This Broker to Broker series profiles three individual broker-owners from a small, midsize, and large city to understand how they’ve built their businesses to accommodate their market and customers’ needs.
Residents and visitors of Southern Pines, N.C., enjoy music, food, and camaraderie during the town’s First Friday events that take place May through October. Kristi Snyder, broker-owner of Everything Pines Partners, invites those passing by during the festivities to sit on the Victorian front porch of her real estate office, enjoy drinks, or use her baby changing station.
This gathering is exactly the type of community involvement Snyder wanted to be a part of when she opened her business a few years ago. “It’s a genuine connection,” she says.
Snyder actually has three offices, in Southern Pines, Whispering Pines, and Pinehurst—neighboring villages located in Moore County, one of the counties affiliated with Fort Bragg, the largest military installation in the world, which is just over an hour away from Raleigh, N.C. It’s home of the Airborne & Special Operations Forces, where her husband, Brad, is based. The couple moved to Southern Pines in 2001 because of a relocation.
Snyder opens her offices to community individuals and organizations free of charge for whatever they need—Girl Scouts meetings, Chamber of Commerce events, she even had former clients use an office to interview nannies. Snyder doesn’t charge her agents for anything outside of their commission split, and she has outfitted all three offices so they can work in any of them at any time.
Giving Back to the Community, Her Way
As a military wife, Snyder understands the fear and loneliness when a spouse gets deployed—it’s something she has experienced more than a dozen times in the last 23 years. But she also realizes how strong, outgoing, and talented military spouses become with all the responsibilities they face alone. “We are running our homes and raising our kids,” says Snyder. “These women are a resource to weave back into the community.”
A common thread she’s seen in many of the military spouses she’s met over the years is that they don’t know their additional purpose in life. One of Snyder’s agents once told her that she loved her husband, but she was tired of wiping faces and changing diapers. She needed that impetus to give her a new zest for life.
“That resonated with me. I didn’t have children, but my husband was gone all the way through our marriage,” Snyder says. She now has 30 agents and a handful of staff, the majority of whom are military wives and a few military husbands. Snyder wanted to create her agency with a philosophy that generates independent leaders. “You need to empower them to make them more successful, and help each agent foster what’s most important to them instead of what’s most important to the agency.”
Snyder decided to back the things that are most important to her people’s lives and their community. Her marketing dollars go toward buying T-shirts for kids’ sports teams, supporting a local rugby team, sponsoring an Easter Egg hunt, putting money toward 5K runs, and other community-centered initiatives.
Reaching Her Goals
For 10 years, Snyder taught in public schools, and then owned her own jewelry business. “I loved the kids and teaching, but it didn’t give me enough control for my own self-drive or self-promotion,” Snyder says. “I’ve never really worked for anyone before, except a principal when I was a teacher, but I did my own thing. I don’t know the professional world. I don’t have a business degree; I just felt creative.”
Snyder got her license about 11 years ago but didn’t become active in real estate until 2012. She went to work for a large brokerage for 11 months, then moved on to an independent company for 13 months. That was enough time to become a broker and open her own office in July 2014.
She began Everything Pines Partners with the goal of connecting people in town. She spoke with other brokers, attorneys, restaurant owners, and everyday residents to figure out what the community needs. Real estate is a tough gig in her area, she says. The Mid-Carolina REALTORS® Association, which serves five counties, has 750 licensed real estate agents. “That’s a lot of agents, but I tell my agents not to by scared by those numbers,” she adds.
Snyder has never had to recruit. Her agents have all found her. “I don’t give leads. We are trying to promote genuine connections from agent to agent and then to client,” she adds. So far, she had only had to ask three agents to leave because they didn’t have the self-motivation needed to survive in real estate. Potential clients need to hear excitement in their voices when talking about the area, she says.
“It’s not about numbers. It’s about how happy people are after a transaction. Real estate is secondary. It’s about how you connect to your clients, like finally finding them a home so their little girl can have her own big bedroom,” Snyder says.
Helping Others Lead in a Small-Town Market
With seven years under her belt, Snyder shares these six tips on how to succeed in small-town real estate:
Understand where you live and work. “If you don’t know what is happening in your area, then you can’t be confident adding to the conversation on behalf of your potential clients,” Snyder says. You have to understand what’s going on in communities you live and sell in, so you can help those who are moving there. Stay up-to-date on current events, read the local news, know what developments are coming, what’s happening in the business community, schools, and city government. Also, know what other real estate pros in the area have sold and the price points they’ve listed properties at. Study the market, she says, and get out and talk to people.
Offer value to customers and the community. In addition to offering all of her three real estate offices free of charge to communities and entrepreneurs to use, Snyder also sponsors many community events that her agents are involved in. “I’ll back up whatever they believe in if they are confident with the people or cause,” she says of her agents. “That’s where the genuine connection with agents and the community begins and lasts.”
Recreate your value. Real estate practitioners used to be the key holders to all real estate information before the dawn of the internet and syndicated listings. The consumer has it all now. She believes her agents’ true value must begin and end with trust. Clients want someone they can connect to, who will take them through the biggest buying process of their lives. “You have to know things that the consumer could never learn from a website,” she says.
Be genuine. Don’t volunteer for an organization because you think you can get a client there, Snyder says. “Be true to your passions, and the clients will come.”
Help clients after the sale. In Snyder’s small-town market where military families are moving to the area, completely unaware of how they can fit in, she’s made it a point to help them get involved in community events. She’ll introduce them to neighbors and people she knows, and she’ll be there to answer their questions, even months after a sale.
Listen, listen, listen. “I try to shut up and hear what the things my clients and agents need. My natural state is to go, go, go. I have step back and put myself out of my comfort zone because I’m going 100 miles per hour,” Snyder says.