Leading Women: Marie Barth
Based on her 40 years in the real estate business, Marie Barth, ABR, PMN, credits her success to her concern for clients. Barth is co-founder and owner of Designated Escrow, Inc., and broker and vice president of company development with ALLEN REALTORS® in Lakewood, WA.
"I think the real key is a caring heart. When I interact with clients, they know I care," says Barth, who was named Women's Council's "Entrepreneur of the Year" in 2009 and is the 2012 president-elect for the Washington state chapter.
As with many REALTORS®, the profession runs in Barth's family. Her dad was a REALTOR®. On weekends, he would pile Barth and her three brothers in the car to make the rounds of open houses. As a teen, Barth answered the phone in her dad’s office, earning $10 when a lead turned into a sale. During college, Barth worked at a mortgage company.
In 1987, Barth and her husband, Bruce Barth, opened Designated Escrow Inc., also in Lakewood. While Barth no longer has an active role in the company, her knowledge and experience have helped her business in real estate sales.
That's where Barth now focuses her efforts. Along with the opportunity to build wealth in the real estate profession, Barth enjoys the gratification that comes with helping clients successfully negotiate a purchase or sale. "Watching them smile, getting a big hug: those are the real rewards. The rest of it comes with it," she says.
Of course, working effectively with clients requires more than just a caring heart, although that's critical. It also means approaching the business with "unbridled energy and passion, and professionalism all the time," Barth says. If she picks up the phone and is asked to show a house on the spot, she'll make every effort to do so.
A strong work ethic has been key to Barth's ability to grow her business even as the market has been in the doldrums for the past few years. With both her husband and herself in real estate in some capacity, "we decided to put the blinders on and go back to being the Energizer bunny, working long hours, seven days a week," she says.
As part of her strategy, Barth joined several community and civic groups, giving each a two-year commitment. At the end of the two years, she would continue with those that were a good fit for her family and herself personally, as well as her business. "It's been a good thing," Barth says. "Networking is the life and breadth of what we do."
Among the volunteer organizations with which Barth continues to participate is the local Rotary. "I get a lot out of the camaraderie and helping others," she says. Barth also has remained involved in the Tacoma Association of REALTORS® and Women’s Council. "I have a passion for Women's Council. It's a great place for women to start, be leaders and hone their skills," she says.
These efforts have steadily paid off, as Barth says her real estate business is thriving. Moreover, although no one would choose to go through a downturn, Barth says it's given her and her husband a renewed appreciation for the rewards of the business. "Once you've taken a hard hit, you learn to appreciate things," she says.
One of Barth's most significant civic roles is as a new member of the Lakewood City Council; Lakewood is a city of about 78,000 people located between Tacoma and Olympia, WA. Barth decided to run for the office after the mayor suggested she consider it – just one day after Barth herself had been mulling over potential opportunities and hoping that she would recognize worthwhile ones when they were presented to her.
Barth was elected last November and took office in January. The commitment is tremendous, she notes, adding that her learning "has been fast and furious."
Still, Barth says she thoroughly enjoys her role and works with a fantastic group of people. They've been judicious stewards of the city's finances, which has helped head off some of the budgetary problems other communities are facing. To be sure, a few issues prompt a range of opinions and debate. Even so, "I think the citizens know that we have the city’s best interests at heart," she says. "It's not nasty politics."
While her work and other commitments limit Barth's free time, she is able to squeeze in a few outside activities, penciling them into her calendar like any other appointment. She enjoys spending time with her kids and grandkids, riding her motorcycle and raising Doberman puppies.
Whether she is on the job or relaxing, Barth keeps in mind a few principles that guide her actions. Among them:
- "If someone cared enough to invite you, care enough to go."
- "You attract what you radiate."
- "Always be courteous."
And of course, work to satisfy clients. "Handing the keys to a first-time buyer is awesome. I love happy clients," Barth says.
Karen M. Kroll is a freelance writer from Chanhassen, MN.
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