysay is one of the top 20 agents in the St. Louis market and operates a team of 10 agents.
“I leverage social media a lot,” he says. “When you go to my social media, you will see food, fashion, travel and real estate. And I only post about real estate in a very minimal way.”
That’s a shift from his first years in business, he notes. “My first year in the business, my strategy was for the general public to get sick and tired of my face, so that year number two I wouldn’t have to yell and shout that I’m a Realtor anymore, because everywhere I go people say, ‘I just saw your video!’”
His current social media strategy leans heavily into Facebook and Instagram, leveraging a lot of reels, which he says boosts his views. Magsaysay uses the same posts on both Facebook and Instagram because, he says, he has different followers on both platforms, so that’s been an effective strategy for him.
He’s not currently using any help or support for his social media activities apart from some automation with listing announcements. “I fired myself nine times already,” he jokes. “People know when it’s Joseph posting.”
Magsaysay says he does do some sponsored content and paid ads on social media, but he’s strategic about it, and he’s not spending a ton of money — “about $1,000 per year,” he estimates. New listings or content that he’d like to get a little bit wider reach might get a paid boost, and he likes Instagram Stories in particular for its effectiveness.
The 25% of his content that is real estate-related is a combination of new listings or interesting tidbits about some of the high-end homes currently for sale in the area. And he also loves talking about client experiences and their stories on social media.
“You need to have a story,” he says. “How did you meet this client? ‘Four months ago, I met this couple, and the inventory was really, really low — and it just so happens that I work with an amazing team that specializes in off-market properties, because a lot of homeowners trust us, and they trust our buyers, and trust that our buyers are ready, willing, able, and qualified.’
“Everything has a story,” he says.
For Magsaysay, his competition isn’t what other real estate agents are doing. “My competition is Chick-Fil-A, Apple, and FedEx,” he maintains. “When you ask ‘What does a Realtor do?’ other Realtors will say, ‘I sell houses,’ and I build relationships. From those relationships, trust will be built and gained.”
When he talks to a new client, either on the listing or the buy side, he says that they are typically already familiar with him, his personality, and how he operates. “There are two types of people who pick me randomly to be their Realtor,” he says. “One is picking me because of my numbers. And the other one is picking me because ‘I Googled you, and you’re so well-known, and we have a lot of mutual friends.’”
But a good portion of his business comes from people in his digital sphere of influence, who follow him on social media or maybe even shared a seat with him at a Starbucks once. “The people who are already familiar with me, I’m going to treat them like friends,” he says.
He works and lives in Clayton and Ladue, the highest-income areas in St. Louis, and says that he makes a point to be “very visible in all the local businesses, from coffee shops to clothing stores to restaurants, I give them all love. I make a point that I’m the mayor of that street, so that’s how I do business.”
When a new restaurant opens up, Magsaysay finds out who the general manager is and introduces himself. There’s a reason for that: “Every time I close with my VIP clients, I share the love and book immediately a very intimate dinner as one of my closing presents, and for my ‘Happy House-versaries,’ I partner with these restaurants.”
Dining out is still a key part of Magsaysay’s strategy: He also hosts team-building events, happy hours, and important business meetings at local restaurants instead of at a brokerage office. And it goes without saying that he’s a good tipper, so the staff remember him and give him top-notch treatment.
“I show my agents how to get business from restaurants,” he notes. “I say, ‘You know what, come with me — I’m going to show you how to get three clients today in a restaurant.’”
His first closing, a mobile home commission, made him $250, and he used “#wheelestate” to talk about it online. “When it comes to social media, authenticity and being genuine is the most important thing,” he says. “People will gravitate toward that. They might not be ready to buy or sell a house today, but they might know someone who is.”
Joseph’s interview is part of a blog series following our industry paper, ‘Weaving A Web of Influence Can Sustain Agents During Tough Markets and Beyond’. Learn from more influencers and download the paper now!