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Meet the President: Melissa Zimbelman, PMN

by Karen M. Kroll

Melissa Zimbelman

Melissa Zimbelman, 2016 National President of Women’s Council of REALTORS® (WCR), would be considered a success by almost anyone’s definition. In addition to her role with WCR, she is broker/owner of LUXE International Realty, a boutique agency in Las Vegas.

Yet Zimbelman also recognizes that success means different things to different people. “There’s no one true picture of what success looks like,” she says. For some REALTORS®, it means closing dozens of deals each year. For others, the transaction tallies will be much lower, yet they’ll thrive on the freedom the profession offers, as well as the opportunity to be involved with something they enjoy. “It’s a big, eye-opening realization when you realize you don’t have to meet anyone’s expectations but your own,” she says.

Throughout her seventeen years in the industry, Zimbelman has continually adjusted her expectations and goals. She got her start in college, when an instructor suggested she consider a career in real estate, given her high scores in a national business skills competition for speech and debate. Zimbelman enrolled in several classes on real estate law and history, and loved them. She also knew from working as a waitress during high school and college that she enjoyed working with people and meeting their needs. “I decided that’s what I would do,” she says.

Zimbelman and her husband relocated from Colorado, where she’d grown up, to Las Vegas. She passed the real estate exam and began working as an assistant with an affiliate of Better Homes & Garden Real Estate. After several months, Zimbelman decided to begin building her own client base. It wasn’t easy. She would sit for hours with an open phone book, “dialing for dollars,” as she says, calling residents and asking if they were looking for a REALTOR®. “I got a lot of no’s and a few yeses,” she says.

After about a year, she joined a team of several REALTORS® at Realty Executives on a program with local builders, selling new construction buyers’ existing homes, and allowing them to be in a position to purchase new homes. The pace was grueling; she handled about twenty closings and forty listings each month.

“The training was great,” Zimbelman says. “There’s not a situation I haven’t seen.” For instance, she learned to manage transactions in which individuals were moving from their current homes to newly built homes. Of course, they would want to avoid any gaps in the timing. “I learned to navigate that stress, prepare options, and keep everything seamless.” That might mean helping clients find short-term rentals and putting some of their items in storage if they couldn’t get into new homes as soon as their previous homes sold. These sorts of situations aren’t unusual, she says, yet they can seem overwhelming if REALTORS® don’t see them frequently," she says.

Zimbelman also gained confidence in her ability to present and negotiate offers and counter-offers. “I did it several times a week. No terms could throw me off,” she says. She also developed clean systems to help keep all the steps in each transaction on course.

After about six years, Zimbelman had gained quite a bit of knowledge, and was ready to move on. “I went on my own and left the safety net.” Fortunately, she’d remained in regular contact with past clients. “I didn’t have to dial for dollars again,” she says.

She and her husband founded LUXE International Realty in 2010. In addition to handling real estate transactions, they manage several hundred homes under the company’s property management arm.

Zimbelman is taking the helm at Women’s Council with the organization at a crossroads. "While the improvement in the real estate markets is, of course, a positive, it also means many potential volunteers are spending more time on their businesses. We really have to show members our value,” she says. The organization has to “very clearly define who we are and the unique value proposition we can offer,” she says.

She speaks with passion of the value she’s gained from her involvement with WCR. At her first meeting, she says, “I saw these amazing women in real estate.  As a woman entrepreneur, there’s often not a lot of role models.” She’d also found a group of women she could turn to for friendship and to act as sounding boards.

In addition, the organization offers “an amazing opportunity for learning leadership skills,” she says. Indeed, Zimbelman has held just about every position at the local level, she’s been Nevada state president, regional vice-president, and she’s served on the national executive and strategic planning committees.

WCR also “does the referral part of our business better than anyone I know,” Zimbelman says. “I feel very comfortable sending a referral to any other Women’s Council member.”

She says, “we want everyone to be successful.”

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