The Journey of DeAnn Golden: Senior VP & Managing Broker, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties


NAWRB’s Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council brings you the story of NDILC member, Kellie Aamodt. With our Story Tree, we want to showcase the ups, downs, and in-betweens of our team’s careers and lives. Help us grow our tree by sending in your own leadership stories! 

DeAnn Golden’s Journey Bio: 

While I am still not sure what a “journey bio” to capture my ½ century of “journeys, “ I am going to “date” myself here. When Desiree requested a Journey Bio” I thought maybe she was asking about my 1980’s fanclub membership in one of the most popular American rock bands of all times: Journey! The first LB album I owned was theirs! Granted, I was 3 when they formed!   

So, I had to laugh when I realized that what Desiree wanted with a “journey bio” was some REAL words about the women in REAL estate on this panel that maybe our REAL friends from 3rd grade would share if introducing us.  

Then, I realized I could probably give you my life journey with some of the most popular hits from thband Journey.   

 Song #1 – Growing up 

Don’t Stop Believin – I am a “small town girl” from AthensGA (not Detroit). My parents (and greatest role models) always just said don’t stop believing in your dreamswork hard, and don’t let anyone steal your zeal for life.  

When people tell you that you can’t do something, don’t stop believing. You can and just think to yourself“just watch me”.  

 “We are all searching” so don’t let anyone stifle your journey. It will lead you to places — places and moments you never thought possible.  

 went to Tulane in New Orleans as a collegiate swimmer. That was something I never would have believed I would have experienced if I hadn’t really lived it!  Who knew, when a swim coach saw me splish-splashing in the neighborhood pool at 4 years old, that it would be my thing!  Keep in mind this was all Pre Janet Evans and Michael Phelps “cool swim factor”, and the guys in high school made fun of me because I wasn’t allowed to shave my legs during the training season up until Nationals or Trials.  Now picture that at Prom! Not pretty!  

 Fortunately, my Tulane degree led me down a path as a pharmaceutical rep with Merck in Mobile Alabama. Then I opted to pursue commercial real estate after earning an MBA from UGA and later segued over to residential real estate.  I am in my 25th year as a REALTOR® and earned a broker’s license in 2000.  Wow, crazy to believe how time flies!  

 And I will never stop believing and knowing that I truly have landed in the most awesome career, guiding people home and to their next best move, building generational wealth and priceless moments in their lives in the place we call home.  That coveted place that is most people’s most valuable asset. That within the past 6 months has become the place we were called upon to shelter in place to do our part to socially distanced and curb COVID.  

 Journey Song #2 –  

Open Arms –  Heartbeats are priceless. Cherish the people who share their heartbeats and laughter with you. Open your arms wide and give them your all.  For when “living without you, living alone…the empty house seems so cold”. The love of my life, Tony Golden, epitomized health and life and a love for everything and everyone.  His health endured setbacks starting in 2005 due to diabetes, and after ongoing setback after setback, he endured a stroke and heart attack in 2015 when our children were   21, 16,  6, and 3. He ultimately passed in 2017 after 2 years of intense medical challenges physically, emotionally, financially, which was more than I ever dreamed we could face as a family.  

 When everything seems lost, surround yourself with people that matter. Search for people that love to live, love and laugh. Live out loud for those you may have lost to carry on their legacy.  Lean in hard to your faith, your values and yes, don’t stop believing in tomorrow.    

 I’m blessed to have had Anita Grogan appear back in my family’s life after losing my husband, asking how she could help. I said move in. She did and because of her and my career, I am blessed to rise every day to be able to serve others. I do my best to support my family, provide for them, and give my all to all the others I am blessed to help in a day, a week, a life...   

 We call Anita “Nini” (that’s the nickname the kids came up with when they couldn’t say Anita) o“SP-Nini” because for us she is that “spouse like support” that has taken just what a “nanny” might be to a whole new level. For that, we are forever grateful with open arms.  

