REALTOR PROfile, Pili Meyer

Pili Meyer, REALTOR Profile

She may be a third-generation REALTOR®, but that doesn’t mean Pili Meyer can rest on the laurels of her nearly 30 years in the industry or the many years that her predecessors put into the real estate business. “This is not my grandmother’s or even my father’s real estate business; they might not even recognize it.” says Meyer, a broker with Coldwell Banker Uptown Realty in Port Angeles. “This is a time of great disruption. Innovation is all around us and it’s morphing around us at a faster and faster pace.”

Like many successful agents, Meyer has learned along the way that agility and a willingness to flex and bend can serve as great job security measures in the real estate industry. Licensed since 1986, she—like both her father and grandmother—is an educator who moved into real estate when the need arose for a more lucrative career. “My sons were in high school when I got divorced,” Meyer recalls. “I needed a job and to make money for their college educations—and I needed it quickly. Real estate looked like the best opportunity and it didn’t disappoint.”

Stepping on the Dance Floor

With the ink on her real estate license still fresh, Meyer hung her shingle with a small, boutique real estate firm that looked like a good starting point for her new career. She quickly found out that wrangling business out of the broker’s hands was anything but easy. “When a customer walked through the door, the husband or wife took them,” says Meyer, “I couldn’t get any business.” To solve the problem, she moved over to Coldwell Banker. The rest, as they say, is history.

“Coldwell Banker is nationwide and international in scope, so I wound up getting a lot of referrals and walk-in business from people who didn’t even know me, so it worked out well,” says Meyer. “It was a great move for me.” In one of her most interesting deals, she had the local Eagles Hall listed for sale for about 10 years or so. It was a gigantic building with a commercial kitchen, two dining halls, a bar, and what was reputed to be the best dance floor in the county.

When a buyer finally came along, the Eagles delegated the task of negotiating the deal to a committee. “Working with them was like herding cats,” says Meyer, who faced challenges on both sides of the deal because the property buyer was Homeland Security (or, as the final paperwork said, “the United States of America doing business as Homeland Security”). “The government does business the way it wants to, and it does not resemble ‘normal’ real estate procedure,” says Meyer. “This led to extreme frustration and angst on the part of the Eagles.” At its core, the transaction itself was fairly normal, but it did take time and at least one purchase contract extension to get to the closing table. And because it was the biggest commercial transaction for Port Angeles at the time, Meyer even got her photo in the local newspaper. “And once the public heard that there was an offer,” she recalls, “I received a dozen calls from individuals who wanted to know what was going to happen to the dance floor.”
Pulling Away from the Lockbox

Over the last two years, Meyer says she’s pulled back from “lockbox real estate” to focus on teaching and speaking, both of which revert to her original passion for educating others. Within the real estate realm, Meyer’s teaching activities date back to the mid-1990s, when she served on the state Agency Task Force that wrote the law governing real estate relationships with the public.

“Once that law went into effect, it was obvious we needed some classes on how to represent buyers,” says Meyer, who was asked to write and teach such a class. “Because agents genuinely wanted to know how to do this, I taught that class a lot.” The benefits spilled over into Meyer’s own career. “Thanks to the experience I gained from teaching it over and over,” she notes, “I actually became more accomplished faster than I would have otherwise.”

For example, Meyer says instructors must be knowledgeable not only on key points that are included in the learning material, but they also have to be able to answer questions. This “doubling up” of research and knowledge helped her become a better speaker and agent. “You need to have way more information than you put in the class in case you get questions,” she says. “You also have to find ways of saying the same old thing that will catch their attention and be memorable. The students themselves have questions and ideas that add to your understanding and knowledge.”

Around the Globe

The day before Meyer was interviewed for this RE Magazine profile, she was on a plane, flying home from a speaking engagement in the Philippines. She’s also the National Association of REALTORS®’ president’s liaison to Malaysia and hopes to add Korea to her liaison list in the near future. Meyer chaired the NAR’s Global Advisory Forum this year and will vice-chair the Global Business Alliance in 2016.

“If it all goes well,” she notes, “I’ll advance to chair in 2017.” In the midst of participating in international activities, Meyer also renewed her real estate license for another two years in anticipation of continuing to sell real estate through 2017, although she says most of her efforts will go toward teaching and speaking. “I’ve carved out a little niche for myself as an international speaker,” says Meyer. “It’s been pretty rewarding, but I’m definitely not getting rich on it.”

