9: Linda Nystrom
Technology is definitely a great thing, but it won’t be able to take over those human characteristics that you need.
About This Episode
Linda Nystrom is the mother of two boys, and in 2010 she decided to try out a career in real estate. She's been working in Colorado real estate since then, and today is the Managing Broker at Envision Realty, where she's seen the state's real estate market explode in recent years.
A native of Sweden, Linda speaks both Swedish and German, which has served her well as she caters to diverse clients. She works solely by referral, which takes her well outside her farm areas, and we talk about how technology can help, but how ultimately real estate is about the human aspects.
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JON: Hello and welcome to Shop Talk: The Real Estate Show. I'm Jon Forisha and today my guest is Linda Nystrom, Managing Broker at Envision Realty in Colorado. Thanks for joining me, Linda.
LINDA: Thank you so much for having me.
JON: Absolutely. So let's start with your background. How did you get into the world of real estate?
LINDA: No, good question. Background. I've always had an interest in houses, buildings, architecture, and that's what got me started and got me thinking that maybe something like that would be what I would like to work with. And then I was a stay at home. Mom and dad decided something has to happen and I started studying for the test which wasn't too bad and that got my real estate license and took off from there and I've been doing it ever since.
JON: Nice. And how long have you been licensed?
LINDA: So since 2010.
JON: Okay, great. And what is it about the industry that gets you excited?
LINDA: Well, everything! Everything, but the clients are probably the most exciting thing. I work on referrals and my clients are wonderful people and they also refer wonderful people. So that's probably the best thing, that you get to work with great people all the time and then you get to find the house of their dreams or sell their house to find another house of their dreams and you get to see a lot, you get to experience a lot on the way, being everything from their salesperson, negotiator, psychologist, and every aspect of that, which is a lot of fun. And just seeing the end results that they have a smile on their face and they got what they wanted. It's wonderful. I love it.
JON: Yeah. So real estate agents wear a lot of hats.
LINDA: Lots of hats.
JON: How did you make that adjustment? I mean, how was that when you were first starting out?
LINDA: Well, you got used to it pretty fast it, but yeah, every once in a while it takes you by surprise what happens and it's like, okay, let's go over this. But it's always a lot of fun and you learn so much more when every transaction is different. Every person that you work with is different and it's a wonderful experience all the time.
JON: And you mentioned you were a stay at home mom. You have two boys. Would you say real estate is a good career for a working mom?
LINDA: It can be. Real estate is a very demanding job, unlike a lot of people think that you go out to do some paperwork, you show some houses or you list a house. It's a very demanding. You're on the clock the whole time. So it can be a very difficult task to take care of the family and make sure that the boys have what they need all the time as well as making sure that your clients and your business is running smooth. Sometimes it's good to have some extra assistance on hand or a very supportive and loving husband. Then if you have that then usually that works out pretty good.
JON: Yeah, sounds like it does. In your time as a licensed agent, how have you seen real estate change - specifically Colorado real estate?
LINDA: Oh, a lot. So when I first started, which was great, we could go look at a house, we could think about the house for a few days and oh well maybe we'll go back and take another look and fill it out. And then possibly put in an offer and then we considered that offer. And lately obviously the homes do not stay on the market very long sometimes. Then you have to be there first thing in the morning to put the offer in before noon in order to get a response later that afternoon. So it's a very, very quick market and not in all areas, obviously, but in Colorado, most of them, depending on the time of the season as well. But it's definitely changed a lot. We went from foreclosures to short sales in the beginning to hardly ever seeing them anymore in the market. So it's very hard to combine those ones. Now you're more in bidding wars and we're trying to present your offers in the best possible light to win the bet.
JON: Do you have a particular focus you like to work in?
LINDA: You know, referral is probably my main focus. I love to work with people that I know, people that have worked with me before and they refer people back to me because then I feel very comfortable that I can help them achieve what they want in the best possible way and I know that I'm going to have great clients to work with.
JON: Starting out, I imagine you weren't able to do referrals as soon as you were licensed. So how did you work up to that business model?
LINDA: Well, this is very true. I mean, you know, friends and family and everybody gets to know what you're doing and make sure that hey, if you want to sell your house or if you want to buy a house, let me know and I'll help you out. But it's a small, small group of people to begin with. So I started exploring different ways of promoting my business and I went with Zillow for a while and bought some zip codes and I got a lot of clients from that, but I didn't particularly like that because I was in some areas that I did not want to be in anymore. Met some sketchy people that I don't want to work with, but that's how I got started and it was a good way and in some parts to get going with the business. But I definitely preferred the referral instead because then, you know, you know your people.
JON: Yeah. You have some kind of background check.
LINDA: Right. It's more of a safety thing, like if you put yourself out there so much as it is when you go into houses and you never know who's going to be in the house or if there's going to be animals in the houses or anything like that, that having people that, you know, at least you have that comfort of knowing that nothing is going to be going wrong with them. So it's definitely a safety issue.
JON: Yeah. So what prompted you to start your own business?
