Real estate Investing in North Georgia
Meet Laura Elleby, a Texas native who spent most of her childhood around the aviation industry. Contemplating a career as a pilot, she decided to launch herself into the medical sales industry which later led her to the path of real estate. She’s never looked back since. An avid investor and developer who has built a real estate portfolio with her husband over the years. A true nature lover who spends most of her time enjoying the great outdoors with her family in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Her knowledge in the marketplace has allowed her to give insightful advice to her clients, as well as comment on investment opportunities and locations. Her story is beyond inspiring touching on everything from building a strong foundation in real estate, to balancing it all as a mother and wife.
Give us some background about yourself and tell us what got you into real estate?
My mom is from California and my dad from Florida. They both worked in the airline industry and finally decided to settle in Texas to start a family. When I was younger, I actually wanted to follow in their footsteps and become a pilot. I took piloting lessons and was on that path until the attack on the twin towers happened on September of 2001. I made a choice that I didn’t want to be responsible for so many peoples lives. At the time that I made that decision, I was only a sophomore in high school.
After a while, I met my husband at a mutual friends wedding in Los Angeles. At that time, he was a professional motorcycle racer. Because of his job, we moved to Georgia. His father was a doctor and while my husband was racing, I got into the industry of medical sales. I did that for almost 10 years and built up a network of doctors and medical professionals from that gig. I have to be honest, it was really hard because that industry, like a lot of industries, is many dominated by men, and doctors who have a god complexity. Because of that, it took me almost five years to really prove my worth and build up my reputation. I feel like that experience truly set me up for life itself. It taught me to always have thick skin and to always be myself. When you work with doctor’s, you can’t bullshit because they know a lot. For example, even if you don’t know the answer, telling the truth will always give you a better outcome than trying to make up something. It was life changing experience for me. After that, my husband ended up retiring from racing in 2008 because the racing industry was changing, so he ended up joining me in medical sales. We were a husband and wife team and went with that for a couple of years.
As much as my boss at the time had his reservations, we built an incredible team under our belts. That field is really 24/7 and by 2013, I had my first child and was working til almost the moment of birth. Fast forward a little bit, and I felt guilt that another woman was raising my child because of work so I had this epiphany that things were not as I wanted them to be. I got pregnant with my second child and my husband offered me to stay home, but I just couldn’t do that, I had to find another way. So I worked until I was about nine months pregnant with my daughter, and had my sister take over my position. And then once I had her, I retired to stay at home with them for about three years. And so really just did the whole stay at home mom thing, which was awesome and super hard at the same time, like much respect to all moms that stay at home, it is very difficult.
What are some of the difficulties that come with that, especially being a high achieving woman?
When you’re used to being around people that are constantly challenging you, and you’re constantly learning and studying and working your brain, you go home satisfied. At this point, you’re living all for the children. You lose your sense of self, or at least I did. I think honestly, though, the biggest thing is just communication, in the sense that you’re not really communicating to anybody all day long. Then your husband comes home and was talking to so many people for work and doesn’t want to get into a long conversation.
When my daughter was about three years old, I decided to get my yoga instructor licence so at least I got to do that. I did that for a while but was in the same predicament because it wasn’t stimulating enough for me. We bought a little cabin outside of the city when we were both still in medical sales, because our weeks were so intense. So we would go up there on the weekends, we’d shut of our phones, we would just decompress, be in the fresh air and just love it. Eight years ago, it was still a small little town, and we were trying to buy houses and I couldn’t get anybody to call me back like the agents were non responsive. It was insane. So I finally got somebody and I ended up doing all the work myself and then at the closing I realized just how much money the agent was going to make for barely any work. It was at that moment that I had a spark and knew that I had to get into this field. I just went for it and got my real estate licence. I didn’t want to do real estate in the city because it was a cutthroat business with a lot of sharks. But then once people started to find out that I had my license where I had my cottage, like friends and family, I just started selling to them. Everything went up form there.
I knew that in order to be successful, I had to do this full time and put all my energy into it. I also had an advantage over the other agents in the area because of all my experience in medical sales as I previously spoke about. At that point my husbands bar was being run by an amazing team and he didn’t need to be there all the time so he actually decided to move to the cabin full time and build my business form there.
That move really changed our lives for the better. There was a transition at the beginning, you know, because you don’t have the modern conveniences that I was used to like, grocery delivery, and all the big name stores we are all used to. After that, I decided to join a team, which was the number one producing team with Remax and became his number one producer as well. I felt like even though I wasn’t from there, I’d done a good job proving myself to the local community and building my reputation and report, that when I was approached with this opportunity from Compass, which is like the newest, biggest hottest growing firm in the country, I was just flattered . I needed to see what I could do on my own and see what would happen.
This was actually compass’s first satellite office in the sense that they only invest in major cities. So that was pretty amazing in itself and I just operate to the beat of my own drum under their brand. I am starting my own team, and currently have a partner, names Thomas, who is from a team in Miami and is absolutely fabulous.
What advice would you give yourself looking back at the beginning of your real estate career?
Don’t be scared! I believe that in anything you do, you have to have tough skin. Believe in yourself and never ever give up.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
We have one of the most ideal spots downtown that everybody’s completely jealous of. It used to be an old Presbyterian Church, and there was just a fight to get this building and it was of divine intervention, that it’s ours. I truly believe that. And so our office is not yet open. I think when it’s open, it should be like January or February and it’s going to be a huge splash. I see us in the next five years bringing the ultimate luxury brand to Blue Ridge, it’s never been there before; it’s always been REMAX. I hope that in five years that the team has grown to where I step out of the daily grind and get to manage from above instead of the buying and selling of real estate.
How to you maintain balance in your life?
I think that that’s one of the hardest things in life. That was the exact reason that I got out of medical sales. One day I came home, and realized I missed my son’s entire first year. And my best friend came to to visit me and she hadn’t seen our house in Atlanta. She owns a clothing store and she’s just like that natural designer, you know, and she said that my house was bad. And I was like, why? You know, what do you mean? But she was right. I didn’t have flowers, pictures or anything homey or warm as a matter of fact. I was never there too put in the time into making it more cozy and more of a home. This is when I need to find balance. It’s important for marriage, it’s important for your kids, it’s important for yourself.
When I was with my former brokerage, I found that I was losing that balance and when I was approached by Compass with this new opportunity, it seemed like the reset I needed.
What have you implemented in your life that helps you maintain a healthy balance?
Well, I hired an assistant, I guess we’re going on a year and a half, which she changed my life. And you know, I delegate a lot to her. So that when I get home, I am not on the computer and on the phone or emails for another five hours. And she’s young, she doesn’t have kids or husband yet. So she’s able to take care a lot of that stuff. For me, that’s probably been the biggest thing, honestly, is, is her she’s, she’s my right hand woman, I couldn’t do it without her. And she’s, she’s my balance. When I go out of town, I send my phone to her and she takes care of it. But at the same time, you know, I reciprocate that with her, I make sure that she takes time off or that she I’m like, you know, turn your phone off this weekend, don’t take any calls. So I think it’s having a partner or an assistant or something like that, that you can really, really truly trust with everything, which isn’t always easy to find. So I’m very blessed to have her.
Photo Credit : Mike Moreland of Moreland Photography
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