There was a time when Elli Jennings wanted to be a country singer. And then it was a doctor and then a professional athlete.
“It was whatever kids said they wanted to be,” says Jennings, a 20-year-old junior at Iowa State University. “But I realized I’m a people person. I’m independent, I’m driven and I love to be busy. I needed something that fit into that.”
Jennings needed real estate. So, at age 18, she got her real estate license and dove in as a showing assistant during her freshman year at Iowa State.
Growing up, she had watched her parents, Traci and Bill Jennings, lead the Jennings Real Estate Team as Broker/Owners of RE/MAX Real Estate Center, a 40-agent operation in Ames, Iowa. Becoming an assistant allowed her to shadow agents throughout the process, show hundreds of homes, fill in for agents at showings, open homes for contractors, advise social media marketing and assist as a transaction coordinator.
“We’ve been taking her to showings since she was a baby,” Traci Jennings says. “She has seen the lifestyle you can have if you work at it. She’s motivated to be successful and knows how to make people feel good and what to do to build strong relationships.”
Soon, she was ready for more and officially joined RE/MAX Real Estate Center as a Sales Associate on her parents’ team.
“I hosted my first open house for the team, and that’s where I met my first two clients,” she says. “Since then I haven’t looked back.”
She certainly hasn’t. While it’s different than most college jobs, Jennings says she has found a true calling in real estate. Even with a full class load at Iowa State, leading the marketing efforts for an on-campus organization and maintaining a normal social life, she says she is excited to grow her business and evolve in a constantly changing industry.
“It’s not a huge secret that real estate is about relationships,” she says. “You can’t get people to trust you unless you’re real and show personality. I want to know my clients’ story. I want to know not only their motivation for moving, but about their life, their interests and their family. I want to build an actual relationship.”
1. Know the difference between who will “take” you and who “wants” you.
When choosing a brokerage to go with, Jennings says it is important to know the difference between a broker who will “take” you and a broker who wants to “invest” in you. Jennings has witnessed her parents employing and teaching several other new agents in their brokerage. “Choose a brokerage that accepts you, one in which you can have camaraderie with the seasoned agents as well as the less-seasoned agents. Choose one that you will be able to learn from, grow with and share,” Jennings says.
2. Provide instant value.
Jennings knew she could bring value to the Jennings Real Estate Team and to her clients with her creativity and knowledge of technology and social media. Recently, she helped write, shoot and edit a video series highlighting the team’s 30 favorite places in 30 days. “Be confident in your strengths,” she says. “The younger generation has a lot to teach other agents and a lot to offer to buyers and sellers.”
3. Build your personal brand.
Jennings is cognizant of how potential clients perceive her and what they see on her personal social media channels. “It’s never too early to build your brand, to educate your peers on the home-buying process and to become a local resource for real estate services.”
4. Never stop learning.
Jennings said one of the keys to her success thus far has been her nonstop thirst for knowledge. “I would go with whatever agents would let me tag along. Every day that you’ve learned something is a good day – that’s something my dad taught me. There is always someone in the room smarter than you, so make sure you learn from them.”
5. No substitute for working hard.
Jennings enjoys her studies as a marketing major and full-time college student. She also puts in as many hours as needed as an agent. “You have to work your butt off. You have to be all in. Real estate can’t be a one-day here and there thing. It’s an everyday thing.”