The Gundermans: Leading Your Real Estate Business by Focusing on Relationships

October 21, 2021

For David Gunderman and Andrew Raskopf Gunderman, everything flows from relationships. The couple first met in 1996, a date David describes as “the most intense, romantic, incredible connection of my life.” In the 25 years since, the couple have raised their two children in Alameda and Oakland, California, and grown a real estate business centered on the idea of cultivating deep relationships with team members and clients. 

“The power of relationships is just an incredible thing,” Andrew says. “When you have the right relationship, you draw on an energy that sometimes feels unfathomable. From the moment we met, it was like that, and it was brought into our business, and it’s at the central ethos of our business, which is relational, not transactional. We’ve explored and built a beautiful life together with one another, with our family and with our team.”

A Shared Ethos

The Gundermans’ focus on relationships organically led them to Keller Williams, which they joined shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic began.  

“Keller Williams is the first place in the real estate community that we ever felt a shared ethos,” Andrew says. “That relationship still perked through Zoom calls with people we’ve never met before at Keller Williams. It’s been an incredible connection and a wonderful way to anchor who we are and what our business is with a larger enterprise.” 

Their journey into real estate was the culmination of their previous life and work experiences, both based in the arts (musical theater and acting for David, and figure skating and ballet before stints as a restaurateur, beekeeper and monk for Andrew). For David, a real estate career initially became appealing for its flexibility in the wake of adopting their children in the early 2000s. 

“I thought, ‘I’m not going to be a salesperson; this is going to be a disaster,’” David says. “Then I discovered this extraordinary profession and all its many facets and discovered a total passion for it and loved it. It exponentially increased year after year, and so we decided to develop a team and expand further, hiring mostly friends as we went along because that was always just an immediate shared value proposition.” 

Related reading: 5 Lessons for Building a Successful Business With Your Life Partner

Relational > Transactional 

From the beginning, the Gundermans focused on cultivating empathetic relationships with their clients. 

“Anybody can learn this business,” Andrew says. “We can learn contracts, we can learn how to negotiate and put together deals. But I think very few people really go the full distance in establishing a core relationship that is truly in service to someone. For me, kind of letting myself disappear in the moment of my relationship with the client is the best because I’m really listening to them. I’m really processing what their goals are.” 

The Gundermans have found that really listening to their clients and serving as their emotional fiduciary sometimes means taking clients out of houses as often as putting them in homes. 

“I find there’s this extreme joy in courageous moments,” David says. “There is that moment when you talk someone out of a house or that moment when something comes up in the middle of a transaction, and there’s this gut twist. It’s just always taking that moment to take a deep breath and shine a light on the truth and forging through the difficult moment with transparency and honesty.” 

Ultimately, the Gundermans have found that prioritizing such honesty and transparency has paid dividends in the growth of their business. 

“When you put somebody’s interests and needs ahead of your own routinely, day after day after day, they feel it,” David says. “When they feel it, they spread the word about you and give you all these new opportunities to do the same thing, and it just ripples through your business. Always find the courage to do the right thing and keep people’s financial and emotional well-being front and center in terms of every single decision you make. That’s what has built our business to what it is today.” 

When adding to their team, the Gundermans work to identify others who understand their pursuit of honest client relationships. 

“I think it’s really important to find people who are seekers, who are committed to expanding their knowledge and their growth as human beings,” Andrew says. “These are the people who are able to have courageous conversations that might be difficult to have. We spend a lot of time energetically really supporting each other and pushing each other to be our best selves.”

In team meetings, the Gundermans and their team spend time discussing what they call “anecdotes of the week” – interesting client reactions, deep dives into how they were solved and how else they could’ve been solved. 

“As these anecdotes build on one another, you begin to build an encyclopedia of how to manage and handle and nurture different personality types,” David says. “We constantly talk about how to make sure we’re taking the best care of these people while also taking care of ourselves. How do we set up gentle and appropriate boundaries as we go? How do we deal with these interactions while building our respect? All of those conversations really help every member of our team move through the world with more strength and power and emotional acumen.”

The Gundermans have reached levels of success many only dream of, and it’s all thanks to one guiding philosophy. 

“At the end of the day, it’s the relationships,” Andrew says. “The relationships are the things you value first and foremost.”

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  • Chuck Lawless says:

    That is one of the best real estate business interviews I have ever watched. Very insightful, and honest.

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