Brokerage

Nancy Braun on how she’s fulfilling her father’s dreams as a real estate broker

Broker-owner talks heroes, founding a business and what's made her a top producer in the industry

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Inman is interviewing the top producers in real estate for this new profile series. Here’s Nancy Braun of Showcase Realty.

Describe your job.

Showcase Realty is located on 1430 South Mint St., Suite 106, Charlotte, North Carolina, in a HUB zone. We’re nestled in the South End of Uptown. We represent sellers, buyers, investors and tenants involving residential, luxury, investments, relocation, commercial, short sales or foreclosures. We cover a wide radius of over 60 miles from our office.

Where did you start?

I was working in the confines of a bigger brokerage office for 12 years. That firm had been selling real estate the same way for over 45 years and I wanted to do something different and approach real estate with a new perspective. I wanted to use my creativity to design a new model for buying and selling real estate. I founded the company in 2008, simultaneously when the housing market crashed. I altered my view on the housing market and shifted gears to focus on the distressed property market. In its initial years, Showcase Realty represented bank-owned foreclosures and underwater homeowners seeking relief through short sales.

Currently, I’m largely focusing on boosting residential sales, property management and investment departments in addition to maintain the short-sale and foreclosure divisions.

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Did you imagine when you were younger that you’d be a top producer?

Absolutely not. I envisioned that I was going to be a chef, which I was for five years when I was the chef/owner of a restaurant. I had no interest in sales or homes. I jumped into this field without a clear purpose or direction; I learned to love the art of the deal and creating a successful company with a focus on giving back.

What sets you apart?

Our team approach. We are driven to provide an over-the-top client experience. We have an employee-centric model in an industry that is typically led by independent contractors all running their business on their own. I strongly believe that I cannot properly service my clients on my own. Backed by a team of experts, we offer a level of service that is unmatched. I am a perfectionist and stickler for details. I am driven to be the best. The team understands this expectation and works together to attend to every detail and go over and beyond in each segment of the transaction.

How did you get there?

We attribute part of our growth and success to adapting to the changing market. We focused on the distress market during the recession and worked on changing our brand and focus on the retail and property management markets before the recession was over. We all work very hard and have a dedicated team committed to providing our clients with a superior experience.

I also believe our commitment to giving back to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Charlotte is a true motivator to go the extra mile. This commitment to help the kids is an incentive to close more deals so we can save more kids.

Nancy Braun's office.

Nancy Braun’s office

Are you part of a team or are you doing it solo?

I started small in 2008 with just one full-time assistant, one marketing administrator and a part-time bookkeeper. We have grown to a team of over 50. Eventually, we started to outgrow our first office and we were kind of sitting on top of each other; it was very confining and hard to focus. We realized when our lease was up that it was time for us to move our location to a larger space and have a more centralized location, so we moved into our South End office in the center of the Charlotte metro.

Today, I am proud to say we have a great time with talented individuals who each do their part to make Showcase Realty successful.

What does your admin support team look like, or do you have one?

Our team consists of Marketing, Administration, Client Care, Premarketing, Closing, and Property Preservation & Property Management –all working together to give their full attention and optimal service to clients at every stage of the relationship. We have inside sales agents contacting and ultimately converting prospects into appointments. The appointments are then set up with me if it is a listing appointment or one of our 10 independently contracted buyer agents. I do not believe in “phone duty” where other real estate firms have their agents who are independent contractors answer the incoming calls. I have a team of five employees answering my phones seven days a week and up to 7 p.m. at night. This is the lifeblood of our firm, and we have greater quality control and systems and scripts in place to manage these calls and Internet/email inquiries.

Who are your heroes?

My late dad is my hero. He just died this past year. He had a tough beginning as an immigrant and poor parents who never spoke English or gave him any direction or encouragement or support. He never let this stop him from being very successful as an adult. He enrolled in the best public high school in New York City, Boys High, and after two years in the Army overseas, he returned on the GI bill to Union College and then got his master’s degree at NYU. He finished his career as the ad director of “Ladies Home Journal.” It was his dream to be a real estate broker — but I only learned that years after he suggested I take the real estate class and opened my own firm.

What’s the first thing you do when you get to work in the morning? What’s the last thing you do before you leave?

On the way, I listen to audio CDs relating to being a leader, motivating staff, creating a successful company and negotiating skills. When I first arrive to the office, I say hello to my team. Check emails. Then I try to work on a project that is in waiting. I am usually the last one to leave, so I end my day by trying to work on a project to build my business when the office is quiet.

What’s the first thing you do when you’re off work for the day?

Give my two 9-year-olds a BIG hug and ask them about their day. I then proceed to cook them a homemade dinner. Fortunately, my kids are accustomed to eating late.

What’s your favorite place to unwind?

I live to eat, not eat to live. I love to eat out at a wonderful restaurant with fresh, healthy and creative food. Follow that with a Broadway play, and you have my perfect evening.

What areas of your business do you pay personal attention to? What have you outsourced?

I oversee everything! I am considering outsourcing my website and social media, but I haven’t let go of control on this just yet.

What do you think is the biggest barrier to success in today’s real estate industry? How have you overcome it?

The Internet and releasing our MLS (multiple listing service) data out. We have lost control of our bread and butter. Zillows and the like are our biggest threat. Auctions are also a smaller threat but a reality. I have embraced the Zillows and partnered with them for leads and market my properties on over 900 portals.

How do you deal with stress?

I need to know the work is done, the email is answered, the follow-up was made and then I can relax. Once I am sure that we have tended to our tasks, I can relax with my kids, travel to third-world countries, go to a fine restaurant, ski, boot camp, cook, entertain. …

If you could change anything about your career path, would you? Why or why not?

Opened my company sooner. I seem to be a late bloomer. Nothing actually comes easy to me. I have to work twice as hard. I would have liked to have grown the company and expanded to multiple offices. May still get there?

Are you a top producer who’d like to participate in our profile series? Email amber@inman.com.