PHL The Hathaway Group
Building a Career with Two Florida Natives

In this episode, Sean Swauger shares insights on real estate, childhood memories, and career paths in the industry.

The discussion delves into real estate market trends, success strategies, lead generation, personality types, and work-life balance, highlighting the importance of building relationships and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Living in Palm Harbor and Oldsmar, Florida, is also explored, emphasizing the community’s charm, recreational activities, and proximity to natural amenities

Listen to the podcast episode here!

Today I’m sitting down with my good friend Sean Swauger, who is the market president for our Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices East Lake office out of East Lake Woodlands and Oldsmar. 

Now, we recorded this episode when we were at our Berkshire Hathaway sales convention over in New Orleans. So you’ll see some of the clips that are not in our normal studio. But Sean and I have known each other for quite some time. 

So we have a long history together with John was a big reason why I joined Berkshire Hathaway or was introduced into Berkshire Hathaway. He was first an agent here before I was and introduced me to the market presidents at the time when I got started about seven, or eight years ago.

So in this conversation with Sean, we talked about all things growing up in Palm Harbor in Oldsmar, just the changes that we’ve seen in this area, things that are happening in real estate, and just a few other things, just a couple of dudes having a conversation. So I hope you enjoy it. I hope you get some laughs out of it. And leave us a review. 

If you’re enjoying the podcast. Always, always, always, it’s super helpful if you leave us a review and share it with a friend or two who might enjoy it as well. Talk soon. Sean Swauger. Welcome to the podcast.

Thank you, Donnie.

Thanks for having me. Also known as The Baker.


How’d you get that nickname?

Oh, man. I don’t even remember what year it was. But we were doing a little bit of mastermind sessions with with some agents. And I think at one point, I had  13 contracts going. 

Oh, that’s right. 

So our friend Bobby coined the name of The Baker’s Dozen. So it was a chaotic time for sure.

That was cool. What year was that? 

I’d say,  2018, 2017 or 2018. 

It was a different market then.

I think the real estate market in our era is kind of going back towards that, ya know, 2017 2018 time days on the market. The interest rates and average sales price a completely different figures but

I remember. So I started real estate in 2016. I think 2017. The second half of 2017. I feel we’ve never really been in a buyer’s market in the years since I’ve been in real estate in 2016. Fair.

No, I would agree.  So I bought my house in 2013. And even then there were multiple offers. That’s when there were a lot of bank-owned properties. Yes, still flooded the market. And it continued in 2016, maybe 17 is kind of when the tail end of the mass amount of bank-owned properties were sold off. But, multiple offers, for buyers for, you said, since we got started.

So, I remember I think it was 2017, or the beginning of 2018. one of the first times I was selling a property that had, a lot of offers and was 11 or 12 offers. At that time that many offers? 

And then COVID. And it’s, the norm was 20 offers or something. 

Oh exactly. It’s stupid. How did you get your start in real estate?

I’d say kind of,  everyone makes unless you were born into the industry,  in your family, but just kind of naively went into the industry, just because my buddy said, it was a good idea, you can make a lot of money. And I wasn’t enjoying my current position as a mechanical engineer. And so I was just looking for a change. 

I said, just kind of naively, let me get my license, just kind of step by step, not knowing anything about sales, anything about real estate. And I guess the rest is history, but it was, definitely wasn’t on my plan in high school, or college or anything that. So did you.

Did you and your research and be like, okay, I think this is a good career for me or just, let’s just do it?

No, not a lot of research. Other than the school that I went to the Bob Hogue School of Real Estate, it’s highly recommended. But I just asked the agent who recommended I get into the business and the agent that sold our house to us he has been in the industry for, 20-plus years at the time. Just kind of ask them for advice and guidance, and then just step by step.

Building a Career with Two Florida Natives


Interesting. How did you choose Berkshire Hathaway? Because your choice of Berkshire Hathaway was a big part of when I got into real estate leaning towards Berkshire Hathaway. 

Sure. Well, I mean, I remember receiving letters and phone calls. . once you apply for your license as a new agent, and at first you think, Oh, wow, this is cool. People want to hire. I’m something important. And then you

Someone’s done well on this test or something. 

Exactly. Because they don’t tell you about that. They didn’t tell me in schooling, but anyway, I received letters and calls and all that. But I asked my agent, again, who’s been in the business forever who should I, join or at least talk to being a new agent. And he said Coldwell Banker and Berkshire Hathaway have the best training programs for new agents. And so the first call was Coldwell Banker. I mean, I remember where I was standing. At my engineering position, I stepped out of the office to call them and explain my situation.

