I am excited to continue to share the experience and knowledge of many of my incredible friends and colleagues with you. Each of them have a unique perspective, talent and journey that led them to find success.
I’d like to introduce you to Deborah Vahle, Realtor at The CityLiving group at VILLAGE. After a decade of traveling the world as a Global Sourcing Manager for a leading apparel company, Deborah settled in Nashville to raise her growing family and be a full-time mom.
A couple of years later, she and her husband started buying and renovating rental properties. As they built their property portfolio, she managed the rental properties and various renovations. It became a natural progression for her to become a licensed real estate agent.
In early 2018, she joined The CityLiving Group, Mark Deutschmann's personal real estate sales team at VILLAGE. They specialize in selling Nashville’s urban and unique homes in and around the city’s core. In today's unique market, Deborah says their team is focused on serving their clients, whether that’s helping them remove tornado debris from their property, or helping them buy or sell a home virtually through video tours and their new “safe at home” protocols.
She describes her approach to real estate as having “the heart of a teacher” as she guides others through the home buying and selling process, helping them to find a home that’s just right for them. She says, “It’s not about the house, it’s how you feel in it that makes it a home.”
I had a chance to catch up with Deborah to talk more about her career and advice she has for young professionals.
Q: What do love most about your career in real estate?
A: I love helping people find a place that is just right for them in addition to finding the value in the real estate market. That value may look different for each client whether they are an investor, someone selling their home, or someone buying a home. I like the variety that every transaction brings. The best part about real estate is that I get to help bridge the gap between the buyer and the seller and work through the negotiations and the challenges that come with the many steps that occur after getting a property under contract. For me, it’s about getting my clients what they want by working together with the people on the other side of the transaction.
I recently helped a family who lost their home in the tornado that ripped through
Nashville in March. They had a really close call and were dealing with the trauma of the
storm with two children and two dogs living in a hotel room. We not only found them a home, but kept them in their neighborhood that they love. In addition, the house had a finished basement where they can feel safe in future storms. Beyond finding them a new home, I was able to work with the seller and get my clients an early occupancy agreement, which meant that they were able to get out of the stressful, cramped hotel room and actually move into their new home the same week they went under contract. The gratification of seeing the pure relief and smiles on their faces are exactly why I love what I do.
Q: What do you wish you’d known at 25 years old starting your career?
A: At 25, you are probably not going to love what you are doing, but you likely have an idea of what you are working toward. Keep that goal in mind, even if it isn’t crystal clear. In my opinion, a large portion of what you do in your 20’s is figuring out what you DON’T want to do for the rest of your life. That perseverance and drive is what will help you clarify your goals.
My first year in real estate was really tough, but I knew what I was working towards. I knew that if I hung in there, continued to learn and surrounded myself with people who were successful, I would also see success. Today, I have new goals and I continue to learn and grow. I celebrate my successes along the way, but there is no final destination. It’s all about the challenge of reaching that next goal.
Q: What are the qualities a young professional needs to be successful in your industry?
A: In real estate, you have to actually like people. If you don’t like dealing with emotions and the idiosyncrasies of each individual, you are not going to enjoy being a Realtor. The buying and selling of property is typically the largest transaction most people ever make, and they don’t do it every day. They are typically buying or selling their home every 6-10 years. In this type of high dollar transaction, where neither party is familiar with all the steps, emotions can run high. The better you can see through the stress and emotions to help guide your clients in those moments, the better agent you will be.
Q: What advice would you give to a young professional just starting their career?
A: If you are just starting a career in real estate, surround yourself with successful Realtors. Join a brokerage that has a strong education program and attend as many classes as you can. Be prepared to financially support yourself through other means for the first year. Most agents do not last past that first year for that very reason. You need to be able to spend the time and effort pushing the boulder up the hill that first year.
When I was in my 20’s and even my 30’s, I hated it when people said to "follow my heart" and I would find what I love to do. It was such an intangible response and it didn’t give me any of the direction I was looking for. For anyone feeling like they have no direction, thinking they don’t know what their next step should be, or they are frustrated that they keep circling back to the same thing over and over, here’s what I’d tell them:
Take a deep breath. If you make plans and goals under stress or out of fear, they will not be healthy goals. Get yourself centered and know that you don’t have to figure out the next 10 years today. You just have to figure out your next step. Literally, your next step of putting your right foot in front of your left.
No one is going to be able to tell you exactly what you should do. You can absolutely go to people you trust for advice, but no one is in your head. No one knows your real dreams. Only you can make the best choice for you. Once you realize no one is going to give you all the answers, you can educate yourself and figure out the best answers for you.
Don’t burn a bridge. Treat others with compassion. They may be the one behind the desk at your interview five years down the road.
Get yourself a coach and read/listen to business or educational books! The most successful people I know continually learn and push themselves. Professional athletes have coaches for each individual part of their game. To think we can go through life without the help of a coach or mentor is arrogant. We all have blind spots.
Q: How do you find work / life balance?
A: I don’t like the phrase “work/life balance.” For me, work is an integrated part of my life. My kids, husband, and friends are all part of my life as well. There is a time to work and there is a time for play and family. I do believe in making sure the people around me know they are loved and are important to me. If my kids walk into my office at home and their need is more important in that moment, I make time for them. If my client is having a crisis, I make time for them. I guess it is a balance, but it’s not about 50/50. It’s about giving 100% to what is important in that moment.
Thank you, Deborah, for sharing your insight and journey.
Well, that’s all I have for now.