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Broker Spotlight: Brenda Brewster, PMN

by Karen M. Kroll

Brenda BrewsterIt was the opportunity to have more control over her work schedule – even though she often puts in many long days – that drew Brenda Brewster, ABR, GRI, PMN, a broker with Century 21 Select Properties in Knoxville, TN, to the real estate profession. Previously, Brewster was working 70-plus hours each week as an office manager with a television production company. The turning point came when she asked for time off to accompany her son, now 23, on a field trip. Brewster's request was denied.

A talk with another parent prompted Brewster to give real estate a try. That was 13 years ago, and she's been moving up through the industry ever since, setting sales records and participating in a number of professional groups. While Brewster still works some crazy hours, she says she enjoys having a bit more control over her time. "I worked even more after going into real estate," Brewster says. "But I did get to go on field trips."

Among other awards, Brewster has been recognized as "REALTOR® of the Year" with the Great Smoky Mountains Association of REALTORS® and earned the Women’s Council’s local "Platinum Award" several times. Brewster also has been a top producer at several of the firms with which she’s worked.

Brewster credits her motivation and drive – which she says stems in part from the fact that she's single and can only depend on herself – as well as her involvement in several industry organizations for her success. She has held several offices with her Women's Council state chapter, including secretary and president, and also has chaired the finance and budget and education committees with her local real estate association.

It was in 2007 that Brewster really stepped up her involvement in Women's Council – a shift that "changed my life," she says. "It's given me a lot as a growing individual, both in business and personally." Just meeting the leaders of the organization can be profound, she says, as you can draw from their energy and knowledge to improve yourself.

Indeed, her trip to Women's Council Leadership Academy in 2008 "was an experience I'll never forget," Brewster says. "The professionalism, the high energy, the leadership was one step above. I wanted to get there."

Brewster knew one way to achieve her goal was by becoming a more accomplished public speaker. She started by getting in front of several dozen people as local chapter president of Women's Council. She also began teaching; Brewster has taught classes for her state association in forms and contracts, mastering the transaction desk and new agent orientation, among others.

Along with being an instructor, Brewster helped promote and organize six designation courses for Women’s Council in Tennessee this year, from electronic promotions to getting the word out with members face to face. "That was a real push on my part. I think we should promote our Women's Council designation," she says.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Brewster has advanced rapidly over the past few years. "Five years ago, I would never have dreamed that I'd be state president, going to be regional vice president," she says.

To be sure, Brewster's region of the country wasn’t immune to the downturn in the real estate market. Before the downturn, most of Brewster's business was concentrated in the Sevier County area of Tennessee. However, many residential and vacation homes in the county became caught up in the real estate bubble of 2004 to 2007, and their prices rocketed to about 30 percent above typical market values, she says.

Then came the downturn. "When that crashed, it crashed everyone," she says.

To keep her real estate business viable, Brewster expanded her focus to include Tennessee's Knox County, situated to the north and west of Sevier. The area hadn't been hit quite as hard.

In addition to her real estate business and her work in the industry, Brewster has been an energetic booster and leader with her local Salvation Army, where she's served on the local board. Brewster also recruited enough real estate professionals from around the area to take shifts ringing the Salvation Army bells for 17 days during the last holiday season.

Brewster's approach to leadership likely played a role in her ability to fill the slots. Through her real estate work, she came to realize that a leader is "enthusiastic and believes in what they speak about. They go do it and people follow," she says.

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

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