I do not think in my ½ century of life, I’ve ever had anyone but Desiree ask me to jot down my real journey — the one that no one would find when we google any of us. NAWRB has challenged me, opened my eyes, and given me a whole new perspective on what it means to be a delegate and why I am fulfilled being a member.  

Who knew that band could embody my journey when words are sometimes at a loss because of Desiree’s assignment!  

I still have no idea if this is what Desiree wanted but maybe there is a Golden Nugget or two in the above that no one knew about me! If nothing else, I wasn’t allowed to shave my legs for years as an adolescent; Growing up with green chlorinated hair and broad shoulders, everyone was always trying to understand what made me rise at 4:30 am to swim for hours a day.  Yep, I was definitely “that kid” and now I realize that being “that person” and being YOU is a great way to live.  

 DeAnn Golden 




The Journey of Laura Harbison: Broker/Owner, Realty Executives Southern Nevada Properties


NAWRB’s Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council brings you the story of NAWRB Certified Delegate Spokeswoman, Laura Harbison. With our Story Tree, we want to showcase the ups, downs, and in-betweens of our team’s careers and lives. Help us grow our tree by sending in your own leadership stories! 

Laura Harbison, Broker/Owner of Realty Executives Southern Nevada Properties, does a fantastic job of managing her very busy life, as a successful business owner and the matriarch of a family of nine.  She has compiled an impressive list of real estate accolades during her three decades of experience and now, in partnership with her husband John, is one of the most successful Real Estate Brokers in Southern Nevada.  

But it wasn’t always a seamless journey. 

For someone who is so obviously adept at the business of real estate, it’s surprising to learn that Laura started out in college at UNLV with dreams of a different kind.   Originally majoring in Computer Science Engineering, and then switching her major in her junior year to Quantitative Management Systems with an emphasis in Operations Research (with core study in finance, marketing, and statistics),   Laura saw herself entering the corporate world after college graduation. 

During her first year at UNLV, one of Laura’s sorority sisters (Delta Zeta) was working at a real estate office and suggested she apply to be an assistant. Flexible jobs were hard to find, and this company needed help seven days a week, at all hours of the day, so it was an opportunity to be employed full time while still being able to work around a heavy class schedule.  It wasn’t something she had ever considered doing, and she had been keeping busy and paying the bills with a variety of odd jobs prior to that. However, she applied and started the following week. Soon she was working in varying capacities at the company, sometimes performing receptionist duties, other administrative and clerical duties, and eventually working as an assistant to the top agent in the company.   By the time she completed her degree, she had also obtained her real estate license. While there, Laura took the opportunity to learn as much as possible about the business and gain all the experience she could. She said she initially thought real estate would be a stopgap until she got around to her “real” career. 

In the meantime, Laura had fallen in love with the industry and came to the realization that she wouldn’t face the ‘glass ceiling’  in real estate that she might encounter if she took a different path.       

As she would eventually discover, three decades ago, real estate was also a challenging career for a woman looking to excel.   That didn’t turn out to be 100% true though…  After she had been with that particular company for a period of years and was one of its top producers, Laura became pregnant.  That pronouncement earned her a  30 percent decreasein her commission split, and she saw that less qualified males were receiving preferential treatment. Instead of doing the expected thing and quitting her job, Laura stayed at the company, following through on a vow to herself to become the number one agent in her office and one of the top ten agents in the company overall.    

Two years later, while standing on a stage at a company awards ceremony, Laura had what she described as an epiphany.    She was receiving multiple awards, among which were being the top producing agent in her office and the ninth highest producing agent in the company overall (out of over 700 agents with the company at that time). She had kept her promise to herself, and NOW she could leave. 

