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  August, 2002 



The Korn Team
Keller Williams Realty
19045 E Valley View Pkwy, Ste H
Independence, MO 64055


Daily News - Residential

The Delicate Dance: Partners in Marriage and Real Estate

The Delicate Dance: Partners in Marriage and Real Estate

By Susan Kime

"How DO they do it?"

This is the first question that is asked about a couple that works and plays together. The maintenance of a successful marriage is hard enough, but maintaining a successful real estate partnership along with it would appear even more difficult.

Granted, there are many successful filial relationships in real estate–brothers and sisters, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, mothers and sons, etc.–because in matters of blood kinships, the boundaries and rules of family attributes, manners and mannerisms are better known and understood because they have been there longer. But those who choose to go into a real estate partnership with their spouses must often learn steps to a new and complicated dance.

Some stumble, step on one another and stop. Others step nimbly through, mastering the rhythm, improvising new techniques. It is the latter group who are the subjects of this piece.

Sara and Chuck Block of Coldwell Banker Success Southwest, in Tucson, Arizona have been married for 46 years. They have been working in real estate together for about half that time. They have three children, two of whom are active, successful Realtors.

"I think one of the secrets to doing all this is our temperaments. We are pretty easy-going. Also, our temperaments are well balanced. If he sees me becoming a little anxious about a listing or a sale, we will talk about it and I will regain some perspective." Sara says, "Chuck and I never assumed any formal positions in this business relationship. We did not say, ‘Oh, it’s your time to go to the office and it’s my time to stay home.’ We just did what the other didn’t do. He was always a part of my business because he was always a part of my life. So, here it is going on 46 years. Let me tell you what I have found out, balancing a successful marriage and a successful business partnership: If you don’t enjoy each other in everyday life, you will never be successful in business."

Brad and Sonya Korn of The Korn Team in Blue Springs, Missouri (near Kansas City) have been together five years and have been married two. They are "newlyweds" and yet their business has grown, doubling in volume in the past two years.

Brad credits Sonya’s high energy and dedicated commitment to their clients as a major reason for their success. "Sonya came from a customer service background, and understood the big picture as well as the complex details. She created new forms and systems to make our business better–and, she is also a great mom. You have to be flexible in marriage and in business to do both well. Yet, in addition to being flexible, we have both found we must be disciplined. We must agree to block out certain things–responding to client calls late at night, agreeing a keeping time for each other, and family time–that kind of thing. You know real estate is a business that can overtake you, so you have to create some breathing and relationship time with those you love."

Kathi and Bob McLean of Coldwell Banker Westlake Village (near Los Angeles) have been married for 23 years.

She has been in real estate for the past 25, and Bob joined her 10 years ago. Since then, they have worked together, and have shared business success. They also share an office, with two full-time assistants. They do not maintain a home-office.

"Bob and I made a decision that we never regretted–that, because we live and breathe real estate, we needed to balance that with personal time at home."

The length of time they had been together prior to them becoming business partners (15 years) also is a factor for their success. Kathi says, "What Bob and I know are our temperamental strengths and challenges. A solid marriage allows you to be aware of what the other’s weaknesses are, but also know that their strengths far overshadow their weaknesses. And, of course, what bothers you early in a marriage doesn’t bother you too much later. I’d give those who are married and are thinking of doing a business partnership in real estate two pieces of advice. One, have fun and enjoy it and two, only work with people who are nice–by that I mean, people who you have respect for and who have respect for you. Otherwise, the client’s negativity self-generates, and you get angry with each other and whoever else is in your environment at the time. It’s not worth it."

Harvey and Elise Kalles of Harvey Kalles Real Estate Ltd. In Toronto, Canada, have been married for over 40 years. They have three children, two of whom are in business with them.

Michael, the eldest, is president of the company. Elise has been the top producer in volume for all of the Toronto area for the past three years.

The success of marriage and business does not seem unusual to either of them and both have the same teamwork priorities.

"Even in the beginning, our family was what was most important. And you should not let that priority get away from you. It is very important to try and maintain separateness between your marriage and your business–between what you do and who you are, although a lot of times that is intertwined. You just must remember who you are, and what is important. Harvey adds, "We have built this business on the reliability and stability of the Kalles name. Now, Elise and two of the three children are a large part of our success. How we treat each other progresses outward to how we treat our clients."

Jill and Al Stanger of Coldwell Banker Premier Northwest Properties in Gig Harbor, Washington, have been married and in business together for a decade. They both are transplanted Canadians.

"We both feel we have a synergy; neither of us have an ‘A’ or ‘B’ personality–we are not, we have never been–competitive with each other," Jill says. "We also set a goal a long time ago that we would leave the job at work. We do try to do this, but it’s difficult–mainly because we are both so energized by doing what we do, and doing it together. To people who are married and thinking of going into real estate together, I would suggest to remember it’s easy to get too busy and too focused. Real estate can be all consuming. It’s important to be aware of that–take a break from it if that’s all you think about. There are other beautiful things in the world."

Susan Kime is a multi-published writer in the real estate and relocation fields. She gratefully acknowledges Nick Antonicello, business development director of Unique Homes, for help in this article’s preparation.


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