Patti Shannon has helped hundreds of families buy and sell homes, and she’s been a tremendous asset to our Windermere Bainbridge team. She’s now ready to retire, so we wanted to celebrate her incredible career and share some of her valuable insights. We recently connected with her and we love what she had to say about how this industry has changed, her advice to those who are new to the business, memorable moments, and much more.
What drew you to this career?
I was drawn to Sales & Marketing at an early age. As a teenager, I had a part-time job creating monthly newsletters for a car dealership and was feature editor of my high school newspaper. I sold Girl Scout cookies and greeting cards door to door. After earning my bachelor’s degree in Speech-Communication, I went to real estate school in St. Louis and got a Missouri real estate license; but I had no way to finance the launch of that career. Instead, I worked as an administrative assistant at an ad agency, which led to a 20-year career in radio advertising sales and radio audience research sales. After moving from St. Louis to Dallas to Seattle, I was able to start my real estate practice on Bainbridge Island. I am so glad I waited, or I’d probably still be living in Missouri!
How has the industry changed since you became a Realtor 19 years ago?
The biggest change is the amount of information homebuyers and sellers can access about properties on their own. Many consumers think that means they don’t need the help of Realtors as much. One of my favorite sayings is “you don’t know what you don’t know.” Agents do this work every single day. We take classes on everything from septic systems and wells to NWMLS contract language to negotiations. We also gain knowledge doing transactions and talking with other agents. We network with other agents to find off-market properties for Buyers.
Local Agents have invaluable background knowledge of properties through years on the job; on the island where the same property might sell 3 times in 15 years, being savvy enough to ask, “I wonder if they solved the drainage issue,” makes a difference. We spend months guiding Sellers in the most cost-effective things to do to make their houses market-ready. Good Realtors are worth their weight in gold. I get a kick out of people who tell me, “I’d like to be a Realtor. I love looking at houses.” We do so much more than that! People are shocked when I tell them that less than 10% of the job is looking at houses.
What will you miss the most?
Talking about real estate with clients, friends, and colleagues. Future conversations will not be the same because I won’t be dedicating time daily to stay on top of things.
What will you miss the least?
The changing schedule. It is essential to be available to clients when needed and that often means canceling personal plans or stopping in the middle of dinner to connect with someone I’ve been trying to reach all day. I am looking forward to building a daily and weekly routine.
When you think about all of the families you’ve helped over the years, are there any particular stories that really impacted you?
I will never forget my first in-person offer presentation. Representing a buyer client, I scheduled a meeting with co-listing Windermere agents Bill Hunt and Mark Wilson. I was working for a different company at the time, did not know them well, and was nervous. They were professional, kind, and sensitive to my jitters. They set a great example of how to treat other agents and I hope our wonderful community of hard-working professional Realtors feels that I lived up to their example.
Second, I am humbled and grateful to the many clients I’ve worked with who invited me multiple times to help them buy and sell real estate. That means so much to me! For example, years ago I helped 3 related families move to the island, coming from various parts of the country. Last year, I worked with a client on a second and third transaction and had the pleasure of assisting her daughter with her first home purchase. That was very gratifying.
Do you have any advice for those who are just starting out in this business?
1) Join a company that provides excellent support in terms of training and tools, and sets a high standard for integrity. I find Windermere outstanding on all counts.
2) Get a great mentor or two. I’ve had some wonderful ones, including my dear, departed friend, Carolyn Frame, who pushed me to set monthly sales goals, then reviewed them with me periodically.
3) Partner with other Realtors some of the time. It can be fun and a great learning experience. Find someone who works similarly so you can feel comfortable having them cover for you during vacations and days off. Be sure to schedule “down time” or you will burn out.
You’ve been involved in the community for decades, volunteering with Rotary for 19 years and serving for 7 years as the Chair/Co-Chair of the fundraising committee for Cedars Unitarian Universalist Church. What do you enjoy most about your volunteer work?
I like giving back to the community in a meaningful way. Rotary International is an amazing, world-wide organization and our club on Bainbridge Island is extremely active locally as well as internationally. Being Rotary Auction Chair in 2009 was a fabulous experience because I was able to interact with and get to know many people who have been volunteering for years and years, and also learn how they manage their unique subsets of that phenomenal event.
The reason I serve on the Fundraising Committee at Cedars is that I’ve never met a kinder group of people in my life. I’m blown away by the friendliness, openness, caring, and love that I see displayed through these individuals, both to visitors and members. Perpetuating and growing the church by donating and doing fundraising activities is important to me so that church services continue (now via YouTube), educating and empowering each of us to walk our own spiritual paths, aided by the 7 Principles, moral guidelines held by the UU faith.
What are you most excited to do once you’re officially retired?
Play! Kayak, paddleboard, golf, establish a yoga practice, fish more with Doug. I have always wanted to learn to play guitar, so I plan to pursue that.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I would love to see young, self-motivated people with an aptitude for teaching and communicating to be presented with a career in real estate sales as an option. It is a fascinating profession, ever-changing, rewarding in so many ways, and I never dreaded going to work in the morning.
Thank you for sharing your journey and wisdom with us, Patti! We wish you all the best!