LINDA: I didn't get that much done when I was in an office with too many people. I talked too much. So I figured, if I stayed at home in front of my computer and get my work done, then I'm more likely to get more done. That was probably the main thing really that drove me to go and do my own thing and I'd like to be responsible for myself. I like to be able to put pressure on myself and dictate that this is what you need to do and this is how you're going to run it. And so far, so good. No complaints, no regrets whatsoever. It's been very wonderful to do what I'm doing and I can only hold myself accountable.
JON: Yeah, that sounds like both a scary and rewarding process.
LINDA: It is. I mean, obviously you could have a wonderful day that you want to go for a long hike instead of doing what you should be doing for the business, but as long as you can make sure that you will yourself back in and get it done, then it's a good flexibility to have, so you just have to be disciplined enough that you make sure you get your work done and organized enough that you have some type of a schedule to follow so that you're not just, you know, whatever happens today, happens. Like you kind of have to plan out your day, your week, and your month, and set goals and try to achieve those goals and kind of work towards them.
JON: So most real estate agents have a farm area, you know, a neighborhood or a section of town that they know everything about. I imagine working on referral, you're not always in the same area or even the same city really. How do you overcome that challenge?
LINDA: Well, whenever it comes to referral, my client, obviously I go wherever they want to go. And so I go to as far as like the Boulder area, Longmont and then we have Denver and the surrounding areas, and even been doing some business up in the mountains and Grand County and we have Colorado Springs, so it's lots of various areas and they all have different challenges and any type of area that you're going into, you just have to do a lot of research and study up and use your other realtor friends and call them if they farm one of those areas of work, specifically in that area and kind of pick their brain and ask as many questions as you can so you know exactly what it is you're getting yourself into every single time you have a new client with that particular area.
JON: So you are originally from Sweden and you've lived abroad for a time. Do you think it's important for real estate agents to travel outside of, you know, wherever they live?
LINDA: I think it's important for everybody to travel. You get different views, different opinions, different ideas of how people live and how they live life and you have your life that you think is how it should be. But there's so many other ways of living life that could be just as appealing and you want to understand that as well if you don't travel and recognize that different countries have different foods, cultures, religions, and all of it. I think the more you know, the more you understand, and the better person you are. And I think as a real estate agent, it probably helped me in dealing with some of my clients with their situations and some of them are moving from other states to here, some of them have been moving from Sweden to here. So I think that also played a big role in how I've been able to help them in a better way.
JON: Yeah. How does real estate differ from Sweden to here?
LINDA: So here you have realtors and you negotiate and that ability is really a big part of the purchase or selling of the property and with the clients in Sweden, you have in general just one real estate agent. And that real estate agent is the one that is selling the home. And the people or the client that is purchasing, they're working with that agent in buying the place, but they're working with their own bank and getting the loan and they're doing their own inspections. So it's a lot more on the individual than the real estate agent themselves than here. We can protect our clients a lot more being that we know the business as real estate agents on both sides and we can make sure that we give them the best of what they need to have or can get and try to make the transaction as smooth as possible and not as big of a headache.
JON: And do you think that international experience has given you any kind of edge in the industry?
LINDA: Well I get a lot of my clients from Sweden and Germany because I speak both Swedish and German so that helps a lot. So the language part has definitely helped and obviously knowing and understanding their culture makes it easier to deal with them on a different level. So I think that that's helped a lot.
JON: And when you close a transaction, how do you make sure to keep the referral process going? I mean, do you just stay in touch?
LINDA: Oh you have to be there. I send cards every anniversary. I talk to them, my clients on the phone, a text message here and there. So I do a lot of different personal connections with them. And I still don't do any marketing at all. I don't send out flyers or calendars or anything like that. It's more just on a personal level of checking in how's the family doing, making sure that I know every single person in the family and what they're up to and so that they don't ever forget who I am, and most or a lot of your referrals turn into good friends so it's very easy to stay in contact with them as well and do fun stuff with them.
JON: How do you keep track of all that information?
LINDA: Oh, you log it. You have to have a log and keep track of it. Your phone is your best friend in some of those things and you just put all the details in there to make sure that you're not missing out on anything, and reminders and things on your phone that help you manage anniversaries, birthdays or something like that, so you can connect with them. And of course sometimes social media with Facebook or LinkedIn would be a good helpful thing that I'm using.
JON: You're reminding me that my realtor has not reached out at all since we bought our house.
LINDA: How long has it been?
JON: A year and a half.
LINDA: Ouch. You should have heard something! Well, I think that it's important. I try to always be the first one that sends a letter to them in the mail.
JON: It's exciting.
LINDA: Exactly. So I try to do that, but there's more that goes into it than that - I always want to present my clients with a "you bought your house one year today" and "you bought it for this price." And this is the value currently. And that's a fun thing too. Sometimes it's not always up, but in recent years, you know, it's been going up, up, up the whole time. Which is good. But it's a, just every once in a while. Just a little note just to check in, it doesn't take much, you know. And I think that the handwritten letters and notes and personal phone calls and text messages, it's definitely the way to talk to your friends, your referral's family.
JON: So you mentioned you don't really use any kind of marketing. What about technology? Do you use any social media?
