How long have been working in this business?
I’ve been doing this for 22, 23 years and I love what I do. I’m proud to help everybody. Recently in the same week I closed a $240,000 townhome for a nurse and a $2.4 million home. That range represents me, and I have a team of three amazing women. I don’t want to be number one; I want to provide the best service. I do zero online advertising. Ninety percent of my business is from referrals.
You do print advertising — in this magazine, in fact.
I do. I promote my listings there. And my clients give me online endorsements and that generates business, but I feel like that is word-of-mouth, too.
Where were you born?
Waukegan, Illinois, but I moved here after living in Europe. I didn’t want to move back to the Midwest. I came here thinking I was going to the Northwest and Santa Fe just wrapped its arms around me.
You never made it to Seattle.
I never did. My sister lived there. But I met a girl on the Plaza who said she could stay with her for a couple weeks. I met this guy while I was having lunch who said, “We’re looking for someone to come and work,” so my first job was at Ramstone Tile. Then I worked for The Lofts with Don Wiviott. I’m a business woman. I got a degree in business.
At what school?
Northern Illinois University.
When you were in high school, did you have an idea of what you wanted to do?
I wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to defend people, help people. I grew up bilingual, multicultural. We lived in an Anglo neighborhood but we went to Spanish mass on the other side of town. The Midwest is a great place to be a kid, but it was boring. As a young woman, I couldn’t wait to leave. So going and studying in Spain changed my life.
I stayed in college a fifth year and studied international business. How could I go back to the Midwest; the World is out there! I thought I was going to do international business and instead I fell in love with Santa Fe and fell in love with a man and had a baby. Now I just take a trip once a year.
I love this community. I’ve been here for 33 years. I wake up every day feeling blessed to live in Santa Fe.
Are you married?
I’m widowed, and the experience of being widowed young with a baby gave me no other option except to succeed. And this career gave me flexibility: I never missed one of my son’s soccer games.
You have flexibility in your hours and when you do this and that, but aren’t you sort of always at work?
I am, but my team holds me accountable: “You worked all weekend, Emily. What half-day are you taking off?” We take care of each other.
This isn’t a hobby for you.
No. I’m a professional. I saw a Newsweek report that said I was Number 3 in the state for real-estate sales in 2019. I used to be nervous as a single mom: what am I going to do? And so many people told me to get into real estate, because I was doing remodels of little homes to pay off my late husband’s medical bills. It took a friend telling me, “You’re going to make a difference in people’s lives; you’re not just going to be selling houses.”
I don’t just sell people homes; I help them build a new life, and I help them forever. I’m going to be speaking at SCORE on Sept. 23. They’re having a conference for women. The title is “Women Rising: The Power of Grit and Grace,” and they’ve asked me to speak about resilience. [For info, see https://santafe.score.org/score-womens-conference]
How has the pandemic affected your work?
We’re having to be so careful. Our team shares an office. We have a team meeting every morning and I’m committed to keeping us all safe. We’re selling one deal a month sight-unseen by Facetime and videos. We’re going to be doing more of that.
With Facetime, you and your clients can see each others’ smiles. That’s a nice change nowadays.
It is, and Facetime is really effective. And because our inventory is so low, even if they don’t live here we’ll put it under contract quickly, then they can drive out, quarantine, and see it before they close. I think the stress is more on the buyers and sellers than it is on us. We’re having to be really thoughtful.
What about this inventory challenge?
We used to have about 2,200 homes on the market and now we have less than 800.
But 800 seems like a lot!
Santa Fe is the only western luxury market that’s complex: affordable, luxury, and everything in between. There are only three to five houses that meet a client’s criteria in each area and there used to be a dozen or so.
We have to be incredibly responsive. I have a woman who’s moving out here with her family to be a teacher at a private school and if something comes on the market, we have to race out there so that we have a chance to buy it because there are multiple offers.
I’m not doing open houses; more and more, it’s virtual. I will do a private showing for anyone, but I don’t want a bunch of people in a seller’s home at once. It’s a huge responsibility.
Have you served on Santa Fe Association of Realtors committees?
No, I do a lot of community work. My father was the head of the International Red Cross. As kids, we went to migrant camps and helped families. We picketed with César Chávez. It’s a way of life. A part of what you do every week is to help others. I feel like I do that with my work and my business, but I also do it personally.
I’m not an activist, but I’m definitely involved in the community. I’m on the board of Partners in Education and I’m very involved in Kitchen Angels. Real estate just gives me a platform to serve my wonderful community.
What do you like doing in your spare time?
I love cooking. I spend money on my clients and I have gatherings at my house and bring people together and I cook. I’ve been biking and hiking. I used to do triathlons.
And you’re trilingual!
I am. I love to travel, too. Most recently I went to Peru. We hiked along the old Mayan trails in the mountains and then we ended up hiking Machu Picchu and being at the top at dawn. I was going to go to Brazil and Uruguay this year. I look forward to when I can travel again.