Realtor® PROfiles: Corey Orvold & Terry Smith


Corey Orvold and Terry Smith

Corey Orvold

As the public information officer (PIO) for the Seattle Fire Department and a former journalist, Corey Orvold was used to receiving and sharing bad news. “Most people only come in contact with firefighters on the worst day of their lives,” says this Coldwell Banker Danforth REALTOR®. “Even as a journalist, very rarely did I get a positive story.”

Corey Orvold

Ready for a change, Orvold sought out a career where she could make a difference in people’s lives and help spread some positivity throughout her community. She found exactly what she was looking for in residential real estate. “I saw an ad on Facebook asking for buyer’s agents,” she says. “It sounded pretty awesome, so I went for it.”

Five years later, Orvold is pleased with that decision and especially glad to be helping diverse homebuyers—often first-time and first-generation buyers—get into the homes of their dreams. “I realized there was a gap in homeownership with people of color, primarily in the Black community,” Orvold explains. “I really wanted to see what I could do to help and better the situation, and support Black homeownership.”

As part of that mission, Orvold serves as Board Chair for Rebuilding Together South Sound, a non-profit organization that has helped to repair 1,026 homes and reinvested $7.8 million into the community. She also partners with organizations to help empower homeowners to make home repairs, such as the R.I.S.E. Center, the Tacoma Tool Library, The Tacoma Urban League and the Homeownership.

“Understand that not everybody has the same advantage,” she continues, “and that by simply listening you can better understand how to best serve your community.”

“With our first-time homebuyer classes, we’ve been able to get many people into homes and basically just celebrate with them,” says Orvold, who loves the feeling she gets when her first-time/first-generation buyers are handed the keys to their new homes. These individual “wins” are awesome, she says, but there’s still much work to be done to put homeownership within reach of a wider population.

“I’ve seen and been part of various situations where very blatant discrimination took place,” Orvold recalls. “And while owning a house is a privilege and a right, just because someone holds a real estate license doesn’t mean he or she can dictate whether or not someone can achieve their goal of owning a home.”

In reviewing the industry’s progress in this regard, Orvold says recent changes to the National Association of REALTORS®’ Code of Ethics (which hold members accountable for hate speech) is one step in the right direction. “When I look on the message boards I can see that some people are wondering why they’re being policed in their personal speech,” Orvold says. “What they fail to realize is that, as a REALTOR®, your beliefs—whether they’re conscious or not—still carry over to how you interact with people.”

To brokers who want to develop stronger ties within their own communities, Orvold has one simple-but-poignant piece of advice: Start listening. Pay attention to what’s going on around you, who’s struggling with homeownership, which homeowners are losing their homes, and other challenges that may not necessarily be on your daily radar screen. Then, use that knowledge to help make a difference.

“Many people fail to realize barriers especially in the Black community, where there’s obviously the wealth gap, a lack of opportunity, and a need to ‘catch up,’” says Orvold, who was her company’s Rookie of the Year in 2017 and ranked on South Sound Business’ 40 Under 40 Class of 2020.

“Understand that not everybody has the same advantage,” she continues, “and that by simply listening you can better understand how to best serve your community.”

 
 

Terry Smith

For Terry Smith, being a REALTOR® is about more than just helping people buy and sell homes. It’s about forming deep, meaningful connections to her community and industry, all while balancing a successful career with a long list of volunteer activities.

Terry Smith

Licensed in Washington since 2001, Smith was managing a surgeon’s office when she knew it was time for a career switch. She picked real estate, starting with a different brokerage and then joining RE/MAX First Inc., of Port Townsend in 2007. She works with customers across all price ranges and handles land deals and the occasional commercial deal.

An active member of the Jefferson County Association of REALTORS®, Smith has twice served as president of the organization and has also held all other board positions at some point, including chairman of Community and Government Affairs (her current role). Smith has also served as a state director for Washington REALTORS®, and is currently an alternate state director.

“I’ve chaired a lot of committees over the last 15 years,” says Smith, who sees this level of participation as beneficial to her real estate career, despite the time it may take away from those responsibilities. She particularly likes being “in the know” about current real estate trends and the many friendships she’s formed along the way.

In addition to her industry commitments, Smith serves on the Homeless and Affordable Housing Task Force and on the Joint Oversight Board for Homeless and Affordable Housing—both for her city and county. Recently, the organizations helped push through a 1/10 of 1% sales tax that will go toward solving homeless and affordable housing issues.

Smith is also a member of the Real Estate Professionals for Affordable Housing Board, which provides repair services to low-income homeowners who may be in danger of losing their homes. (This organization also provides ramps and grab bars for low-income homeowners.)

“When you take the time to be a part of your community, people will realize that you’re not just in real estate for the commissions,”

To best manage her time, Smith works late hours and tries to always be as efficient as possible, regardless of which role she’s filling at the time. “I’m kind of a night owl, so I do a lot of paperwork at night when things quiet down,” she says. “Just last night I finished my last client call around 10:30pm.”

Reflecting on the impacts that COVID-19 has had on the state’s real estate environment, Smith works to balance her clients’ needs with her own health and safety needs. “I have received both of the COVID vaccine shots,” she says. “I try to meet them at a property and follow all the COVID guidelines as well. It’s been an interesting shift that we’ve all had to adapt to.”

To other Washington REALTORS® that are dealing with changing customer preferences and new requirements, Smith says sticking to the National Association of REALTORS®’ Code of Ethics is a great starting point. “The Code of Ethics is becoming more front and center, as are experience and education,” she explains.

REALTORS® should also go the extra mile to build strong relationships with the communities they serve, Smith adds, and work to build trust within those communities. “When you take the time to be a part of your community, people will realize that you’re not just in real estate for the commissions,” says Smith, “and that you're willing to give back whether you make money at it or not.”

As she looks to the future, Smith is hopeful for more cooperation across brokers, even in the most competitive markets. With everyone focused on the same goal of getting a property sold, there’s simply no room for contentious relationships among real estate professionals.

“We’re all dealing with unusual challenges right now, and getting through them is going take a willingness to adjust with the times,” says Smith. “I’ve seen enough up-markets, down-markets, recessions, and booms to know that if you hang in there long enough, it’ll change for the better.”


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