Thursday, October 6, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are you an independent Real Estate Broker? a.k.a: Doesn’t anyone want to hire you?

I’ve been in the business for over 28 years, which means that I’ve experienced two recessions and two bubbles. Throughout everything I have been a one-woman operation, just a helping hand for friends (that’s what my clients become) that want to buy and sell their homes. I don’t waste people’s time; not my clients’ time nor my own. I believe in getting things done in a timely and cost effective way.
Although I’ve been on my own for most of this time, I’ve stayed in touch with my industry. After all, I started out at a big firm and even then I quickly saw that I couldn’t deal with the inefficiency. I felt like the real estate agents were creating busy work for themselves so they could justify their beloved high commissions. Firms are known for their flamboyant culture, and agents want to keep driving their BMWs and Mercedes convertibles and attending society-page benefits.
You want to know something? Most of the heads of these big firms haven’t sold a home since the Internet was invented. When it’s time for these big wigs to solve a problem they pour superfluous amounts of money into a system that is not currently working. That is like putting more and more quarters into a pay phone when what you really need is a smart phone.
Several people at the big firms told me I would fail working on my own, and when I succeeded they said it was a fluke. I suppose it was one of those three-decade flukes! Now many firms are trying to negotiate their way out of their leases because they can’t compete with the fact that people can do their work in front of their laptop at Starbucks now. I can only laugh when I think about how they told me I was unprofessional for saving my clients money by refusing to operate out of a fancy “store front” office!

This whole time, big firm owners have made it clear to me that if I ever wanted to come on board with them I could. They’d give me 2 assistants and a higher commission split. I could live a luxury life! I could be in the society pages! I am not interested and have never been interested. I don’t want to spend wildly. I want to do my job.
My husband is a tech guy, and he’s astonished at the way that real estate firms maintain entire departments for something that could be handled by a few people working on contract from home. Real estate firms still have teams of people making newspaper ads; they have sales meetings, appointment desks, and tons of unused office space. That would all be fine if the customer weren’t forced to pay for it. I believe competition is for the competent and it is time for some real competition.

How big is your company?

When I tell them, one person, often I get, “that’s nice”.  It is meant to be polite but not a as a compliment. Why is that.  Why do we think bigger is better.  I have a 80% referral rate when the industry average is 20%.

Why is it we perceive the firm with the most overhead or employees as the most successful?  One thing is for sure, once you get your overhead up, it’s hard to cut it. I have never understood this “bigger is better” thinking.  Let’s be honest. It’s all about the egos.
What DO YOU LIKE about today’s MARKET?
I love that a person with a desk and a laptop can do anything. Sustainability and profitability is success to me.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Meet the Smiths

Several years ago I was introduced to the Reggie and Leigh Smith. Reggie, a partner with King and Spalding Law Firm, was referred to me by a friend from Atlanta. The family was relocating to Houston  to open a a new firm and needed to find a place. Three houses and many years later, the Smiths have created a beautiful River Oaks haven.

I am absolutely blown away by their home. Reggie and Leigh have taken a traditional Southern home and splashed it with some of the most incredible art. I have to confess my ignorance; I know absolutely nothing about contemporary art! But, I do know that I love the overall aesthetic their pieces create for a room. I also love the way Reggie and Leigh embrace antiques and traditional architecture and make them seem completely new.  

Leigh's taste for design is only matched by her dynamic personality. She has a charming southern accent where she can turn a 1 syllable word like "book" into a 3 syllable word,"BOO-OO-UHK." She's not pretentious at all, instead of cruising around in a fancy Mercedes, she drives an adorable mini cooper! I feel like her decorating taste reflects her free-spirited and distinctive character. The home exemplifies how contemporary and southern can be beautifully and uniquely melded. The decorating by Terry Prather is breath-taking and inspiring. Enjoy. 

They are featured in this article  featured on

{all photos by:Jack Thompson}

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Your sofa is from IKEA? Really?

I get ecstatic when you find a great piece of furniture at a bargain price. Although I didn’t exactly find this bargain myself - Two of my favorite decorating bloggers did! {Both are local Houston gals.} To say these women have a great sense of style would be an understatement.  I was impressed to find each blog featuring great decorating advice using a sofa at a price tag of $399.00. How can you go wrong?  The Ektorp white linen sofa featured in both blogs comes from the Swedish Mecca of cheap furniture, IKEA!
{photo: morning-t}
I love a business/decorator that can think in an innovative and economical way. I found Cote de Texas author/decorating genius, Joni Wise’s use of the sofa for her college daughter’s new digs charming. And Morning T blogger’s home re-do was nicely complemented by the inexpensive piece. Featured on Cote de Texas, Bemz is a company where you can order chic slipcovers for the IKEA Ektorp line. I am loving all the options the designer fabric's at Bemz can supply.
 {photo: cote de texas}
 I am still completely blown away with the luxury and comfort of this reasonably priced sofa. The simplicity is unparalleled and the decorating possibilities endless. All I have to say is my couch is getting replaced this weekend!!!
{photo: cote de texas}