I’m still working full-time as an engineer, just getting into the business, blah, blah, blah. And I remember the broker was, oh, part-time. we just don’t have time for you. I was okay, that’s kind of insulting, but whatever. 

And then I must have called Berkshire Hathaway the next day, or whatever. And I met with Matt Vigh. And I just instantly felt comfortable. His approach was providing value and just he was teaching. He was giving me a business one-on-one session, the first time I ever met him.  I just felt. So I put the logic and the emotions together. nine years later, I’m here, still here.  

I had a similar situation where it was, it was, between two different companies. You have already been at Berkshire Hathaway, I think that’s what Berkshire Hathaway never called me. I got calls from everyone else. But, meeting with Matt Vigh. 

Same, same, scenario feeling and vibes and stuff. Although, Matt, did stand me up.  think a very first meeting of the record. Put that one on record. No show? 

I’m sitting in the office and her. And the admins texting him. And, he’s not responding. he’s, He’s normally not this. Sorry.  

Probably in a coaching session with me. Priorities. I was a nobody. I was… 

That’s funny. That’s awesome. So what about, new agents getting into the business? What do you know that you’re a broker to? You’ve made that transition into the broker world?

And for the record, I told Matt would never be a broker, I would never do it. And he was like, what do you?

What are your tips for them? What do you recommend for anybody? That’s thinking about real estate?

Oh, man, how much time do you get? There’s so much to unpack. But I just go back to ninja selling. That’s kind of the framework of my coaching and my training in the office culture really, is all about relationships. 

So a lot of people talk about that and say, Oh, it’s all about relationships. But the approach that ninja selling teaches and the things that we do, just make a difference. So it’s not about calling everybody, and asking them if they want to buy and sell real estate, it’s, it’s truly seeing how you can add value and help them or help somebody that they know, and just be in flow with their lives.

And it’s this kind of Utopian idea. But every once in a while, someone will be, Oh, it’s funny you called, we need to buy or sell, or so and so needs to buy or sell. So it’s just a matter of about, of providing value and staying in flow with people’s lives. 

Then real estate will eventually happen. You just have to have the patience. And in the beginning, the savings, to get to that first closing because that’s another thing that takes place. Building momentum is when you have your first transaction or your first closing, then you’ll get your next. 

And then your social network sees that and it’s to me, it’s social proof that hey Donnie can do it. And so I’m going to call him when I need, the services but, I mean, just tapping into your, your sphere of influence your database And the people is the biggest thing. I mean, I remember as a new agent that what I was tasked to do was just go down your phone list and call everybody and tell them you’re in real estate. 

And I did that. And I, again, vividly remember, leaving the most awkward voicemails, because again, no sales background mostly introverted. And I just remember making a fool of myself. But then, also, if I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have pushed the envelope, and I wouldn’t have become more comfortable on the phone, and talking to people. 

So, I mean, I share the story all the time, I was, again, I vividly remember where I was driving on to 75, going home from my engineering job at 630, or whatever, calling a former engineer, and just letting them know, got in the business. This is 2015. 

And it wasn’t until late 2018, that he referred me to one of his best friends who they were having trouble selling their house. And I was able to take that over and sell it for him. And then three or four more referrals took place after that. But I truly believe that it all started with the phone call in 2015. 

So again your question about what I recommend new agents is to just connect with your people. And do so in a value-driven way so that when the time comes, whether it’s three or four years later, you’re the number one choice because, yes, I interviewed for the position of selling their home, but it was more about just learning about what they needed. because they were a stranger at the time.  But, it all worked out.

So, as a new agent, though,  it can be it can be tough to it is tough to adapt, that mindset and be patient. ? Because you said, either you’ve quit your job, and you’re jumping into this full time. Or you’re trying to balance, I need to get my first sale and the experience of going through that process. 

How do you manage that? That piece of it of here’s, here’s the you need to build relationships, it’s going to take a long time to do that? Because, in your scenario 2015 to 2018,  three years of staying in touch with staying in flow with what contact. So how do you as a new agent balance that?

Well, fortunately, I had multiple transactions between that one, for example, referrals. But no, I think it’s I encourage agents to work part-time that first year, I do just so that financial burdens, not on the back of their minds, and they can they don’t have what we call commission breath, or they’re just desperate for anything.

But not everyone’s in that position. I know, when you started, you went in all in. Full time. So, there’s no or wrong. But it’s kind of just an initiation phase that I think everyone’s got to go through and some move quicker than others.

But I’d summarize this business in three categories mindset, skill set, and action. And the mindset piece if you don’t have that, then you’re toast. And I think the first couple of years is the most challenging time that you internalize so much. 