That was about the time that representatives from the local Realty Executives franchise had begun to speak to Laura about coming to work for them.    The company was female-owned, and Laura was intrigued by the idea of working for a woman-owned company.   Laura looked at other real estate companies as well but felt her possibilities for success were much greater at Realty Executives, and she made the final decision to make her move.    Her former employers didn’t make it easy for her, but the worse their behavior got, the more assured she was that she made the right choice.  She walked away from her last 7 closings and took a leap of faith.   The previous company was so bitter over her exit that they actually sent her 7 checks for $0.00 (as each of the 7 sales closed), among other antics.   

Besides the idea of working for a woman-owned company, one of the things that most attracted Laura to Realty Executives was the freedom she was given to put together a team and run her business as she felt it had to be run.    By her second year there, she was not only the top producing agent in the company but also the top producing agent worldwide for the franchise system. 

The advantages of working in a positive business environment cannot be overstated.   Open communication, employee engagement, and the collaboration and sharing of ideas are some of the basic tenets of good business practices and Laura says these were all present in those early days at Realty Executives.  From the very beginning, she just put her head down and did her job, and that type of work ethic was appreciated by her new company.   Her entrepreneurial spirit was embraced and encouraged. 

Laura is not the type of person to bounce around from job to job.  She considers herself a nose to the grindstone kind of person, a hard worker who just wants to perform well for her clients. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have ambitions. After some time with Realty Executives, she asked to open up her own satellite branch, which she did with great success for many years.   Then in 2016, she was offered the opportunity to become the Broker/Owner of her own franchise, and she jumped at the opportunity. 

Realty Executives was also a company that supported her personally as well as professionally.   They did not consider her (large/growing) family as a hindrance, but rather an asset.  In addition to running her office and managing her employees, Laura also made time to start a charity (A Touch of Home, that benefits Title One Hope – the Homeless Education Division of the Clark County School District), be a Girl Scout Leader for 9 years, and has been a Catechist teaching 7th grade for her church parish for the last 16 years (a position that she still holds today).   

About 16 years ago, Laura’s husband John joined her in the business.    In the early 90s, Laura had encouraged him to get his real estate license, but he wasn’t really interested at the time.  

Eventually, he changed his mind and went to work with her. Now he is an integral cog in the company’s wheel, handling what they like to call “Field Services”, which includes a lot of the marketing functions (such as photography, video, 3D tours) and property management functions such as weekly property checks, walk-throughs, attending inspections, etc.    Their partnership works so well because while John is out making sure all is well with the properties, Laura sticks close to the office, ensuring that things are running smoothly there. Together, the two of them manage to make the business side of their relationship work with the personal side, which is quite demanding. 

The Harbisons are parents to seven children, ages 31 to 12, and four of them are still living at home.  As anyone who has ever been a parent to more than one child can attest to, one of the most challenging things to accomplish is time management, especially with the young ones. Homework has to be completed, play dates have to be made, and sporting events need to be attended. 

Last year,  in 2019, John and Laura experienced every parent’s nightmare, when they lost their oldest son to a very aggressive cancer that had been detected only 12 months prior.   During that prior 12 months, they worked together to keep the business afloat, while dealing with doctors and treatments (much of that out of state due to the rare type of cancer), and while taking care of their other 6 children’s needs (physical and emotional).   While many families are torn apart by these types of events, it has brought the Harbison family closer together.       

Over her 30 years in the industry, Laura has obtained many professional designations — ABR, AHWD, BPOR, BS, CDPE, CRS, DRB, GRI, PSA, RSPS, and SRES.   Among her many other accolades, she has been named one of the top 100 agents in the country by the Wall Street Journal and has been Realty Executives’ #1 Team Worldwide 16 different years. 

Laura says she also sees strength in numbers when it comes to staffing her office.   Her goal is to continue to foster a workplace climate that encourages team collaboration and success. Being in a position to create that kind of workplace for herself and her employees is surely one of life’s highs. 

laura harbison


The Journey of Leora Ruzin: Senior Vice President of Wholesales, EPM


NAWRB’s Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council brings you the story of NAWRB Certified Delegate Spokeswoman, Leora Ruzin. With our Story Tree, we want to showcase the ups, downs, and in-betweens of our team’s careers and lives. Help us grow our tree by sending in your own leadership stories! 

