Carving a Path as a Real Estate Leader

In 2020, Rainy Hake Austin became one of the youngest female senior executives to lead a global real estate firm. Learn what advice she has for young brokers striving to make it themselves.
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Young people are powering change and innovation in nearly every industry today, and real estate is no exception. Rainy Hake Austin and her team at The Agency are driving innovation in the real estate sector at the crossroads of technology and customer-first culture.

Before becoming president of The Agency, Austin was the head of operations west at Compass and was previously executive vice president and chief operating officer at California-based Alain Pinel, REALTORS®.

Austin, 41, got her feet wet in real estate through a part-time job in high school at REMI Co., a real estate management and investment company. She stayed for nearly seven years as an administrative and marketing manager. Her career in marketing management segued into operations and management roles. She also holds an MBA degree from the University of Oxford.

“I fell into real estate at a young age and never fell out,” Austin says of her start in real estate.

Navigating Change

Austin’s career took an exciting turn when she stepped into her current role at The Agency during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. This sparked a turbulent real estate market, rife with demand for single-family housing even while businesses were shutting their doors and trying to sell off property.

“Joining a global real estate firm as president during a pandemic and a time of unprecedented market activity was certainly a unique way to start,” Austin remarks. “From day one, the people are what stood out to me.”

Thanks to the collaborative environment at The Agency, Austin was able to hit the ground running and focus on strengthening the firm’s scaling processes. Her objective was to ensure The Agency’s growth was rooted in a solid foundation and that the existing team had the support and resources it needed for success.

“I believe in leading with a customer-first service culture, with technology powering our efforts—especially technology that makes the staff more efficient,” Austin says of her approach. “The Agency has already invested tremendously into its proprietary technology, and with my experience and knowledge, we will continue to invest in technology that improves the agent and client experience without sacrificing the human touch.”

Austin oversees all aspects of The Agency’s operations across its network of 50 offices spread across five countries. She has found a strategy for success by managing all that as well as two daughters under the age of 5.

Every day on the job at The Agency is different. Austin might start by speaking at a Women in Leadership conference or a strategic meeting with one of The Agency’s numerous divisions, covering franchise operations, marketing strategy, and a full range of other topics. Her days often include calls with her team of agents, staff, and managers, as well as international calls with the whole brokerage.

“Part of my job is keeping us on the cutting edge, so I spend a fair amount of time exploring new technologies, products, and services. Right now, we are focused on blockchain technology, NFTs, and cryptocurrency related to real estate,” Austin says.

In a single day, she might run several meetings, help a new agent, finalize an ad campaign, strategize new technological opportunities, and collaborate with team members from around the world. Austin has a tight schedule, but she still makes sure her family is a priority.

“My day is time-blocked from the minute I wake up until I go to bed,” Austin says. Her mornings and evenings are dedicated to spending time with her husband and their two daughters. Every minute in between is spent helping The Agency thrive.

“The secret to life is being intentional. Like everything, you need to thoughtfully dedicate time and energy to the most important things in life,” she says. “With my career and family being the two most important pillars in my life, I practice being present and intentional. … It all comes down to making intentional choices based on quality, not quantity.”

Employing Dedication and Vision

In a field where the median age of all real estate agents is 52, Austin is a role model for many young professionals, both within and outside the real estate profession.

“I encourage young professionals to be present and experience life as it happens. Allow your vision to grow, expand, and change,” she says.

Austin emphasizes the importance of goals but reminds young people that they are only a road map. Creative problem-solving and a value-driven approach have been cornerstones of Austin’s success.

Making it in real estate isn’t always easy. Aspiring agents, brokers, and executives need to put into their work what they want to get out of it, Austin says. Success in real estate is built on strong daily habits, dedicated effort, and creativity. Austin also stresses the importance of remaining humble, building strong communication skills, and immersing yourself in the industry.

“[Be] present and intentional. Be sure to celebrate victories, but don't be afraid of failure. Take risks, take action, and be bold so that you can look back without regret.”

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