BY RICK WEINBERG, CALIFORNIA BUSINESS JOURNAL
By the time he was 13 years old, Jeff Grice was already trading derivatives, options, futures and debt securities. His friends could barely understand what a stock was, let alone determining or understanding the valuation of a company.
“I didn’t talk about it all with my friends,” Grice says. “They just didn’t get it. I was definitely an unusual kid when it came to understanding complex finance and analytics. My grandfather was a great stockbroker in Detroit and taught me everything about the markets. I was just one of those kids who ‘got it.’”
When the 13-year-old Grice (rhymes with nice) accumulated $300 dollars from doing assorted jobs around his Metro Detroit neighborhood, he begged his parents to let him invest in the markets. He zeroed in on a company called Omnicom, a leading marketing and corporate communications company.
“I am convinced this company is going to break out,” he told his parents.
His parents agreed and Grice invested his entire savings. “The stock went up tens of thousands of percentage points in two years,” he says with a smile.
With that windfall, and many others that followed, Grice was able to purchase his first real estate investment property by the age of 18. By 23, he earned enough to move to Newport Beach, Calif. and began purchasing investment properties throughout Orange County.
Today, he’s on the cutting edge of residential, commercial real estate and property management as Owner and President of RE/MAX Evolution, Evolution Property Management and RE/MAX Evolution Commercial Division.
After 350 percent growth the last three years at his downtown Laguna Beach, Calif. boutique firm, which houses 27 agents and did $125M in sales in 2016, he just launched a second office in Newport Beach, right at the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Via Lido.
As he gazes out of his corner office with a dazzling view of the city on this beautiful Southern California afternoon, Grice discusses his new-age, tech-driven business philosophy and how his agents produce an average of $6 million annually, nearly double the average.
“First off, we focus on quality not quantity, unlike most other real estate offices in Orange County and Southern California,” he says. “Some companies have 200+ agents and don’t even know their names and what makes them tick.”
So the 32-year-old whiz kid decided to concentrate on building a dynamic business that focuses on the agents and provides them with an unparalleled culture and support system that enables them to thrive.
“It’s an amazing firm,” says Debi Larsen, who previously worked at Sotheby’s. “Jeff has a fresh, young way of looking at the business – it’s the total opposite of the way things have been going on in this business for decades.
“I was tired of the corporate old school way of thinking and then I met Jeff and boom!” she says. “The old corporate way of looking at things is history. A lot of people don’t know that yet but it is, and they need to wake up to that.”
At other real estate companies, there are so many levels of management that it seriously bogs down the process. That’s not the case with Grice and his firm.
“If an agent at one of the bigger firms has a question, it takes a week to get an answer, if they’re lucky,” he says. “Not here. We have an unbelievable 24/7 support system in place. I believe in support and I believe in culture. I don’t think people yet realize the importance of a great environment and how it affects you and the way you conduct your everyday life.
“A great culture opens you up,” he says. “Some agents don’t even realize how great the impact is until they truly experience it at a firm like ours. A lot of people fail in their profession because of the culture they’re in. It’s not the brand or the company — it’s the culture that gets them or doesn’t get them to perform at their highest ability.”
Part of Grice’s culture is his slick new office with hardwood oak floors throughout the office and a cool, calm bluish color theme that reflects California.
Next, throw in his use of technology and social media. He uses Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and every other platform that enables him to reach the masses with available properties. He has over 175,000 social media connections. On Instagram alone, he has 115,000+ followers.
“Jeff manages it all from A to Z,” Larsen said. “He knows where to put it and how to put it and it’s critical because this is where the next generation of buyers are.”
When Grice was looking for the right real estate company to partner with, RE/MAX was the ideal fit because of its culture, flexibility, business model and philosophy.
RE/MAX is the largest real estate brand in the world. It is in over 100 countries so owners, brokers and agents receive maximum exposure. It also boasts the highest productivity per agent, double the average of the industry.
“I interviewed several companies but I was dissatisfied with them so I decided I was going to build the business independently,” Grice says.
But then RE/MAX contacted him and that changed everything.
“We met and we hit it off,” Grice says. “They’re very entrepreneurial and that was the best fit for me. Under their umbrella, I’m able to do what’s best for my company. The other companies are very corporate and too structured. RE/MAX lets you ‘be you’ and create your culture from the ground up. I am allowed to mold the company any way I want. That’s what attracted me to the company.”
When RE/MAX Director of Franchise Development Lance Somerville met Grice, he was blown away with his character and savvy business talent.
“Jeff understood math and running the numbers better than anyone I’ve come across in the industry,” Somerville says. “While his real estate experience was different than what we normally look for, he piqued my interest because of his background in commercial, property management and residential.
“With his background and experience, he just has a huge profound understanding of numbers. He understands financing at a deeper level than most people I had ever come across.”
When Somerville caught a glimpse of Grice’s business plan, he was sold and insisted to upper management to snag Grice immediately.
“His business plan was by far the best one I had ever read,” Somerville says. “To bring him into RE/MAX was a no brainer. He is the absolutely the best fit imaginable for us.”
Jeff J. Grice, Owner/Broker
Evolution Property Management
Mobile: (949) 295-0416
302 Glenneyre, Laguna Beach, Calif.
3471 Via Lido, Newport Beach, Calif.