“I told myself I had no choice, I had to make it work.” My cousin Janet has been in the Real Estate business for 15+ years, along with multiple other relatives in my family and these were the last words she said to me before she decidedly had to get off the phone and take care of a client. Real Estate had been in my family in some form or another since I was younger and I couldn’t run faster away from it if I tried. My dreams included seeing an advertisement I created on a billboard in Time Square and writing a children’s book illustrated by my mother. Dreams I haven’t completely given up on yet. And although I had been in sales in some form or another since I was 16 years old, I had absolutely no interest in selling real estate. When I tell you I knew absolutely nothing about homes or what it took to buy one, I mean I knew less than nothing. My parents never really talked about what it was like for them to buy their home, and when something went wrong in the house, my dad fixed it or at least he would try. I was too busy with my nose in books and my hands in paint and clay to learn about the practical things in life – like buying a house.
Then I turned 30, dreams still not accomplished, hating every minute of my then current job and I knew I wanted something to change. I was unhappy every single day and no amount of cardio or kisses could make that feeling of disappointment in myself go away. Which takes me to deciding to get my real estate license and just seeing how it goes. My cousin Janet and countless hours of Million Dollar Listing on Bravo finally convinced me to give it a shot. A few months in I was sinking faster than an anchor in water. I hadn’t sold a single home, still had 0 idea what it took to buy one, and over all feeling pretty lost. My background in marketing and graphic design started to take over and I willfully decided that creating my own brand might be somewhere to start – even if it wasn’t helping me sell houses any quicker. And so Philly Lifestyles was born. In college, I had a professor and a story she once told in our Global Communications class that stuck with me. We learned about immersing ourselves in different cultures so as to learn about who they really were and why they did the things they did. She broke it down in to one simple word, psychographics. Boy did it stick with me. I began to think that if I could really get to know my clients, hear why they wanted to live in certain areas of the city or needed that extra 3rd bedroom even when it was just the two of them buying – I would be cracking the real estate code. People buy houses for all sorts of reasons, but they fall in love with a home usually because of a feeling that it gives them when they walk through it. I often tell people, I don’t sell homes, I sell a lifestyle. I’m there to help negotiate the deal, make sure the paperwork is done correctly and the clients don’t end up sued or losing their deposit, and most importantly hold my clients’ hands when the rollercoaster ride gets bumpy – but I don’t the sell the home. The home sells itself.
I thought about what my cousin Janet said to me that day, “I had to make it work.” And so I decided I would do the same. I loved architecture and interior design, landscaping and color schemes, and I was good at sales. I was going to figure out a way to combine them all and give value to clients where many other realtors could not. I started absorbing every bit of information I possibly could from whomever would allow me to shadow them or take the time to train me. I took countless notes and listened in on what seemed like a gazillion phone calls. Until one day, I realized I actually knew what I was talking about. Imagine that. I became a real estate agent that cared about her clients so much that I made sure to promise that I would never push anyone in to a sale without being 100% honest about the good, the bad and the ugly in each and every home we saw. I think my honesty has been appreciated as I’ve continued to grow my career, and I’ve promised myself and my clients to never lose sight of that.