The Dream is Yours, Leave the Rest to Us, Our Exclusive Interview with East Bay Real Estate Agent, Eileen Townsend
Q: Can you share with us why you decided to have a career in Real Estate?
ET: Taking a “road less traveled,” I came to real estate as a career-change when I realized it was already my lifestyle. I was the corporate-relocated spouse, moving my family coast-to-coast and back again, through 7 states and 15 homes. It was on the 5th re-launch of my former career – as a journalist, then a marketing-PR executive – (also the purchase of the 12th home) that I realized I knew more about making the real estate deal than most of the agents I hired. It dawned on me that having lived through so many moves – some happy, some traumatic; some profitable, some not – with kids and pets in tow, that my personal experience could be of enormous help to people. I wanted to put down roots – I saw the deep connection to the community that comes with deep market knowledge. I realized I could make a difference in people’s lives in a meaningful way.
Q: What do you think are the ingredients that keep you as a top Realtor year after year?
ET: It’s really one main ingredient, supported by hundreds of details: Succeeding in each real estate challenge is enormously personal for me. It is deeply fulfilling to me to get it right for my clients – I think it’s quite like the urgency I felt when I was trying to make each move right for my children. Resonating with the dreams people hold about real estate … understanding how huge the financial stake is … knowing how to solve each of the property-finance-legal-negotiation-and human dilemmas along the way … and finally, helping people create “home” in their new space … it is just important to me that it be done well. This commitment to excellence – and to caring – is a common thread among my team.
Q: Can you share with our audience what Buyers & Sellers can expect when they work with the Eileen Townsend & Team?
ET: The agents who joined my team share that foremost commitment to the client’s goals, and we really work on educating and leading our clients through the process. Our team right now is all women, each with a different strength. I’m the content-focused communicator – I want to know everything and be able to explain everything involved in a transaction. Sharon is a MBA scientist – formerly in pharma sales – she’s details-driven and goes the extra mile. Janna is a born advocate; she is going to push her clients’ objectives to the finish line. Megan is a natural leader, fearless and willing to tackle any challenge. Backing us up is our team admin, Sarah, a former teacher. Together we follow systems and procedures designed to ensure nothing is overlooked, and that we have the expert resources to draw in whenever needed.
Q: How do you help buyers come to a decision?
ET: By respecting that the decision is, in fact, theirs to make. My job is to understand their goals and their capabilities, then to provide them with the resources to move ahead and opportunities to do so. I see my job as to keep them “safe” along their way. I use the expression, “eyes wide open.” While it is easy to get wrapped up in the dream, and to feel pushed by the pace and competition in our market, I lay out for my buyers the facts about condition, about comparative values, about how the market is behaving … and when they make the decision that “this is the one,” I help them put their best foot forward.
Q: If we interviewed all your past clients … what is one common word that comes up when they describe working with you?
ET: “Real.” Working with me, people sense my commitment, and know I see each situation as uniquely as they do. They feel my confidence which comes from completing hundreds of purchases and sales – for myself, my friends, my clients – and now with my team agents. They know that if I don’t already know something, I’ll tell them, and then I’ll go find out. They quickly learn that I’ll go outside the box to solve problems and that those years in the news business taught me how to find whatever it is they need, to comprehend even the prickliest of problems, and to be direct and goal-focused in getting it all done – on time.
Q: What’s one lesson you’ve learned in your career that you can share with our audience?
ET: Patience and calm along this journey. There’s no point in being the drama queen, and usually no gain. Know your craft – in my case it’s the market, the many details and connecting dots of the contract, and my client’s goals. They choose the destination; I chart the savvy course.
Q: Which woman inspires you and why?
ET: My daughter, Tess Townsend, never ceases to amaze and impress me. Half my age, she has always had smarts and wisdom beyond her years; she is as ideals driven a person as I’ve ever met. She challenges me to remain true to myself and my strengths, and she holds me accountable. Having grown up in newsrooms across the country, she has charted her own career as a journalist, today working as deputy opinion editor of the Sacramento Bee. She has committed her free time to leading the non-profit she founded, Journalists in Classrooms (JiC), to ensure that our next generations understand the difference between the “noise” and dis-information in our media, and properly researched, fact-based information … she teaches, and teaches other journalists to teach, students what to trust and what to discard as “fake.” Like her millennial generation, she seeks both to disrupt systems that no longer are working, and to form new ways to make life and out world work toward the greater good.
Q: What are some of the challenges you feel women face today?
ET: Honestly, I have never thought in terms of challenges that limit or are unique to women. I grew up the only girl with four strong brothers, and I think I took life on with perspective just like theirs: to be and do whatever I choose, to neither respect nor accept boundaries or limits imposed by others.
Q: What advice do you have for parents with daughters graduating from high school?
ET: I think it is our duty to provide models of success in the endeavors that matter to our children. Help them find mentors who can guide them and help them grow. Being a mentor and seeing success emerge among my team agents is as rewarding as “winning” in my career myself. Pass it on.
Q: What do you see as the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
ET: I truly believe the sky is the limit and as long as they believe that too, it will be.
Q: What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?
ET: Come from courage, never fear. Set a goal and work toward it. Setbacks, even failure, are part of the process. Learn from every win, and every loss, and use what you’ve learned to keep progressing. Ask for help – there is no shame in accepting help. Ask questions. There are no stupid questions; anyone who makes you feel your question is “dumb” is the problem – not you. There will be another person who will answer your question, and that is the one to follow.
Five Things About Eileen Townsend
1. If you could talk to one famous person past or present, who would it be and why?
Katherine Graham. She was my inspiration for entering the news profession at a time when a woman as a publisher was unheard of. She spoke at my high school when I was news editor of the student paper, then sponsored me in a summer training in the Washington Post newsroom … it was life-changing and underscored my “see no barriers” mindset.
2. Can you share with us one of your passions in life?
Yoga has been my passion for over 20 years – keeps the mind and the body both strong and flexible. And both strength and flexibility are what make my life work.
3. What’s the best advice you’ve received?
To thine own self be true. My father’s credo.
4. What app can’t you live without?
Can I say – all of them? (Sorry.)
5. What’s your favorite thing to do in your free time?
Stories … reading them, watching them, telling them.