I mean, if you’re being intentional, and want to make this a career and a profession, as you should, because some people are hobbyists. So I think that’s the difference when people are going all in and truly focused. my, my personal experience was I wanted it was pain or pleasure. 

It was the pain of the engineering position, just, in the office, the story, but it’s, I wanted to get out of that more than anything else. So I was motivated to get into real estate and learn everything I could do everything I could and work as much as I could. Whereas some other people are just kind of, Oh, I’ve heard about it. Let me let me give this a shot. casually. So I think I think that makes a big difference. Because the intensity that you put into something is gonna change the pace.

I would agree with that. It’s about what I said When I first got started, it was to generate business calls for sale by owners’ expired listings.  Those sorts of tactics, it’s quicker business. Because it’s those people who are in the market they’re trying to actively,  transact in real estate. 

Do you recommend that agents? Or do you think agents have to go through that phase of trying all these different ways to generate business? While also, putting in the steps to building relationships with the people that they already know. Is that a big part of starting?  

Just try a bunch of stuff and see what works. Or are your agents coming in with, here’s how I want to grow my business.

I used to think that that was a good approach, just try to do a little bit of everything to see what sticks and what you what you. And I’ve come to realize that it’s really specific agents specific to their personality, and what they enjoy outside of real estate outside of sales. Some people will cold call for sale by owners and expire and do great at it and others won’t. 

I mean, I remember we did for a short period. And had some success with it. But it sucked. . . And I think it’s just because our personality types don’t gravitate towards that imposing nature of calling a stranger. So, at the same time, though, other again, other personalities, they thrive in it. 

So, I think everyone should have a mix of that as Matt B Vigh called it the new business, makes with the future business, which is your sphere. But um I think, at the end of the day, that type of business building or lead generation for sale by owners, or expired, is not a sustainable career path. 

And I know, there’s a lot of agents out there that that’s all they do and have done for many, many years. And it’s sustainable for them. But they’re the small exception, I think, to the rule, because I’ve been you we both personally have worked with other agents, that’s where their focus was. 

And then a year or two later, they’re out of the business, it just burns them out. Because you think about it, you’re calling a stranger, you’re trying so hard to build trust, you’re trying so hard to meet them and convince them that you’re the  agent to sell their house

15 other agents doing the same thing, calling that one person, at least? And then anyway, you get the job. And then sometimes they’re not the seller is not reasonable with their price. So they’re usually a little bit high. So it takes, 90 days, let’s say to get a price reduction, and then finally go into contract. I mean, the whole process could be three to six months, converting a seller and closing but after that, you are transactional. 

I don’t think you built that relationship with that seller based on how you approached it. if that’s your business model is for sale by owners, because you’re always looking for the next one. 

And they still probably have that mindset of  I’m gonna give it a shot myself. Oh, for sure. No, unless something, the, I’m sure it’s the exception where a for sale by owner, really kind of changes their approach on selling real estate in the future but, and then and then you’re constantly, you have to stay on those phone calls and, the moment you stop your business stops so that’s, that’s tough.

I mean, you’re the difference is you’re trying you’re chasing versus, referral business comes to you.

Exactly. So this is something I’ve thought about but never probably spoken about it. But,  the personality types,  when I got into real estate, I was introverted. I remember thinking, I feel  I can do well in real estate, but also, watching TV shows or whatever, have people showing homes. And at that time,  my confidence level was low. 

And just being, I don’t know if I can do that, or I can’t picture myself doing that now. But for whatever reason, I had this belief that I could do better than some agents or some examples that I had seen. My question is about personality types. 

Do you see any, personality type that can be successful in real estate? Or some are more successful than than others? But easier or something? 

So, definitely no personality assessment expert, but somewhat familiar with the DISC profile, I believe. It’s called,  the party personality type.  And then you’ve got the analytical type. So two from what I’ve seen, and what I’ve heard, those two typically excel in sales and real estate, far more than the Type A personality and the subtle, I think is the other one, the quiet reserved type. 

And the reason I think, is the party personality, they’ll talk to anybody. So they are just naturally socializing. And that’s typically a sales relationship-building connection. They need to improve at the details, but they’ll go out there and talk to anybody. And then in the opposite category, analytical type, which I’d say we fell in that category. We’re more calculated, and it’s designed anything we do is calculated and designed before we take action, so we kind of get ready, set, ready, set, and then a little bit to take action, but when we do it’s, it’s figured out so, what’s gonna work. 

