The loudest marketer receives the most attention. In order to sell homes, you need to sell yourself as an educated, leading, aggressive, dedicated and trusted advisor to your clients throughout the selling process.
As a part of my series about strong women leaders of the Real Estate industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tracy Cousineau.
Tracy Cousineau is co-founder of the #1 real estate team in the Atlanta metro area, ranked as the #12 fastest growing company, in Georgia by INC Magazine and a coach of real estate agents across the country. She has been in real estate since 1999, selling residential properties. Real estate enables her to serve a greater purpose in helping others to change, to innovate and to grow. Her past and failures helped Tracy to learn and grow as a person and entrepreneur and become a more confident, knowledgeable person; in fact, some would call her a “Bold Bitch.” She created Rockstar BossBabe, now Women Elevation an organization that helps female entrepreneurs grow their businesses. Through Women Elevation, she works with female entrepreneurs in something similar to the TV show Bar Rescue to help turn around failing businesses. Tracy also owns the Southern Lace Boutique in Dacula, GA.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Real Estate industry?
Iwas working in property management and it dawned on me that if I could make $80,000 leasing apartments as I was going in my then-current position, selling houses should be a snap, and lucrative, too. Meanwhile, every night, I would drive by my local community college on the way home and would be drawn to a red flashing sign advertising a real estate course. It literally was the sign I was seeking that maybe it was time for a change. I decided to look into the program and then signed up for the class. Two-and-a-half-months later I had my real estate license. I picked out the real estate firm I wanted to work at based on their reputation for success and although they did not hire inexperienced agents, I convinced them to hire me through determination and persistence. I told them I would pay the brokerage the upfront fee of $850, and if I did not sell my first house in 30 days, I would leave. I sold my first house in ten days to a cash buyer and became one of the top agents in their office.
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?
When I first started in the real estate business, no one shared any best practices with anyone else. Everyone was very competitive and very protective of their turf. Brokerages hire agents who develop their own teams, but they never felt the need to share anything that would help to develop leadership in others. As a senior member of our team, I realized that I was holding people back and was being very shallow. I then decided to share my expertise and best practices to help others grow, which enhances the firm’s success as well. To build others up and to build a successful firm, you have to have an open mind, an open heart and a willingness to help everyone succeed. We probably lost a lot of ground by not sharing and now know that sharing can be both emotionally and financially rewarding as we all build our skills and mutually support one another on our paths to career and personal success.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I have several great projects in the works. I am currently a host of a National TV Show. We are in the process of producing our own TV show that I will be hosting that will share tips for buying and selling a home, what to watch for in home inspections and other useful tips and insights on the day-to-day world of real estate. We are also beginning the process of franchising our real estate brokerage across the US.
I am also close to finishing writing a book titled Million Dollar Trap. Million Dollar Trap is a pragmatic guide that provides the emotional and logical business support women need to achieve their professional goals. Readers will learn how to stop living the “Million Dollar Hustle,” which is the unfortunate day-to-day life we live in hustle-and-survival mode while trying to pursue that “wealth-chasing grind” that pushes most people into the endless rabbit hole of putting up with people and situations that waste our time, money, and energy. The Million Dollar Trap will help readers understand why they are the way they are and why they think the way that they do so they can stop this behavior. Readers will learn to develop an abundance mindset, learn how to think like a CEO, and improve their lives, which will free them from the Million Dollar Hustle and help them to avoid the Million Dollar Trap.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We didn’t set our vision originally on opening our own brokerage but as we continued to grow our team and found that we didn’t have the support, training and space we needed, we were clear at that time that was our next journey to grow and build others. After that clear moment in June of 2014, the next day I signed up for the brokers course, took the class immediately and within 3 weeks our doors were open. Yes, we move quickly, just like we do for all of our clients.
Real Estate Expert Advisors continues to work hard for our clients and our community, which has helped us to create a strong brand and image. Our vision is to help clients to achieve their goals whether they are the buyer or seller. Our staff remains passionate about our jobs and our process, which result in sales and great success for the agency. We are known for selling houses that others have failed to sell. We know how to stage homes for sale to maximize the best first impression, how to use and which websites to use to display photos of our properties, which enable them to sell quickly. In the last few years, we have sold over 300 homes that were previously listed with another agent that failed to sell. In 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, we have closed 400 transactions with an average days-on-the-market of 16 days. The economy may be down 35 percent in 2020, but our business is up 42 percent, which if I may say so, is impressive in these trying times.
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?
Yes, I see two specific people who have helped me. My life partner and business partner, Jason Williford yanked me out of a difficult period in my life by asking me in November 2011, “what are you doing? You are a realtor and a mom and you need to start showing up.” This served as a reality check for me. The Great Recession was a dark time for me, I had been going through a difficult time in my personal life and was ready to give up on everything. At the time, I had $186 in my pocket and three daughters to support as a single mother and did not have the luxury of running away. I realized I needed to figure out where I was headed and set the course to get there in a timely and productive manner. This brings me to my second big influence, Tony Robbins. I attended his Unleash the Power Within live event and it helped me to overcome my fear of public speaking, gain more confidence, release past pain and to do a better job of living my life. I was able to turn my life around and achieve greater success than I had previously. I’ve never looked back.
