In this weekly column, real estate agents across the nation share stories of the lessons they’ve learned during their time in the industry.
As a top producer with a laundry list of designations and certifications, Leah Robinson-Christian
brings a high level of knowledge and professionalism to her client work in both the Fayette County and Atlanta markets she serves.
Like many good real estate agents, it’s her understanding of people that helps her work so effectively with both buyers and sellers. Find out how she learned to trust her inner “still, small voice” when evaluating clients and maintaining her own security.
How long have you been in the business?
I obtained my real estate license in January of 2014 after relocating from Phoenix to Atlanta in July of 2013. Having never practiced real estate (as I was an educator for years), I was recruited by my aunt Lisa Robinson and Jenea Kennedy. Lisa and Jenea saw something in me that shouted: “She would be a great real estate agent” and paid for me to obtain my real estate license.
After I took the six-week course and passed my state license testing, I hit the ground running. My first two transactions included a buyer referred to me by Jenea (who had been working with the buyer for almost a year), which led to four additional closings and a rental listing in which Lisa was very good friends with the owner. This led to seven additional referrals and closings.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself still practicing real estate, however, I have grown our team which allows me more time for family, travel and other bucket-list items. I am making substantially more money and am supporting numerous nonprofits with the harvest of all my hard work.
I am continuing to work my Fayette County real estate and have become more of a household name there and am working the Atlanta market just as strong. I’ve also hired and trained a full-time assistant so that I can continue to dedicate more face time to my clients, which still includes my first-time homebuyers, investors, developers and seasoned purchasers.
My children are independent and thriving both educationally and socially and have healthy relationships.
What’s one big lesson you’ve learned in real estate?
I’ve learned that it’s important to trust your instinct and to give. My instinct has protected me from not only situations that could have been dangerous, but also from clients that I could see would not be a great fit for me to work with, which ultimately keeps my peace.
How did you learn it?
My very first transaction was a rental. I got a call from someone interested, and I agreed to meet them at the home.
For whatever reason, I didn’t feel comfortable meeting them, but my aunt gave me the idea to just arrive early, unlock the door and allow the person to tour the home alone. So, when they showed up, something told me to take a picture of their license plate.
The prospective tenant got out of the car with a woman and child, and I let down my guard. I showed them the home and they requested an application. Throughout the application process, I felt like something wasn’t right. I would call to verify the employer and landlord and would have to leave a message; then I would get a call back. I got copies of their IDs, which looked good. I followed the process, but something wasn’t right in my gut. So, I Googled the employer.
I called, and they confirmed that the tenant worked there and was the son-in-law to the owner. Thirty minutes later, I received a call from a gentleman upset because his wife and father-in-law thought he was trying to get a house without his wife knowing.
At that point, I knew it was ID fraud as the person on the phone confirmed everything that was on the credit report, while on the application the tenant had one discrepancy that differed from the credit report.
I advised the person to contact the police if they believed they were a victim of ID theft, was later contacted by police, and provided all documentation to them. My instinct knew before I even met with the prospective tenant that something wasn’t right.
On a number of occasions, I have represented a buyer whom I knew wasn’t ready to purchase a home mentally, and they were going to just look and look at homes without making a purchase.
In other cases, buyers decided to make an offer on a home with a difficult seller, which I warned them would be a very tough transaction. On two occasions we got within a hair of having to file a lawsuit to force the seller to sign, and on another, we had to terminate.
There have been several occasions where I was preparing to list a home, and I had red flags that the seller would be extremely difficult. They wouldn’t let me take pictures of the master bedroom, wouldn’t provide the alarm code, required that I call them to schedule every showing, etc. In each case, I took the listings and then never sold the homes because of the difficulty of the seller.
What advice would you give to new agents?
Educate yourself continuously. Find a mentor and absorb, shadow and ask questions. Don’t think you know more than you do — be humble. Take part in as many CE classes, designation courses and certification classes as possible.
The value that you put in is the value of the return you will get out of this business. Absorbing as much as possible from both a mentor and ongoing continuing education classes will give a new licensee varied perspectives and will perfect their craft as a real estate professional. Remember that knowledge is power, and iron sharpens iron!
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Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant with Writing Real Estate. She is also a Florida Realtors faculty member. Follow Writing Real Estate on Facebook, Twitter, Instagr