Anita Brandt is originally from the Chicago area, and lived close to the Indiana state line - but she happily explored the Asheville area with her father during the summers. In 1992, she decided to stay in the area for her teenage years, more or less establishing herself as a real local. After college and marriage, she and her family settled just outside of Asheville, always ready for their next outdoor adventure. However, her own personal adventure began just a year or so ago, when she left her career as an ophthalmic technician and acquired her real estate license.
Anita always loved looking at real estate, often spending her Saturdays perusing Zillow and Realtor.com, even looking at houses on her day off. Then came COVID, and working in the medical field through the pandemic seriously burned her out, as she says,
“people’s manners just went bonkers.”
Her daughters would be on to their own next chapters within a few years, and she'd love to have more flexibility to spend time with them before they leave. Working forty hours in the medical office and being on call during holidays, nights and weekends were getting pretty old, and it was constricting. The circumstances created due to the pandemic also created the perfect opportunity for her to make a big switch and pursue real estate - the industry with which she seemed to have an endless fascination.
1. What do you love most about working in real estate - do you have a favorite part of the process?
“My favorite part so far - and it will probably continue - is knowing I am playing some role in helping someone find a home.”
2. Do you work with both buyers and sellers, or do you have a preferred niche that works best for you?
Having been in the field for such a short time, Anita is excited to work with both buyers and sellers, but says thus far she has primarily worked with buyers - which she really enjoys.
Since she’s been in the area and seen so much change over the years, she says,
“It’s a real benefit to be so familiar with Asheville and Hendersonville, especially with so many out-of-town clients looking for either a vacation home or to relocate.”
3. Technology has created far more resources than ever before for both buyers and sellers who think they can ‘do it on their own’ - what do you say to folks who think they don’t need a real estate agent anymore?
“I think a lot more goes into buying or selling than people realize. Some people think real estate agents are overcompensated. If you had the opportunity to actually walk them through the entire process, step by step, the gathering of 30 or more documents from all over the place and what goes into that, it becomes abundantly clear that using an agent is the right thing to do.”
Anita gets irked when people claim ‘It’s not a big deal’, referring to the whole real estate transactional process. To which she says,
“Well it's not if everything goes smoothly, but if you don’t know how to play the game…”
4. Real estate is considered a fairly competitive industry in the greater AVL area, with numerous agencies and a steady stream of new agents - what differentiates you and TBT agents from the rest of the WNC real estate crowd? What is your favorite thing about working with the TBT team?
Anita explains that her initial experiences as an agent were not encouraging and that she likely would not have stuck to a real estate career path. So why has she?
“It was Billy Taylor!”
“You come out of real estate school not really knowing anything about being an actual agent. There is so much information - it is very important to have peers and colleagues to help.”
Anita was turned off after interviewing with bigger real estate firms after her training. She knew she wanted to be part of a smaller firm, and so she chose one. Her experience there was not what she had hoped for; she felt like she couldn’t get help, that she wasn’t in the ‘inner circle’ of the culture there, leaving her feeling a bit stranded. The agents who did volunteer to mentor her were always too busy to actually mentor. She was incredibly discouraged.
“After that experience, I just thought real estate wasn’t for me. I’ve known Billy since I was fifteen, and he said ‘come talk to me - don’t hang it up yet.’ The support I have found here is amazing - it is huge for me that it is not a competitive office.”
5. Takeaways from what you’ve learned in your industry: What is the most important piece of advice you would give to prospective homebuyers? And to home sellers?
Anita advises folks to interview agents rather than automatically going with the first real estate professional they meet:
“You’ll spend a lot of time with them - you need to have a comfortable relationship with your agent, and it will help your agent to serve you.” She elaborates:
“For instance, I’m very laid back, but I cuss like a sailor and enjoy a beer with lunch. I’m not for everyone. Choose an agent you will be able to get along with.”
This works both ways, of course. Anita knows she would not be thrilled showing houses all day to clients with whom she did not jibe. It’s a relationship that matters, affecting the process and experience for both parties.
6. The WNC real estate market is certainly booming - any predictions on where it will go next, or new trends you are seeing?
Anita is anticipating that things will get back to ‘normal’ after the hectic pace of last year: “Houses don’t stay on the market for 3 hours now - they stay on the market for a month or a few months.” She adds that the still robust Asheville area market is unlikely to experience a drastic slowdown. Anita feels this correction will have the added benefit of bringing back some of the fun aspects of buying a home. She knows from personal experience that when the pressure is on, buyers can easily lose sight of important pragmatic considerations, instead defaulting to the emotional fervor that a bidding war generates. In the end, that is not a fun experience for most people - it wasn’t fun for her family back in 2016 when a house went on the market in the sought-after neighborhood that they wanted to be in - one that saw very few listings.
“We looked at it and got into a bidding war that day. We ended up winning and going under contract. Only then did we realize we were not 100% sure what we were purchasing - does this house have a linen closet? We were supposed to be celebrating, but instead, we were left trying to figure out what we had purchased!”
Anita is hoping the market shift will again allow buyers to take a Saturday with their agent and look at several homes over the course of the day, followed by the space and time to think about what they’ve seen.
7. Can you share the funniest or most memorable moment - anecdote or experience - you’ve had during the course of a real estate deal (positive or negative)?
Anita recalls showing a vacant house to another agent during her pre-TBT days. Evidently, squatters had taken advantage of the vacant dwelling - in more ways than one - evidenced by scattered items of a certain ‘good for one use only’ nature that was left behind. Unseemly at best, the experience did not delight:
“The fee I received to show that house on behalf of the other agent was not enough.”
8. Do you have a favorite hobby, pursuit or interest that might surprise your clients - or that has worked to your advantage in connecting with clients?
Anything involving sunshine and summer entices Anita. She admits she’s not a fan of the shorter, darker months, which are thankfully briefer here in the mountains than in the midwestern region she left. She’s a devotee of live music and pretty much anything that takes place outdoors.
“My favorite thing is to spend time on the Biltmore estate - it’s my happy place.”