Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Sharon took a leap of faith with her now husband, Justin, and moved from PA to Phoenix in 2002. She met her now business partner, John, when he sold them their first home, where she was instantly intrigued with real estate. She got her license in 2003 and hasn’t looked back since.
In her own words : “I absolutely love helping people find their dream home or achieve their goals when selling. I love being able to educate and consult them through the entire process. There is such gratification when you are instrumental in such a big and important part of someone’s life, like buying or selling their home. It’s still a rush each and every time I get to deliver great news to a client!” Here is her entrepreneurial journey.
Tell our readers about your personal journey that brought you into real estate.
I worked in executive admin / HR roles for different companies for years and when I started dating my now husband Justin, we both decided to take an adventure and take our lives in a new direction and took a chance and moved to Arizona. We moved here in May of 2002, so it’s been almost twenty years now. We didn’t know anybody when we got here. This was right at the cusp of when the market here was just starting to heat up. Everybody was saying “you have to buy a house, the prices keep going up”. We bought our first house just a few months later. Our realtor, John, said when I showed up to look at homes with my clipboard, notes and personality, that I needed to become a Realtor. I was intrigued but wasn’t confident about going to a 100% commission job so I kept pushing him off.
After a complimentary stay at the posh Phoenician Hotel where we were treated like royalty, we decided I should take a chance and do something that could really change our lives & income. I left that hotel and called John immediately. He wanted to start a team and he hired me to shadow him & learn the ropes while I took my real estate classes. We founded the Arizona Home Group, and have been going strong for almost 20 years now.
Especially coming from your background of more “safe” and secure types of jobs, to now going into a full commission based pay check, can you tell us about that period of your life and how it felt?
It was definitely the scariest thing I’ve ever done! I just took a leap of faith. I put all my trust in myself and my abilities and I think with all the change of moving to a new city 1800 miles away from home, I was feeling invigorated and confident that anything truly was possible, so I just went for it! It was very scary but absolutely worth it.
And now looking back, two decades at being extremely successful at something that over 80% of people don’t make past the first two years, can you tell us what lessons have helped you excel?
You have to hustle, without a doubt. My passion for this is that I love helping people. As much as first time home buyers can be some of your most challenging clients, because there’s a lot of educating and hand holding, for me, it’s actually the most rewarding client to work with because I love to empower people and walk them through the whole process of getting into homeownership because that is truly the way that you create wealth. There is no better, or faster, way to become wealthy than to own real estate. We are in our fifth home over the last twenty years and it’s our dream home. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for buying and selling the last four previous homes and using the equity earned to move up with each consecutive home purchase.
At the core is the love of helping people, which gives me the hustle & motivation to answer my phone or leave my house at all hours of the day or night, or during holidays, to be able to help clients through this crazy process.
What I’ve also learned is that you can’t freak out every time there’s a “lull” in your business because that’s just how it is. There are times when it’s so busy you have no time to take a breath and then there are times when it’s slow and I’ve learned to actually enjoy and embrace those times. It’s cyclical that way. You just have to continue to do the prospecting that needs done every day and the clients will come.
You mentioned helping people build wealth being one of your top priorities, that being said what has been one of the best investments you’ve seen as well as location in areas you’ve been servicing?
I don’t think anyone could have predicted just how good the market has been over the last few years. I wish I had the foresight to have purchased an investment home 3 or 4 years ago. I think anybody that bought during that time, and turned those homes into rentals have made 40-50% profit on their home value. There’s really nothing that can be as profitable in a traditional investment that gives you the same return that you can get in real estate. You can put a $60K cash investment and turn that into $250K in a few years. It’s been amazing to see! I always send my clients value updates on their homes each year to show what their house is worth and that has been very exciting and eye opening for them these past few years.
As for areas, the whole Valley has seen incredible price appreciation but I’d say the East Valley tends to be more popular and has seen the biggest gains.
Would that be on stand alone homes, condos, which type?
Definitely a single family detached homes give you the best return. It’s getting harder and harder to find deals, especially closer in, I service mostly the East Valley which includes Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Queen Creek & Mesa and those areas are getting harder to find a house under $500k. It’s really about forward thinking and looking at which areas will be coming up in popularity in the future.
What are those locations you’re gearing potential investors towards?
San Tan Valley, Coolidge, Florence, Maricopa, it’s starting to get out there. The west valley area of Buckeye is really growing too. This is an hour or more drive from downtown Phoenix but that’s where the growth is going to be. There’s a builder who just bought more land – the biggest land sale by one builder in Arizona’s history – that’s just East of Mesa so we know that is going to be a big building location coming in the next decade.
Do you focus on new construction as well?
Yes. People don’t think they need a realtor for this, but it’s important to have a representative to guide you with lot selection and upgrades selection for re-sale value and we also know a lot about upgrade pricing and what you can do after closing vs. through the builder and can guide a buyer to making the smartest choices for their enjoyment and investment. Visit this video for details.
What does your long term vision look like for your career now?
Something I’ve sort of been doing already, I really like to mentor new agents and help them realize their dreams. I’m helping a new agent on our team right now. For personal goals, I’m bringing myself to a place where I can get my first investment property.
Another personal goal is Leverage. What are the things that I need to do that will benefit my business the most. That is prospecting and finding new clients, so I then have to delegate marketing, print design, admin stuff, contracts and paperwork, and just focus on what I do best, which is directly working with the clients. I wish I did this much sooner in my business.
When it comes to balance, what does the look like for you personally now?
That’s probably been one of the hardest things for me in my career, I just now put a voicemail, after 19 years, saying if it’s after seven pm I’ll call you back the next day and that was really hard for me to do (laughs). My friends will call me and leave voicemails saying “I’m so proud of you for setting boundaries!” It’s hard because I want my clients to know that I am always here for them, but there comes a point when I need to keep a healthy balance with my family time. I love to travel, so that’s my escape and why I work so hard, so I can see the world with my husband, family & friends. I’m grateful to have such a great career where I can live a life by design!
Photo Credits – Carl Schultz of Schultz Digital
Anthony Giammarino of Airobird LLC
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