REALTOR® PROfile: Maggie McQueen & Bobbie Chipman

Maggie McQueen and Bobbie Chipman Photography by Amore Studios

From Survival to Thriving: How one Broker beat the odds & another gave her a chance to succeed.

Finding a Place to Heal

When Maggie McQueen walked into John L. Scott Real Estate four years ago, she had no idea how taking that step would change her entire life.

You wouldn’t immediately associate a real estate office as a safe haven for a survivor of domestic abuse, but that’s exactly how the story played out on the day that Maggie McQueen walked through the doors of John L. Scott Puyallup Main office four years ago.

Passing over that threshold wasn’t easy for McQueen, who had not only suffered 11 years of emotional and psychological abuse at the hands of her ex-husband, but hadn’t found the right vibe for her when visiting several other real estate companies.

“I’d spent the entire day interviewing with other offices and John L. Scott was on my way home,” says McQueen, “so I figured I’d swing in.” Catching a positive vibe as soon as she walked through the door, she talked for a few minutes with the person who was manning the front desk. When another broker joined the conversation, he told McQueen to hang out until the office leader got back.

“He wasn’t going to let me leave for anything in the world,” recalls McQueen, who within a few minutes remembers seeing a woman walking across the parking lot, arms overflowing with stuff, kicking the office’s front door with her foot to open it. The broker made some quick introductions between McQueen and Office Leader Bobbie Petrone Chipman.

“She brought me right into her office; I was scared because I’d never done anything like this before,” recalls McQueen. “She just sat here very calmly and patiently, listening and asking questions. Then she took her glasses off and got real.”

There’s More to the Story

Chipman also remembers that day very well. With no idea that a future team member was waiting nervously for her in the lobby, she found herself face-to-face with a tattooed, slender young woman with bright pink hair. “The moment I saw Maggie, I knew she had something special,” recalls Chipman. She also knew that McQueen didn’t necessarily “look” like your typical real estate broker.

“All I saw was this woman who had something amazing going on,” says Chipman. The turning point came when those glasses came off and Chipman uttered these words, “I think there’s more to your story than what you’re telling me.” And with that, McQueen opened up and told her about the abuse inflicted by her ex-husband, how she had fled the family home with her children, and how she was currently homeless and in hiding from her abuser.

“I have no idea why I told her; I guess I trusted her,” recalls McQueen, whose instincts were right on target. “I told Bobbie details that I hadn’t shared with anyone else. She was just so welcoming and easy to talk to.” Within two months, this aspiring broker had earned her real estate license and was already selling homes… even while experiencing her own homelessness.

Someone Believed in Me

To better understand how these two professionals came together and formed a mentoring relationship that would span four years (and beyond), we rewind the clock a bit and hear Chipman’s story. A former waitress, she came into the real estate business in 1992 and moved into her first management role six years later. “I spent 17 years in the restaurant business and I needed a better lifestyle for my sons,” Chipman says. “Someone believed in me and suggested that I interview for a real estate position.”

Chipman took a live class while working full-time at the restaurant and became licensed in 1992.

After hanging her license as the manager of the Lakewood/Tacoma John L. Scott franchise, she was forced to make a tough decision when its owner passed away. “I loved management; I thrived on supporting and training brokers and the lifestyle that it offered was important to me as the mother of two young boys, so I moved to another company for 11 years,” says Chipman.

In 2011, someone from John L. Scott’s leadership team reached out to Chipman, letting her know that there was a management opportunity available, and would she like to come and interview for it? The answer was “yes,” and with that, Chipman was hired for her current position as office leader for the Puyallup Main location.

“Right After I Ran”

There are no right words when talking to someone who has suffered more than a decade of domestic abuse at the hands of a loved one, but McQueen comes across as extremely straightforward and confident, despite her harrowing experience. “I got my license in November of 2015—right after I ran,” she says, referring to her escape from the abusive marriage. Prior to that, she was a personal trainer and a carpenter. “I got injured on the job,” she explains, “and wound up in a horrific, abusive marriage.”

Luckily, McQueen’s spirit wasn’t completely broken by the experience. Even while in the relationship, she was already thinking about a potential career in real estate—a career that a REALTOR®-friend once told her she would be perfect for.

“My ex told me I’d never be able to sell a single home,” she recalls, “and you know what? He was right. I’m going to sell all of them.”

Fast-forward to 2015 and McQueen had just hung her freshly-minted license at John L. Scott Real Estate, where she not only has the support of an office leader who knew her story, but also a strong REALTOR® mentor to guide her throughout her career. Chipman’s nurturing approach extends through her entire 126-broker office, where McQueen was welcomed with open arms.

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The depth of those office relationships would be tested fairly early on. Working with a high school friend who wanted to buy a house, McQueen found herself writing up her first deal within three weeks of getting her license. “I was completely freaking out, but I very calmly told my buyer that I had to ask someone in the office if I was doing this right,” recalls McQueen. It was 6:30PM and most of the office had already gone home, but one broker who was there took one look at the frantic newbie and said, “It’s okay, I got you.”

