- Voicing her political beliefs has not harmed Re/Max agent Anne Mahon's career. Rather, it has enhanced it.
- The Re/Max Leading Edge agent believes new homeowners in her town should become involved in making it a better place.
- When agents sell someone a home, they are taking on a new friend for life and should help introduce their client to the community.
If House Hunters made a pit stop at one of Anne Mahon’s open houses, the buyers might be in for a bit of a shock.
They wouldn’t be left alone to look around the house and complain, that’s for sure. Instead they may find themselves facing some tough questions from an agent who can’t stand it when industry professionals stay glued to their phones at their own events.
Mahon, based in Belmont, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, has a more strategic approach: “You tell me what you are prepared do for this town and this community, and maybe I’ll let you buy this house.”
“I don’t make open houses about the house,” she explained. “I will tell people how the town is managed, how I expect them to be on the PTA or other organizations, town committees and how change is needed.
“The towns need a group of community activists so that the town can run smoothly, efficiently and with the majority in mind. I tell them that’s my expectation of my buyers — to be more than someone that pulls in and out of the driveway.”
“There’s been this thought that agents should keep their views of the world to themselves, but to me that’s just wrong. It’s okay to be passionate about changing the world for the better,” said Mahon, who calls herself a “community activist” rather than a political activist.
“I try and make everybody an active member in their community based on their passions. It’s a perfect recipe for new folks to network and make new friends while doing something positive for what sits beyond the new fence line,” she said.
When clients do pass the Anne Mahon test, she will be their best resource for becoming involved in their new town. She’s their emergency contact when their kids first start school because they don’t know anybody yet.
When training agents, Mahon tells them: “Treat your clients like your brother or sister. Make them part of your family.
“That person is your friend for life; keep calling them; go to their baby showers. You have brought them into a community; your job doesn’t stop when the transaction closes.”
Mahon also describes herself as a “major matchmaker” among her clients.
“I have a huge success rate — I set people up all the time.”
No mountain too high
Mahon is a problem-solver.
Last year, she did over $25 million in sales volume (a total of 40 properties), around 10 percent which were off-market listings.
These were often for situations that didn’t permit an open house due to difficult circumstances for her sellers.
When she has a listing, Mahon offers the sellers her lake house three hours away in Maine to go and stay in for a week while buyers go through the home.
For someone whose never before worked in sales, her success was considered remarkable, and she began getting calls from overseas affiliates wanting to teach their agents how to quickly climb the ladder.
She was happy to share her message about how real estate is more than selling houses.
As she puts it: “It’s about caring for the entire community and doing what you can to educate the buyers on the personal investment they can make in getting involved to make it better.”
Education is a big part of who she is.
“It’s important for people to know how their tax dollar is spent — the value of investing in education, public transportation, green space, senior centers, libraries, affordable housing, development, public safety and parks and playgrounds,” she added. “And all of this matters to house values.”
Political loss triggers a real estate career
Mahon got into real estate six years ago when she was disappointed with a failed vote in her town to fix the terrible roads.
The effort was voted down, and she was convinced it would have increased everyone’s home values while making the streets safer for drivers and pedestrians.
She wanted to bring new people into the town who were “smart enough to vote properly.”
When Mahon marched into her local Century 21 office, her attempt to ask for a job did not go quite according to plan.
Her old friend there was concerned that she was too political. Moreover, wouldn’t Mahon find it difficult to earn they type of income she had enjoyed at her previous job — as director of finance at an international engineering firm?
He had no need to worry. Mahon ended up getting a buyer’s offer accepted on a house just weeks after starting — and secured her first listing within four weeks.
A natural town crier
In her new career, Mahon quickly became known as an expert in the area because of her activity on the PTA (Parent Teacher Association), her involvement at Town Hall and her coaching of soccer and basketball.
She had a reputation for keeping her thumb on the pulse of the community, leading the effort to keep the elementary school libraries open and winning.
