Broker Spotlight: Elissa K. Williams, RE/MAX Success
Name: Elissa K. Williams
Experience: Licensed since 1978
Location: Templeton, CA
Brokerage full name: RE/MAX Success
Team size: 2 offices / 2 team offices, 58 agents
Transaction sides: 368 sides in 2021
Sales volume: $270,966,136 in 2021
Awards: Manager of the Year in 2004 and 2012; North San Luis Obispo County Association of Realtors President’s Award, RE/MAX Community Citizenship Award
Why/how did you get your start in real estate?
I first got my license and started selling recreational lots in Shelter Cove in Northern California. We would fly the people up on the weekends and drive them around the development and sell them on the dream of owning coastal property. We would close that day. I was one of the top women in the company even back then.
After that development sold, I went on to another and then my life took another turn. I actually went into tax and accounting and went to work with my mother. I got married and had my son. My husband had two children who lived with us.
In 1987, we moved to the Central Coast, Atascadero, specifically. My husband worked for California Department of Forestry and made a lateral transfer to California Men’s Colony, the prison in San Luis Obispo. I earned my Enrolled Agent certificate, which is a certification through the IRS to practice taxation. So I have been preparing taxes and doing bookkeeping and accounting for, let’s just say many years.
Actually, I worked in my mother’s office from about the age of 13. So my background with numbers goes way back. However, in high school and college, my love was theatre. I did a lot of community theatre work and went to UCLA to pursue theatre but did not want to look back on my life in 30 years as a broke actress, so I went into the family business.
About three years after we moved to the Atascadero, my first husband got cancer and subsequently passed away within a year. That is a whole other story. Our son was just two months shy of his seventh birthday. I decided to stay and not move back to Fresno where my mother and sister were.
I was working at a jewelry store at the time as an accountant and doing taxes. I eventually met my present cowboy husband and we moved to 10 acres in the country. I felt I needed a fresh start so I quit the jewelry store and eventually ended up at a CPA office in Paso Robles. I did have a two-year stint at a law firm. The CPA firm led me to doing the accounting for a real estate office and eventually the office manager position.
I helped as we transitioned to a RE/MAX brokerage and became full-time as the office manager in 2000 at that brokerage. It was a position I loved and helped grow the office into the No. 1 office in San Luis Obispo County.
What do you wish more people knew about working in real estate?
It is not just putting a sign in a yard and showing property and closing the deal. There is so much more. You have to be a counselor, a mediator, a concierge, a paralegal, a therapist, a gardener, a housecleaner. It is not the glamorous lifestyle people think it is.
You are an entrepreneur. You are not guaranteed your next sale. You are constantly having to manage expectations and stay up on the current changes in laws that impact the real estate transaction. Sometimes you are talking your clients off the ledge or consoling them because the 14th offer they wrote didn’t get accepted. We are the purveyors of information so we constantly have to be learning.
What are 5 things you’d like readers to know about you and your brokerage?
I am very proud of the giving back our brokerage does in our community. I formed a 501(c)(3) called Success Charities whereby the agents will donate at least $25.00 per closed transaction, some more, and I match with $25.00. We have been able to fund scholarships, sponsor senior events, and provide cancer support. Last year we held our first fundraiser and raised $43,600 for youth sports.
We are a collaborative office, sharing information. Our agents know if they have a question, not only can they come to me but there is always someone in our office who has experienced it or knows someone. We have an incredible number of collective real estate years in our office. Our agents want to help one another because ultimately, we are here to serve our clients.
We have agents who specialize in everything from the usual first-time homebuyers to horse property, to vineyards and wineries, to vacant land, large parcels and even commercial properties. We serve the entire San Luis Obispo County with four offices.
I am goal-oriented. I set high goals and expectations. I believe if you do not write down and have clearly defined goals, not only will you not achieve them but you don’t even really know where you want to go. I set what I thought were some pretty lofty goals and blew past them.
I believe in mentors. I have followed Brian Buffini and Darren Hardy for years. ABL: Always Be Learning. You have to be willing to learn and grow.
We are involved in our community. We are in a relationship business. I believe in really being out there in the community hands-on. We sponsor Concerts in the Park, buy animals at our local fair auction (which is huge in our area), and are involved in our local Chambers. Any sponsorship opportunities or ways we can be out in our community helping is a win-win. Fourth of July is coming up and we will be in that, as well.
What’s your top tip for freshly licensed brokers?
Get a mentor. Do not think this business is easy. It is a career. Then, make a list of your contacts.
What makes a good leader?
Confidence and authenticity, caring — real caring. You first have to have confidence so people will follow you. This is not bravado or arrogance but definitely confidence. Then, you have to be authentic with your people, able to connect with them and really care about them.
You have to be able to be vulnerable with them so they will open up and remember, your goals are not their goals. One of my personal beliefs is that “If I help enough people succeed, I succeed,” as Zig Ziglar said. I need to care about their success on a personal level. Finally, truth — always be truthful.
What’s one thing you wish every agent knew?
How to return phone calls.