Please introduce yourself.
We are Victor and Victor, and we are the owners of Clear Skies Title Agency. Clear Skies is built on the mission of creating a closing experience that feels special and significant. Since our founding in 2014, we have helped over 8,000 first-time homebuyers, seasoned homebuyers, businesses, and investors alike close real estate transactions in New Jersey. Our rapid growth over the last eight years is attributed to our commitment and focus on seeing each transaction as more than a transaction, but as a major life event and an emotional and financial investment.
How did you get started in the real estate business?
We first met each other while attending undergrad studies at Rutgers University. During our time at Rutgers, we served on the boards of several organizations together. We became fast friends and learned that we worked well as a team. A few years after graduating, Victor Ng started City Standard Data, a title searching company. Victor Liu joined less than a year later, and together we scaled that operation to become one of the leaders in the title search space in New Jersey. In 2014, we co-founded (what we want to be the best title agency in NJ) Clear Skies Title Agency to leverage the lessons on entrepreneurship gained from building our first business and the title resources available to us through City Standard Data. Since then, we’ve met thousands of real estate professionals, enthusiasts, and other entrepreneurs that have helped us to learn and grow.
What are some hot markets for real estate that you are excited about?
As a title agency licensed to insure titles across New Jersey, we don’t hyper focus on any specific markets. Being that both our businesses were launched out of Journal Square, we have always had a soft spot in our hearts for Jersey City. Having said that, we are particularly excited about our recent expansion of abstract services in PA. We held back for several years from taking this jump because we wanted to be sure it was right. Ourselves and our crew are confident we are ready to support the PA real estate professionals with abstract services now and many years to come.
How do you source your real estate deals?
The title business is very much relationship-driven, so a large percentage of our opportunities are referred by real estate attorneys, brokers and agents, and mortgage loan officers. To that end, our business development team belongs to numerous networking organizations and sits on real estate-related associations and community boards. Across the board, we strive to add value to all of the organizations we belong to and to the relationships we forge.
What are some checks and balances you’ve put in place to protect your real estate transactions?
As title agents, our foremost role in every real estate transaction is loss mitigation. Everything we do serves this purpose, from running a litany of searches to implementing various audits to maximize accuracy and streamline timelines. We understand that real estate carries substantial risks, and our job is to provide an insurance policy that protects against one specific type of loss – loss resulting from title defects. It is expected that when working with a title agency such as ours, purchasers can rest assured knowing that they are the rightful owners of their real estate and that they will be protected against any challenges to that ownership.
What is one piece of advice you would give someone starting their real estate career?
We’ve been blessed with so many mentors, advisors, and guides that have helped us along the way. At the end of the day, we believe our humility guides us as entrepreneurs, partners, and individuals. We recognize that our growth only happens as a result of others’ trust, that financial gain only comes through delivering value to others, and that we still have so much to learn. We’ve heard stories about people who came from nothing and achieved unimaginable feats, and also those who seemed to be at the top of their game but ended up in prison. Reminding ourselves of our core values, recognizing when our ego is over-inflated, and staying laser-focused on serving others have helped us come as far as we have on our journey.
What is one software you use for your business and recommend to others?
Incredibly, both of our businesses were run on Gmail and Dropbox for longer than we’d care to admit. Since then, as both businesses have grown, we have adopted different technologies and tools to help us become more bionic as operators. One platform that we have recently adopted at Clear Skies is Front, which is a communication and email platform that makes for seamless external communication while allowing for robust internal discussion. This is a great tool for any organization that works as a team internally but seeks to present itself as a cohesive unit externally.
What is your superpower in life?
Between the two of us, we have a number of complementary superpowers. Victor Ng has an instantly-disarming personality and the ability to deeply care about everyone he meets. Victor Liu’s superpower is his vision – he can take abstract concepts and ideas and adapt them into concrete objectives for the business. As a company, we believe that homebuyers who value innovation and a focus on solutions can find a good partner in Clear Skies.
What is a failure you’ve had in life that set you up for eventual success?
We have had more missteps and failures than we’d like to count. In our first business, we spent too much time working in the business rather than working on the business. This likely led to many missed opportunities and a criminal misuse of our individual superpowers. When we started Clear Skies, we quickly extricated ourselves from most of the daily operations of the business so that we could apply our skills where they would have the greatest impact.
From a more practical standpoint, neither of us came from an accounting or financial background. Due to hubris or discomfort in this area, our negligence in keeping our accounting records organized cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars in both companies over the years. Since then, we have dedicated ourselves to monitoring our financial reports more closely and engaged trusted advisors to ensure that we never end up in that position again. Although these were expensive lessons to learn, we can operate our business with much more reliable information going forward.
What is one book that has influenced your life the most? Why?
Both of us are avid readers, but when pressed, we usually recommend Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday, Traction by Gino Wickman, and Measure What Matters by John Doerr. These three books offer three different sets of ideas, concepts, and wisdom that are super valuable to a small business looking to grow. Added together, they have had the greatest impact on our personal and business leadership.