There is enough for everyone. It’s critical to have an abundance mindset & realize that wealth, success and opportunity is all around us. When you’re constantly thinking that there’s not enough or that someone is out to steal your business you’re naturally going to have less. As soon as I realized this my income doubled.
Asa part of my series about strong women leaders of the Real Estate industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Krista Mehr.
Krista has been involved in real estate her entire life. As a teen she worked in her father’s high volume real estate office in Chandler Arizona. In 2001 she relocated to Seattle Washington with the sole purpose of being an industry leader. She became licensed in 2003 after having her first son and started her own brokerage, Mehr and Associates, during the financial crisis. The idea was to lay a solid foundation while things were slow and reap the rewards when the market returned to normal. Little did she know she’d be at the epicenter of the hottest real estate market in the country fueled by tech giant, Amazon. Krista is self taught and has never worked for a big brokerage. All of her knowledge comes from real life experiences, trial and error or simply cracking open a book or listening to podcasts.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Krista! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Real Estate industry?
Mydad was a real estate agent in Chandler Arizona. His brokerage was a bike ride away from our home so I basically grew up in a real estate office. As a kid I’d make copies, answer the phones, run errands & talk to the ladies at the front desk. He always drove Cadillacs and I vividly remember him talking on his car phone! In high school I began managing files, delivering just listed flyers, putting lock boxes on and booking appointments. I moved away for college when I was 18 but always knew I’d return to real estate. I met my ex husband in 2001 who had sold real estate in Seattle in the 1990’s. Six months after we met we moved to Seattle and I became licensed in Washington State in 2003.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
A close friend of mine and his family are luxury home builders. It’s not a huge company but they build very high end homes. In 2011 the real estate market was in the gutter and they were desperate to get out of a lot in Sammamish Washington. The price was around $200,000 which is cheap for our area. A developer approached me directly to buy it. To make the deal work and to help my friend out I didn’t take a commission. I figured that if I helped my friend move on from the lot I’d be paid tenfold in the future from his family with future sales. Well, that was almost 10 year ago and since then I’ve sold my friends home, I sold him a new home & I sold that developer 4 million dollars worth of unfinished Penthouse space at Escala Condominiums in downtown Seattle. The takeaway is that if you always do the right thing and you come from a place of helping people at all times you’ll never have to worry about making it in real estate.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I’m currently working on streamlining our sales and marketing processes to optimize profitability from our Geo Farm area, Issaquah Highlands. While profitability is important, it’s not everything. I’m focused on customizing services & tailoring commissions to owners needs. I find that rock bottom commissions are alluring but many of our clients are happy to pay more to get quality marketing like paid social media campaigns, digital marketing, high end staging etc. I’ve been focusing on finding the right balance of what we charge and what the seller needs to make the most money from their home sale. Our area is extremely unique because the neighborhood has high turnover, density, and wide range of prices. Homeowners are primarily employed by Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Expedia, Boeing & Starbucks. We work in the neighborhood we live in so building strong, long lasting relationships are critical to our success.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our company has never had a great number of brokers working for it. We are relatively small but our volume is massive. 1/2 of the company is focused on new construction sales and the other half is residential real estate. Currently we have over $500 million under management in new construction and resale. The one thing that stands out the most is that we’re pretty humble about it. We’re not flashy. In a world of “look at me” we’re more, “hey, what we just accomplished, let’s get back to work.” Craigslist has just 50 employees but makes over a Billion dollars a year. You don’t need to be a mega brokerage to be successful, you just need to structure things in a smart way.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’ve had a lot of help a long the way. My dad was my biggest mentor and he taught me how to be humble and how to go the extra mile. My business partner taught me how to be ruthless and how to talk to people in a way that they can’t steam roll over you. My agents are amazing and help when I’m on overload. One of the greatest speeches I’ve ever seen is one given by Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr. It’s short and sweet, “”I want to thank me for believing in me. I want to thank me for doing all this hard work. I want to thank me for having no days off. I want to thank me for never quitting. I want to thank me for always being a giver and trying to give more than I receive. I want to thank me for trying to do more right than wrong. I want to thank me for just being me at all times.” I think people should remember to thank themselves and appreciate themselves more.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. The Real Estate industry, like the Veterinarian, Nursing and Public Relations fields, is a women dominated industry. Yet despite this, less than 20 percent of senior positions in Real Estate companies are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what do you think is the cause of this imbalance?