In addition to speaking, Meyer is also teaching a number of real estate classes to new and existing brokers. “I do a lot of work in agency because that’s how I started out,” she explains. “I also teach a lot of designation classes, including the ABR, SRES, and CNE (Certified Negotiation Expert) courses.” She sees the latter as being particularly beneficial for brokers that want to improve their negotiating skills. “It takes six days to get the master CNE, usually within a six-month period of time,” says Meyer. “That means you really get to know the people who are in class with you as you learn about negotiation, strategies, problems, solutions. It’s an interesting topic that opens up very compelling conversations among agents and brokers.”

An Early Adopter

As a self-proclaimed “early adopter of the computer,” Meyer was in the first wave of brokers who ventured onto the web in the 1990s and set up shop there. “I had a website very early,” she says. “I also used the economy of the computer for creating flyers, staying in touch with clients, and tracking business before any of these things were really being automated on a large scale.”

“Because I go to NAR meetings, I was the first to have my own position on here in my market,” she recalls.   She sees technology as a great facilitator for agents, but says that in some cases getting the business requires an old fashioned approach that integrates good business sense and communication.

“When I first started in this business, I learned that one of the biggest complaints that sellers had was that they never heard from their broker again after listing their property—until there was a sale or it expired,” says Meyer. Seeing this as a potential opportunity, Meyer started using a yellow legal tablet to log all of the activity that took place within a certain week, and for a specific listing. “I would photocopy my notes and mail them to my clients every Friday,” says Meyer. “That way, they knew that something was happening.”

Eventually, software would come along to help facilitate Meyer’s seller communication efforts. Early on, she created forms, took notes, and then emailed those forms directly to her clients. “I basically kept them informed of everything that was happening, including calls from other agents, showing feedback, and even just that there was ‘no news to report’ for the week,” says Meyer. “At closing, I’d consistently hear good feedback from clients on how much they appreciated this. Even ‘nothing to report’ meant I was paying attention to what was going on with their listings.”

Under the Bright Lights

When she thinks about how her career has come full circle since getting into real estate nearly 30 years ago, Meyer likes to joke that, “Broadway isn’t calling, so I’ll teach.” In fact, she compares speaking to performing, noting that once you start teaching the same class multiple times, you begin to figure out how to present the material and say things in a way that will really resonate with your audience—much like a Broadway performer would do. “You figure out where the holes are and how to fill them,” says Meyer. “And then, because the experience should be branded—no matter when people take that class or where—you want them to take away exactly the same thing from each experience.” From the teacher’s perspective, reading from a book or a screen doesn’t cut it, says Meyer, who works on her delivery techniques in a very “unscripted” environment. 

“You have to allow for what’s going on in the room at any given time; it has to feel real and like you are only talking to them,” says Meyer, who thoroughly enjoys the challenges put in front of her on the speaking and teaching front. “There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing someone’s eyes light up because they suddenly ‘get it.’ When the light bulb goes on over their heads, you know you’ve done your job.”

When teaching her very first class in Long Beach, WA, Meyer was working with a group of brokers (there was no REALTOR® association there at the time, so the audience was comprised of non-REALTORS®) who needed to learn the ropes of the new agency laws. “It was a terrifying experience because they sat there with frowns on their faces the entire day,” says Meyer. “A real estate commissioner from another area of the state was sitting in the back row because he hadn’t taken enough clock hours to renew his license.”

Luckily, Meyer’s day got a little easier as she worked her way through the nuts and bolts of the new agency law. “At the end of the day, their faces all opened up and the sun was shining again,” says Meyer, who realized later the reason they were frowning was because they were concentrating.

Not Quite Ready to Let Go

A long-time Soroptimist member, Meyer holds a number of REALTOR® designations and has received numerous awards for her service and success over the years. And while her retired husband would love for her to pull back on the work throttle soon, she says she’s not quite ready to let go yet. “I still have a little more to say in the classes,” says Meyer, who is looking at possibly doing more webinar presentations in the future, though she’s not sure if that will ever serve as a replacement for the gratification of live teaching and presenting.

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