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Leading Women: JoAnne Poole

Joanne Poole

Applying the theory that one should make the best of a bad situation, JoAnne Poole, CRS, GRI, an associate broker and REALTOR® in Baltimore, MD, decided to enter the real estate profession after a negative experience purchasing her own home.

"It made me think there were things I could have shared to make the experience more pleasant. I didn't want anyone else to go through what I went through," Poole says.

That was in 1986. Poole started with Coldwell Banker, where she remained for about five years before moving to a smaller company that eventually became ERA Personal Touch. Again, she remained about five years, then headed to another local company that was sold and became a Coldwell affiliate.

In 2006, Poole opened her own firm, Poole Realty, focusing on residential listings. During her tenure in the business, she has developed strong relationships with several banks in her area. As a result, when the housing market dropped, many of the banks looked to Poole to assist them with REO (real estate owned, or properties that have reverted to the mortgage lender) transactions. Over the past six years, Poole has expanded into a wider range of transactions, while still working on REO and short sales.

For the past year and a half, Poole also has managed an office for Prudential Real Estate, overseeing more than 40 agents. "It's been busy," Poole acknowledges. "But, what's most rewarding is watching people grow and helping them until they realize their growth."

Over her more than quarter century in the real estate business, Poole has earned a number of honors, including Member of the Year with Women's Council, the President's Award from the Maryland Association of REALTORS® and the Omega Tau Rho award from the National Association of REALTORS®.

Poole also has held a number of volunteer positions within the profession. Among other roles, she's been state president for Women's Council, as well as regional vice president, and president of her state association. Poole also has served on the Public Policy and Housing Opportunity Committees with NAR.

Volunteer leaders dedicate much time, talent and energy to their profession, and Poole says the training and support offered through Women's Council helped build her confidence, leading to her success in leadership roles and her career. "The camaraderie, watching other leaders and mentoring," all played a role, Poole says.

In addition, her roles bring balance to her work and allow Poole to contribute to the governance of the real estate industry. That helps ensure that it remains a profession of which she can be proud to belong, Poole says.

Along with volunteering, several other attributes have been key to Poole's success. One is learning to effectively communicate with clients, helping them become comfortable asking all sorts of questions, Poole says. "We should never forget that what is an everyday occurrence to us is not an everyday occurrence to the people we work with."

Poole notes that as an agent gains experience, it can become easy to forget that most clients don't have as deep an understanding of real estate transactions. While Poole doesn't talk down to her clients, she strives to provide as much information as possible. As Poole points out, it's much better that clients feel they've received all the information they need – even a bit more than all – than to walk from a transaction saying, "I had no idea that was going to happen."

Poole also has been in the real estate business long enough to recognize the need to adjust to its cycles. "You have to be able to change how you do business and modify the things you think are concrete," she says. This holds true whether a real estate professional has been in the business for just a couple of years, or for decades, she adds. "You have to be flexible enough to change with the market."

It's particularly important to recognize the importance of promoting oneself when the market is down, Poole says. In contrast, many real estate professionals cut their marketing efforts during downturns, concerned that they can't afford the cost.

This strategy can backfire. Poole notes that it may be possible to pull back slightly when the market is strong, as long as an agent remains visible. "But when things are bad, you have to market everywhere." That way, a potential client is more likely to think of you when he or she is ready to buy or sell.

Another key is having the right attitude when challenges arise. "I don't see challenges," Poole says. "So many things are just learning experiences."

In her free time, Poole loves to travel. She's visited Europe, South America and New Zealand, along with much of the U.S. Poole also is involved in leadership positions with her church.

Poole has been married for 45 years; she and her husband have two grown sons. Some of the secrets to success in marriage might also apply to real estate. One is understanding that nothing is easy. "You have to work at everything you do," she notes.

Another is appreciating each other's differences. "We're united, but still two very different personalities," Poole says. At times, that means each spouse participates in some activities individually – but does so while respecting each other. "Embrace who you are and enjoy the things you enjoy doing," Poole says.

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