A top-producing New York agent and a member of Compass’s Sports and Entertainment Division, Terrence Harding has made a name for himself in the disparate worlds of both rap and real estate, balancing his days as a luxury real estate specialist with nights spent moonlighting as a hip hop artist!
Terrence recently joined us for Agent Talk to discuss his unique past performing alongside rap music icons like the Notorious B.I.G., his present as a top-producing agent, and his advice for how agents can expand not only their business but also their minds.
You were leading a completely different life before you got into the real estate business. You were into rap and hip hop; you performed with some pretty big names, like Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G. Can you tell us a little bit about that time?
Yeah, so before I was an agent, I was in the music industry. I always wanted to be a rapper growing up. I always wanted to perform and to be in the music industry. So, you know, back in the nineties, I was on my own, making demo tapes, trying to get myself out there. I had some friends in the industry, and I met the Notorious B.I.G. at a Grammy’s after-party. I met him when he was on the cusp of becoming famous and forming the Junior Mafia group. I had a tape track of this other rap song that I played for him, and I started rapping over it. He really liked it and what I brought to the table, so I joined the Junior Mafia group, and we took off after that. We did a single with Aaliyah, you know, I met Tupac. We had a lot of fun. It was a great time in my life.
And then how did that music career pivot into real estate?
Well, eventually, after Biggie passed, I started working with other music groups. You know, younger kids. And they didn’t really have a mind for business, whereas I was all about, you know, thinking about business structure, looking ahead, planning. So, it stopped being a good fit for me and where I was in my life. So I turned to real estate as that felt like a very exciting, active kind of job, which also had some structure. And I was at Corcoran first for 10 and a half years, then moved to Compass back in 2016.
You mentioned that you were at Corcoran for 10 years before moving to Compass. What made you decide to switch brokerages?
I actually didn’t want to leave Corcoran. At that point. Compass had come in and sort of stolen away all the Corcoran people, so I was one of the few left at Corcoran. Because of that, they were treating me really well and really wanted to keep me. But I started learning more about Compass. About their culture, the fact that they’re all entrepreneurs like me. I was really impressed with that. Then I met Ori Allon, who worked really hard to bring me over to Compass. And when I saw that they really wanted me to make the move, and what they would offer me and my business, I decided to move to Compass.
What are some of the unique features about Compass that attracted you to the brokerage?
I would say, first of all, the entrepreneurial spirit of the company. You know, just like me, Compass was and still is interested in growth, in always doing better. I also nowadays find myself using Compass Workplace a lot. Many of my clients are in the process of relocating, and I use Workplace to match them with agents in other cities. Then I stay in touch and make sure they’re getting what they need. You have to make sure the client knows you have the power to help them move anywhere they need to move, and Compass helps me do that.
What is one attribute that every great agent needs to have?
I would say resilience. I think all great agents have to be resilient, they have to be willing to move past the parts of the job that feel really tiring or unsatisfying. You know, it’s one of the things I tell new agents: stay resilient. Especially if you’re a rental agent, which I was when I was just starting out. You have to be willing to take a client out to look at listings on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and have to be ready to do it all over again on Thursday if that Wednesday deal you struck falls through. Resiliency is a good power to have in real estate. You have to become unbreakable.
How do you generate new business for yourself?
Most of my business comes from referrals. I get a lot of repeat business from past clients. I also tend to focus on specific buildings. I have about five buildings that I focus on and get repeat business from. There’s one building of mine called the “AA” building, but a lot of people joke that it should be called the “T” building. I also focus on working specific “hot pockets” within the city. That’s from my days as a rental agent. I go where the business is, where the demand is, so I don’t have a specific neighborhood where I work. I also try to use third person phrases in my marketing: you know, “We’re proud to announce that Terrence recently sold…” That tends to sound more humble than, “I sold this, I broke this record…” and I think that attracts potential clients looking to sell.
As a veteran agent, what advice would you give to other veteran agents who may also be in the position of team leader or mentor to agents new to the industry?
I had a mentor once who told me, “Focus on DIPA: Direct Income Producing Activities.” These are the activities and tasks that have a direct impact on your profitability and GCI. So, to a team leader, I would recommend they identify those tasks that are DIPA and those that are not. And for those tasks that are not DIPA, they should be delegated to someone else on the team. I have to be better about that myself, I have to learn to delegate more also. But it’s something that will help your business in the long run. I also think you have to be mindful of the service level you’re providing your clients. The market is crazy right now, and some things seem to be taking longer than normal, like working with attorneys or vendors. So it’s important to be mindful of always providing that top level of service to your clients, no matter what’s going on in the market right now.
And what would you say to agents who may still be working on their own, who need help generating more business?
I think it’s always a good idea to be authentic, to be yourself. I have a pretty strong social media presence, but a lot of that comes from just being myself. If you’re a good person, if you’re good at what you do, it’s going to show through and people are going to see that and want to work with you. And also, you know, don’t be afraid to let things go. Sometimes a deal doesn’t always work out the way you want it to, or someone on your team screws up. It’s ok: just let it go and move on to the next thing. And be ok, too, with letting go of the things or people in your life and business that are dragging you down or taking you in the wrong direction.