My story is one that has been told before, and it is not totally out of the ordinary. I had a troubled childhood; one that was fraught with abuse and neglect. I was often left to take care of myself, and that self-reliance is the foundation for everything I do. I grew up far quicker than I should have but having a level of maturity that early on has served me relatively well in my adult life.  

Well, before I graduated from high school, I knew I wanted to do more in life than what my small town would afford me, so I graduated early and joined the Army. My time in the service is one that I look back on fondly, and one of the biggest regrets I have from my younger days is that I did not retire from the military. I would re-enlist in a heartbeat if I knew they would take me back, and the life lessons I learned have helped shaped the leader and person I am today. 

I have dealt with unimaginable loss in my life, and nothing has had a lasting impact on me quite like the death of two of my children. While I am blessed to have four children, losing Victoria and Hayden in infancy is an indescribable experience. While it took me a long time to recover from the losses, I truly feel the experience has made me a better mother and a more compassionate person. I understood the importance of giving love and praise as often as possible, not only with my kids, but my family, friends, and colleagues. Life is fleeting and you never know when the next comment you say to someone may be your last. 

When I got into the mortgage industry in 2007, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. My background was in accounting and human resources, and I was largely ignorant of not only the industry but how much it was in turmoil during this time. All I knew was that, as I was learning more about the business while handling the office manager duties, I became more and more entrenched. Before long, I was not only managing all the payroll, accounting, and HR, but I was instrumental in building dedicated mortgage back-office operations. I stood up a closing department, post-closing department, and oversaw all the licensing and compliance for the company. The rest, as they say, is history.  

Over the last 20 years, I have battled ovarian, cervical, and colon cancer, and am happy to say that I have been in remission since 2016. I have endured so many surgeries, treatments, and stays in the hospital, and there are times where my body reminds me of all I have been through. I have battled depression, anxiety, and a severe panic disorder throughout all of this, but I never let it get in the way of me achieving my goals and dreams. I will not lie in that there have been moments in my life where I wanted to give up, especially when I was also faced with misogyny, sexist and discriminatory treatment in the workplace. As a victim of rape and sexual assault, combined with a childhood filled with being told I was not “good enough” or “pretty enough”, it has been easy for me to believe it when I was told I was not worthy of the positions that I have worked so hard to attain.  

As I entered my 40’s, I experienced a paradigm shift in my way of thinking, after dealing far too long with discrimination. With the help and support of my most trusted friends and colleagues, I made the decision to invest in myself and got into a coaching program that literally changed my life. Through this coaching, I have gained valuable tools to advocate for myself, promote my own self-worth, while removing the negative space I was letting the “haters” rent in my head. When I combined this mental shift in thought with a renewed focus on improving my physical and mental health, after a recent medical scare and the unexpected death of my mother, I can happily say that I am stronger than I ever have been. While I still encounter misogyny and discrimination and am still working on my mental health issues, I am now equipped with the tools to rise above them 

My goal and vision as a Delegated Spokeswoman for NAWRB are to be able to use my life experiences to help other women who have a story like mine. In addition, I want to take the passion I have for this industry to help others achieve the American Dream of homeownership. I specifically want to help our veterans and service members have a better and more secure transition from military to civilian life. I want other women who have had to suffer in silence to know that they are not alone and that they can achieve their goalsWith the tools I have access to through NAWRB, along with the network of phenomenal women who are also Delegated Spokeswomen, I am excited to see what I can accomplish in the months and years to come.  

leora ruzin

The Journey of Brandy Nelson: Executive Director of Foreclosure and Commercial properties, Windermere Homes & Estates


NAWRB’s Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council brings you the story of NAWRB Certified Delegate Spokeswoman, Brandy Nelson. With our Story Tree, we want to showcase the ups, downs, and in-betweens of our team’s careers and lives. Help us grow our tree by sending in your own leadership stories! 

