Mother, Author & Real Estate Agent, Meet Jackie Haugh, Bringing It All Together
Q: Can you share with us what made you decide to have a career in Real Estate?
JH: In 2001, I found myself a single mom to four teenagers. While raising my children, I was able to stay at home but always worked part time with jobs I created in the art and fitness worlds. Now, I needed a full-time gig if I was to keep the family home.
Before children in the 1970s, I worked for Century 21 in the San Francisco Regional Office managing 144 franchises. When my former husband and I moved to San Diego, I worked for the KOLL Company as an asset manager to their shopping centers and high rises, so it made sense to go back to what I knew – real estate. At the time of my divorce in 2004, I was caring for both my aging parents and my last child who was then a sophomore in high school. Residential sales, in my opinion, would allow me to be in control of my time and provide the flexibility I needed for my life, as well as create a flow of income.
Q: Do you specialize in certain types of properties?
JH: In my career, I’ve sold everything from the $250,000 condo to the multi-million-dollar exclusive home in the Silicon Valley … I go were my clients need me. Los Altos is home base, but I’ve traveled from Gilroy to San Francisco, and the East Bay to find the perfect home for a client.
Q: Do you typically represent buyers or sellers?
JH: In the early days, it was mostly buyers. But in the past five years, it’s been sellers. I don’t focus on a particular group, I just let the deals just come to me.
Q: What do you tell potential buyers who are comparing Buying Vs. Renting? What are some of the Pros and Cons?
JH: I often think renting gets a bad rap because it’s said you’re throwing your money away, however, sometimes it’s the best solution. Let’s face it, there’s nothing like owning your own home. There’s pride that comes with knowing the house belongs to you, but there are also a lot of costs. Besides the mortgage (which could be the same as rent), there are taxes and insurance, utility fees (that sometimes are covered by a landlord), as well as maintenance fees. And, when a new roof or water heater is needed, tack on even more money.
Our homes are our biggest investment, but for appreciation to happen, it typically takes five years or more before we see it. If you’re not planning on living there that long, you could lose money when you sell because you’ll be paying Realtor fees, as well as all the listing expenses.
When I have this discussion with a buyer, I delve into their lifestyle first, as well their motivations for wanting a home. Then, I can help them determine if it’s just better for them to invest their money elsewhere for now and rent or jump in the market. Currently, I’m renting a tiny one bedroom after selling our family home and it works perfect for me. I travel a lot and love knowing I can just lock my front door and not worry about anything.
Q: What can a potential buyer expect from you in the buying process?
JH: Any buyer can expect 150% of my time, as well as obtaining all the knowledge I bring to the buying process. I purposely only take one to two clients on at a time so I can be fully present with them until the transaction is closed. But my duty does not end there. My buyers always know I’m available to them long after they move in, whether it’s for my contacts to help with the home, information about the marketplace, or friendship. I become personally close to all my clients.
Q: How has technology changed the Real Estate industry over the years?
JH: Dramatically, both for the good and bad. Cell phones are a life saver, especially since we can do anything on them at any given moment. It’s fabulous that we can access listings online on MLS. In the old days, the new listings were on sheets of paper - with this same accessibility to buyers on Realtor.com and other sites, the public sometimes doesn’t see the need for a real estate agent. They think they know everything and only want the agent for writing a contract. Loyalty feels like it’s gone. A buyer meets you once, and then, whether you get them the house or not, you never see them again.
Working at Compass, they have the most innovated ways for technology. But when it’s all said and done, for me, I like the old way of connecting by picking up the phone, meeting for coffee, or showing up on the doorstep to talk. Real estate is about relationships and that can get lost in texts and emails.
Q: You’re also a publisher, tell us a little about your 2015 release “My Life in a Tutu” … do you have any other releases on the horizon?
JH: My profession allows me time for all my passions – currently, writing.
When my husband left, I found myself writing for public consumption. Before that, it was only in journals.
My first book, My Life in a Tutu, was written just for my kids. Divorce is never fun, and like, many women, I crumbled. A year into the mess, one of my daughters demanded I get over it all and stop crying. I had to sit with why I was so upset. I knew my marriage was in trouble before the divorce, but with deep introspection, I began to see I was in pain because all my life I wanted to be perfect, and never was, but the one area I would be perfect was in marriage. I thought I would never be divorced, yet here I was.
The book was to explain to my kids how I got to this place of tears. I self-published at first, then it got out of my hands and into the Los Altos community. This led to me receiving a column in the Los Altos Town Crier for nine years, a publisher with WriteLife Publishers, two more books of short stories, 75 Beats to a Happy Heart and A Grateful Heart is a Happy Heart. And, most recently, my caregiving journey with my father, The Promise I Kept. In 1990, he begged me to never put him in a nursing home. Thirteen years later I had to live up to that promise, and for nine years, life became about caregiving – me for his physical needs, him for my spiritual ones. When he passed away in my arms in 2012, I was a changed woman for good.
Q: Tell us about some of the volunteer work you do?
JH: In the past, I’ve volunteered for the Cancer Society (Relay for Life), Habitat for Humanity, the YMCA, a mentor program to a high school student for four years, the 100 Women Foundation, and raising money for various charities. Currently, I’m donating my time to hospice groups and hospitals telling my story of caregiving. It can be a lonely, thankless job and one we’re never fully prepared for. My story lets them know they’re not alone in their feelings towards the process.
Q: What's the greatest fear you've had to overcome to get where you are today?
