REALTOR® PROfile: Abbey Parsons

Abbey Parsons

REALTOR® PROfile

Abbey Parsons
Taking hospitality to a new level in real estate…

After accumulating years of experience in the hospitality industry, this Spokane REALTOR® and 2017 Young Professionals Network President created a successful second career in an industry where extreme customer service truly pays off.

Abbey Parsons had always looked at real estate as a viable second career—perhaps something she could do on a part-time basis after leaving the hospitality industry, where she worked in a sales capacity for two of some of the best customer service organizations in the world: Marriott and Hilton. Ready for a new challenge, Parsons decided to attend one of Coldwell Banker Tomlinson South’s career nights in 2013. “When I walked out of that meeting, I said to myself, ‘There’s no question that I’m getting licensed now,’” recalls Parsons.

And with that, Parsons gave notice at the job she’d been working at for several years and signed up for a real estate licensing course. In July 2013, she hung her license with Coldwell Banker Tomlinson South in Spokane, where she’s currently a broker. Parsons credits her years of experience working for Marriott and Hilton with helping her develop a customer service-oriented attitude that she was able to successfully parlay into a successful real estate career.

“I learned from what are arguably two of the best companies in the world for customer service,” says Parsons, “and then carried that knowledge and experience through to real estate.”

In it for the Long Haul

Accustomed to working 60 hours a week in the hospitality industry, Parsons was initially surprised by the level of autonomy and independence that her new career in real estate afforded her. In other words, she was no longer beholden to a time clock—only to herself.

“I realized pretty quickly that there was no door keeper checking me in and out and making sure that I was in the office,” she recalls. “I really wasn’t used to that.” Already wired with a “work shift” mentality, Parsons says she would get to the real estate office every day at 8AM, even if she had nothing specific to do at that time. The discipline paid off for the new broker, who immersed herself in the activities of other, more experienced REALTORS® in the office.

“We have about 70 agents here, so I spent time around them, listening to them on the phone, and picking up knowledge here and there,” says Parsons, who would also offer to cover open houses, show homes, and manage other tasks for the busy brokers. “I felt like being onsite from 8-5 daily proved that I was taking my career seriously and that I wasn’t going anywhere. I was in it for the long haul.” Over time, that strategy worked in that Parsons was often called upon to show properties for more experienced brokers who, in turn, gave her advice and shared their knowledge with her.

Parsons says she also tapped into some of the networking resources she had gathered in the hospitality industry while re-inventing herself as “your real estate salesperson” (versus “your hotel salesperson”). This helped her position herself in her new career without having to completely rework her business approach. “I basically used the same networks that I’d built with hospitality, and just carried them over into real estate,” says Parsons, who also relied on her social media outlets to spread the word about her new position in real estate. Over time, those online and offline networking efforts started to turn into business opportunities.

Today, Parsons continues to use social media as a primary business generation tool. She updates her blog regularly and covers topics like “How to win the house in a sellers market,” “The #1 thing to do before shopping for a home,” and “Tips on purchasing a house with a dog.” The blogs include both written content and videos that show Parsons covering important, real estate-related topics (“Not just my favorite restaurants around town,” she points out).

“About a year ago I realized that I was answering many of the same questions from my buyers, all of whom needed to know ‘what happens next?’ in the real estate transaction,” Parsons explains. “Rather than just repeating the answers and explanations over and over again, I created a series of video blogs that address the major issues that everyone is concerned about—from the time the home goes under contract until closing.”

Parsons also uses Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms to share information and position herself as a trustworthy broker who truly wants to help her buyers and sellers succeed in the marketplace. And while she can’t directly trace any deals back to those social networking activities specifically, Parsons says she particularly likes to target advertising opportunities that sites like Facebook provide. “I have a fairly unique, high-end listing right now that will likely be purchased by someone from outside of the Spokane area,” she explains.

“To be able to show my sellers that I’m using Facebook to target potential buyers from Seattle to Portland to San Francisco—and reached 10,000 people in the process,” Parsons continues, “is much better than simply putting an ad in the paper and hoping it reaches the right person.”

Abbey’s Smoothest Transition Ever

A few months ago a friend approached Parsons, asking her for help selling a home that had been on the market for five years. That friend already had two other friends who were real estate brokers, so Parsons told the seller to work with whomever he was most comfortable with. “I wasn’t pushy at all; I wanted him to make the best decision for his situation,” says Parsons, who previewed the property and provided some insights into price points, marketing approaches, and other useful tips. After listening to Parsons’ insights, the seller gave her the listing.