Honestly, I think having children has a lot to do with it. Raising children is one of the single greatest, most important, challenging & rewarding thing a person can do. Historically women have been the ones to be at home and raise the kids. We are biologically programmed to protect them, I mean, they grew in our bellies and came out of us! Naturally, we have a hard time handing them over to a stranger so we can be an executive. Men have an upper hand in this regard. Instead of changing diapers, volunteering at school and driving the kids to sports they’re typically developing a professional career. Day in day out a spouse is at work networking, in meetings, being introduced to industry professionals, developing skills. Is there something fundamentally wrong with this? In my opinion — NO! Every family and every person is different. I have many friends who are stay at home dads. It just so happened that their wives ended up having better opportunities along the way. This was probably due to very hard work, skillful maneuvering & being very good at what they do day in and day out.
What 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and/or c) society to support greater gender balance going forward?
The greatest benefit a company could give an employee is support or provide resources for child care. Women aren’t going to stop having children. Imagine if a company like Amazon had in house childcare for executives. Picture moms and dads could taking 15 minutes out of their day to give their baby a bottle, a kiss before nap time or share a snack? How powerful and healthy would that be for the child and the parent? It would be massive and more women would be willing and able to achieve what men do in their careers. Wishful thinking? No way! Corporations are grossly profitable and if they wanted to do this they certainly could.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
Personally, I think there’s very little difference. Women and men face the same challenges. I do think that women and men tend to react differently to challenges which can cause conflict. Working through conflict is the greatest driver of growth which is why we need more women at the executive level.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Real Estate industry?
Competition, Basic Fundamentals & the human aspect of it all.
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?
I have concerns about Venture Capital and Wall Street entering into the world of the traditional real estate brokerage. I think when profits come before anything else it’s the client that suffers. Next, I have concerns over how corporations & VC may influence legislation to eliminate real estate brokers all together. Last, I have concerns over gimmicky concepts in real estate that lure sellers into saving money when they could just work with a great agent and make more from the sale of their home. I think there needs to be a higher level of education required to perform real estate duties. If I could change on thing it would be too make it more challenging to get a license and that people have to do a certain amount of sales to keep their skills sharp.
What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive?
When you genuinely want to help people you can’t fail. This business is all about trust and relationships. This goes for a $100,000 condo or a $50 million dollar condo project. People first, profits second.
Ok, here is the main question of our interview. You are a “Real Estate Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non intuitive things one should know to succeed in the Real Estate industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?
- Getting your real estate license is as important to get as a driver's license. Everyone should have one! Anytime you buy a home you get a 2–3% discount. On a $500,000 home that’s a potential $15,000 that can be used for closing costs, new furniture, a lower interest rate etc. When I purchase rental properties I use the commission to make the payment lower so the rent payment matches the mortgage payment.
- You don’t need expensive coaching or training seminars. What you really need to do is crack open a book, listen to a podcast or watch videos to learn what you need to do to be successful. When I need to up my game I listen to Audible or Podcasts in the car instead of music.
- If you have big financial goals and big dreams you’ll have to eliminate the things in your life that get in the way of those goals and dreams. This could be negative mindset, loser friends, bad habits. There have been people in my life that I’ve let go because they gossip, drink too much etc.
- There is enough for everyone. It’s critical to have an abundance mindset & realize that wealth, success and opportunity is all around us. When you’re constantly thinking that there’s not enough or that someone is out to steal your business you’re naturally going to have less. As soon as I realized this my income doubled.
- There are no shortcuts. Work is work. There’s no replacement for getting up at 5am everyday, staying later than everyone, being faster than your competitor, composing a better email, following up more, skipping drinks with friends when a big client calls or not taking that vacation when the market is hot. There’s a lot of sacrifice along the way. I’ve lost some friends, went through a divorce and have shed some tears just to reach my goals. I don’t regret a single second of it!