By Karen Stokes
The road to success as a real estate professional can be bumpy and crowded with realtors who struggle to make a living, and some who give up because of the struggle.
There is no shortcut to success in real estate, but through dedication and hard work, the women of the Elite Sales Team, partners Dionne Barnes and Angela Walters and client service manager Jasmine Walters are making their mark in the Milwaukee area.
“This is going on my 17th year as a full-time realtor and I absolutely love it,” said Barnes. “I work mainly with first time home buyers; new construction is a passion of mine and now investors. I help them acquire properties, coach and advise them through the rehab process.”
The team helped over 200 families buy and sell homes last year.
Barnes has been in the business since 2000 which she describes as ‘crazy’ because at that time houses and buyers were ‘dropping from the sky’. When the market crashed in 2008, agents that didn’t hone their business skills during the heyday were either out of business or out of business soon.
“Was it tough? Absolutely! It was one of the hardest times of my life,” said Barnes. “Before the crash a lot of consumers didn’t understand the process. Things were being done on the financing side that made buying not so safe. On the bright side now there are more bank regulations, all of the numbers have to be disclosed in their entirety and the closing statements are more clear. This is the safest environment we have ever had for a consumer and the most fair. The time right now is safe for anyone that wants to purchase a home.”
Interest rates are at low levels, along with an improved economy and jobs climate more buyers are in the market for a home. Average mortgage interest rates have been below 4% for 14 consecutive months, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac.
“It’s a good time to buy, we have had a low loan rate environment for a very long time due to the 2008 mortgage fallout,” said Mary Washington, mortgage loan originator at U.S.Bank. “At some point (interest rates) will start to go back up. I think with the new administration it’s too soon to tell what will happen.”
Partner Angela Walters, with over 12 years’ experience in real estate, discussed that even though she is an experienced professional she is still judged by her race.
Walters was referred by an agent in the Realty Executives Hartland office for a white couple selling their house in Milwaukee. She met with them and listed their home. The plan was for them to sell their home in Milwaukee and buy a new home in the suburbs. They found a home in Muskego.
For the inspection for the house in Muskego, the wife couldn’t make it so she sent her parents.
“When the parents saw me, the whole tone changed. The next day, I get a call from the husband saying they didn’t want to go forward with this house and wanted to find a different realtor, someone more familiar with Muskego. I’ve been out there a number of times.
Once the parents saw me the story was over,” said Walters. “It’s okay for me to help them with the lower end property in Milwaukee but they didn’t want to give me the commission for the higher end property.”
Real estate agents were once in a unique position to have information that home buyers couldn’t obtain on their own. Now with the internet, buyers have access to information on interest rates, competing mortgage products, property listings, school ratings and neighborhood crime rates. Some buyers believe with the information at their fingertips they can bypass the agents and forgo any commissions to be split between the buyer and selling agents. Barnes sees things differently.
“This is the largest purchase a person will make in their lifetime,” Barnes said. “We understand this process. We are still a vital part of this process. We can give you information. We understand what the lenders are saying because that’s our language. When you get pre-approved and sit down with me or anyone else on my team you get a consultation and we go over everything with you. We take our time.”
“We make this a personal journey for you,” Barnes continued. “Because when the bumps come down the road you need somebody who understands and can walk you through the minefield.”
Helping families through this personal journey is one of Walter’s great successes.
“All of the families I’ve helped it is such a pleasure helping someone who wants to buy a home especially first time buyers to educate them on the process and maybe even start a legacy for their family,” Walters said.
If you’re looking for a realtor contact the Elite Sales Team, Your Experts in Real Estate (414) 908-9858 or EliteSalesTeamRE@gmail.com