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REALTOR® Profile: Brandon Nelson — A Servant's Heart

In the mid-nineties, Brandon Nelson was a whitewater rafting guide who had his eye on a bigger prize. After spending several years as a carpenter, new homebuilder and then home inspector, Nelson realized that he might just find his true calling in real estate.

For not only would the industry serve as a catalyst for a successful career, but it would also allow him to continually give back to the community from various different angles.

Nominated for the Washington REALTORS® Community Service Award for 2023, Nelson is Designated Broker at Brandon Nelson Partners (BNP) in Bellingham—a hometown he picked after seeing its location on a state map. “For my wife and me, life was all about being around as much water as possible, and Bellingham was surrounded by beautiful waterways, lakes and the Puget Sound,” says Nelson.

“We moved up here from Lotus, California (near Tahoe) in 2003 and didn’t know a soul, but we got a house-sitting gig and I landed a carpentry job,” says Nelson, who, after completing the home inspection program at Bellingham Technical College, went on to do roughly 700 home inspections over the course of three years. After being involved with that many different home sale transactions, Nelson made his foray into real estate.

After seven years as a full-time Realtor® at an 80-agent firm, Nelson opened his own brokerage and took a very methodical approach to hiring team members. “I knew that 10-15% of those 80 brokers handled about 90% of the transactions, so I decided to focus on top producers who could sell 30-60 homes a year,” Nelson explains. “The goal was to have the top echelon of Realtors® and give them over-the-top support.”

The strategy worked. Between 2015 and 2019, a BNP team member took home Whatcom County Association-Realtors®’ “Rookie of the Year” award three different times. In 2022, of the 1,400 or so licensees in the region, BNP had three in the top 10 licensees. Nelson says he intentionally keeps the company small and focused on high-quality processes. “We’ve never gone down the road of using cold lead generation or mass marketing,” he adds. “We really focused on our sphere and our people. As a result, about 80% of our annual business comes from repeat and referral.”

Giving Back

Nelson says he’s always been inspired and impressed by Red Bull’s approach to marketing. “I thought it was cool that this company had the revenue to create events and show up at some of the coolest sports and outdoor adventure pursuits in the world,” he explains. “I thought to myself, ‘Can we do something similar at a smaller, local level in real estate?’”

It turns out the answer to that question was “yes we can.” And with that motivation behind them, the BNP team got a moving truck and wrapped it in the company logo. The vehicle was not only for clients to use when moving, but it was also made available to area race directors who were holding triathlons, mountain bike races, kayak races and other events. The goal, says Nelson, was to make sure that the truck “showed up at all of the cool outdoor events” taking place in the region.

“We set out to be the company that provides those giant pyramid-shaped inflatable race markers for all the kayak races, swims and boat races, versus just being a sponsor who cut a check to support the events,” says Nelson, who wanted to be onsite, serving as an enthusiastic volunteer and in some cases participating in the race himself. Nelson found volunteering and supporting events so rewarding that he wanted to do more of it, and not just with race and sports-related events either. He also wanted to help with causes like Meals on Wheels and the local senior center. Today, for example, he attends races where he helps adaptive participants get out onto (or, off of) the water.

Delivering a Genuine, Excellent Experience

Asked how his servant’s heart has impacted his real estate career, Nelson cautions other brokers not to expect a direct “hour-to-dollar” conversion rate from the time spent helping others and giving back to the community. Instead, he says the best approach is to “completely detach” from the outcome of the work and instead be the Realtor® who works to create a genuine, excellent experience for buyers and sellers.

“Identify the service and process gaps and figure out how to make the home buying or selling process a bit more enjoyable, efficient, and and an overall positive experience for your clients,” Nelson recommends. “Step in and do it without being told and without asking whether this is your job or someone else’s domain. If that’s how you’re wired, you’ll be a phenomenal success in real estate.”


Bridget McCrea

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This article originally appeared in the Summer 2023 issue of RE Magazine.