Helping people buy and sell their homes isn’t just business for 616 Realty’s Cheryl Johnston, it’s a ministry
Real estate agent Cheryl Johnston doesn’t just sell real estate, instead she says her business is also her ministry. When you consider that a ministry is all about helping and serving others, it is definitely a fitting title for the work that she does.
Getting started in real estate
When she started in 1990, it was because she was a single mom with three little boys. She needed to be both a provider and a caregiver and waitressing wasn’t allowing her to do either. Cheryl decided to get her license. Once she obtained it, she made up her mind that she was going to make it. “Real estate is like having a bad gambling habit, there are a lot of ups and downs. Highs and lows. I made a decision, way back, when I got into real estate, I was either going to DO THIS, or I was going to move on.” Now 11 years in, it can be said that she did it. Armed with cutting edge technology, a 1990s cellular bag and her 2 1/2 year old, she began showing homes and helping people make their dreams come true.
Learning important lessons
Six years in, she partnered with a builder who had developed condos. Cheryl and another agent began selling the condos and then turning around and helping buyers sell their homes. “It helped me to get going.” That experience early on also gave her some powerful insight and understanding that has greatly helped Cheryl in her real estate ministry. “Selling to older people, watching the process at the time, that changed the way that I sold. These people had been in their homes for 35-40 years. …They were very nervous and very apprehensive about selling their home. It was heart-wrenching. It was really hard for them. That changed my perspective. When you are selling someone’s house, you are selling their home.”
It’s not all rosy
While she has had some great luck and incredible highs, real estate hasn’t always been peaches and roses. “The turnover is really high. You can make a lot of money quickly, but you can also have a lot of hard times. We had some really hard times, but I was determined to be successful.” After 9/11, the real estate market really started to turn. “I had a big home. I had two boys in college and one in high school. I almost left.”
Housing crisis of 2006
But Johnston stuck with it even after the housing disaster in 2006 when houses were on the market for an average of 2.5 years and 73% of them were owned by banks. “The reason I could never quit or give up. I always felt like it was almost a ministry because… I was never a pressure kind of sales person. I would set goals, but I never set a quota. I always looked at it not as a way to sell something but to look for people who needed me.” Fortunately, through those times she could fall back on those she had helped. “I had developed a big database. I had a good referral business.” And for a little added insurance (pardon the pun), Cheryl diversified by getting her health and life insurance license to minister people in another way–by helping them secure peace of mind.
Regardless of the downs, Johnston was always able to persevere by serving others. “The way I have always built my business is I want them to know I care. I was never about trying to sell somebody something but trying to find those people that needed me to help them. That’s how I have operated my business. …Consequently, what you put out there will come back, a lot of times in more ways than you know, than you even realize.”
Cheryl’s advice for first time home buyers
Her advice for someone trying to sell their home?
“People think they need to add a bunch of stuff to their house. Instead, get it as marketable as you can. You don’t have to spend a lot of money or do a lot of work. Don’t change your house to make it sell.”
If you are looking for a veteran agent with a heart to serve, then Cheryl Johnston is perfect for you.