LINDA: Well, social media, so I have Facebook, I have my personal account on Facebook and I have my business account on Facebook and then I have LinkedIn that I'm using. That's probably the main social media that I'm using. And then I have my website. It's a very, very basic website and I really don't do any traffic really with the website. It's there as a business website, but that's about it. Yeah. I'm on social media though. I could do a lot more than I'm doing. I'm kind of venturing into it a little bit more and it's a very slow process to do. You want to put out good things and good content and interesting items if you're going to put it out there. So it doesn't happen as I really want to. I do if I have listings or anything like that. Of course, I marketed on social media and I link it to my personal website as well as my business website and LinkedIn and stuff.
JON: Do you see any traction from that?
LINDA: I do, absolutely. I have got a lot of clients from specifically LinkedIn, and I think it's more the business perception from LinkedIn that they check out what you're doing. And I've got a lot of business from LinkedIn.
JON: So in an age where technology is replacing a lot of jobs, why do you think real estate agents won't be replaced?
LINDA: Well, the technology doesn't negotiate and the technology does not do feelings. And as we talked before, real estate agents have to wear a lot of hats. Moving is probably one of the biggest things that you do in your life. It's the largest purchase you might do if you're buying a house, if you're selling it and knowing when to sell it, how to get it sold to get the best price. And the technology can help you in great ways along those ways, but it cannot take care of all those hats that you need to wear. So using technology is definitely a great thing, but it won't be able to take over all those other characteristics that you need.
JON: What's missing?
LINDA: That human element that is essential. We will see if that comes later on, you know, when it comes to referrals, you connect back with a lot of people that you may have known at one point or another in your life. And from previous business that you've done or work; I used to work for a different company back in the day and so people that I hadn't met through that company, you reach out to those ones and that builds your referral base. Obviously your sphere gets larger and larger and a lot of people say it's a people game when it comes to real estate and it is in some part, but I'm very selective with my people and I think that being selective with people, it gives you good business and not just business, which I think is very important.
JON: Yeah, absolutely. So if you were going to move your whole business to an entirely different state, how would you start over in that new market?
LINDA: Well, if you move completely and you don't know anyone in the new state at all, say you have no friends or family or anything that lives there, I would probably have to do some marketing and start putting myself out there. I mean, there are places you can go, there are clubs that you can join and organizations that you can be part of. Lots of networking. And networking takes a lot of time. And that's why when you asked before about like for a mom, is this a good job, it's not always as easy to go networking when you have kids. You're limited to your freedom, what you can do and sometimes you have to work instead of networking and things like that. But to be able to get business, if you don't have any business, that is definitely one way to go about it.
JON: Have you seen the kids and their activities leading to any kind of networking?
LINDA: I've done very limited networking with the kids' activities. There has almost always been someone else that has been chatting it up and as I said before, I'm very selective, so most of the time it's my family, friends, and neighbors or people that I've met through schools, friends like kids' friends from school and things like that, that has led to business more so than at a specific soccer game or skiing or anything like that.
JON: So if you could go back to the beginning of your career back in 2010 when you first decided to be a real estate agent, what is one thing you would have done differently?
LINDA: Wow, that's a good question. I probably would have started the technology piece a lot earlier and really honed in on how you can use social media and technology to advance your business. Instead, I think I worked a lot harder before and not using that. And now I'm starting to use this, still not as much as I probably should. So if I had taken that on in the very beginning, it probably would have made life a little bit easier. Now. And probably even a larger business today, I would think.
JON: Yeah, there's so many technology tools. It's hard to know which ones are worth your time.
LINDA: It is. And then when you start with a company, they have their tools that they want you to use. And since I was pretty early on determined to go out on my own, I didn't necessarily want to be stuck with their tools. I wanted to have my own tools. And so I've tried to take as much, I tried to learn as much from what they were using and what they were doing. It was a great company and they did a lot of good things and good things leads to good business and things like that. But since I wasn't going to stay and I couldn't bring that type of tool with me, I had to kind of do my own thing. And it's the technology though is the more you learn, the more you can be a, I don't know, the more you can have like one specific tool that is really, really good for you that you find and you can use that better off you are.
JON: Those tools that that company used, were they just too expensive for you to use on your own?
LINDA: It was, they owned them so and you had to kind of buy into the system and you had to have their email address with their company logo and things like that, which a lot of real estate companies do that. And that's also how they keep their agents because the agents got used to it. And then they say, well I can't do my business if I don't have this, so I need to keep going.
JON: You got out before you were dependent.
JON: So if someone wants to learn more about you, where can they go?
LINDA: Well, so I have my Facebook page, which is Envision Realty, and then obviously my personal Facebook page, which is Linda Nystrom. Then I have my LinkedIn account and I have my website and the website is the ambition, so I have a lot of those places where you can just pick up the phone and call me. My phone number is out there.
JON: Great. Alright, well thank you for joining us.
LINDA: Thank you for having me. Appreciate it.
JON: That's it for this episode of Shop Talk. Thanks for listening! You can subscribe to us on your podcast player of choice and while you're there, consider leaving us a review. Join us next time as we plan for the new year, both professionally and personally. Shop Talk is a production of The CE Shop.