I think that’s the balance of over-preparing and that’s something I’ve learned is, is, is just being comfortable with taking action, even though it’s not, perfect the way I want it or whatever. Which is, which is tough to do. But it’s something that can be learned. For anybody that wants to get started in real estate, for sure. Interesting. What do you do outside of real estate?

I play with my children. I’ve got two beautiful girls, and then my wife. That’s my focus. honestly. And that’s really why I decided to take the broker position because it’s a real estate agent. I mean, it’s 24, eight you’re working all the time. And I mean, within reason, and you can get better at it. But showing homes on the weekends, open houses, it’s, it’s tough to raise a family on the weekends with that. So that was the deciding factor. 

And I was, again, pretty naive. I had no idea what I was signing up for. But, after being a broker now, for three years, it’s I made the decision. And I’ve grown professionally, I’ve grown personally. I’ve got a great office, that’s doing well. 

There’s a lot of great agents. So I’ve met so many people, so but, outside of real estate is family. And then also, I’ve got a dirt bike again. It’s been about 10 years since I had one used to race when I was younger. We got a boat that’s. we got a boat a couple of years ago. And it’s a true fishing boat. And as I’ve fished on it a couple of times. Let’s say I was with you one of those times, and there wasn’t much fishing on that trip. I don’t know if we tossed our lines in the water.

But it’s truly been one of the best decisions for the family because the girls love the beach. go to Anclote Island Cali DC honeymoon. And they just love the beach. And it’s special because you can only get there by boat. 

And it’s hard to explain, the boater lifestyle if you haven’t done it, because up until a couple of years ago, I’ve never had a boat just, John boats here and there, but it’s cool. It’s really neat. And, it’s enjoyable. The girls love it. So, it’s March now so it’s getting to be boat season here.

That’s exciting. It is cool. I mean, the one that we have access to the, to the water. And so many different places to visit on the boat you mentioned. But just it’s a different experience. Getting out on the water. 

I don’t know if it’s just because, if you grew up in this area or you just love,  and have a joy and passion for the ocean, but, it’s getting out on the boat, just kind of you forget about everything else. Oh, it’s one of those things. 

And I mean, again, I’m not a doctor, but I’ve heard there are many health benefits to it and you feel it. When you get out there you get the salt spray, you breathe it, it’s on your skin, you get the vitamin D from the sun and just clear skies you said, you kind of disconnect and just take it all in and it’s tough in any sales position, but especially real estate in our market. It’s fast-paced. So when you get out there just kind of put your mind at ease for, an hour or two.

You grew up in this area? 

Yes, sir. Palm Harbor.

So bounced all around born in Dunedin, but we lived in Spring Hill at the time. Oh, wow. And then in second grade, we moved to Oldsmar, okay. And lived in Oldsmar until eighth grade, and we moved to Palm Harbor. Okay, then, let’s see. After that, I think I went to school. Oh, we know we moved to Clearwater. Okay. Danine area. And then I went to college, lived in Tampa, and then bought my first house in Tarpon.

And then about five six years ago bought a house in Oldsmar. So, kind of all over, but the greater Pinellas area. 

Why do you go with Oldsmar? 

I think it all starts with my childhood memories. second through the fifth floor. Going Oldsmar Elementary. So it’s just something I’m comfortable with,  I know, every single street I know where the potholes are. 

Well, you just tend to enjoy it more. But I was reminded when we moved back there, just the neighbours they introduced themselves. Everyone’s friendly. Everyone’s looking out for each other’s back. So it’s just that sense of community a little small-town vibe. And it helps that it’s golf cart-friendly, too. 

So another memory I had I was out in the garage working or something. And I just hear the humming of a golf cart go by kind of  a Jetsons  and then they stop at the stop sign and all I hear is a beer can, I can open that I’m just  oh man this is home

That’s cool. I think that’s what’s cool about her,  there’s little, there’s pockets of that. Because Oldsmar is bigger but I feel it’s the downtown Oldsmar where you live where you have that. That hometown,  feel wherever your neighbours are friendly and all that stuff? 

You don’t get that everywhere. But there are little pockets. I think Safety Harbor is another spot, where you have that community vibe, Dunedin and in parts of Palm Harbor, too but it is it is interesting because it’s a pocket of Oldsmar, that has that. 

And it’s funny. So my father-in-law when we bought that house, never knew that part of Oldsmar existed in most people. I hear the same thing. Wow. Because you’re on Tampa road you just dropped Drew. And there’s no word. There’s no reason to go down there. Unless you live there. 

Exactly. So I hear that a lot. And what’s starting to happen a lot in the downtown area is redevelopment. So they’ll either buy a property with one house on it and split into two lots or, just a small bungalow just distressed they’ll tear down and build new construction and I call it a mini South Tampa, where that’s been happening for years. 

