Jo Nelson has been a restaurant manager, accounting and office manager, editor and, most recently, a Realtor. Her varied careers are a tribute to “the power of networking,” she said. “I’d say most of it was people reaching out to me saying, ‘I know of an opportunity for you.’” She recalls a “random lunch” when she said, “Hey, we’re going to close the paper I’m working on.” Her lunch companion said, “Oh, this is perfect timing. We have an opening.”
When that job ended after seven years, Nelson decided she wanted to do something “a little more active. I missed working with more people, bringing groups together, doing accounting, doing technology.” She’d always wanted to try real estate, and decided, “Why not now?”
Through networking, she landed in the Eden Prairie office of Coldwell Banker Burnet in 2012. “It wasn’t at the worst point in the market,” she said, “although there were lots of foreclosed homes on the market.”
Becoming a Realtor requires considerable ramp-up time, Nelson said. “It’s not as easy as people think it may be to get into. You have to go to class. There’s state testing and national testing. There are start-up costs for basic things like business cards, classes and license fees. You pay to access the Multiple Listing Service. There are various associations to you need to belong to.”
Nelson got her first sale within two months and her first listing after four months. “I had a friend at the office I joined who didn’t have a sale for the entire first year. It just kind of depends. I guess I was fortunate. But there are some people who just take off, too.”
The 2014 real estate season is turning into a seller’s market, Nelson said. “It’s still a great time to buy — interest rates are still down. I’m always encouraging people to have financing in place and be ready to move if they find the right house. Otherwise someone will swoop it up.”
You’ve had a wide range of careers. What are your transferrable skills?
Tenacity and motivation are huge. The ability to handle change, that’s huge: Accept things as they are and move forward. Grab opportunity when it comes. For me, understanding technology and accounting and people skills are huge.
What do you like best about being a Realtor?
Every transaction is a different transaction. Nothing is typical. There’s lots of variety. You work with a lot of people. You do a lot of different things.
What are the challenges?
Every time you close a sale you’ve just ended a job, and you have to go look for a new job. The technology is constantly changing. You have to keep up with it.
What advice would you give someone considering a career in real estate?
Make sure you have the stamina to stick with it. You’ve got to give it a chance. Talk to several people in the industry — make sure it’s what you want to do. During the last five or six years a lot of Realtors fell off when the market crashed. I don’t think everyone realizes you can’t make a quick buck.
Where do you go from here?
I really enjoy real estate. I plan to stick with it for a long time. Eventually I want to relocate somewhere warmer. It’s a career I could take with me. I’d like to keep growing. I’ve been putting a lot of pieces in place so this year should be a really good year for me. □