Dudum Real Estate was a step ahead despite COVID confusion

With lockdown orders across the Bay Area and strict social distancing rules, the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted many industries. It dramatically upended the real estate business.

In-person showings and meetings were prohibited, and weekend open houses were canceled. Agents found it difficult to form the kind of trusting relationships with their clients necessary to win a house in the Bay Area’s hypercompetitive real estate market.

But amid the uncertainty, employees of Dudum Real Estate said the company made sure they had the guidance they needed to navigate unprecedented times.

“When the pandemic first hit, they were very on the front line,” said Dudum Brentwood sales manager Jamie Connors said of the company leadership. “We were always informed. Sometimes, before other brokerages would even hear something, we already knew what was coming down the pipeline.”

Founded in 2010, Dudum Real Estate is a private residential real estate company based in Walnut Creek. The company has 174 regional employees working from four offices in the East Bay and one in Placer County near Lake Tahoe.

The No. 1 midsize company on this year’s Top Workplaces in the Bay Area list, Dudum Real Estate has been named a Top Workplace for eight consecutive years.

Connors, who is one of Dudum’s best-selling agents, said founder and owner Julie Del Santo is an “available and forthcoming” leader, who provides support and coaching.

Employees said Del Santo particularly shone as she steered agents, who were deemed essential workers, through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There were daily Zoom meetings within our company because there was so much changing,” Dudum agent Angie Clay said. “We needed to keep up with current changes, restrictions and what was allowed.”

Beyond caring for staff during the pandemic, Dudum offers employees real estate seminars and negotiation strategy trainings that instill a service-focused work ethic, according to the company. These trainings also provide agents with the latest market insights to help them stay competitive in the Bay Area’s ferocious real estate climate.

“They are a very collaborative company with agents who are like-minded and work for the good of the whole and put their clients’ interests first,” Clay said.

Employees with the highest performance are recognized in the President’s Club Elite, a distinction reserved for the top 10% of earners. Perks include company events, gifts and bonuses. Agents in the top 25% are honored as well.

Clay, one of Dudum’s top earners, said annual kick-off events, luncheons, company picnics and the yearly holiday party keep employees close, and the company encourages collaboration between teams and offices, even when agents are competing against a colleague on a listing, Connors said.

“You feel like you’re part of something. You’re not afraid to share ideas. Everyone’s rooting for each other and looking out for each other. It’s like a family, and not a lot of places are like that.”

Vanessa Arredondo is a Hearst News Fellow at The San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]

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