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Relentless Agent Stories

Leigh A. Saunders

CENTURY 21 Sweyer & Associates

Through that cloud of devastation and grief, Leigh stepped in and showed me so much compassion and friendship that I can never imagine having navigated this process with anyone else.

Client Testimonial

This property was a family property originally owned by my maternal grandparents - the actual house was built for them by my father and his cousins. This little cottage immediately became the gathering spot for my mother's extremely large extended family, with a massive July 4th reunion held there every year until the mid-70's when my grandparents were forced to move to Charlotte for health reasons.  The cottage was taken over by my uncle, then by my mother and me, and she and I again turned it into a wonderful family retreat for many years for my brothers, her remaining family and many of my friends.

When I retired I had planned to move there and enjoy the warm memories, relaxed living and easy life that I knew Oak Island could offer, but by the time I retired I had suffered the loss of my mother and youngest brother, so after running into significant roadblocks from the town on installing adequate fencing for my beloved 150lb dog and a storage building, I lost heart in trying to continue fighting with to reclaim the cottage - I just wasn't sure what direction to take.

I placed the cottage out on Zillow just to see what would happen and researched heavily into long-term rentals. After thinking I had identified a good management company who wanted to rent the property to what I thought was a responsible tenant, I decided to go that route. Boy was I ever wrong about both of those things!

Luckily, I also got a call from Leigh, who talked to me about other options for the cottage. We immediately hit it off, and though I had already committed to the rental, I asked her to stay in touch. Over the lease term, she reached out to me several times, more as a friend checking in than business, and I always appreciated how caring she was about those contacts.

As the lease drew to a close, my remaining brother decided that he wanted to take over the property and potentially move there. Leigh rolled with it, offering to help any way she could. One week before Thanksgiving in 2018 my brother was killed as he tried to help a female friend being harassed by a man stalking her.

Through that cloud of devastation and grief, Leigh stepped in and showed me so much compassion and friendship that I can never imagine having navigated this process with anyone else. Over the year or more of conversations we had had, she knew what that cottage had meant to me, financially as a nest egg for the future, emotionally as a connection to family and my past, and when I was in totally no position to have made good decisions on what was going on with it, what to do to make the most of any sale, how to proceed forward, Leigh fought hard to look out for my interests. She checked in on things to close out the rental when I was traveling to handle my brother's affairs, helped me figure out the most cost effective expenditures to maximize what I could get, came up with a phenomenal sales strategy to ensure we would have the best options in buyers and made all the paperwork side of things as stress-free as possible.

Leigh has been a true light when I needed one, and I can never speak highly enough about her. I totally understand business, and that business is always the goal. But it is HOW you do business that will always matter to the people that you do business with, and I truly feel Leigh exemplifies what good business should be about!

Q&A

Interview With Our Relentless Agents

Q: Everyone has a story about how and why they got into real estate – was there something or someone who introduced you to the industry?
A: I ran restaurants and was the general manager of a great restaurant. I had a medical emergency that put me in the hospital for 6 days in Feb 2015. It was scary. It terrified my family and really took the spring out of my step. I was out of work for 6 weeks and decided during that time to check into property management. I managed the building and facilities of my restaurant, so I thought it would be a position I was qualified for. In NC, you are required to have a Real Estate License to be a property manager o I took night classes at a community college. My instructor suggested sales as it might fit my personality better. I am a big fan of taking great advice, so I passed the class and then the exam. In October of 2015, I served my notice at the restaurant and started full time in Real Estate at Century 21 Sweyer and Associates.
Q: It can be an intimidating experience to work with people on the biggest purchase of their lives. Were you intimated? How did you get comfortable with the process?
A: Absolutely intimidating and slightly overwhelmed. I think I was most intimidated by the duty to the client. As the agent, I need to be super knowledgeable about the process and possible pitfalls. I relied heavily on my training, used my resources (peer agents, broker in charge, Real Estate Textbooks) and my own business sense from 25 years in he restaurant industry. One little thing that kind of embarrassed me one day: I was on duty and got a call. The buyer was well informed with the area and was talking about a neighborhood and I said no. He kind of berated me for not knowing anything about that neighborhood. Today when faced with the same situation I have the confidence to reply “There are 13,00 homes for sale in my market. I can’t know everything about them all.” And just laugh it off. I think having a sense of humor is acritical tool to keep everyone relaxed enough to be effective and have a great experience
Q: Being a "Relentless Agent" isn't just a saying. It's the above-and-beyond, extra-mile moves that are made every day all in support of our brand mission - to defy mediocrity and deliver extraordinary experiences to clients. What was your motivation to go above and beyond for your client?
A: First, you have to have a duty to the client. So NOT being relentless just isn’t an option. This is big money and 15-30 years of house payments. Or for sellers, you are impacting their financial health if you are mediocre. Second, you often have to provide the emotional support that can allow the client to focus on the financial needs and goals of themselves and their family. Ever been so stressed that you couldn’t decide what to have for dinner? You know, you can glaze over and just can process? As the agent, I have to help the client process the situation and be able to make decisions. I am here to inform, guide, Sheppard…whatever you call it. The client has to be in a head space that will allow them to make an informed and thoughtful decision. Sometimes, they just need some time or space. Sometimes they need you to walk through the scenarios or sometimes you just have to listen to them catastrophize the situation before they can settle in and process. Finally, you HAVE TO NOT BE ATTACHED to a specific outcome. You have to focus on your role and the process.
Q: It can be difficult to go the extra mile day after day – what do you do to stay motivated and relentless for your clients? What advice would you give other agents looking to go the extra mile?
A: This is a tough one. I think a big part is to have someone looking out for you. Someone to let you know when you like you are red-lining. You can’t let it get so stressful that you disengage. If you are truly good with your clients, they will know the second you are slipping and will call you out on it. You have to give your clients grace and give yourself grace sometimes too. One thing I do when I get on the edge is to look back on the clients that remain friends after the process. That trust me every day with real estate advice and feedback. Another good one it…don’t overload yourself. You can leave early once in a while. You can go for a walk, see a movie, turn off your phone, go out on the boat. Your clients deserve a patient, well rested agent. And you are the only one that knows when you need to recharge.
Q: What was going through your mind during your transaction below? Did you know that your work was having such a positive impact on your client?
A: I started checking in with her when I first began my real estate career. I would often get off the phone with her and think – Wow! This is such a cool job! I continued to get really amazing clients that I connect with. I am not surprised that this client felt so appreciated and well served. She told me many times through the transaction, and we had many chats beyond my role as her agent. I have so many clients that I connect with in this way, it is just part of my makeup. It just happens that Lisa was experiencing some tough times and was kind enough to share them.
Q: Were you surprised to be selected as a Relentless Agent? What do you think will be the most enjoyable part of the award experience?
A: Super excited to be considered and even more excited to be selected. I guess, not too surprised, once I knew I was nominated. I am super proud of my training, the culture of my first and the role I play as a Relator. One of my mantras is “if you take care of the people, the numbers will take care of themselves.” It is at the core of my service and shows through to my clients, peers and service partners.
Q: What advice do you have for a consumer looking to find a relentless agent in their local market but might not know where to begin?
A: Find someone you are comfortable with. You will be in a partnership with them until the deed is recorded and depending on your market, that could be a little while.