A Leap of Faith: How Real Estate Rookies Make it Work

Wendy Wright of Washington, D.C., was ready to take her real estate license exam last March—just as the term “novel coronavirus” was becoming part of the national conversation. After a 20-year career in IT project management, she had recently lost her job at a nonprofit because of funding cuts. Real estate offered an enticing new career path.

But the onset of the pandemic one year ago forced real estate testing centers in her area to close temporarily, requiring Wright to wait two months before she could sit for the test. Instead of just biding her time, Wright joined Katie Wethman’s real estate team at Keller Williams in Washington and began shadowing agents on socially distanced appointments with buyers and sellers. When Wright passed the exam and received her real estate license in June, she was able to hit the ground running at a time when the pandemic was turning many business practices upside down. The result: She closed 10 sales in six months.

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Presale Renovations Take Off

A couple in Cambridge, Mass., were looking to sell a two-bedroom condo. The property had been rented out to three college students and needed work if the sellers were going to get top dollar for it, says Carol Kelly, a Compass real estate agent based in Cambridge.

“[The couple] didn’t want to reach into their own pocket to pay for the renovations,” Kelly says. “They didn’t want the stress of investing their own money into the property.”

So Kelly recommended Compass Concierge, a service the brokerage rolled out in 2018 to pay for presale renovations. Sellers pay back the money using the proceeds of their sale. Compass put $17,000 worth of improvements into the Cambridge condo, installing new flooring, painting the kitchen cabinets, and power-washing the house. It paid off: The condo, which was listed at $589,000, sold for $640,000, enabling the sellers to repay Compass and eke out bigger gains from their investment.

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