After going over the contract with the client, the broker took McQueen into his office and spent two hours reviewing it line-by-line. “That’s how I took contracts from training to real-life,” she says.

Like a Slingshot

Ask McQueen how her real estate career has progressed since that first deal and she answers quickly: “Imagine a slingshot being pulled back and let go. It’s gone up and up, and further and further.” She’s consistently earned more commission than she did the prior year, and is in a financial position that she never even dreamed possible. “I just bought my first house,” says McQueen, “and more importantly, all three of my children (now ages 16, 18, and 21) are happy and in a good place.”

Some of that “slingshot-like” production can be attributed to a very special mentoring relationship that spawned between McQueen and Chipman. “In the beginning, if she could have held my hand all day, every day, I would have welcomed it,” says McQueen. “Although I knew I didn’t have to tell her what I was doing or report to her or ask her, knowing Bobbie was there was very empowering.”

Chipman says that the mentoring relationship (side note: she doesn’t like the word “mentoring” and prefers “relationship”) she formed with McQueen—and any others she’s been involved with during her tenure as a manager—is both casual and informal. “Relationships are extremely important to me; I think that’s one of the reasons that Maggie got the vibe from our office that first day that she walked into it,” she explains. “Everyone here—myself included—is a resource and in a lot of ways, a mentor.”

"Relationships are extremely important to me…"

Digging down deeper into her management approach, Chipman says her office is a “safe space” for anyone who is dealing with work, personal, or family issues. “I don’t care what it is, they can come in here and talk to me about whatever it is they darn well please,” she says. “This applies to our staff, brokers, fellow managers, and colleagues.” In some cases, Chipman’s passion for forming strong relationships works in the opposite way—namely, quickly identifying people who may not be right for her team.

“If someone comes in to interview with me, and if I don’t feel a genuine connection with them, this is probably not the right office for him or her,” Chipman admits. “I want to have an enriched relationship with a broker, I think every broker is entitled to have a honest and supportive relationship with me. If we don’t have that connection from the get-go, I will recommend a few other offices to them where they will be a better fit.”

The Right Balance

Unlike most real estate brokers, McQueen was (and to some degree, still is) limited in just how much information she could reveal about herself and her whereabouts. She also couldn’t use her photo on property advertisements or online—again, something that most brokers do to help personalize their advertising and marketing. “I don’t use a photo on any of my marketing, period,” says McQueen, who circumvents that challenge by creating eye-catching, impactful marketing messages.

Of course, McQueen did have to put herself out there to hold open houses and show properties to her clients—both of which are very “visible” activities. “Staying hidden while completely and totally putting myself out there was an interesting balance,” she recalls, remembering how her first desk was near a doorway that led right to the office’s entrance. Had her ex ever walked in, it wouldn’t have taken long for him to get to her. “There was always a level of fear about that happening,” she says.

As if those weren’t enough challenges for one budding, entrepreneurial REALTOR® to handle, McQueen was also grappling with depression and the PTSD brought on by the trauma that she’s experienced. “The PTSD was so bad that I couldn’t even go to the grocery store; I would work 10 hours, leave the office, and go straight home,” McQueen recalls. “My friends would leave food out on my porch so that I had something to eat.”

Opening Her Heart

Fortunately for McQueen, the further her harrowing experiences fade into the rearview mirror, the more she’s able to enjoy her life, friends, children, and the rest of her blessings. Many of those blessings are right in her office, where she’s made “some of the best friendships” she’s ever had in her life.

“There are a lot of people here whom I would call ‘family,’” says McQueen. “If you knock on someone’s door and say, ‘Hey, I have a problem and I think you can help me with it,’ they will stop what they’re doing and help you with it. I haven’t come across a single person in this office who wasn’t willing to do that.”

Early in her career, for example, one of the office’s top brokers listed a home that McQueen brought the buyer for. “I had no idea what I was doing—the listing broker needed something from me and I told her assistant that I didn’t even know how to keep a transaction file,” she recalls. “She came downstairs into my cubbyhole office, sat criss-cross on my floor, and went through all my files. She taught me how to keep a perfect file.”

As she reflects on the past and looks forward to what’s coming around the next corner, McQueen has a message to other people who have survived seemingly-insurmountable challenges in life: once you are out of the situation and in a safe place, open your heart again. Had she not done this, McQueen may not have ever found her way into the nurturing, supportive space of John L. Scott Real Estate’s Puyallup Main office and its fearless leader. “Don’t close yourself off so much that you forget to live,” she adds, “because amazing, unbelievable things can happen.”

Chipman says McQueen’s journey shows the importance of reaching out to promising new agents, taking them under your wings, and supporting them through the early stages of their careers (and beyond). “I don’t believe in the ‘boss’ relationship, but that’s a role that brokers can accidentally fall into,” says Chipman. “Instead, let people be their authentic selves. That, and a wonderful workplace can change their lives forever.”

Maggie McQueen & Bobbie Chipman
Bobbie Chipman
Maggie McQueen & Bobbie Chipman
Maggie McQueen
Bobbie Chipman
Maggie McQueen

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