Member Profile:Roman Shulyak
The Ties that Bind: Building Strong Connections in Real Estate
Roman Shulyak was in the process of finishing up his pre-requisite courses for nursing school when another career path presented itself. He was 20 years old at the time and had spent several summers painting houses. “That was always a hobby of mine and something I felt I was good at,” says Shulyak, who learned about real estate from painting the house owned by a real estate broker who worked at SASH Realty.
“He said he was in real estate for a while and loved it; it sounded intriguing to me,” says Shulyak. “He’d just joined a new company and was going to start recruiting and invited me to come in and talk about the opportunity.”
The rest, as they say, is history. Fast-forward nine years and today Shulyak is himself a managing broker at SASH Realty, where he runs the Roman Shulyak Real Estate Group. The team is made up of one transaction coordinator and Shulyak, who has been the top individual producing broker at his firm for the last six years.
A 2022 30 Under 30 finalist for the National Association of REALTORS®, Shulyak closed his first two deals within four months of getting licensed. The deal involved two mobile homes—one priced at $14,000 and the other at $27,000. “I tell people that I made $422 during my first five months in real estate,” Shulyak says, laughing.
It’s About Give and Take
As he built his real estate career and developed himself as an agent, Shulyak began forming valuable connections, some of which resulted in mentoring relationships. He points to NFM Lending Branch Manager Oleg Tkach as one person who played a crucial role during his early years in the business. Both Tkach and Shulyak are Ukrainian, which gave them common ground to work from.
“He pushed me to make the calls, take on the challenges and take steps to accelerate my business,” says Shulyak, who is fluent in both Ukrainian and Russian and serves a client base that’s roughly 50%-60% Ukrainian. He says Tkach came up with “three day challenges” for the person who made the most calls and sent out the most thank you cards. The loser had to buy a gift for the winner of the challenge.
Shulyak also went on listing appointments with experienced brokers at SASH Realty, shadowed them as they took calls and worked with clients, and listened to them negotiate deals. “It was a lot of raw, hands-on mentoring and training,” he recalls. “I think I learned the best that way, by feeling out other brokers, determining whether you have negotiating room and figuring out how to get listings.”
Even in today’s market, Shulyak sees job shadowing as a viable success tool for anyone who is new to the business. He says the accountability that comes along with it shouldn’t stop just because someone reaches a certain level of success in real estate. “It’s good to have an accountability partner to keep pushing you to the next level,” he says. “Having that in place really worked for me.”
Strong Role Models
When Shulyak was eight years old, his family immigrated to the US from Ukraine with very few funds. His father worked as a mechanic for semi-trucks and put in long hours to support his family. People would wait in line and say, “I only want to work with Ivan.” There, in that garage, Shulyak learned about the value of having a relentless work ethic and being excellent at one’s craft.
“The truck drivers and my dad were my role models—they were investing in their businesses and committed to their families and their futures,” says Shulyak, who brings the same mindset to his real estate career by being disciplined, focused and intuitive about his clients’ needs. He provides VIP service to all clients—whether they are selling a multimillion dollar property or purchasing a small starter home.
“I give weekly updates, I’m there to meet the photographer and I’m onsite to help the videographer,” says Shulyak, who likes his listings presented in a specific way, with all of the details on point, polished and ready to show. Recently, for example, Shulyak decided to pressure wash the driveway on a $3 million property before listing it for sale. “I wanted it to be a little ‘extra’ clean,” he says. “That’s one of the ‘extra mile’ things that brokers selling $50 million properties are doing, but that I try to do on all of my listings.”
Never Keeping Secrets
Shulyak typically works within a 30-mile radius of his office in Kent. Roughly 99% of his business is referral based and in 2021 about 90% of all of his deals were generated by referrals from past clients. He doesn’t have to buy leads or do much to market himself; business just comes in over the transom. In some cases, Shulyak’s success with selling more affordable homes leads to even bigger deals from within the same client family.
“I’ve had clients for whom I’ve sold their $200,000 house,” he explains, “and that were so happy with me that they referred me to their father-in-law, who had a multimillion dollar house to sell.” And even though much of his time is taken up running his own business, Shulyak is always open to sharing his insights and success tips with the new generation of real estate agents that need help getting started and growing their businesses.
“A lot of people reach out to me and tell me that they want to be real estate agents and I never turn down a meeting. If they invite me for a cup of coffee, I’ll make the time for them,” Shulyak says. “I’ll gladly sit down and carve out 30-60 minutes to tell them how I did it. There are no secrets behind it.”