Guest Editor Reflects on Changing Industry

Fifteen years after being named a 30 Under 30 honoree, guest editor Gina Piper reflects on her career journey.

For this issue, we invited Piper, still a hard-driving sales agent from Pleasanton, Calif., to our Chicago office to weigh in on the current honorees and her own career path since her recognition. “I’m struck by their stories,” she says. “It’s inspiring to hear what they’re doing differently.” Meg White’s “Onboarding a New Generation” also resonates because of the demographics of her market and the paucity of young agents nationwide. Just 5 percent of REALTORS® are under age 30.

We have a great need for [younger agents] because we have so many young buyers,” she says. She appreciates being part of an intergenerational real estate family. Her mother, Janet Cristiano, is broker-owner of her company, Better Homes and Gardens Tri-Valley Realty. Cousin Jen Branchini, manages the office and is featured in White’s piece, which focuses on brokerages that have successfully recruited first-career agents.

Piper typically sells between 40 and 50 homes a year, similar to her productivity when we first met her as a 28-year-old. But her annual volume has tripled to about $45 million, largely because of skyrocketing home prices in the San Francisco Bay area and her own efforts to drive up her average price point. Her beau, Shawn Farrell, a veteran of the wholesale mortgage industry, joined her in the business seven years ago, enabling her to focus on the work she enjoys most. “I don’t love being in the car and making small talk with buyers,” she admits. “I love being up against other real estate agents, negotiating, and making people’s dreams come true.”

Piper has carefully nurtured a reputation for integrity, candor, and attentiveness. In Pleasanton today, bidding wars are common, and Piper’s impeccable standing among fellow agents enables her to get her buyers’ offers noticed, even when they aren’t initially the highest. “We almost always get the opportunity to match the terms,” she says, revealing a bit of that competitive nature.

Checklists and vision boards keep Piper focused on her goals. She’s also part of an “accountability group” that meets weekly under the guidance of a life coach. Piper’s goals aren’t all about work; she also sets work-life balance goals, such as getting in 10,000 steps a day and writing personal notes to people. Piper is a (Deepak) Chopra Center–certified yoga instructor who used to squeeze teaching into her work schedule. She gave it up because it felt hypocritical to be “speeding to class and stressing because of a transaction that was blowing up.” One day, she says, she’ll give her yoga pursuits the attention they deserve. Anything less would simply not fit her vision of excellence.