And it’s I mean,  now, just off the top of my head four to five new homes are being built now in the downtown part of Oldsmar. Easy so in one just closed  2500 square foot home closed for 900,000, last month.

That’s not on the water. Not on the water. it’s a 50-foot wide lot. I mean, wow. So, I think again, that just kind of illustrates the value of that small town feeling kind of off the beaten path and, a great school district too. I think that’s important for buyers and, people looking for a new home.

I feel there’s there’s there’s so much that goes into that. I’ve been talking to a lot of a lot of people that are either moving to the area or stuff. It’s they want little areas, little pockets where you have that small-town feel. But also you’re close to everything else. You are close to the beaches, you’re close to Tampa if you want to go to Tampa. So it’s cool to see that, little spots that are,  gaining popularity and growing because of that.

I mean,  it’s good for people who live there. Excuse me, but it’s, it’s becoming challenging to be affordable. And a lot of the small town, people have been there for their whole lives. And generations. they don’t they’re not a big fan of, newbies coming in.

But I think that’s just the natural progression of any community and change. So it’s not like you can stop it. But, I think just another aspect of where we live in Oldsmar with everything to do there.  you said you’re close to everything with the beaches and the airport. But in Oldsmar, there’s, I think, 60% I’m probably butchering the number, but it’s  60% of the land is parks. 

And preserves, really of the city. and there’s so many I mean, there’s probably 22 parks and a couple of trail systems. So again, for, my young family going to the playground that’s going to Disney World,  on the weekend.. Having options and being able to drive your golf cart up to it is cool. There’s a boat ramp, a community boat ramp, and Oldsmar takes it down a kind of shallow Creek. So if you got a jumbo you can get out to the bay.

But this Bicentennial Park is what that, okay.

For sure. there’s ziplining. They’re just just built well, it’s not just but not four years ago, they built three pickleball courts there, which I know is blowing up. More pickleball courts in the Oldsmar Flea Market are air-conditioned, and there’s a splash pad for the kids up in the forced lakes area. So I mean, I could go on, there’s just so much to do for the families and whatnot and in the city. So I went to a Citizens Academy course back in 2019. 

It was an 8 or 10-week class and we just met with every division of the city staff. So, we met with public works, we met with planning and development finance, accounting, HR,  all these different divisions. And the common denominator was that every employee loved the city, whether they live there or not they’re just so passionate about their job and their position and contributing, so it’s eye-opening to think that before, but then experience it firsthand. It was cool. So, that’s why it was much better than paying my rent.

I was trying to avoid that. I disagree. No, but that is one of the reasons one of the things about Palm Harbor is that we’re close to the water kind of you guys are you guys are in the bay side. We’re in the Gulf side. I mean, that’s, that’s a win there.

I’ll give you that.

And, but the parks too you mentioned 60% That that’s crazy. I didn’t know that which is which is cool. But, same thing  Palm Harbor,  we’re down the street from Wall Springs Park so we go there a lot with the kids, and the girls play the playground, but you can walk on the different trails and stuff that they built out there. So it is cool too I feel especially in this busy lifestyle that everybody kind of lives in Pinellas County to be able to have those places to go and just get out get outside and, enjoy this beautiful area that we live in whether it’s Palm Harbor or Oldsmar.

For sure. Do you guys have a BMX track in Palm Harbor? 

No, no, we don’t need any of that. So we have the Gator nationals that come in people from multiple countries that come to Oldsmar. So that’s a big event that it’s in terms of revenue for local businesses and hotels. I mean, that’s a big part of it. And that’s at the Oldsmar Sports Complex, aka Canal Park, where we used to play bass by now.

So easy. It’s crazy to see how that play has changed too.

For sure. They’ve got a hockey rink now roller roller hockey strike. Which are some somehow in partnership with the Tampa Bay Lightning. So, I mean, anyway, so much to do, and I know we gotta go to the gym. mentioned here, yes, but I just think our conversation today is just kind of hopefully portrays the importance to people looking to relocate to a new area because we are so intimately involved and connected with our respective cities that, when you’re looking to relocate your entire family. It’s kind of important to work with somebody who knows the area more than Google.

So, that’s a huge man. And that’s big and it’s been fun learning more about Palm Harbor being more involved in everything you do, going into the Citizens Academy and stuff with with the city of Oldsmar. It’s fun,  learning about all that stuff so it’s beneficial. ?. For sure. So sweet, man. Thanks for doing this. we’ll do it again. That’s fun.



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