Telling It Like It Is

Guest Editor Leigh Thomas Brown uses straight talk wherever she goes.

March 19, 2014

In her Commentary, the magazine’s guest editor talks about the power of candor. During her February visit with our staff, she didn’t hold back. Her pronouncements on the magazine were direct and swift. “Words, words, words. Too many words. Not enough communication.” “What’s this guy writing for? He’s never sold a house in his life!”

Somehow, out of the mouth of Leigh Brown, ABR, CRS, it doesn’t feel insulting. It’s like your best friend telling you what you need to hear so that you can get on with your life. That helps explain how Brown builds rapport with clients—and how she built one of the nation’s top teams, Leigh Brown & Associates. The team is part of RE/MAX Executive Realty, Concord, N.C., which she owns.

Although Brown is a second-generation real estate professional, she didn’t jump directly into the business. Instead she took a detour into stock brokerages—making 300 cold calls a day—and another selling Husqvarna chain saws. She was so good at the latter that her boss had her traveling around the country showing others how to get it done. But she grew tired of the nomadic lifestyle, and in 2000 she moved back home to North Carolina to become a real estate professional working with her father, Darrell Thomas.

That first year couldn’t have been easy for the outspoken daughter. Her father told her not to speak but to watch and learn. At his elbow, Brown learned the fundamentals that helped carry her to success, even in the dark days of the real estate crisis. A key tenet: Don’t put people into more house than they can afford. “I start with what they think they can afford and then ask, ‘What else do you like to do? Would you like to be able to eat dinner out once in a while? Take a vacation?’”

Brown also learned how to run her business like a business—something she says too few real estate practitioners do. “You just know [with sales improving] a lot of agents didn’t put enough away in estimated taxes this year, so as April 15 approaches, they’ll be scrambling to pay the IRS.” Brown won’t be scrambling. She’ll be making new friends at her team’s annual community shredding day—a rather apropos event for her take-no-prisoners approach to life.

Stacey Moncrieff

Stacey is executive editor of publications for the National Association of REALTORS® and editor in chief of REALTOR® Magazine.