Covid 19 has changed the way we do business but we have adapted and thrived. Our business was done through Zoom which allowed us to have a larger target audience and kept us all engaged. I have Zoom calls daily which is good and bad, considering I sometimes have 4 Zoom calls a day and find it hard to get other work done.  On top of adapting to everything else, I had to also adapt to having a 4- and 6-year-old at home with online schooling.  As a mom who runs a business and a team, you feel that you have to be at all places at once. But we make it work.  The pandemic has caused a lot of stress but being able to have groups and Zoom calls was able to keep everyone energized, motivated, and successful.  Many women I know wanted to give up because they felt that they had no choice but they were given options.  We had lots of masterminds and worked on what is working now in our business.   

brandy nelson

The Journey of Nancy Obando: Senior Vice President, Mountain West Financial


NAWRB’s Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council brings you the story of NAWRB Certified Delegate Spokeswoman, Nancy Obando. With our Story Tree, we want to showcase the ups, downs, and in-betweens of our team’s careers and lives. Help us grow our tree by sending in your own leadership stories! 

Being an advocate and empowering others came at an early age for Nancy. Coming from personal experience, she understands the systemic struggles and cultural nuances that may stifle growth and development within various minority communities. Early on she understood that she wanted to make a difference in people’s lives — Especially minority women like her. She saw the struggle her mother endured and accepted because she believed she did not have another choice. Growing up in a home where women are not to be seen or heard, the belief that she was to be raised like a lady and simply marry a man who will take care of her financial needs was simply not a value she believed in and certainly not a value that she plans on instilling in her 2 young sons. Her drive comes from the struggle of being outcast by her own parents simply by choosing to move out, be independent, and go to college. Nancy saw the struggle and stumbling blocks she faced in her own home and understood that she was going to make a difference and empower women’s lives — to give other minority women the courage and voice to dream and achieve whatever their goal might be. She mentors, sponsors, and advocates for women empowerment. Nancy’s vision is creating wealth opportunities through homeownership and to establish a deep-rooted foundation toward mentoring more women leaders in the real estate, finance, and development sector.  

“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception” – Ruth Bader Ginsberg  

nancy obando

The Journey of Laura Dietz: Owner/Broker/Auctioneer, Summit Realty


NAWRB’s Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council brings you the story of NAWRB Certified Delegate Spokeswoman, Laura Dietz. With our Story Tree, we want to showcase the ups, downs, and in-betweens of our team’s careers and lives. Help us grow our tree by sending in your own leadership stories! 

I would love to tell you years ago while sitting in my college classroom, I dreamt of becoming a real estate professional, but that would not be true. I could go with a resume of my life, but this would be a novel, so I will start with the day my real estate journey began.

January 17, 1994, 4:30 AM, a day etched in my memory forever. The Northridge earthquake claimed my home, knocking it off the foundation. Three days later, my husband of many years died. Reality set in like the jolt of the earthquake. I was now alone, my home destroyed, and the sole support of myself.

In my previous life, I enjoyed, in my spare time, working with several charities. Event planning, fundraising, and finding real estate to purchase was second nature for me. I decided I loved working with people, helping others, and venturing into a new industry would be stimulating and very rewarding. I set my mind on a career in real estate.

Upon obtaining my real estate license, I joined a national/international real estate company. That worked well for five years. Then it dawned on me that I was giving several thousand dollars a year to a broker that could be going into my pocket. I obtained my broker’s license and created Merlin Enterprises, named after my rescued Arabian horse. Throughout the next few years, Merlin Enterprises grew and specialized in residential, commercial, REO’s, and government contracts. I spent numerous hours servicing my clients as well as attending conferences, conventions, and networking. I created a name for myself and a following in the industry.

