In this weekly column, real estate agents across the nation share stories of the lessons they’ve learned during their time in the industry.
Washington, D.C., is famous for spin, so you might think that the real estate business in nearby Lorton, Virginia, is too. However, working with Peggy James means that what you see is what you get.
This top-notch listing agent is a big believer in transparency and the power of putting yourself out there. Find out how she learned to live her professional (and personal) life fearlessly and how you can too.
How long have you been in the business?
I have been a Realtor for 28 years. Licensed in 1991, I was in new-construction sales for five years prior to that with NV Homes in Northern Virginia.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Chances are very good I will be nearing retirement since I am 64 years of age now. Well, that’s the plan.
What’s one big lesson you’ve learned in real estate?
Oh my, that one is easy: “Attract, don’t sell.”
How did you learn it?
I was divorced, it was a Saturday evening in 2001, and I was about to join Match.com. I had no idea how to begin. As I read bio after bio, I was left feeling they were all the same; just the faces were different.
I pondered a bit and said to myself, “Don’t overthink this. Peggy, you can sell houses all day long. How do you do that?”
I quickly answered my own question. I sell features and benefits! And that is when I had my light-bulb moment. So I quickly called my girlfriend and asked her to bring her camera over.
The next day my bio was born.
I had five photos (just like the MLS): one without makeup and a towel on my head (yes I did), one in my convertible, one on a cruise, one with my dogs and one at home.
My bio said:
The photos you see are of me and my life, I have two dogs; they are non-negotiable. I own a convertible. I prefer to vacation on a cruise or near blue water. I am not high maintenance and love just being at home. I am not fussy.
If you can deal with the photo with my hair in a towel, that is as bad as it gets! Now regarding this internet platform called Match.com. It feels like a department store I once visited in San Jose, California, that had many many floors.
I am kind of lost and need some help. I’ve been to bad boy department, and as cute as you are: NO. I passed by the old man dept; not interested. I’ve been to the married department; please do not contact me. I am simply looking for the nice guy department. Can someone point me in the right direction?
Guess what happened? The emails flowed in. I was married in less than a year to one of the five guys I met online. So the lesson learned was “The laws of attraction work online!”
Attract, don’t sell was how I would run my business from that point forward.
(Side note: My new husband hated Realtors. He almost did not date me because I was one. LOL!)
What advice would you give to new agents?
My advice is simple: Less is more. Work a hyperlocal area. We work a 10-mile radius, and we do over $20 million in sales volume. I know the trend is to cast a wider net, but trust me, if you are going to take listings and sell, you need to be able to navigate the area quickly and do volume as business comes along.
If you have something 50 miles away and 30 miles in the other direction, you are on the road and unable to handle details, tasks and deadlines.
Then, brand yourself with a hashtag. Use it on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and at the bottom of your email. Post on your social media sites weekly if not daily. Never be afraid to ask the reader if they need help.
About five years ago, I was so busy I needed to double myself, and that is when my identical twin joined me and our brand was transformed into the Twins Selling Real Estate. We use the hashtag #twinssellingrealestate.