For some couples, being in the real estate business together adds up
By Maggie FitzRoy, Contributing Writer
In the depths of the recession Watson Realty agent Elise Beard was so busy she thought about quitting. It wasn’t a happy time to be in the business.
“Everybody was angry. Buyers were vultures, circling. Sellers were angry, upset and losing money,” she said. “It was an emotional time.”
Worrying about — and juggling — the details of every transaction was causing her to lose sleep and lead to heart palpitations.
Then her husband, Murray, came to the rescue.
“I said, ‘I’ll get my real estate license and I’ll do anything you don’t want to do,’” he said.
Murray had been a banker until the bust, which sent his builder and developer customers into bankruptcy.
So in 2010, he was looking for a new career.
“I knew the real estate market was going to get much better,” he said. “I told her, ‘you can’t quit now.’”
Murray joined Elise, now in her 12th year with Watson, five and a half years ago. They became a successful team at their Ponte Vedra Beach office.
At the time, they were the only husband-and-wife team there.
From the get-go, it worked for them, although they work apart much of the time, which Elise said helps keep their marriage “healthy.”
Murray, who mostly works from home, handles the day-to-day details of their transactions. He schedules showings, negotiates transactions and handles marketing details for listings.
When they get a listing, Elise, who mainly works out of their Watson office, hires the stager and goes with them to make sure the house is presented in the best light. She also does most of the marketing and prospecting.
“We work as a true team,” Murray said. “With us, one plus one equals three.”
Real estate teams are growing in popularity.
In a story in RealtorMag, the official magazine of the National Association of Realtors, international real estate coach Tom Ferry said 68 percent of agents work on a team. He describes four types, one of which is the “family team.”
And for some married couples in Northeast Florida, teaming up with your spouse makes great sense.
Kathie and Neil McGuinness have been a team with Keller Williams for four years.
She went into real estate as a career change from nursing years ago, when they lived in Boston. In 2000, when they moved to Atlantic Beach, they bought and flipped houses.
Neil had done extensive marketing and sales with Fortune 500 companies and had a brokerage business, for which he had a real estate license.
But he had not considered becoming a real estate agent until Kathie did.
She joined Keller Williams in 2011 and “after watching me for a year, he decided to join me,” she said.
“For us, it really does work — we have complementary skills,” Kathie said.
Having been a nurse, Kathie is good at being highly sensitive to people’s needs, Neil said.
His business background gave him marketing, advertising and technology skills.
“We’ve been going great guns since 2012 pretty consistently,” he said.
They were invited to become part-owners of the Keller Williams Southside office two and a half years ago.
Together they have seven websites and a video channel, and they recently hired an executive assistant as well as Neil’s sister as a buyer’s agent.
Even though they work as a team, they don’t work together most of the time. Neil works in an office at their home, while Kathie and their employees work out of the Keller Williams office.
He belongs to the Ponte Vedra Rotary; she to the Oceanside Rotary.
They do generally go on listing appointments together. And sometimes they jointly hold open houses. They typically have two to four open houses a weekend, so it depends on how busy they get.
Being in business together as a married couple, “there are no disadvantages for us,” Kathie said.
Neil agrees. “Kathie started the business and did the hard work of getting started, so she is the senior partner,” he said. “If there is a disagreement, she is the decider.”
Paula and Kevin Fallon have been selling real estate with the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty’s St. Augustine office for a year.
“The beauty” of the business is that “we can collaborate,” Paula said, although they are still fine tuning how they work together.
Kevin joined the SeaGrove Main Street Berkshire Hathaway office in January 2016 at the prompting of Paula. She started there in 2013 soon after they moved to the area from Pennsylvania, where Kevin had a design and build company.
Paula had once owned and managed commercial and residential properties in the Northeast, but had grown tired of being a landlord. Even though she knew no one in St. Augustine, she decided to go into real estate sales “to help other people live the lifestyle of their dreams.”
“Delivering your lifestyle dreams” is the tagline for both of them. But they don’t consider themselves a team.
They both maintain desks at the Berkshire Hathaway office, across from each other. But they each have their own websites and business.
At home, she uses the Florida room for an office; he takes the kitchen table.
“It’s Kevin Fallon and Paula Fallon, not the Fallon team,” Kevin said.
They co-market, with their photos and names on the same fliers, but separately.
They have a blog on their websites, where the articles he writes appear on hers and vice versa. They share an assistant and together just hired a man to push their websites.
“It was important to me when Kevin came onboard that he had his own presence in the industry,” said Paula, who was “rookie of the year” her first year in the business. “We just thought that was in the best interests of both of us.”
Kevin said even though they often work apart, being in the same business has allowed them to spend more time together as a couple.
They determine their schedules, so they can travel and bring work with them, if necessary. During a December vacation to Key West, Paula wrote up a contract on Christmas Eve.
Being in real estate together has “been challenging but extremely rewarding,” Paula said. “It’s helped us grow in our marriage in ways we would have never done otherwise.”
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