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VOL. 126 | NO. 96 | Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Young Agents Join to Enhance Business Opportunities


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Dustie Zvolanek got her real estate license last August when the market was still a picture of uncertainty, but these days she’s finding strength in numbers of young, new practitioners who have banded together for peer support.

The Young Professionals Network, associated with the Memphis Area Association of Realtors, quickly filled a need among those hoping to survive and thrive in the business of selling real estate.

“I think it’s an ongoing need because there are newer agents coming in every day and it’s definitely been a help to me,” said Zvolanek, an affiliate broker for Fast Track Realty, referring to YPN. “You hear names (of other agents) and see them on the paperwork sometimes, but going and actually meeting people makes it so much easier to do business with them. I’ve had so many deals already where I met an agent at a YPN event and then happened to see one of their houses.”

Zvolanek has been able to help others out too. At Fast Track, she specializes in foreclosures and HUD-owned properties, which involve a lot of extra paperwork. Since January she’s been able to help other realtors fill in the blanks.

New agents need a community, said Amanda Lott, membership chair of YPN and an affiliate broker for Prudential Collins-Maury Realtors. That means getting involved with professional organizations, taking continuing education classes, attending networking events and supporting group projects.

But many real estate agents under age 50 just weren’t getting on the ball.

“We knew there were more (younger agents) out there than we saw on a regular basis because people our age don’t go to as many events or go to the board and take classes as much as we want them to and as much as they should,” said Lott. “So we were shocked when they came out in droves.”

YPN was founded in January and offers one or two meetings each month, mostly aimed at education, such as one in late January at which author Don Hutson of “The One Minute Entrepreneur” spoke. Others are simply for networking and socializing.

The group is technically for those under age 40, but there is no age requirement. So far about 100 agents have joined and Stephanie Steele, one of the chairs, said it grows every month.

“I find that it’s becoming more of a community and people actually want to learn something,” said Steele, an affiliate broker for Keller Williams Real Estate. “A lot of the big agents will take you under their wing. They’re not looking at you as direct competition because we’re all doing something a little different.”

Finding a unique niche in the market seems to be another side effect of navigating the current real estate market, noted Steele, since those who survived the housing bubble are seriously focused on a specialty.

Another characteristic of agents who are still in business today is the willingness to roll up their sleeves.

“If you’re going to be in this business you learn pretty quickly that you’re going to have to work at it,” Lott said. “Those of us who are still in the business, whether you just started or started 20 years ago, obviously have some motivation and some drive for this business and the potential to be successful.”

Lott and her mother, Carol, a broker for Prudential Collins-Maury, recently restarted an AM radio program, which Carol did back in the 1970’s. Called “Real Estate Now.” The hour-long show on WMC-79 on Sundays from noon to 1 p.m. discusses real estate headlines and takes calls.

“I think that AM radio has its own fan base,” Amanda Lott said. “There are a lot of younger people out there really do listen to it.”

But picking up the tricks of the trade and coming up with creative ideas takes some mentorship and Steele said younger realtors were practically starving for it.

“Getting to know other Realtors is one of the most important things that you can start out with,” said Steele. “There are a lot of great mentors out there. You just have to get in and plant your feet and say I’m here.”

PROPERTY SALES 36 154 6,546
MORTGAGES 34 94 4,129
BANKRUPTCIES 43 126 3,396