Family Inspiration Gives Arizona REALTOR® Early Entrance to the Business
Jackie Briggs, ABR, GRI, who was named one of the National Association of REALTORS®' 2012 "30 Under 30," has been on the real estate fast track for most of her life.
"I really grew up in the business," says Briggs, an owner and broker with Firebird Realty in Phoenix, AZ. Indeed, her parents invested in real estate, and Briggs' mom was a top producer in the industry. What's more, she raised Briggs and her younger brother and cared for an elderly parent while doing so. "She's been very inspirational," Briggs says.
Briggs was just 12 when she began helping her mom use the computer to design flyers and other marketing materials. While still in high school, Briggs moved up to the position of marketing assistant.
It's not surprising that Briggs earned her real estate license while she was attending Arizona State University, working toward a degree in communication and psychology. Having her license allowed Briggs to work part-time with her mom, who started Firebird Realty in 2001. Briggs came on board in 2003.
At the same time, Briggs says her college degree has helped her career. "In real estate, a lot of times you're dealing with life changes, such as blending households or a divorce," Briggs says. Add to that the amount of money involved, and the transactions easily can become emotional. That's especially true in situations that are inherently uncertain, such as short sales. A real estate professional often can work more effectively if he or she tries to understand the emotions the client might be experiencing. "My degree has helped immensely," Briggs adds.
Another key is communicating effectively with clients, especially when the news isn't good, Briggs says. "That's the call you need to make first."
For example, Briggs has been representing investors who are selling properties they've acquired during foreclosures. The process can be challenging when a seller is trying to attract buyers in a declining market. It's not uncommon for the appraisal to come in lower than the seller would like. "My clients know that if there's a problem, they'll know immediately," she says.
Conversely, the strong housing recovery that Phoenix has seen recently also has created challenges. According to Trulia.com, the median home price in the area jumped by more than one-third between August 2011 and August 2012. However, the number of housing sales dropped by about one-fourth over the same time period. Briggs attributes this to the limited inventory available.
The result often is competition between buyers; it's not unusual to see multiple offers even for houses between $300,000 and $400,000, with the result that even strong offers are outbid. Clients need to know this is a real possibility.
Briggs' ability to understand and communicate with her clients helped her close 63 sales in 2011, for an individual sales volume of $16.4 million.
On top of her success on the job, Briggs has been committed to helping others in her community. She is a former foster parent and started a nonprofit program, Homes Helping Kids. Firebird Realty donates a portion of every commission to the cause and hosts an annual fundraiser to benefit the child crisis center for which Briggs volunteered while in college.
"No matter what the market is doing, we've done this for about seven years," she says. "I'm proud of how we've been really consistent in giving back."
While Briggs has been consistent in her philanthropy, she's found it more effective to adapt to market fluctuations in her business, foregoing the temptation to do what worked previously. "No matter how long you've been in the business, you have to work in today's market," Briggs says.
This means staying abreast of the myriad changes that have occurred in, for instance, lending regulations or in the market for properties that have been owned for less than 90 days. For instance, it's not unusual for underwriters today to require two appraisals and then work off the lower one, Briggs says.
Along with changes in regulations, advances in technology also have had a significant impact on the real estate industry. Briggs makes use of a range of technologies, including email and text messages, particularly when communicating with other agents. She and her colleagues also use electronic signatures and paperless filings, which allow them to review documents electronically and remotely.
At that same time, "you're never going to get away from the need to meet with a person at a property," Briggs says. In fact, Briggs has found the relationships she's built with other agents, through both work and her involvement in Women's Council of REALTORS®, particularly helpful in allowing her to connect with people and do a better job of negotiating, she says.
Even as Briggs' network of real estate colleagues continues to grow, her career remains a family affair. In addition to co-owning Firebird Realty with her mom, Briggs' future sister-in-law and her mother-in-law both are associated with the firm. Briggs' husband was an agent with Firebird until about one month ago, when he moved to a title company.
The streak just might continue: Briggs says her one of her young daughters (the other is baby) is deciding between medicine and real estate for her career.
Karen M. Kroll is a freelance writer from Chanhassen, MN.