Innovative, resilient, adaptable, and customer-centric are all words clients have been repeatedly used to describe Joe Belz—and for good reason. Over the course of his 30-year career in the real estate industry, he has experienced the highs, the lows, the booms, and the busts, maneuvering through the ever-changing market climate with the grace and speed of basketball great, Michael Jordan. After starting out as a sales associate in his early twenties, Joe was recruited by Centex Homes, the nation’s largest home builder at the time. During the years he worked for the Fortune 500 company, he was promoted from community sales manager to division sales and marketing director to division area manager.
Joe then went on to open his own boutique brokerage firm, but when new home sales crashed in 2006, he quickly pivoted into general real estate. Fortunately, he was able to adapt quickly and ultimately founded Belz Properties, a development company in Naples, Florida. Since its inception in 2012, Joe has led the company in developing more than 20 luxury properties, that originally ranged from $2.5 million to $8 million and that are now worth between $5 million and $15 million. He has also consistently been ranked among the Top 1% of Agents in Naples by the Naples Area Board of Realtors and listed as a Five Star Real Estate Agent in Gulfshore Life Magazine.
To elevate his business even further, Joe became a founding agent for the Naples market of Compass, an innovative residential real estate firm that pairs the industry’s top talent with technology. With coast-to-coast regional offices and more than 18,000 agents, Compass is changing how agents and clients navigate the process of finding or selling a home. Joe recently met with us to share more about his Apex Team and what drives his passion as an award-winning leader in the field.
In what ways has your business benefited from your role at Compass?
Before I joined Compass, I enjoyed a successful career, selling $20 million +- annually. But after coming on board here and learning how they do things, I realized that I only thought I knew what a good listing presentation or good marketing strategy was. With their resources, by the end of May, 2021, I’d already sold over $100 million. I also spend a lot of time networking with Compass agents, attending Compass events, and going to feeder markets, such as Chicago, where I can meet with other top agents. This has proven to be extremely beneficial as 40% of my business this year was a result of a direct referral from another Compass agent.
Tell us a bit about The Apex Team.
I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by such a great group of people. It really is an “A” team. We are small in number—with a full-time operations manager, three other agents, and me—but The Apex Team has the best, most highly skilled agents around. We do largely residential sales, with the commercial side accounting for only about five percent of our business, but we just sold a new development that was mixed-use.
What are your team’s specialties?
One of the things that sets us apart from our competitors is that the agents on The Apex Team cover everything, such as working with buyers, sellers, etc. However, we do have specialties as well. One of our agents specializes in new development, which is where my company, Belz Properties, comes into play. Then, we have another agent who is part of the sports and entertainment division within Compass. We also have people in general listings and sales, so our agents are a bit more specialized if you will.
How do you personally differ from other real estate agents?
One aspect that makes me unique is my knowledge base of the market and the area because I’ve been in the Naples market for over 25 years. I’m also not the type of agent who will only deal with luxury properties. Even though I do put a lot of time and energy into the luxury market, I have many other listings as well. Another way that I’m a bit different is that virtually all my business comes from past clients and referrals. When I first transitioned back into general real estate, I was on the phone at least three hours per day searching for listings and prospects. Over time, it developed into repeat business because I focus a lot on service, and clients refer other people to me.
You’re also passionate about giving back to the community. Would you like to tell us about some of the organizations you’ve worked with?
I’ll be happy to. I’m very active with Habitat for Humanity, and I volunteer to help build houses in addition to contributing monetarily. At Belz Properties, for every house we built and sold, we donated a kitchen to the organization. This led to helping Collier County form a partner program based on our model. I’m also a founding member and former board member of the PAN Florida Challenge, an organization that raises money to feed hungry kids and to help kids fight cancer.
What do you enjoy most about your work, or what drives you?
On a personal level, what drives me is my eight-year-old son. This summer, I took a month off work, and we went on a family trip to the Carolinas. My time with him serves as my motivation. What continues to drive me on a professional level after 30 years in the real estate industry is the excitement of the changing markets. Currently, I’m focused on general real estate and being a team leader, so I work a lot on listings and with buyers. The market is changing so fast, with technology and everything else, it’s exciting to stay on the forefront of the industry. I also love the business, and I’ll always be passionate about real estate.
Founding Agent and Broker Associate