While attending an out-of-state conference, I was approached by a real estate auctioneer. He offered me the opportunity to add real estate auction services to my already booming real estate business. I jumped at the chance. Merlin Enterprises now offered California a new real estate auction company. My business was thriving, but after 13 scheduled auctions, my auctioneer developed a case of homesickness and announced he needed to go back to his home state. I enrolled myself at the American School of Auctioneering and, upon completion of the courses, became the first woman certified real estate auctioneer in California at that time. I soon decided to distinguish my real estate business from my auction business and created a women-owned business specializing in real estate. Summit Realty was born.

Summit Realty presently has four offices in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. I am as passionate about real estate today as I was 26 years ago. Working with people to fulfill their dreams of homeownership, coupled with helping fellow agents by sharing my knowledge and experience plus continuing my education in an ever-changing industry, fills my days with gratitude and satisfaction. I would be remiss in not mentioning there are those days of frustration as well, but I still find time to go back to my roots and be hands-on involved with my charities, even serving on the board of directors of the Warrior Dog Foundation.

laura dietz

Congratulations 2020 NAWRB Leadership Award Winner Hyepin Im, CEO & Founder Faith and Community Empowerment (FACE)!

NAWRB is proud to award Hyepin Im with the 2020 Nonprofit Leader Award! Hyepin Im is a former U.S. Presidential Appointee on the Board of the Corporation for National and Community Service and serves as President and Founder of Faith and Community Empowerment (formerly KCCD), a national nonprofit involved in empowering churches and nonprofits to leverage their resources by building capacity, leadership, and partnerships in economic development and serving as a bridge between the Asian American community and the greater community at large. She currently serves on the Mayor’s Interfaith Collective, Community Advisory Board of MUFG Union Bank and Torrey Pines Bank, U.S. Army Advisory Board, and more.

Each year, the NAWRB Leadership Awards honor women leaders in the housing ecosystem who are utilizing their expertise and passion to break glass ceilings in the corporate world and facilitate the growth of their local communities.

WHER Chat: Imperatives of the Commercial Real Estate Industry During COVID-19


In 2020 NAWRB WHER, Volume II: Real Estate, we explore how the real estate industry is navigating COVID-19 challenges and utilizing technology as a solution. The industry must accomplish crucial initiatives during the pandemic to ensure the commercial real estate sector’s sustainability and reliability in the future.

1. Earning the respect, trust, and loyalty of customers and employees: In this time of uncertainty, leading operators are learning the importance of communicating to the point of overcommunication to make sure they are fully understanding and attending to their tenants’ needs at this moment and helping to protect everyone in their ecosystem. This may make communication as a company-level brand, rather than a property-level brand, more common, thereby speeding up an existing market trend.

In B2B environments, such as offices and retail stores, CEOs, and management teams are finding it helpful to asset managers and property managers by engaging directly with tenants. By interacting with the tenants directly, they not only address their needs more efficiently but also create a more trusting relationship with tenants who feel like they are being heard and valued.

2. Centralizing cash management: Prior to COVID-19, the McKinsey report notes that real estate was highly decentralized as important decisions regarding cash flow were made at the property level. However, due to the duration and depth of this crisis, which seems to have no end in sight in the United States, top management is now taking the initiative of centralized direction on property-level cash management in addition to company-level balance-sheet decisions and credit lines. As stated by the report, “All levels of management—including those at the property level and company level—are beginning to identify efficiency levers and when to pull them based on the underlying performance of properties and the business as a whole.”

3. Making tailored and informed decisions: Even within a single asset, needs will vary among tenants, particularly in commercial lease concessions. Real estate leaders are utilizing available behavioral data to generate fact-based insights that can help them make more informed decisions tailored to the needs of their diverse tenants (rather than a “one-size-fits-all” decision approach). They have data on local epidemiological and economic scenarios, competitive assets around a property, and the impact of the crisis on individual tenants.

