High School Reunion Sale

Texas sales associate Jacquelyn Foreman turned a chance meeting with a former schoolmate into an opportunity to make her first sale.

September 1, 2010

Having worked most of her life in the nightclub business, Austin, Texas–based Jacquelyn Foreman, GRI, a sales associate with Coldwell Banker United, REALTORS®, felt comfortable talking to strangers. But during a visit to a local sports facility to secure swimming lessons for her 5-year-old daughter in the summer of 2001, Foreman realized the facility owner wasn’t a stranger. And that familiar face turned out to be the catalyst for Foreman’s first sale.

“I knew the owner from high school. She graduated a year ahead of me 20 years earlier,” Foreman recalls. “When I told her I was selling real estate, she said she was looking to buy a house near her business and in the $400,000 to $500,000 range. My house at the time was worth about $150,000, so thinking about selling a house worth anywhere near $500,000 made me really nervous,” she adds.

After looking at a series of homes with the client, Foreman found a four-bedroom, five-bathroom estate in the tony Cuernavaca area, about 10 miles from downtown Austin. Built in 1995, the contemporary home featured 4,300 square feet and a separate one-bedroom guest apartment that seemed like a perfect fit.

Foreman felt awkward. “Everyone had experience. My buyer had bought and sold about 15 houses. The seller had real estate experience. The seller’s agent was very experienced. But I was really intimidated,” she explains.

The selling price was $400,000. But the local housing market was starting to soften, so Foreman’s client made an offer of $315,000.

“The house was already greatly reduced, and the seller’s agent just about chewed me up and spit me out when I presented the first offer,” Foreman recalls.

All parties eventually agreed on a sale price of $355,000. However, after the inspection, the buyer came back with four pages of typed-out repair requests.

“When I showed up with four pages of repair requests, the seller’s agent pulled out the addendum form and showed me the space where the repairs were supposed to go. It had room for maybe four or five items. But I didn’t know any different because it was my first time. It took days to get through the repair addendum, but with that experienced agent on the other side, we got through it,” Foreman says.

“It was rough, though. I was trying to keep my cool, in more ways than one. It was boiling hot outside, about 105 degrees. I was a few weeks away from having my second child. But it all worked out. Since then, the buyer has raised her children in the house, and I've been to lots of parties there,” she adds.

How did you get started in real estate?

FOREMAN: My husband and I were in the nightclub business. I had been a restaurant and bar manager for 20 years in downtown Austin. But since I was pregnant with my second child, coming home at 4 a.m. was rough. I always wanted to be in real estate.

Having a young family and starting a new career wasn’t easy at first. I took my newborn son with me in a sling to my first closing and to show property in the beginning. But real estate tuned out to be a fabulous career for me. I've done really well and become a top producer.

Coldwell Banker United, REALTORS®, was the first place I interviewed with after getting my license in June 2001. The office was close to my home. But it also felt like where I was supposed to be. More than nine years later, it still feels that way.

How did you start building your client list as a new sales associate?

FOREMAN: I started building my career with people I knew from being in the nightclub business. I had a good sphere to start with. When things were slow, I would go to the clubs and restaurants where I had worked and network. When my kids got into school, it was natural that my new friends became my sphere of influence.

Nowadays, it’s different. I've built a database of a few hundred people and stay in contact by having client appreciation parties at my house. In fact, I'm having a client appreciation party this month; it's a great way to stay in touch. I also use e-mail marketing, farm areas, and send postcards.

How long did this first transaction take?

FOREMAN: It took about three weeks to find the house and 30 days to close. My son was born Aug. 29, and we closed on the house two weeks earlier.

What did this transaction do for your professional career?

FOREMAN: That first sale gave me confidence to work in the luxury home market. That client gave me some referrals that helped me gain a foothold in a great market. That first year, I won rookie of the year for my office. The next year I was a top producer.

What were some of your biggest fears about that first sale?

FOREMAN: My main fear was that the deal wasn’t going to close and everyone involved in the transaction was going to blame me. The second thing I felt was more like excitement than fear; I was embarking on a new career.

Did you have a specialty or niche when you started?

FOREMAN: I didn’t really have a specialty when I started. But I had my eye on the luxury home market for sure, because I hoped to live in a luxury home someday and thought selling million-dollar homes would help me realize that dream. It definitely did. Today, in addition to luxury homes in the Lake Travis area, I specialize in waterfront properties and new construction. In the past two years, the market has been tough for higher-end homes in many areas, but because 80 percent of my clients have been cash buyers during this time, they're driven more by value and not limited by the stringent jumbo loan requirements.