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Leading Women: Sue Adler

by Karen M. Kroll

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REALTOR® Sue Adler continues to excel after a quarter-century in the real estate business. She's been a leading agent with Keller Williams for the past seven years, consistently ranking among the company's top 35 REALTORS® out of approximately 82,000 across the U.S. Since 2005, Adler has been the company's top agent in New Jersey. 

Sue Adler

She was also recently named one of the "100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders" by Inman News.

What's behind her success? Adler attributes it to a positive outlook – "I don't pay attention to noise and negativity. Instead, I'm a problem-solver, and I look for opportunities in the market," she says – as well as her use of technology and focus on clients. 

Adler grew up in the business. Her mom and dad owned a Century 21 office in Pennsylvania, and Adler began helping out as a teenager. By the time she was 22, Adler was selling for them. She remained with them for about a dozen years, before heading to a larger RE/MAX office, also in the Philadelphia suburbs. 

Adler became the number two RE/MAX agent in Pennsylvania, before moving to Short Hills, New Jersey. She started over, opening a Keller Williams office in New Jersey in early 2005. "I had been intrigued by Keller Williams and liked the opportunities for profit sharing and ownership," Adler says. 

Within a year, Adler was the top Keller Williams agent in the state, and within three years, Adler was one of the company's top agents across the U.S. Her team produced about $77 million in 2011. 

Adler's willingness to learn about and adopt new technologies has helped drive results. She launched her first website in 1999; at the time, others assumed the web would be a short-lived fad. Along with her website, Adler now networks through social media. 

Working as part of a team also is key to Adler's success. "We're expected to wear many hats as REALTORS®," she says. Because it's impossible to be an expert at everything, Adler concentrates on being the "rainmaker," negotiations and staying in front of buyers and sellers. 

Adler also has made a priority of bringing the consumer's voice into the industry. Previously, buyers and sellers haven't been represented at conferences; as a result, REALTORS® couldn't get their perspective. So, Adler began a conference focused on consumers: HearItDirect, a series of real estate consumer conferences that will be held in different markets throughout the country. 

Buyers and sellers discuss what they want and value in a real estate relationship and what they feel is a waste of time. The first event was held in late 2011 in Charleston, SC. 

"We got so many 'ahas,'" Adler says. For instance, some consumers said that they are more comfortable driving around or searching online, even spending hours doing so, rather than picking up the phone and calling a REALTOR®. 

As part of the "Google generation," many younger buyers approach real estate with a great deal of skepticism, Adler says. "They are afraid of being 'sold.' It's important to approach consumers as a consultant, not as a sales person." 

Based on the feedback, Adler has worked hard to make sure her team's approach is as consumer-centric as possible. For instance, she and her colleagues are proactive in letting clients know what steps are coming up and where glitches – like a delay in the mortgage commitment letter – are most likely to occur. 

"We bullet-proof the transaction," she says. They take control and let clients know that they're working with competent professionals. "That's our value; not just regurgitating what they find online," Adler adds. 

Adler's focus on clients and technology has helped her team thrive, even when the market overall is down. In fact, she says they tend to do better in a down market. When the market is languishing, sellers are less likely to take a chance by listing their homes with a friend or relative that just fell into the business; they want a professional. "It takes skill to sell a house now," Adler says. "Anyone can sell a house in a good market." 

When in the office, she spends three hours each day calling clients and potential clients. "I don't get off the phone until I have an appointment set," she says. Consistently taking such a focused approach generates strong results, she says. 

Karen M. Kroll is a freelance writer from Chanhassen, MN.

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