4. Taking the digital leap: As we mentioned earlier, professionals in residential real estate have already taken the leap in digital sales and leasing processes, such as using virtual open houses and showings (sometimes augmented and virtual reality), as well omnichannel, targeted, and personalized sales. All of these tools are also available to the commercial real estate market in allowing their prospective tenants to find the right space for themselves.

5. Rethinking the future of real estate: Some landlords and lenders in the commercial real estate sector are looking ahead and preparing for how a business will change after the crisis is over. However, professionals are broadening their resources to include psychologists, sociologists, futurists, and technologists in addition to traditional economic or customer-survey-driven approaches. Some of the questions real estate professionals will have to ask include: “Will employees demand larger and more enclosed workspaces? Will people decide not to live in condominiums for fear of having to ride elevators?” By extending their research to include interdisciplinary resources and experts, business leaders will possibly find creative, informed solutions to these unprecedented challenges facing the industry.

About 2020 NAWRB WHER

The NAWRB Women Housing Ecosystem Report (WHER), our annual research report, provides the vision to revitalize communication and partnerships between industries as we work together to form mindful strategic solutions for social impact with a gender lens achievement. The 2020 NAWRB WHER includes the most diverse coverage of the Housing Ecosystem with almost eighty resources in six volumes: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion; Real Estate; Business Ownership; STEM; Access to Capital; and Aging Population. While waiting for the release of 2020 WHER, order a copy of the 2019 NAWRB WHER here!

Congratulations 2020 NAWRB Leadership Award Winner DeAnn Golden, Senior VP & Managing Broker, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties!

NAWRB is proud to announce DeAnn Golden as the winner of the 2020 NAWRB Residential Leader Award! Golden is the Senior VP & Managing Broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties. In the course of her career, Golden has fulfilled multiple leadership roles in the real estate markets of Athens, Charleston, South Carolina, and Atlanta and successfully launched total and company-wide performance coaching initiatives to engage and stimulate the production of real estate agents during the downturn of the market. When she mentors others, she focuses on accountability, communication, lead generation and sales call reluctance, and the mastery of sales and negotiation skills.

Each year, the NAWRB Leadership Awards honor exceptional women leaders in the housing and real estate ecosystem who are utilizing their expertise, passion, and drive to redefine leadership and facilitate additional growth in their industry and local communities. Congratulations, DeAnn Golden!

Three Ways to Increase Your Longevity in Real Estate


The real estate industry can be difficult to navigate for new agents. The success rate is not very high with about 90 percent of agents failing in their first five years. That means nine out of every 10 new agents can expect to fail in the industry. A part of being a successful real estate agent simply comes down to luck, and no one can control for that, but there are some strategies newcomers can use to increase their chances of making a long-lasting career in this exciting and ever-changing industry. 

With three decades of experience leaving my mark in diverse real estate sectors, selling over 6,000 properties, providing relocation services for major Fortune 100 companies, and connecting entrepreneurs to billions of dollars in business resources, Desirée Patno, CEO & President of NAWRB, shares a few pieces of advice she would give her younger self about thriving in the real estate and housing ecosystem. Below are the top three tips she thinks any nascent real estate agent would benefit from knowing to help them fulfill their potential and guarantee their place among the successful 10 percent. 

1. Educate Yourself & Never Think You Know Everything

Real estate is more complicated than a glamorous sales job, and it’s helpful to educate yourself—or better yet, earn a four-year college degree—in other fields, including business economics, construction, finance and law. Each of these topics are relevant to selling and buying a property, so it’s pivotal to have foundational knowledge in each of these fields to help your job performance. 

