VOL. 127 | NO. 54 | Monday, March 19, 2012
SPECIAL EMPHASIS: Residential Real Estate
Johnston Finds Life’s Passion With Real Estate Career
By LESLEY YOUNG
Lexie Johnston likes to stay busy – almost to a fault. “I’m pretty restless. In fact, when things get hard, I usually find something else to do,” said the 29-year-old.
The hustle and bustle of the real estate business was instantly attractive to the native Memphian, so much so that she’s stuck it out for three years in a down economy.
“I love it just as much today as I did the first day. It’s the first thing I’ve thought I could do every day for the rest of my life,” said Johnston, an agent for Prudential Collins-Maury Inc.
Working primarily in Midtown and East Memphis, Johnston averages a closing every two months and says she is lucky she started out in a bad economy.
“I consider myself fortunate. I’ve never had a license in a good market. To me it’s just real estate,” Johnston said.
The St. Mary’s Episcopal School and University of Memphis graduate first got into real estate while searching for her first home in late 2008. Her Realtor, Sally Isom, a top producer in the industry, approached her about becoming her assistant.
For Johnston it was love at first sale.
“Within two months I figured out this was what I wanted to do with my life,” she said.
Three months later, in March 2009, Johnston had her license.
Besides keeping her interest, real estate fulfills Johnston’s yearning to help people.
She earned her degree in social work – only after first majoring in forestry at Montana State.
“I figured out pretty quickly I wouldn’t like vet school, so I transferred to University of Memphis and studied social work,” Johnston said. “I realized real estate was everything I loved about social work. It’s empowering people by providing them with information to make decisions to better their lives. It’s a perfect fit.”
She said working with a top producer on the front end was vital to her success.
“I saw how a top producer does well, how to get business,” she said.
Her philosophy in the world of buying and selling is a simple one.
“You treat everybody as though they are your only client, and in listing, you treat all houses the same no matter the price range,” she said.
In a short period of time, Johnston has also become a pioneer in her field.
With the help of colleague Amanda Lott, now an agent for Crye-Leike Realtors, Johnston established the Memphis Young Professionals Network, an offshoot of the Memphis Area Association of Realtors.
The year-old organization sponsors monthly events for young real estate agents and, according to Johnston, “the young at heart,” to facilitate career advancement and camaraderie among local Realtors.
“We do everything from educational presentations to happy hours at bars, and next we’ll be offering the (Accredited Buyer’s Representative) accreditation, which is the first accreditation agents get, at a discounted price,” Johnston said.
She started the local chapter of the organization, which has affiliates across the nation, because of her passion for the industry.
“We realized there are very few young agents in the business right now, and most of them are having to work two jobs. We were afraid if we didn’t rally the troops and energize people, they would get out of the business and we don’t want the profession to die out,” Johnston said.
Networking exists not just for real estate agents but anyone associated with the business of buying and selling houses, such as attorneys and pest control companies, and it’s an important factor in any fledgling agent’s career.
“The network was vital to me because it was my first introduction to agents outside of the company. It was the first way I started making contacts with real estate associates that a professional needs,” she said. “I don’t know what else I would have done starting at square one.”
When she’s not making regular closings or networking with her colleagues, Johnston still finds time to tutor in geometry and Spanish two days a week.
“I love it. I’m not ready to give it up,” said Johnston, who first began tutoring four years ago as a part-time job. “Plus, I’m just a nerd, and I love geometry, and it gives me a chance to use my Spanish.”
Johnston likes to share a positive outlook during weak economic times and tries to do what she does best – stay busy.
“I just hope to stay busy during these months so that when things do pick back up, I’ll have a business to build on,” she said. “People should not be dismayed by the market. It is what it is, and we will always need buyers and sellers. It may not be what it used to be, but houses are still being sold and people are still buying houses.”