This Is 21

It's kind of hard to believe, but this is my 21st year in real estate. 

I actually referred to myself as an "old-timer" yesterday to an attorney I met outside of his office, and it felt weird the second it came out of my mouth. I don't feel like it's been that's just that I don't know that many Realtors in my market who are still practicing who started before I did.

We've had 2 "exodus" events in Connecticut real estate since I started in 2000 that took quite a few agents out of circulation. One was the market crash in 2008, where we saw our sales and commissions tank, while the price of oil and everything else went up. The other was Covid. For some agents it was too hard to stay afloat, they did not want to risk getting Covid, they needed to be home with their families, and/or they heeded the siren call to retire from real estate. I judge NO ONE. We all have to do what's best for us.
Open house selfies between visitors.

I am so grateful for the years and luck I've had, but it comes down to more than that. I worked REALLY hard to establish my business. Those first 3 years were absolutely insane...and I loved it! I worked 70+ hours a week and would go 4 months without a day off. (I know, it was nuts, but the market was bonkers.) I showed houses every day, did open houses every weekend, previewed new listings every week, answered my phone even at 11pm, volunteered on committees for my board of Realtors, shadowed my mentor on all of her appointments and did her grunt work (you learn by doing!) showed rentals left & right, took every lead and referral no one wanted, drove all over the state, and attended my mandatory office cold-calling hours at night where we would all have to show up and sit at our desks and work the phones.
This photo was taken as I headed out to show one of the most filthy, disgusting house I've ever shown...I had no idea what I was walking into!

The years ticked by. I had a family. I kept on working but adjusted my work hours to something more conducive to having 2 active children. I continued my education and earned the National Association of Realtors' designations of Accredited Buyer's Representative, GREEN Realtor, Certified International Property Specialist (that was the longest & hardest series of courses - I think it took me almost 2 years) plus the At Home With Diversity and Pricing Strategy Advisor certifications. I authored this blog, which was surprisingly successful and was mentioned in Photon magazine. I added consulting & real estate copy writing to my work experience, which I really enjoyed. I organized fun broker preview tours. I went solar. I was a brand ambassador for the brokerage who bought us in 2013. I was a blogger for Realtor Magazine and connected with some amazing, creative people in the industry that I still admire today. I attended a national real estate conference in Phoenix and had a blast. I co-listed my first waterfront home for over $1M (kind of rare in my market) and got a celebrity involved in advertising it, and my partner set up a livestream so buyers could watch the boats glide by it on the Connecticut River.  I had to tell a videographer making a video for us that a friend of the homeowner might stop by to help with the video...that friend was director Ron Howard. (He did not stop by, for the record.) I met Nobu Hata and later his amazing wife, Shay Hata (they're this American real estate super hero/power couple who are just the coolest!) I donated a kidney. I joined a team and loved it. [I feel like all of this would make for a very cool montage if this were in film format.]
Creating a story board for a property video.

Enroute to the launch of the last brokerage that had bought us, with my fellow French & metric-speaking Canadian Realtor.

The most fun you can have while on a Broker Preview Tour starts with us!

Three years ago I made a big change, by finally leaving the office I had been with from the start, having weathered 3 different brokerages as our company was sold & bought, sold & bought. I hadn't loved the last 2 brokerages, partly because they seemed to have little to no interest in our local communities. It felt like it was always about the money, and funneling it back to Greenwich. I wanted to be a part of a company that was part of my community, invested like I was. I was a little anxious about leaving a big name brokerage, but it was time to do it. I remember saying it was my 18th year in real estate... adulthood... and it was time to leave the nest and grow. It was very exciting to be a part of building a new brokerage from the ground up, and I had absolute faith in Carl Guild & his vision. I do miss some of the people I used to work with (many of them joined us!) but that change was the best thing I've done! 

So, what does 21 look like now?? The good news is that I still LOVE real estate after all these years! I think even more so now, because I'm part of this local brokerage doing so much more for the community than any other real estate brokerage in our area: scholarships, charity/non-profit & client use of our moving trucks, supporting fundraisers, providing the Easter bunny and bunny ears for the kids for our annual Parks & Rec Easter Egg Hunt, hosting new buyer seminars, Trunk or Treat, running social media for the Old Home Days Celebration, Scarecrow Festival, food drives, delivering supplies to schools and Covid kits to seniors, toy drives, supporting local businesses, making floats & walking in our parades, awesome client and agent appreciation events, and more. I feel SO GOOD about, and so grateful for these opportunities. I am honored to be a mentor to several newer agents, and I am proud of their hard work and achievements. I even had a high school intern for a short while who wanted to explore real estate as a career before heading off to college.

Ready to walk and hand out goodies in the Old Home Days Parade.
Carl dropping Covid safety kits for each of his agents at our homes after securing masks, sanitizer and gloves to protect us while showing homes. 

Bringing the Easter Bunny to the town Easter Egg Hunt.

Over the years I've learned where my strengths and weaknesses lie. I found the work/life balance and the routines that work best for me. Things definitely shifted with Covid (I'm working mostly from home now) but we adjust. If I need time, I take time. I love being a mentor and being creative with marketing. I love that I can come up with crazy ideas (ie. we need a snow machine for our community trunk or treat display!) and my broker supports them (we won best trunk or treat display for our Frozen-themed truck...just saying!) I'm so appreciative and happy to work with a broker who has big ideas and who has created such a supportive, collaborative, fun & modern work environment. We have a huge family of agents who have come onboard with us...and it's just feels like family. It feels like the way real estate used to feel...only better!
Our 3rd year of Trunk or Treat.

Making it snow! It looked amazing at night with the Christmas lights we had!

I still help the first time home buyers and renters, and the people starting whole new chapters of their lives, while also helping past clients buy their dream homes. At this point most of my business is repeat or referral business, for which I am so grateful. I've even had several clients who came to me after they had bought one of my listings, when they were ready to sell because they had a good impression of me when they were buying. That means a lot. 

Is it still stressful after all these years? Yes, it can be, but I don't get as rattled as I once did. There are some big egos in this business, communication problems, times where we have to "break-up" with clients who just aren't a good fit, and sometimes there are so many circumstances beyond our control. On the bright side, every day is different, and I don't ever get tired of seeing "the look" someone gets when we walk into exactly the right house, or the smiles when we hand over the keys on closing day, or telling a seller that we got a great price for their house. It's amazing to be a part of that experience with people. Plus I still love houses, interior design, great floor plans, and yards & gardens! Some days it's a dream job...but then some days there are creepers, and some days there are long walks to clear our heads. 
Being in a lake community I get to sell properties like this one!

Mostly 21 is me gushing about how grateful I feel for all of it. It's the connections I've made with strangers who became friends; people I run into in town who tell me how much they love it here, clients who text me photos of the renovations they've done since they bought their homes. At this point I know pretty much all of the best closing attorneys, have great relationships with other agents, know who to call when there's evidence of bats in the attic or asbestos in the basement. I know which mortgage brokers will call me back on a Saturday night and get my client the pre-approval they need in order to get an offer in before anyone else does. I know where to find the answers if I don't have them, and I have the true and generous support of my broker and office mates alike.

Pandemic or not, 21 is looking pretty good, and I am profoundly grateful to be here.

Thanks for reading.


Fabulous post, Madame Minnick...fabuleuse!!!
Merci, Catherine! Honored to work alongside you all of these years!
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