In addition, it is useful to plan for disruptions that might arise in the industry, such as new laws and tax codes, novel technology developments and upcoming market trends. Technology can assist the industry in property management, application processing and data synthesizing so that agents and brokers can focus on connecting with clients and helping them with the emotional process of buying or selling a home. Find out how you can leverage these new developments now so that you can stay ahead of the competition.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Blockchain, for example, are emerging technologies that are impacting the way real estate businesses operate and interact with their customers and clients. AI can be a helpful tool that can make everyday tasks more efficient and provide assistance to clients at a moment’s notice rather than a replacement for the agent themselves. It’s important to remember that AI is not without flaws. Some worry that AI creators and users will include their own biases into new technology, causing more roadblocks and harm to minorities.

Innovators are working to make AI great at problem-solving, automatic processing, data collecting and so on, but being an agent or broker requires skills AI does not have: the expert advice of a professional who has worked in the field for over 20 years, the ethics to makes sure AI is used responsibly, the ability to listen and understand a client’s needs, the intuition to know when a property is a good fit or deal, and the empathy to sympathize and provide moral support when homebuyers get cold feet or things don’t go according to plan. 

Blockchain will make property data more secure and accessible to the public, and it will make transactions efficient and safe. This increases accessibility of data integral to home buying and selling, and ensures independent industries are held accountable for sound business practices. Blockchain will also drive an increase in smart contracts, which allows contracts, escrows, property records and more to be completed and financial transactions to occur without the need of title companies or attorneys. 

Forbes analysts predict that home buying and home selling might become as easy as using a shopping cart on a website. Blockchain has the capacity to ensure the homebuyer receives the deed or title, while the seller takes home the profit through cryptocurrency. Both AI and Blockchain are merely helpful tools for helping agents and brokerages serve their clients with the utmost care and efficiency.

An integral part of learning is always asking questions. When you are tasked with performing any task in the line of business, always ask why you are doing it. In doing so, you will understand the logic and purpose behind the things you do. As a result, you will develop a better grasp on the real estate business system in general and contribute your own insights on how to improve it.

2. Act & Prepare as a Business Owner

You are not only a real estate agent but an entrepreneur who owns their own business. Real estate is a business of sorts, and it is important to act like a business owner to ensure your future success. In fact, 86 percent of real estate agents are independent contractors, according to the National Association of Realtors 2016 Member Profile, so the law and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) consider you a business owner and you will be treated as such. You have sole responsibility for your business interests, but that does not mean you have to do it by yourself. 

Part of being a successful business owner is being a well-versed planner to juggle your multiple responsibilities as you are accountable for sales, expenses and marketing. Build a business plan and a great team that can help you carry out tasks and share in opportunities. You won’t be able to do this alone, so make sure you have people you trust to carry your business when needed. 

Further educate yourself as a business owner and independent contractor by utilizing resources from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the IRS. Women in the Housing & Real Estate Ecosystem (NAWRB) is proud to be one of only 11 of the SBA’s Partner Resources for Women-Owned Small Businesses, and we provide countless resources and consulting services to help you achieve long-term success.

3. Passion and Social Impact Ensures Longevity

Real estate is more than just putting up a sign and selling a house; in other words, it’s not just a glamorous sales job. A lot of the real estate business boils down to human interaction. You are dealing with someone’s sanctuary, foundation and investment. To an individual or family, a home is a place of personal freedom, security and comfort in an impacting world, and a source of financial stability. 

Real estate agents are still an integral part of the home buying process as a dependable source of knowledge, advice and emotional support for clients during this important decision. Moreover, they have the invaluable tool of building relationships and empathy, which are pivotal to success in the industry. Agents are adept at handling hiccups in the buying process, such as when a client suffers a traumatic loss, loses their job or gets cold feet. As human beings, they can relate to these troubles and provide practical solutions. This is what no technology development can ever replace. 

There might be moments when things do not go as planned or you make a mistake, but don’t worry because it is all part of the process. Nothing is ever perfect and you can’t please everyone, so remember to acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses, and find out what makes you stand out among the crowd. In return, clients and peers will respect your authenticity. Longevity is endured by those who are passionate, care for others and their needs, and create social impact.

* See this Article and many more in it’s original publication at