Laren Reinhardt originally planned to study architecture. She always loved houses and studying the lines and structural elements. She has a natural and keen eye for design, quickly identifying what makes an existing home - or the master sketches of a prospective one - stand out; what makes it special. Being also very analytical, she discovered her talents lay in big picture whole concepts rather than the technical minutiae, so instead of architecture she elected to study design and marketing, building on her intuitive skills.
Lauren first visited and consequently fell in love with the WNC area in 2003, traveling back to the region multiple times a year until she moved here in 2010, leaving Cincinnati, Ohio after college. She knew a bit about the field of real estate from family members in the business, including an aunt with whom she was close. Once she made the move to the mountains it clicked - she could apply her design, sales and marketing, and ad agency experience to real estate, and she got her license in 2012. Her kids were quite young at the time, so she practiced intermittently as she could, but it gave her flexibility. Now that they are a bit older, Lauren has been practicing real estate full-time for the past 4 years, with momentum and enthusiasm that shows no waning. She has found the perfect place to satisfy her love of design and building in a stimulating and continually shifting environment. Sharing that affinity with others, helping them realize their property, and building goals makes the journey all the more rewarding.
1. What do you love most about working in real estate - do you have a favorite part of the process?
Lauren loves meeting new people, and listening closely to their needs and wants. Taking that information and trying to find the right match can be tricky, but that is also part of the process that is ultimately so satisfying. She genuinely loves to analyze data, then the puzzle-solving really starts as she merges the hard facts with the desires and goals of her clients.
“It’s the reward for the work - I get really excited when I have been able to find a home that meets a client’s criteria.”
Lauren also notes, with a touch of dismay, that fairly low inventory in the current local market makes it even harder. Yet it’s clear that challenge does not deter her.
2. Do you work with both buyers and sellers, or do you have a preferred niche that works best for you?
Although she works with both, Lauren particularly loves working with land buyers who intend to build. This really taps into her design-driven skill set, and she couldn’t have found a better fit in terms of resources for such clients.
“Billy has so much land on the market, and with his background, we really have direct insider access to what’s possible for land buyers. People can really get into a lot of trouble if their broker is not familiar with land sales and lacks knowledge around issues such as grading, septic and the overall building process.”
Lauren also worked with a custom home-building company for many years, and her family recently built their own house, so she really knows the process firsthand and has a great deal of experience with the ins and outs of all the critical details, which are plentiful.
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?
“This is likely one of the largest purchases of your life - you will really get what you pay for if you don’t understand the work involved if you’re not willing to do it. Many people think realtors don’t do a lot, and then just get a check. This is not the case.”
Lauren continues that every deal has so much time invested behind the scenes in terms of communication, phone calls, and the back and forth of the process - let alone the knowledge and experience an agent brings. You’re not just paying them a commission for showing up, there is so much more to it.
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?
Lauren cites the lack of competition in the office and the availability of every team member to help out across the board as being a truly unusual and amazing feature of the team. The cumulative combined knowledge and experience is a major asset, as everyone is happy to help each other, despite having their own deals going on.
She shared a story about a recent client with whom she worked and who needed help selling a mobile home. Although some folks cautioned her not to take the listing, Lauren loved this particular client, and she knew she could ask others on her team for help if she encountered something unfamiliar. Ultimately, she was glad she was able to be of value and help, admitting the transaction had its own unique challenges.
“He needed help just as much as someone who has a million-dollar listing.”
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?
To sellers: “Find a broker who is data-driven and knows the area. Find someone who can be direct and not just tell you what you need or want to hear.”
Lauren mentions a listing she recently lost because after she told the prospective sellers she didn’t think their house was in the two million dollar range they were hoping for.
“We had to part ways because there was no trust. It did sting, but I knew I didn't want to start off on a bad foot.”
To buyers: “Really narrow in on an area, and frankly communicate your wants and needs. Then find an agent who works tirelessly to find the best home for you.”
6. The WNC real estate market is certainly booming - any predictions on where it will go next, or new trends you are seeing?
In a recent conversation with a potential new client, Lauren described the market as ‘normalizing’. She feels the market is still hot and in demand, but “instead of 12 offers, we are seeing 2-3 offers, which is better.”
Better, Lauren explains, because it is not so cutthroat and disappointing for the buyer, and is also less busy work for the listing broker. When so many offers would pour in all at once, the listing agent would still have to present each and every offer to the client, and it was often a bit out of hand. A whole day would be spent presenting offers, even if an agent knew the majority would not be entertained by the seller.
She emphatically does that and is happy to see buyers again able to enjoy the process. Lauren is also observing buyers who were turned off by all of that frenzy last year, now creeping back into the market, ready to start fresh in their search.
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)?
“I recently closed a property where the buyers and the sellers randomly met during a showing and they hit it off and became good friends. They have a lot in common and texted/called each other during the transaction, and kept in touch after and are neighbors now. I had never had this happen before and was always told to not let buyers and sellers talk directly but it ended up all working out for the best!”
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?
“We are a very outdoorsy family, and we love camping and hiking. For some reason that surprises people - maybe because I enjoy dressing professionally for work, they don’t think I’m into roughing it. Our favorite places to camp are Lake James and Mills River.”
Lauren also shares that her family is “really into football”, holding season tickets for the Carolina Panthers. With four kids at home and sports events going on at all times, they are a family on the go and like to travel.
Fortunately for her clients, this active lifestyle seems to further fuel and invigorate Lauren, rather than deplete her. Summing it up with a sense of warm satisfaction, Lauren shares “we are all over the place!”
No matter what, Lauren is always up for an adventure!