“There was also an agent in my office that I knew was looking for that kind of a house,” she adds, “so I let her go look at the house before it hit the market.” The same day that Coldwell Banker agent came to see the property, Parsons and her seller found a potential property for him to buy. Knowing that his existing home had to be sold before he could act on that possible purchase, Parsons conferred with her fellow broker and learned that her buyer was indeed interested in the property that Parsons had just listed. “The whole transaction worked out perfectly,” says Parsons.

Acknowledging the fact that simultaneous closings can be stressful for everyone involved—and that selling a home that’s been market-ready for five years isn’t always easy—Parsons says this particular transaction went down as one of the smoothest and most rewarding of her career to date. “When you can coach your customers and set them up for the right expectations, things just work out,” she says. “Both buyers and sellers in this situation were ecstatic and very pleased with the outcome.”

Creating pleasant outcomes for her clients is an ongoing mission for Parsons, who says she truly enjoys getting out into the community, attending networking events, working directly with buyers and sellers, and simply portraying herself as a “real human being,” versus a selling machine. “It’s a known fact that people want to work with professionals whom they like and trust,” says Parsons. “The fact that people actually like working with me makes my job extremely rewarding.”

Tracking Market Trends

Just three years into her second career as a real estate agent, Parsons has already earned notable industry recognition. In 2014, for example, Parsons took home Coldwell Banker Tomlinson South’s Rookie of the Year award. Then, in 2015, she was awarded the prestigious James S. Black Memorial Scholarship award by the Spokane Association of REALTORS®. The latter award recognizes one licensee’s commitment to the real estate profession and willingness to constantly educate him or herself on the ever-changing trends and issues of real estate. “That will pay for me to get whatever designation I choose,” says Parsons. “I’m looking forward to doing that during the fourth quarter of this year, when business slows down a bit.”

Whether that “slow down” actually happens this year remains to be seen. With overall sales slowly increasing as her career progresses, Parsons says she often finds herself out showing homes and working with sellers until 9PM or 10PM at night on both weeknights and weekends. In fact, she says Washington’s healthy real estate market can be somewhat of a double-edged sword for brokers who have been “waiting for years for the market to return to normal,” but who now must figure out how to operate successfully in a seller’s market.

“It’s fantastic that people can finally sell their homes and not be underwater on their mortgages anymore,” Parsons explains, “but the market as a whole has become extremely competitive.” The fact that a new listing may already have multiple offers on the first day that it hits the market, for instance, means Parsons’ buyers may miss out on the opportunity before they even realize that the listing is in the local MLS. This challenge hits Parsons particularly hard because she works as a solo agent with no assistants or other support personnel. “I can only be in so many places during the course of a day,” says Parsons, who uses good time management techniques and “making sure I’m always there for my buyers’ needs” to offset that challenge.

Thinking back to a time when she had to punch a time clock in order to earn her paycheck, Parsons says she enjoys the freedom and autonomy that real estate gives her. “The upsides are that your life is basically your business, and that makes life fun,” says Parsons. “Real estate is a relationship-based business, so if you can form good bonds with the people around you (she calls them her ‘tribe’), you’re going to be successful in this field.”

Solid Advice From Someone Who’s Been There

As the branch manager for the new Coldwell Banker Tomlinson in Spokane Valley, Parsons says she’d like to spend more time helping new licensees launch their careers—much like those brokers did three years ago for her when she would get to the office at 8AM every day. “I’m really looking forward to providing that type of support within our company,” she says. “Getting started in real estate isn’t easy, and our industry has a pretty high turnover rate for new agents. I just want to help change that within our [Coldwell Banker] brand at least, and hopefully even beyond that.”

To new brokers just getting their feet wet in the industry, Parsons says one of her best pieces of advice is to “show up and be ready to work,” regardless of whether you have work to do in your business or not. Go to community events, attend networking sessions, and go to lunch with your colleagues, she adds, all in the name of putting yourself out there and making those valued connections.

“The biggest part of this business is showing up and being a face of your brand, and not sitting in your house saying, ‘I don’t have any business,’” Parsons advises. “No one is going to come knocking on your door, asking you to sell real estate. You have to get out there, be consistent, and position yourself as the trusted professional that they can count on. It doesn’t take long to gain that trust and launch a successful career in this industry.”

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