A while back, we met Carolyn Molly, an educator who found her middle ground at middle age in the real estate profession. A passionate actor and director in her local community theater, Molly loved the creative and performance aspects of teaching. Her principal had nominated her for a national social studies award, and her students still talk about her classroom projects, even though she is no longer in the field. State and national testing requirements made her reconsider her career choice and move into career transition mode.
“It hurt to watch students struggle to meet undifferentiated benchmarks,” Molly said.
Even though real estate seems like a numbers-driven field, Molly connected strongly to it.
“I can’t stop thinking about my houses like people. I have sold homes that were exquisite in their day, but had bad things happen to them, like foreclosure. They may suffer damage. These houses are like children that haven’t been cared for. Clearly, houses are inanimate objects, but it still hurts my heart to see a neglected house. They remind me of my students who weren’t properly cared for. It makes me sad.”
Inanimate objects or not, Molly finds the heart in every house.
“When I drive by an abandoned house that may be falling down, I can’t stop thinking about the people who built it. It was new at some point. I think about the family that crossed the threshold for the first time. The family may have raised children there and had their first meal there and made marks when their kids grew. Now it’s alone. “
Once Molly discovered her passion for real estate and decided to make the career transition, she found the switch to be a challenge.
“It’s difficult to be old and new to something at the same time. I went from being an expert in my field to not knowing Jack Squat. Real estate is just like teaching in that regard—you have to do it to learn it. It was VERY humbling. There I was at 50 sitting with people half my age who knew double what I did. I didn’t even know what questions to ask,” she explained.
She remembered a former bank vice president turned realtor who warned her that she would feel incredibly inadequate for the first three years of her career transition. That gentleman survived his training and is now a managing broker.
“It’s so intimidating at first. Every transaction is different. When you learn something in a realtor classroom, you don’t remember it until you meet it. Never is it a straight shot from ratification to closing,” she said.
Molly refused to give up. Eventually, the business began to click with her.
“Little by little, it built,” she said. “Then, it seemed like one day I woke up and could speak real estate!”
As she learned the business, Molly decided that she would follow her own path in real estate.
“Through the learning process, it occurred to me that when someone buys a house, you don’t sell it to them. You expose them to it. The customer sells it to themselves. I see myself in service to others, and I’ve found that if I serve properly, the sales will come,” she said. “It’s not a shiny, flashy way to do business. It may take longer. I believe people should be able to back out if they want to. I don’t want my clients to make a $200,000 investment that they aren’t comfortable with.”
In Molly’s business model, the people and their stories are paramount.
“When you’re working with buyer clients, you spend a lot of time with their families,” Molly said. “One couple of mine was expecting their third child. The wife in the earliest stages of pregnancy, and they were living with her parents at the time. I was determined to find them a house. I swore that even if they were signing during her contractions, we’d get that house! We made it two weeks before delivery.”
Education weaves its way into Molly’s business dealings as well.
“I particularly love working with first time buyers because I’m a teacher at heart. I love teaching these young buyers what they need to know about the biggest investment they’ll make in their lives,” Molly enthused. “There’s nothing like closing on a first house. Handing a first time buyer their keys is like handing them a baby. They are so excited, worried, thrilled, and scared all at the same time!”
Career transition seems to garner those types of emotions as well. For anyone considering a career switch, terror and excitement would seem to go hand-in-hand. Success, though, seems to hinge on perseverance. Molly didn’t give up, and she now gets to enjoy the fulfillment.
“Basically, I’m being paid to make people’s dreams come true,” she said. “That is empowering!”