• Mentors are all very well, but no one's going to be as generous as your mother.
  • Real estate is much more about professional and personal development than it once was.
  • If you want to give back to the community as a Realtor, do it your way, not the way it's always been done.

Kim Eichorn, a Realtor with Lyon Real Estate in Davis, California, and one of three winners of the California Association of Realtors (CAR) Champions of Home, puts her love of real estate and community philanthropy down to her mother.

Eichorn fell into real estate in her 30s. When she was pregnant with her second child in the mid 1990s, she needed an excuse to get out of the house a bit more, missing her former meeting planning career, so cautiously accepted her mother’s offer to learn about the real estate trade. Her mother, Peggy Eichorn, was a high-profile agent at Lyon Real Estate.

Following in mom’s footsteps

It had never occurred to Kim to follow in her mother’s footsteps. “Why would I do that?” was her initial response.

But she knew her mother loved being in real estate. Her grandfather, Leland Scarlett, had also worked in the industry.

Peggy was not “salesy,” said Kim. “She just loved helping people.”

And Kim could see why her mother liked it.

“It was very social back then,” she said. If an agent from another office had an offer, they would come over to the house, have a glass of wine and discuss the deal.

“It can be a very isolating business now. There are a lot of new agents who are not good at the networking part. It’s really important to have a relationship with your colleagues from other offices,” said Kim.

Kim Eichorn, left, with mother Peggy.

Kim Eichorn, left, with mother Peggy.

She feels for agents coming in. “Some people have a mentor in their office, but it’s not going to be the same as your mother. She was very generous to me.”

There was some give and take. Kim was bringing in new business with her network of young moms — but Peggy was the experienced one.

Peggy finally retired in 2003 — but, at 83, she loves to hear Kim’s real estate stories.

Bought with mother, sold with daughter

“I was talking to a couple who bought their house brand new over 20 years ago, and Mom represented them,” Kim said. “Mom got them a tree to put in the backyard, and it’s still there  — and here I am listing the house. I told Mom and she remembered. She loves stuff like that.”

Kim has taken the mantle from Peggy and stepped things up, taking her career more seriously after her divorce. She took back her maiden name, Eichorn, which comes in handy as she takes on listings from her mother’s former clients. She has also invested in coaching for personal and professional development.

“I realized: I am a small business owner. I have control over what I can do with this,” she said.

Personal and professional development

Kim is taking on more responsible roles in the industry. She will serve as President of the Yolo County Board of Realtors next year.

“I like being coached and going to conferences,” Kim said. “I like being involved, I don’t know if Mom would ever have got to a convention.

“It’s good to get out of your little box.”

Whereas her mother always worked by referral, thanks to her coaching, Kim is more confident about talking with people and saying: “Hey, I’d appreciate your referrals.”

“I’m not pushy at all. I’m just a lot more proactive and more public about it and out there a little more in the charity work,” she said.

Kim’s real estate business now represents, she estimates, 5 percent of the Davis real estate market, with 50 sides last year and even more this year. She is an active member of the community and serves on the board of the Short Term Emergency Aid Committee, among others.

“Part of what I do: I donate $250 from every transaction to the client’s favorite charity,” she said. Her mother would give a fruit basket or a vase, but Kim is not a shopper, so that didn’t appeal to her.

“I would have donated $12,000 to 15,000 per year to charities from all different places,” she said. “I really enjoy doing that. I learn things about my clients.”

Champions of Home

Kim’s fellow Champions of Home winners, announced at last week’s CAR Expo, were Century 21’s Kay Wilson-Bolton from Santa Paula, California, and Anthony Cassel from Bay Sotheby’s International Realty in Berkeley. They were all recognized for their contribution to their communities and for going beyond the call of duty to service their clients.

Wilson-Bolton, a top producer for her brokerage, is also a chaplain to the local fire department and works with clients who are mentally ill or have dementia through the Public Guardian’s Office of Ventura County.

Cassel was lauded for the mentoring work he does with younger agents after 17 years in the business. Cassel volunteers for Home for a Home, a charity that builds houses for the underprivileged in countries like Guatemala. He also works on an initiative to provide a men’s homeless shelter in Berkeley, and he and his wife Maria, a broker associate at the same Bay Sotheby’s office, are preparing to open an animal sanctuary.

Email Gill South.

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