Jennifer Olmstead of Olmstead Real Estate Group started her business in 2006 as a college graduate with a dream of helping people. Over 15 years later she has helped hundreds of families accomplish their goals of buying and selling real estate. Her motto has always been to put her clients first and to communicate. We asked Jennifer a few questions about her business and family life to learn more about this mom and entrepreneur.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Colonie and have been a life long resident of the Capital District. I graduated from SUNY Albany and currently reside in Saratoga County. I am a mother to two boys; Danny(13), and JJ(12). My fiancé Jay is in the Army National Guard and is currently deployed. Being a mom, military spouse, and business owner keeps me on my feet! My boys are both very active in sports and it’s not uncommon to see me in dress clothes with a change of clothes in the back so that I can sit at a football game or hockey game and cheer them on! I always have a lawn chair and a blanket in my trunk.
My hobbies include challenging myself to do things that maybe I wouldn’t do when I was younger. Currently, I play in a co-ed softball league which I’m not very good at but I try! I am taking country line dancing lessons. I recently attended a “twerkshop” which was very different but very fun! The boys and I created a “summer of adventure” list while Jay is gone. We made a list of things we want to see or do and each week we try to tackle something on that list. Items include fishing, cliff jumping, going to the beach, going on a boat, and a bunch of day trips. My goal is to redirect the focus of their dad being deployed and help to make the time go by.
What made you decide to get into real estate?
I graduated college with a degree in Human Biology with a pre-med concentration. I knew that I wanted to help people but I was unsure if the medical field was the right fit for me. I decided to take some time off from the medical track and got my real estate license as a way to supplement my income while I decided what I wanted to do. I quickly learned that I was very comfortable in real estate. I was still helping people but in a different way. In 2008, I had my son Danny and decided that real estate was the only career option for me that would allow time to be a mom and run a business and decided to do it full time. Just two weeks after Danny was born, I started hitting the ground running as a full time agent and never looked back.
What are your keys to success?
I never treat my clients like a transaction. Once you come into my life you are here to stay. A lot of my business is by referral because I keep in touch with everyone long after the home is sold. Many people text me questions, ask for recommendations on contractors, invite me to family parties, or have become my friend. I am always available for my clients and they know that they can reach out to me at any time if they have a question.
No deal is too big or too small. Whatever the real estate need is, the service stays the same. Buying or selling a home is the largest financial decision that most people will make. The value of the home does not matter because the stress is the same across the board. Sometimes we come across issues that need resolution. That is what I’m here for. I am a problem solver by nature so coming up with solutions and making sure that everything goes smoothly is what I am known for.
From a business owner standpoint, my company is run on very transparent concepts. I don’t believe in smoke and mirrors. I am straight forward with my agents and my clients. My agents know exactly what to expect from me as their broker and so do my clients. I always lay out exactly what to expect and then I deliver the results as promised.
What advice can you give to people thinking about becoming a real estate agent?
It is not as easy as it looks. If you used an agent and thought that they made easy money that is because they did their job to ensure that your transaction went smoothly. I work seven days a week and sometimes I am on the phone at 11pm and then again first thing in the morning. Be prepared before quitting your 9-5 job. There is no one telling you to get up and work. You have to be driven to do the work. There are no benefits and no guaranteed income so before you take the leap to full-time agent make sure that you have saved enough in your reserves to accommodate the lapse between closings.
Real estate is very demanding and sometimes spouses and kids get tired of seeing you on the phone. Create a balance and an understanding with your family that helps them understand the importance of taking that one call but also be sure to pencil your family time into your calendar. Allow yourself to take a break and be engaged and present in those family moments. You deserve to create memories and fun times without worrying about the real estate issues you are working through.
With busy schedules, what are some things your family does to be mindful and in the moment?
We have a strict “no phones” and “no hats” at the dinner table policy for all who eat with us. Adults, friends, kids, small kids…it does not matter. We take the time during dinner to really engage in conversation and always play a board game or card game. Our kids have really enjoyed this and love sharing this moment with their friends who come over for dinner. Technology can sometimes get in the way and we are all guilty of diving into our social media on the phone and tuning out what is around us.
We also always give hugs and say “I love you”. Having a deployed spouse, I can’t tell you how much a hug means because you never know when it will be your last. When someone is gone you miss that hug so much so when we are all together we give lots and lots of hugs. Take the time to give an extra hug to your family. Kids grow up so fast and knowing that the hugs become less and less as they become teenagers, cuddle your kids. We still will cuddle up in one bed to watch a movie from time to time and it is my favorite little moment of the day.
When the boys have something to tell me, I always stop what I’m doing and listen. Sometimes the stories tend to ramble on forever and sometimes I want to zone out or check my phone but I always give them the time to tell me whatever it is that is important in their world and I always follow up with questions, comments, acknowledgement and advice if needed.
Family always comes first. It is something that can easily get lost when you own your own business but remember that the kids grow up fast. Faster than you could ever imagine. Take the time to absorb the stage they are in, soak it up! Be silly, sing, laugh and try to remember that there is no perfect parent but to your kid you are perfect!
What are words that you live by?
I am a true believer of this line…..LEAD WITH LOVE!
Clifton Park, NY 12065