JH: Being a single mom … my greatest fear has always been how to keep everything together financially. My kids were used to a certain lifestyle and I never wanted their lives to change. But as I rode the twists and turns of the real estate market, I slowly began to see that money is an energy source that comes, and it goes, and I was putting too much fear into that energy.
As the years went by, I made adjustments in my life financially. When I had extra, I enjoyed it. But I always made sure the bills would be paid first. Years after the kids left the nest, I sold the family home. While heartbreaking for all, it has brought great peace and I find I’m now a better agent because of it. The transactions are truly about my clients, and not my bottom line.
Q: Can you tell our audience one of your most memorable moments your career?
JH: As Realtors, we all have a million stories – some good and some painful. But one of my happiest was helping a young family find the perfect home despite all the restrictions. They had a tight budget, only wanted something built after 1985 (the wife needed to be sure no asbestos was ever used), and good schools. Talk about the needle in haystack! We discovered the home, as well as a multiple offer situation where seven buyers were countered. Knowing how to negotiate, I fought to keep them in it. Finally, at midnight, I was given the word that they had won. Today, that home has appreciated over $500,000.
Q: What’s one lesson you’ve learned in your career that you can share with our audience?
JH: I’m a very sensitive person who has always wanted the best for everyone and looked for ways to make that happen. Any pain they had became my pain as well. But as the years spun by, I began to see my client’s journeys were theirs, not mine. I was just the facilitator. My job was to give them all the information needed, support them, even act as a family counselor, but in the end, it was up to them to make the decisions. Creating boundaries has made all the difference for me.
Q: Which woman inspires you and why?
JH: With so many incredible women in the world, I’m lucky in that I don’t have to look far for inspiration. I came from a long line of strong ladies. Both my grandmothers grew up dirt poor and orphaned. My mother knew nothing but physical pain my entire adult life and, yet, like my grandmothers, fought to rise above. Family meant everything to these women, and they gave all the love in their hearts to their children. They were fighters and struggled to make life better than what they’d had with no expectations for anything in return and did it with a smile. The one thing I always knew when I was in their presence was that I was loved. I often think of them when I’m in a tough situation and wonder, how would they handle this?
Q: What are some of the challenges you feel women face today?
JH: I still feel men look at us as the weaker sex and often not as bright. Because I’m not aggressive in how I handle my business, I’ve found that some men believed me to be ineffective, even though I got them the home. I feel we can still be kind while being assertive. I trust honesty is truly the best policy (even though it could cause you a transaction) and, above all, the goal is to follow the Golden Rule. While real estate is tough, I don’t believe we should ever lose themselves in the process of closing a sale.
Q: What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?
JH: This is a perfect question for me because my daughter got into the industry three years ago in Los Angeles. We spend a lot of time talking strategy. What I told her:
Real estate is one of the greatest and hardest careers, but worth every minute because of the rewards. There’s nothing like being in control of your work life. It’s up to you how hard you want to work and play. And, the gift of knowing you had a part in helping a client with the biggest investment they will ever have always warms the heart.
Learn to save money for the difficult times.
Always remember who’s journey it is. Sure, you need a paycheck, but the transaction is about the client. If you do the job with integrity, the money will follow.
Insulate yourself from unkind remarks. Angry sellers need to blame someone when their house doesn’t sell and it will always be the agent’s fault, even if you’ve done everything you possibly could to put the home in its best light. Don’t let their frustration become yours. Again, be patient and kind, but also know when to stand up for yourself.
Create balance. Real Estate can suck you in because there’s always something you can be doing for it. Take at least one weekend a month off from open houses or showing property. Don’t let it deplete you energetically.
Have something on the side you love to do. I’ve been teaching dance to children for the past 25 years. There have been many times when I just wanted to go home and have a cry over something gone sideways. But on those days where I got to spend time with innocence, I smiled for it brought me back to what’s truly important.
Learn that it’s ok to fire a client. Not all are worth dealing with. No amount of money can replace your sanity and peace of mind.
Learn to love and respect all your clients. Just like us, they’re on a life journey and we’re blessed to be a part of it.
Five Things About Jackie Haugh
1. If you could talk to one famous person past or present, who would it be and why?
I would love to have a conversation with Jesus and Buddha. Growing up Catholic, I’ve been exploring my spirituality beyond what the church has always taught. My religion has become kindness as I learn to love myself as well as others. Both Jesus and Buddha embody that lifestyle.
2. We finish the interview and you step outside the office and find a lottery ticket that ends up winning
$1 million dollars … what would you do?
If I won a million dollars, I would put some aside for my aging years and some for each of my 4 kids so they could one day buy a home. Then, with the rest set up a foundation where the money could be used for a greater good. The homeless situation in the California has become very problematic. I would love to be able to help these lost souls.
3. What were you like in high school?
In high school, I was very active and participated in everything from cheerleading, class politics, organizing all the school dances, and finally, in my senior year, student body president.
4. What’s your best childhood memory?
I grew up with 3 brothers, so I was often left at home when they’d go do “boy” things with my dad. On one fishing trip to Half Moon Bay, I put up such a fit because I wanted to go too. Finally, to stop my whining, my dad took me along. While they all had fishing poles and tackle boxes, I was thrilled to sit on the pier with a stick and a piece of fishing line attached to a nail. In my mind, I arrived, I was one of them. The following Christmas, under the tree, was a rod and pink tackle box just for me, a gift from my sweet dad. I was eight years old and knew I firmly belonged in my family.
5. What’s your favorite candy?
To be honest, I don’t eat candy. BUT, give me a glass of wine and a bag of chips and I’m in heaven.