Breaking more than the glass ceiling, Deldi Ortegon is Hispanic, a woman, a top negotiator and a real estate team lead who doubled production last year during a pandemic. Now partnering with Place Inc., the self-made Texas maverick is only getting started.
In 1994, the first year Ortegon started selling real estate, she made rookie of the year. Several years later, working 60-hour weeks while pregnant with twins and a 3-year-old at home, she left the industry and threatened to never come back.
“I knew I couldn’t keep up with the pace I was going in this industry,” she says.
So Ortegon entered corporate America to “do the 8 to 5 thing” with a new-found career in telecommunications. Fortunately, real estate kept calling and, in 2001, she was summoned back.
This time, she was ready.
“When I jumped back in,” she says, “I had a goal, I had a coach and I knew I was going to work this amount of time and make this amount of money and be done each day by 2 p.m.”
Always a top producer in the top 1-2% tier, Ortegon focused on listings and left the admin tasks to her assistants, reasoning that if she could leverage technology “as a system,” those resources and tools would serve her like an assistant.
Her strategy proved true. By the mid-2000s, she was closing $10 million and working about 25 real estate listings.
Ortegon spent five years with another major franchise before making the move to Keller Williams in 2007.
“Once I embraced the Keller Williams philosophy, my entire world changed, My mindset, my business changed, I knew if I could do 20 listings, I could double production,” Ortegon says. “Having 50 listings at one time never scared me.”
If you were to ask Deldi Ortegon who she is, she will tell you, “a trailblazer, a disruptor and a faith-based business owner who speaks up.”
A native of McAllen, a southern Texas town located about 70 miles west of the Gulf of Mexico, Ortegon is also a first-generation college graduate who went to Texas A&M, where she experienced racism first-hand.
“Being Hispanic and stepping out of my hometown in McAllen for the first time, I experienced racist people and it cut deep and hurt, especially at a young age. I had never experienced people who were so close-minded, but I naturally drew to an international community with people from Europe and South America and Latin America who were open and fun. I found my people and I thrived there, but I’ve never forgotten what it felt like,” Ortegon says.
It was in the early Nineties, when most of her friends didn’t know what they wanted to do for a career, but Ortegon knew without a doubt that she was destined for sales.
Today, the Keller Williams team owner is in partnership with Place Inc., a merger of Keller Williams’ expansion team icons Chris Suarez and Ben Kinney, and breaking new limits. Just last year, she grew her sales volume by 60%, jumping from $26 million to nearly $40 million and serving 215 families.
Ortegon manages nine agents plus two new hires and three admins, including a marketing director who creates her social marketing; a director of operations who handles her listings and financials; and a closing coordinator who’s been with her for 13 years.
Her people, she says, are her greatest assets. In fact, it was when she hired her second assistant that “business really exploded.”
“Once I was able to let go of the admin tasks, I was able to remain front and center meeting with clients and driving business,” Ortegon says.
Early on, Ortegon and her team adopted the dotloop transaction management platform and, while they’ve experimented with Docusign and other transaction management systems, she says, “I knew what worked and we’ve maintained that.”
Today, her assistants still handle all emails and paperwork, inspections, some negotiations and offers with dotloop for Teams remaining at the core of their operations.
“We have our templates filled out, so it’s just a matter of plugging in data for a listing or offer. And when a new agent asks me to review a contract, I can do it from my phone, or my assistant can look at it on a weekend from the mobile app. Dotloop has always been amazing leverage for us,”
When Ortegon’s team was doing about $27 million in sales volume and 150-160 real estate transactions, she was consistently leading her market across all brands as well as the local association.
But she knew that if she was going to step up to that next level, she would have to partner. “I knew how to get a client and a sale, but I wasn’t really strong at the financial aspect. It wasn’t my strike zone.”
“It was the best decision I ever made. They were the only two people I would partner with,” Ortegon says. “I mentioned that once to Chris and he said, ‘Why us?’ I said ‘because I love your hearts. You are humble and you are in business for people.’”
The decision proved to be a smart move. During the 2020 COVID pandemic, Ortegon’s team was the first to cross over the $1 million threshold in gross commission income (GCI) and closed the year with nearly $40 million in sales, reflecting a 60% YoY increase in sales volume.
If you ask Ortegon, however, what was the greatest accomplishment of her groundbreaking year, she would probably tell you it was helping 215 families find their home.
Today, she spends most of her time training and coaching agents on how to leverage technology and focus on listings, but she still considers her biggest assets “time and people.”
Her advice to young new agents? “Find a great CRM and embrace technology as your best friend,” she says. “Be laser focused on goals and have a plan; one of the things I like to teach is listings first because it’s the only way you can manage your time and can control your schedule and it doesn’t control you.”
Dotloop has helped her real estate team manage their time by allowing them to do a full listing agreement on the Teams platform in under 10 minutes. “We have our templates filled out, so it’s just a matter of plugging in data for a listing or offer. And when a new agent asks me to review a contract, I can do it from my phone, or my assistant can look at it on a weekend from the mobile app. Dotloop has always been amazing leverage for us,” Ortegon says.
In fact, it was one of her admins who, having set records in 2020 for having first 40, then 50, then 60 real estate transactions pending at one time, told the team leader, “We’re sticking with dotloop.”
“You have to have good systems to handle all of that — every amendment, every contract,” says Ortegon. “It’s been a gamechanger for us. It’s a system, it’s a tool that helps you. That’s why the first thing I tell agents is, ‘You have to buy into a few systems.’”
In the early days, Ortegon aspired to hit $20 million, but now that her team’s clearing $40 million and helping to support 11 agents’ families, she feels like there are no boundaries that are too high to hurdle with the support of her agents, admins and partners.
“Maybe in five years, it will be $100 million and 25 families, and those 25 families will go in turn to help 50 families. How beautiful is that? — to see that vision and feel like you’re barely getting started!” she says. “They say in this business, ‘The only thing that holds you back is yourself.’ I’ve always said, ‘You’re stronger with others than alone.’”
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