The year was 2003. I had decided to part ways from a family-owned business that was generating a lot of stress in my life, and, believe it or not, I had never even considered real estate as a career.
We used to walk every evening through our neighborhood and I had noticed more and more real estate signs (remember, 2002-2003 was the steep climb upward) and my husband asked me if I thought it was something that I'd be interested in. I wasn't sure, I thought I'd probably go back into some legal-related practice, but the more I thought about it and read about the real estate industry (and you read some really scary things about real estate life) it began to seem like a challenge. So in December of 2003 and into January of 2004 I got my first agent's license in Wisconsin.
My first real estate brokerage "job" was as a team agent in Ephraim, Wisconsin. I like to tell this story because the funny thing was, two days after I was hired, shown my desk, shown the phone, all of the usual first-day things--the only other team member that wasn't an owner flew to New York and announced she was never coming back. THAT was an eye opener. I was completely green and on my own. The intent was that I would become a part of the listing team and do listing coordination, but I actually was now covering both sides of the transaction. I learned a LOT. I studied our MLS like it was my second Bible. I am a "numbers" person, and I learned quickly how to determine price points via CMAs, enter listings, take photos, everything that I still have to do today. It was a great learning experience. I quickly got my real estate Brokers license there, and met some clients that I still work with to this day. I credit my first brokerage with giving me the tools to earn a living in the industry--the basics and much more, including how to properly position a listing (in the days before social media) so it would sell quickly. However, after 9 months, I got an Offer I could not refuse and moved on to Brokerage #2 in Sister Bay.
Brokerage #2 was fantastic because at that office I worked with someone in the industry that I really looked up to, and he placed education ahead of all else. He was working full time and also serving as President of the Wisconsin Realtors Association at that time, and I took every word of advice from him that I could. This was 2004, and the flipping and condominium boom of Door County was in full swing. Everyone thought they could make a million dollars because HGTV had started doing home shows and everyone could flip for a profit. And prices just kept going up and going up.....
The best business practice I learned from this seasoned veteran (besides Always Be Closing) was to always continue my education, because the industry is always changing. This was the time in my life when I became an ABR (Accredited Buyer Representative) as well as an SRES (Senior Real Estate Specialist) and wow, did I hustle. I don't know how I did it all, looking back, raising 2 girls and a dog. I'll never forget September of 2008 (I don't think any of us will) when the market crashed and we all realized we were going to have a "new normal". And that meant another jump to another brokerage in Baileys Harbor, which was rapidly acquired by Coldwell Banker. One of the best things I did in Baileys Harbor was to acquire my first IDX real estate website, door-county-properties.com, which has been an incredible tool for me for lead generation and to allow additional marketing for my listings in addition to my brokerage's sites. I've tried to NEVER be dependent on my brokers/brokages for leads--I am responsible for my own outcome.
In 2012, I left our Baileys Harbor office and moved to work for Coldwell Banker in downtown Fish Creek, where the foot traffic wasn't as good, but the work environment was better. This turned out to be a very prudent move, because in 2013, The Real Estate Group closed the Baileys Harbor office permanently. Additionally, in 2012, I "rediscovered" Active Rain (I had become a member in 2009 and forgotten about it). Active Rain has become one of the most powerful tools in my arsenal for generic SEO. In 2014, after 10 years and many millions in transactions, I went a step further and I became a CRS (Certified Residential Specialist). I sell homes, condominiums, businesses and vacant land, and I work as both a listing agent and as a Buyer Agent. I work in all price points, and each and every transaction is of equal importance to me--whether you are buying or selling a $25,000 vacant lot or a $2,500,000 shorefront home.
Where am I today? I had an opportunity at the end of 2015 to purchase into a privately-held brokerage in Sister Bay (celebrating its 80th birthday next year!) which was a seamless transition--most of my clientele followed me here shortly and while I had to change a lot of social media and other sites with my new brokerage information (that seemed like it took a few weeks), but this location was much better for buyer lead generation which meant I was selling my listings more quickly (we are a second home market, and it can take some time for properties to sell here).
WELCOME TO DOOR COUNTY
So far, 2017 has been an incredible year for me, serving as our Door County Board of Realtors president, which has allowed for some regional and national travel where I have met many new people and learned many new things. Additionally, because I took the time to build a team with some new licensees that bring a whole new dynamic to our business--more video, more live feeds, and this is something that I want to see continue to grow. I want to continue to make money, but I want all of my team members to become self-sufficient. Right now, I could use a full-time assistant (does anyone have any tips on virtual assistants and their experiences with same?), and I'm working on that, but we're also in the process of launching another new IDX website as a team (stay tuned!) and this summer has been so crazy busy that I haven't been able to blog as much as I have liked. I have told my team that Active Rain blogging is like brushing your teeth--you need to do it every single day (and I have been lax this year). So my goal is to get back on my blogging horse, get this team situation and move forward with (coming soon, probably by next week): youdoorcounty.com It's not live yet, but with our new use of video I expect it to be a captivating Door County real estate website. Because I'm back in Sister Bay, I also had to cut out a lot of my southern territory of Door County (with limited exceptions) that I worked from 2008-2015, but it's been a great way to work with referrals, also. What I hope to attempt for 2018 is to get yourdoorcounty.com up to its full potential and also get my team members Robert and Sandra generating as much as they can. But right now, I have a lot more to do before I can close out 2017.
My Best Business Practices in Door County Real Estate
ALWAYS BE CLOSING