Ever wonder what makes people good at what they do? No doubt life experiences figure into the mix, as a close look at three local real estate agents shows. Each had ‘another life’ prior to selling homes, and that earlier experience helped shape their success in their current career.

DeeDee Tate, Laura McCarthy Real Estate

    DeeDee Tate calls herself ‘one of the luckiest people on earth’ to be able to do what she loves best. “I enjoy meeting people and working with them, and I love looking at houses,” she says. Tate, who’s been a sales associate at Laura McCarthy for more than 10 years, previously had a career in social work, serving in local and state governments, including family court, the Missouri Division of Family Services and as legislative liaison to several other state agencies. After spending more than a decade in Jefferson City and working with nonprofits locally, Tate says she reached a point when she needed a change. “I had been a social worker for 31 years and no longer had the energy or enthusiasm for social services, I just crashed and burned,” she admits.

  Tate says a career in real estate was always something she had in the back of her mind. “I remember a conversation with a real estate agent when I was trying to sell my home and thought at the time, If I ever leave social work, I’ll go into real estate.” And when she found herself at a crossroads, Tate says the decision came quickly. “I literally was driving down the street one day, made a U-turn, and headed for the Laura McCarthy office,” she recalls. “I was enrolled in classes a week later and sold my first house five weeks later. I was just in the right place at the right time.”

    Tate says having an extensive background in social services made for an easy transition from one career to another. “They require the same skills: You listen to people, facilitate transactions and activities for them, negotiate on their behalf and provide them with information so they can make good decisions,” she explains. “I’m thrilled to be in this business. Sometimes I think I should have done it two or three years earlier!”

Dave Kinslowe, Coldwell Banker Gundaker

    While he admits that real estate can be a roller coaster ride, 10-year veteran Dave Kinslowe says he’s ‘very glad’ to be in the business. “It’s bad right now for many of us in real estate, but once we return to what I consider a ‘normal’ market, it’s a great place to be and a perfect fit for me,” he says. “When you’re working full commission, you’re going to have better and worse years.”

    Previously, Kinslowe ran Creve Coeur Camera, where he spent 19 years immediately following college. “I had just graduated with a journalism degree, and in those days, you had to go to some small town to get a job. I didn’t want to leave St. Louis,” he explains. “I initially went to work at the camera shop just for the Christmas season but ended up staying on and working my way up to president.”

    After almost two decades in the photo business, Kinslowe was ready for a change. “I had bought and fixed homes before for myself and I had some realtor friends, so I thought I’d go through classes and give real estate a try,” he says. Kinslowe says his first year was challenging. “It starts slow because agents get all their business from referrals, but the work part was fine,” he says. “The first couple of sales, I was nervous because I wasn’t familiar with the process and had to hit the ground running.” Since then, Kinslowe says he’s had ‘very few’ poor experiences in real estate. “The hours are sometimes crazy, but it’s flexible enough that I can work 10 hours a day, or I can have a short day, jump on my bike and ride for an hour.” Kinslowe also enjoys his interaction with clients. “You get really involved with people’s lives, you almost become a member of the family.”

Julie Lane, Janet McAfee Real Estate

    Though she’s been an agent for less than two years, colleagues say Julie Lane’s instant success in real estate is due to good, old-fashioned hard work. Lane, who previously worked as a pharmaceutical representative for eight years before joining Janet McAfee, says a manager at her former company taught her how to stay focused. “He advised me to always have a plan in mind and to stay focused on it,” she says. “He also told me to always be willing to do what the competition is not in order to succeed.”

  Lane says the advice has really served her well in real estate. “One of the challenges of this job is getting out there and making your own business,” she says. “In the St. Louis market, especially, it’s no longer enough to just have connections. Agents have to really know this market and go the extra mile, that’s what buyers and sellers are requiring you to do these days.” Lane also credits her degree in psychology for helping her gauge what her clients need. “Having the psychology background taught me to effectively deal with people and listen to them,” she says. “The best way to help anyone is to find out about them and listen to their needs.”

    With a husband and two young daughters, Lane admits that real estate can be a demanding job, but it also offers her the flexibility her previous job did not. “I’m sure I put in well more than 40 hours a week, but it’s when I can fit it in and do it, which is huge for any parent.” 

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