For many, balancing work and life is about limiting the time spent on work to do more of what you love. That’s far from the case for equestrian real estate pro Jessica Thiele.

For many, balancing work and life is about limiting the time spent on work to do more of what you love. That’s far from the case for equestrian real estate pro Jessica Thiele.

The Germany-born Thiele quite literally grew up in a barn. “It was horses from early morning until late into the evening,” she said. “I would sleep in the barn and spend the entire night waiting for foals to be born.” Horses were all Thiele knew during most of her childhood and teenage years.

Eventually, however, all things change. Thiele’s beloved horses grew old and died, and she moved with her family to Canada to start a new life. That’s when she enrolled in The University of British Columbia’s real estate program. Her goal was to build a career as a licensed real estate agent.

Little did she realize that her career and her passion would soon collide.

Shortly after becoming a licensed Realtor with, Thiele decided it was time to get back in the saddle — literally. She bought a horse and fell right back into the equestrian lifestyle. That’s when she realized her calling: to become a specialist in equestrian real estate.

That was two years ago. Since then, Thiele has made a mark for herself in the competitive B.C. Lower Mainland real estate market. Better still, she can distill her newly acquired knowledge into three easy lessons — lessons that apply to just about any unique and unusual property for sale, including luxury homes and acreages, as well as properties that mix business with pleasure (such as hobby farms, bed and breakfasts, dog or cat hotels, etc).

Lesson no. 1: There’s a buyer for every property

One of the key takeaways Thiele first learned about selling unique properties is that there is always a buyer looking — you just have to find that buyer.

For instance, very often when marketing equestrian properties the seller (and their agent) should focus on how the property serves the needs of the horses, not the owners.

For Thiele, this goes beyond knowing the size of the property. “My clients also consider the indoor and outdoor facilities, such as riding rings, as well as pastures and even the type of grass available for the horses. Work with an agent that doesn’t know horses and all you’ll hear is ‘it’s just grass,’” says Thiele.

This intimate knowledge of her client’s needs and desires — and what’s important within those needs and desires — is what gives Thiele an edge over other Realtors who try to take on luxury equestrian properties and end up marketing the properties as residential homes. “I don’t just sell houses,” said Thiele. “I build relationships with my clients who share a similar passion and connection for horses.”

The takeaway: Your passion can help you develop and strengthen lifelong business relationships that help you become a better, more successful Realtor.

Lesson no. 2: Understanding your client’s needs can make the sale

“People will buy the most luxurious horse ring ever and then they’ll go and buy themselves a $40 couch off Craigslist,” laughs Thiele. “In this unique market, horses come first and then we look at our needs.”

While luxury real estate isn’t the same — people who buy luxury properties are buying it for themselves — the idea of marketing to the desires and needs of a buyer is still a great approach.

For example, when listing a luxury property, you could describe the kitchen as “a Chef’s kitchen with Viking appliances.” Or, you could describe the kitchen as “an entertainer’s delight where you can invite family and friends over to relax at the marble island while you prepare dinner and dessert, at the same, with top-of-the-line Viking appliances.” A bit wordier, yes, but it certainly paints a picture.

The takeaway: Don’t be afraid to break out of the standard real estate marketing box. That doesn’t mean you have to splash out and spend a tonne of money to market the property, but you do need to consider potential buyers’ needs and then show them how the property satisfies those needs.

Lesson #3: Don’t limit yourself

Because of the demanding nature of the real estate world, the stressful environment of direct sales and the extended hours that Realtors have to work, many will miss out on exploring markets that provide them with passion and make those difficult parts of the job more enjoyable.

Although residential, commercial and luxury homes are the most common areas of specialization for real estate agents, they aren’t the only markets. Turns out there are many niche property markets that just need someone passionate to champion them.

Whether you’re interested in student housing, commercial retail space for bakeries, land for developing senior’s residences or investment homes that can be turned into transitional houses, there are real estate markets for every type of buyer, seller and Realtor.

Find yours and you’ll find your success.

The takeaway: Being able to relate to your clients helps you build long-lasting relationships with many referral opportunities. The best way to relate is to share a person’s passion.

By truly appreciating and understanding the buyer’s needs, you (as the listing Realtor) can target your marketing effectively, smooth out the negotiation process and help complete the transaction sooner — all of which start with you combining your passion with your career.

Thiele continues to grow her Langley-based real estate business as a Zolo agent who specializes in luxury and equestrian properties. It’s perfect for her. Langley is known as the horse capital of British Columbia. She shares plenty of information about equestrian real estate on her personal blog and social media platforms, and she continues to ride her horse almost every day.

Mustafa Abbasi is the president of Zolo Realty in Canada. Follow Zolo on Facebook or Twitter.

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