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?
The real estate business is becoming more diverse and the number of women in power will continue to rise, which is a wonderful thing. Women were at home with their families for so many years that it will take some time for us to catch up in leadership roles. Real estate is well suited to women because many of the positions are 100-percent commissioned and do not require a real estate agent to clock in and out at specific times. This flexibility allows for work/life balance and time for parents to be home with their children while starting and running a real estate business. I learned what schedule would work for myself and benefited from online and virtual technology that enabled me to work from home.
There are so many strong women currently in the real estate industry across the country that I am certain that you will see more of us showing up to raise this percentage. I receive so many calls and messages from women who want to grow within the industry. Supporting their growth is something that I am passionate about and I hope that I can drive this rise for the industry.
What 3 things can be done by a) individuals b) companies and/or c) society to support greater gender balance going forward?
Individuals can set their own goals and set their own hours to be as full time as they like, and as more women are full time, they can take on more leadership positions, which will equalize the gender balance, to some degree. Companies can support diversity through the tools they provide to all employees. Online technologies, video cameras, cellphones and technologies that support virtual home tours all make real estate work accessible from any location, which means that parents can work from home or at hours when they are not burdened by childcare issues. Additionally, management needs to take women’s opinions as seriously as they take those from their male counterparts and women must push for their voices to be heard and for a seat at the board table by being forthcoming with their knowledge and insights. Managers of both genders need to realize that real estate is not a fun hobby for women; this is a career and we are committed to personal, agency and industry success. Women need to speak up. As Shirley Chisholm said, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair,” meaning that women need to take an active role in breaking the glass ceiling and not just wait for acceptance. Fortunately, whether it is due to #MeToo or Black Lives Matter movements, we seem to be reaching a point in society in which the need to treat everyone equally finally is coming to the forefront and this will help increase diversity and inclusion in real estate and other industries.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
Unfortunately, women executives still face undue sex-role stereotypes. Women’s opinions are not always taken seriously and we are often treated as if our real estate work is a hobby. We are judged on our appearances more than our accomplishments and that hurts women. There is a double standard because men can be handsome and intelligent; they are never judged on their availability to be with their children. As women, we need to show that we can do it all, that is, be present for our jobs and our families. With technology, we can work from home or set our hours and create the balance we need.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Real Estate industry?
I love many things about real estate, but my top three are:
1. Technology has changed marketing and has helped me to get ahead of the game. It is fun to stretch your creativity by using 3D video, a cellphone or GoPro to create marketing content.
2. Real estate is about networking. I love meeting new agents and helping them to grow and to take the industry to the next level.
3. Building a bigger voice for those in the industry. Buying and selling a home is a major event, this is one’s largest investment and this makes people very anxious. People don’t realize how hard real estate agents and brokers work. I is our responsibility to educate, negotiate and facilitate each transaction and provide each client with the value they deserve.
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?
If I could change a few things about the real estate industry, they would be the following:
1. #1 would definitely be that every real estate agent is required to follow a code of ethics.
2. Real estate licensing is too easy. There are some agents who see real estate as a side gig, but for most of us it is our fulltime career and our passion. Gaining a license is something that should be taken seriously, and it is frustrating for those of us who do take our business seriously to see others who do not.
3. Reduce the ego-based side of the industry — Agents need to realize that the profession is not about you. It is about the client and their goals. We are helping others to achieve the American Dream of home ownership.
What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive?
Leaders should share their wisdom and knowledge and educate and grow each agent and staff member of your team. But also, make sure that each team member is in a position that they will thrive at. We can all learn from each other and we can also save our team members from the mistakes we made as we were coming up in our careers.
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?
I would share the following insider tips:
- Make yourself your own competitor — Keep striving to do better with this opportunity and client than you did last time. Learn from your successes and from your failures. As the saying goes, “a flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms,” and we each must work to bloom in our work.
- Be a leader not a follower. You can create trends and processes in how to sell and how to succeed in the market. A good leader pushes toward her goals and also helps others to achieve success.
- Don’t compete with others — Don’t worry about what other agents are doing; stay in your lane and focus on your listings and customers.
- Stay current on trends in the housing industry. Know the supply and which properties are currently on the market. Look at statistics on selling price, days on the market, number of homes sold this month. By having this information, you will understand the environment and can also be an advocate for the industry.
- The loudest marketer receives the most attention. In order to sell homes, you need to sell yourself as an educated, leading, aggressive, dedicated and trusted advisor to your clients throughout the selling process.
Because of your position, you are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I am starting a movement with my book, Million Dollar Trap. My goal with the book is to help people to strive for their goals. To succeed, you must know your purpose and know what works for you, which may not be what works for others. I want to help my readers to develop an abundance mindset, learn how to think like a CEO, and improve their lives, which will free them from the Million Dollar Hustle of the daily grind in our day-to-day life in which we live in hustle-and-survival mode rather than focusing on our true goals.
How can our readers follow you online?
Instagram — @Tracy.Cousineau
Thank you for your time, and your excellent insights!