Blog Stories Real Estate Observations from a Former Bar Manager

Real Estate Observations from a Former Bar Manager

By Jon Lawson, March 26, 2021

When March 13th 2021 rolled around this year, the date struck a chord in me, as I’m sure it did with the majority of people. This day marked 365 days of quarantine. I look back at the last year with so much gratitude and appreciation. Appreciation for the pause. The ability to reflect, and spend time with those I love most. However on this day and month, I also feel the magnitude and weight of the last year, because the pandemic has affected so many people both positively and negatively. 


As a former Bar Manager turned Realtor in Portland, I am most grateful for the opportunity this pandemic has created for so many of my former restaurant industry colleagues. I am fascinated by the number of people that are now working for non-profits, have gone back to school for nursing, or challenged themselves in ways they didn’t know was possible. A number of my former colleagues have inquired about getting their real estate licenses. Hence my desire for this post! 


Before March of last year, I was thankfully already in the process of transitioning into Real Estate and had my eyes on a few brokerages in Portland. I knew Kim Parmon through a few former restaurant industry contacts that had also made the leap of faith to Real Estate. I decided that it would be important to get her perspective along with a few other contacts to see if Living Room Realty was the right place for me. 


What I noticed most in my initial conversation with Kim was a passion and drive that was undeniable. She talked about how her excitement around running her own business, and how this drove her. She then discussed the many reasons as to why Living Room was where she landed after working for a few other brokerages. I noticed this with many experienced brokers I spoke to. They chose LRR because of the way the brokerage gives back to the community, as well as it’s code of ethics. Lastly, there was a resounding sense that LRR above all others strives to be an equitable real estate brokerage. The last point – was the most important thing for me. 


Having been with Living Room for almost an entire year now, I’ve noticed not only a few things about this brokerage but the industry as a whole. I thought these would be helpful to share to those who are considering a career change or a move to Living Room Realty. 


  1. Choose a brokerage with support, training and mentorship. 

I’ve truly never felt more cared for and supported when starting a new role. Kim Parmon who I reference above, was so gracious to mentor me through my first three sales. We won the first offer I ever submitted because of all of the creative techniques she pushed my client and I to try out. Which is amazing – especially in this market! After helping close three homes, I then decided to join a team with Beth Benner and Sharon Bloudek – which has been an incredible experience in itself to be a part of a team with over 30+ years of experience. These badass ladies have already taught me so much in the past three months and I couldn’t be more grateful for their patience and willingness to share their knowledge with me.


  1. The industry is incredibly communal and there are so many intelligent and compassionate humans you’ll encounter along the way. 

Not having met many realtors or mortgage brokers in the past, I assumed the industry was going to be much more competitive or cutthroat than it actually is. It certainly isn’t an easy job, but what I’ve come to realize is that if you are kind and hardworking, the majority of agents will treat you with the same respect. 


  1. When you sign up to become a Realtor – you’re really starting your own company. 

I knew that I’d have to file taxes differently, but certainly didn’t know the ins and outs of how to file your own LLC, or have to find an accountant that would help with your specific questions. I wasn’t thinking about tracking my miles or making sure that I would need to use Quickbooks. The initial set up of your business is not something that I thought of when my main focus was going to open houses, and trying to meet my first clients. Be ready to have some of these things in place before getting started. 


  1. Find “your way” that feels right. 

My partner Alli often laughs at me in situations when being sold things at the grocery store or mall because she knows I’m the first person to buy something I don’t need. Solely, because I feel for the person on the other end. Therefore, I never wanted to be the person who started cold calling or forced conversations in this role. When I first started, I made myself available to more senior brokers and did open houses every single weekend. Every. Weekend. Through this effort, I was able to meet my first buyers at an open house within my first month. I then focused on finding the right home for them and stayed true to who I am. 


Cold calling is never something that I have felt comfortable with and I hope I never will have to do. So far, I’ve been able to manage with referrals from my network and making genuine connections. Maybe eventually I’ll need to – but I’ve stayed true to who I am and how I feel great about this. 


  1. Stick with it, and know it’s going to be hard. 

Real estate is one of the hardest businesses to get started in. It is really easy to get discouraged when 100% of your business comes from your energy and effort. There were so many days and weeks where I’d look at my empty schedule and second-guess myself. I had to fill my time with things that were a priority and kept myself motivated and stayed positive. I also have to focus on my long term goals while meeting my current deadlines and stay on top of the current timelines. 


  1. Tell your story and teach others what you know. 

Just because YOU know you do real estate doesn’t mean your friends and family keep you top of mind when thinking to buy or sell. Especially when you are starting out. Be a resource for them, and share what you’ve learned from more established brokers. Also – in the same vein, when people are talking about what they know of the market – lend a professional opinion without being forceful or taking over conversation. You’ll soon become a subject matter expert and their go-to for questions, as someone they know and trust. 


  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff.  

The wonderful world of real estate is filled with ups and downs. Learn to cope and adjust to things that are out of your control. There are going to be many things that come up that you haven’t seen before. Learn to foresee these scenarios and your mentality will shift to be able to handle the ups and downs that the real estate business will bring. 


  1. Social media, social media, social media. 

Provide a way for your clients to view your work through multiple platforms. When it comes to staying connected, be sure to take advantage of the many ways to assist your current or potential clients. Paint a picture. It is free to start an Instagram account and share your experience with people. 


  1. Keep faking it, till you make it.

Surround yourself with people who know the business and work hard. Open doors for free, be a sponge, absorb it all, or even sit at open houses with tenured agents. Thank you Jené! Remember, there is only one way to get started and that’s from scratch. Get comfortable with being humble and asking for advice and ways you can help others. I am certainly not an expert, nor have I “made it yet” but thankfully I’ve joined an incredible team, and am grateful for the many opportunities it’s provided me thus far. 


  1. Be Kind.

This is a relationship business. Be genuine. Care for your clients. Be a resource. I stand by this through and through and have been so impressed with where kindness and authenticity can take you. 


If I’ve learned anything, it’s that this industry is filled with compassionate, caring and loving individuals that are happy to share their knowledge and resources with the communities in which they serve.


But what do I know, I’m just a rookie.


Jon Lawson

Broker | OR


Jon is a detail-oriented professional that is dedicated to his client’s happiness and satisfaction. He believes that is only accomplished through continued education, staying current on trends in the market, and a genuine care for others. He takes an immense amount of pride in and lives by his strong work ethic, integrity in every aspect of life, and compassion for others. A self-proclaimed people person, Jon found a home working in restaurants where he fell in love with the service industry. After a decade and a half managing several bars across the city, Jon decided to take his problem-solving and people skills into his love for real estate. He believes there is a solution for every problem and is dedicated to finding it.

When you buy or list a house with Jon, you can expect someone who will go above and beyond to help guide you through one of the most exciting moments of your life. Jon will bring his standard of professionalism, dedication, and strong negotiation skills to help you accomplish your goals. He is a high-touch broker who is devoted to his clients. He earns the respect of his clients by working tirelessly on their behalf and by always offering them candid advice. His first and final goal is to always make his clients happy.

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