Rachel Mooney: When the Student Becomes the Teacher

The Atlanta-based team leader works with many clients who had never imagined that owning a home could be within their reach. Guiding them, as seen in "First-Time Buyer,' and her team of five are her great joys.
Rachel Mooney

© National Association of REALTORS®

When Rachel Mooney was still in college in the late 1990s, a fateful tip from a friend led her unexpectedly into a career in real estate. The friend, who was a courier for a local closing attorney, saw how hot the housing market was in metro Atlanta and advised the entrepreneurial-minded Mooney to give up her business studies at Clayton State University and become an agent.

Mooney decided to take up the challenge. “I really didn’t know much at all,” she says. “But it seemed like the perfect opportunity for me.” She enrolled at the Georgia REALTOR® Training Institute, and now Mooney—team leader at The Mooney Group with Keller Williams Atlanta Partners—is the one offering guidance to others, including the five other members of her team and her clients.

The rewards from working with both are enormous. “I get great pleasure out of leading and inspiring others to be the best that they can be,” she says about her team.

“And I enjoy teaching buyers and sellers. What I do is more like a kind of consulting,” she says. Many people she helps initially had no idea that homeownership could even be a financial possibility for them, she adds.

In particular, Mooney relishes working with clients looking for their first home. “Working with first-time buyers is a lot of fun,” she says. “I like to find out what they know and what they think they know.”

In the National Association of REALTORS®’ new reality docuseries “First-Time Buyer,” Mooney is in her element. Young couple Zach and Amye have come to her with a bit of a conundrum: They’re hoping to find their dream home, but they have no money for a down payment. Mooney’s in-depth knowledge of the industry and her local market come into play as she helps the couple.

Filming took place over three days in February, and Mooney says the shoot was enjoyable—and a learning experience in its own right. “You think it’s all going to be done in one take, but you actually have to re-create a lot of things,” she says.

What isn’t just a performance, though, is the easy rapport that Mooney has with her clients in the episode—it’s clear that they trust and depend on her. The business relationship can become personal, too. A perk of working with first-time buyers, Mooney says, is that “agents and clients can become friends.”

Tune In to ‘First-Time Buyer’

The eight-episode reality series, available on Roku, Facebook Watch, YouTube, and firsttimebuyer.realtor, offers “a more realistic portrayal of the homebuying process,” says Alicia Bailey, marketing director and head of production for the National Association of REALTORS®, which commissioned the show. In each episode, an NAR member is featured helping the buyers navigate the fast-paced 2020 real estate market. Because some taping was done before the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. and some was delayed until summer, you’ll see masks and social distancing in some but not all of the segments.