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Broker Spotlight: Julie Sundquist, PMN

by Karen M. Kroll

Sunquist - articleA bit of encouragement from her colleagues was all it took to convince Julie Sundquist, GRI, PMN, to get into the real estate business.

More than a dozen years ago, Sundquist – now a REALTOR®, associate broker and assistant manager with Coldwell Banker Tomlinson Group in Nampa, ID – was assisting two sales representatives sell houses in a newly developed subdivision in South Boise. "They said 'you can do everything we can. Get your license.'" Sundquist took their advice and earned her REALTORS® license in 2000.

Her colleagues' advice has proven to be right on. Since entering the real estate profession, Sundquist has seen her career – almost all of it spent with Coldwell Banker – flourish. Sundquist credits her success to several factors. One has been her willingness to re-think her business model when the real estate market declined several years ago. Sundquist's efforts to get involved in several professional groups and her efforts to be honest and upfront with clients also have been key, she says.

That's not to say that it's all come easily. In 2007 and 2008, Sundquist's business fell dramatically from its 2006 level, as housing prices in what's known as the Treasure Valley region of Idaho dropped in half. Treasure Valley spans Boise and a half-dozen other cities in western Idaho.

"It really was time to step back and look at what I was doing," Sundquist says. Depending on referrals and repeat clients – a strategy that previously had worked quite well – no longer was sufficient. With a shaky economy, few people were interested in either buying or selling.  

As it happened, another REALTOR® in Sundquist's office was putting together a team to market real estate owned (REO) and foreclosed properties. He asked Sundquist to join the team he was assembling. She said yes – another profitable decision. Sundquist and her teammates worked with more than 450 such properties between 2010 and 2011.

The sales process required with these properties differs from more traditional transactions in a number of ways. For instance, the REALTORS® often must conduct weekly inspections of each home. And it's not uncommon to find renters on the property; depending on their lease, they may have the right to stay for a period of time.

Learning the new processes and incorporating these properties into her portfolio enabled Sundquist to re-build her business. Foreclosed and REO sales accounted for the vast majority of her business for several years and still make up about two-thirds of the transactions on which she works. (As the volume of equity sales rebounds, the percentage of foreclosure transactions has declined.)

Getting Involved

Even as Sundquist changed her business model to reflect a new real estate market, one aspect of her approach to the profession didn't change: she remained an active participant and leader in a number of industry groups, including the Women's Council of REALTORS®. "When I started, another REALTOR® told me to get involved and stay involved – that it was the best way to learn the business," she says.

Sundquist also took this advice to heart. Over the past few years, she has held offices at the local and state level with Women's Council, including stints as treasurer and president of the Idaho State association. Sundquist also was named Idaho's "Member of the Year" in 2010.  

Her involvement has helped Sundquist not only learn the industry, but also connect with other REALTORS® and develop professionally. "I have a real passion for Women's Council," she says. "I feel that the person I've become has a lot to do with what Women's Council is about." By providing opportunities to serve and lead at the local, state and national level, the Council helps women develop into leaders in many areas, Sundquist says. Along with her involvement with the Women's Council, Sundquist has held leadership roles with the Nampa Association of REALTORS® and the Snake River Valley Building Contractors Association.

Outside of work, Sundquist has volunteered with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Toys for Tots and the Idaho Youth Ranch, an organization that works with at-risk youth.

In addition, Sundquist is considering taking on roles with other civic organizations, such as serving on the local school board. With her experience within Women's Council, "I now feel like I'm capable of going out and serving,” she says, although she plans to wait until her daughter, who's now five, is a little older.

Another key to success in both her work and volunteer commitments has been Sundquist's decision to be honest and upfront with clients. "I never try to portray something I'm not," she says. Not only does this cut the risk of unexpected surprises, but "people want to see who you are," Sundquist adds. 

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