In her role at the PTA, she was always investigating and comparing what schools and governments in surrounding towns were doing right and wrong, then sharing that information with anyone who would listen to her. That’s useful knowledge for a real estate agent.
At Century 21, she became the top agent in New England after three years and snagged a spot as one of the upper nine in the country.
She has recently moved to Re/Max Leading Edge, which just partnered with Hammond Real Estate in Cambridge and Belmont, and she has the highest-producing Re/Max office in New England.
A change of company
One of the aspects Mahon likes about Re/Max Leading Edge is its approach to doing good in the community.
Mahon knew the Leading Edge owners well and liked their approach to philanthropy, which is often under-the-radar but very useful.
“Leading Edge CEO Linda O’Koniewski and chairman Paul Mydelski are friends that I have known for years and who I’d often call for some advice when I had unusual situations arise,” she said, adding that they have the same vision to make the business all a big family.
There was also a practical appeal to the firm. In joining Re/Max Leading Edge, Mahon went from primarily serving Belmont with some abutting areas to a large radius that encompasses over 15 surrounding towns.
“I needed the ability to expand my space, to meet with clients in different towns and have the privacy of a conference room to discuss things like goals, dreams and personal finances without someone at a table overhearing us,” Mahon said. “Re/Max Leading Edge offered the solution by giving me one key that opened 13 offices in the areas I serve.”
O’Koniewski’s two requests to Mahon, meanwhile, were that she stop using the “F-word” on her Facebook page and that she didn’t make politics the main focus of the office.
Mahon’s response was sort of reassuring: “But if somebody says something ridiculous, I will be responding. On the ‘F-word,’ I tried to explain to her that that word has a place, but I’ll refrain except when absolutely necessary.”
Agent philanthropy, Anne Mahon-style
Although Mahon was bound to be involved in the community (her mother set a good example), it was her son who jettisoned her into a much more active role.
Said the mother of two: “I was in venture capital; my husband worked at Harvard/Mass General, and if I had not had a child born with cerebral palsy and met the families going bankrupt trying to get medical care for their children, my life could have turned out entirely differently.”
“I saw a reality that most folks never get exposed to and realized then and there that a lot of things [that need] changing in this world.
“You can’t just show up and make the call for change; you’ve got to pick up the torch and lead the way.”
Successful, not showy
These experiences keep Mahon close to her humble roots. She drives a Hyundai that has a dent in it and is usually filthy.
“I show up at my $1.4 million listing, and the other agents show up in their Land Rovers,” she said. “I could afford more, but I don’t need it.”
As a former sports coach, she would rather help an underprivileged kid buy athletic gear and pay for the season than upgrade her car.
“The goodwill it creates makes you have so much more energy when you realize you are doing something positive,” she said.
A highlight she remembers fondly involved organizing a wide-ranging after-school program with Dana Dunne, her former PTA co-president and friend, which is still going strong 12 years later.
A fan of hiring her friends, she brought Dunne into real estate along the way, and she is now Mahon’s best stager and a licensed agent.
A high community profile equals slam-dunk social media
The busy agent currently holds three elected positions in Belmont: Town Meeting member, Housing Authority Board member and chair of the Belmont Democratic Town Committee.
It means that on social media, she needs no introduction.
“I rarely buy marketing for myself,” she said. “Maybe once-a-year postcards, but I market the daylights out of my properties, and that just happens to have my face and contact information on it.”
On Facebook, her personal (not her business) page drives a “remarkable amount of business” her way, she said.
“There are also all sorts of groups on the internet — parent groups, neighborhood groups — and I hear my name comes up often.”
The real estate business was obviously an inspired choice for Mahon, but there is no doubt where her priorities lie.
“Community activism is my life and real estate is my hobby,” she said.
“Politics and activism are what drive me and real estate obviously supports me. I look at it as the fun thing that I do that’s entertaining, an opportunity to make more fabulous friends.”