In this weekly column, real estate agents across the nation share stories of the lessons they’ve learned during their time in the industry.
With a background in finance, investment and REI, Colorado’s Denise Schilling is keenly aware of the investment value inherent in her clients’ real estate purchases.
How did she build a nationally recognized real estate business? Perseverance and meticulous client care.
How long have you been in the business?
I’ve been in real estate since 2014 when I bought my first investment property. My husband owned an appraisal business for almost 15 years before selling it, so I’ve been in real estate for quite some time.
Before becoming a Realtor, I designed and managed 401k plans for companies like the Los Angeles Angels for over 10 years. I traveled around the country working on 401k plans and giving seminars to employees about investing.
After buying my first investment property and putting my own sweat equity in renovating it, I decided to switch careers. I consider it a similar path since I’m still advising my clients on investments, but now it’s real estate instead of mutual funds.
My clients are still in a vulnerable state about how to best invest their money and rely heavily on my advice.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Within the next five years, I would like to have a team of additional driven, hard-working, people-oriented individuals. I’ve seen in both of my careers where the professionals will tell their clients anything to get a bigger commission check at the expense of their client.
I felt my skin boil when I heard these stories. I’ve always believed the client’s best interest comes first.
No matter how intelligent, educated and successful your client is, if they aren’t familiar with the real estate industry, they are in unfamiliar territory and can be fearful.
I could never take advantage of someone when they were vulnerable. I pride myself on giving sound advice/knowledge to help them make the right choice for themselves even if that meant missing a big commission check.
What’s one big lesson you’ve learned in real estate?
Perseverance is No. 1 in this business.
How did you learn it?
I knew going in that I needed to network. There was a long waiting list to get into a BNI (Business Network International) chapter as a Realtor, so I contacted Denver’s lead BNI director to start a chapter.
I was denied.
I was told everyone was failing at the requirements in the time allotted to start one, and she was tired of all the failures. I did it anyway.
I had to put real estate aside for about six months and focus on contacting every business in Denver to bring awareness to the chapter I was creating.
My son was two months old when I started, and I couldn’t afford daycare, so he slept in his car seat next to me as I gave presentations [to try to] bring them on as members. I’ve been president of it for two years now, and it is one of the most successful chapters in Denver.
What advice would you give to new agents?
Entering a business with such high competition, I found the ones who had been around for a while often took advantage of my newness. They would give me incorrect information when I asked for advice, they would deny my client’s offer based on my experience, or they would be sneaky on contracts to see if they could trick my clients into losing money in the deals.
I learned to not take any of it personally, or you could spend all your time frustrated. Keep your drive and focus, push forward, and find someone who you trust to teach you the ropes.
Are you an agent with a story everyone can learn something from? Reach out to us (contributors@Inman.com). We look forward to featuring more of our best agents and brokers in a future edition of “Lesson learned.”