Taken from Broker Agent Magazine 2007:
Constance Carter was busy instant messaging her escrow coordinator on her Blackberry, reminding Alison to take care of last minute details on a buyer transaction. Last May 23 was a work day like any other day except Constance happened to also be in labor with her third child and her husband, Warren was driving her to St. Joseph's Hospital in Stockton. Luckily, Constance had everything she needed to complete the transaction in the palm of her hand. Sitting in the conference room of her Brookside office today, she smiles and says, "I figured other people's lives don't stop just because I'm having a baby. I had this Blackberry when I was in labor with my second child, Warren, Jr. too." She demonstrates how she had tucked the Blackberry by her side while still typing on the keypad and says, "Alison and I were emailing files back and forth, going over the terms on a file like we always do, and reviewing files that needed signatures. I was in labor for six hours and Warren finally said to me, 'You have to put that thing down,'" she says laughing.
She took the next day off from work and a week later, she was out showing property to clients. June turned out to be a banner month for her as she recalls proudly, "I had eight escrows the following month."
She is driven to provide the kind of care and customer service she and Warren wished they had received when they bought their first home in Stockton nearly 8 years ago. She explains, "We were young and naïve at the time. I was 23 and Warren was 25." They started their home search in Manteca but the first agent only showed the Carters three of her own listings and told them to choose one. Not knowing that they had choices, they initially settled on one of the houses but then changed their minds after realizing it really wasn't what they wanted. "We wanted to cancel the escrow but we didn't know about contingency removals. In the end, the seller sued us for the $1,000 deposit and it ruined our credit for seven years."
Undaunted, they tried again and found another agent to help them. But as Constance remembers, "we would drive to Stockton from San Jose after work to be on time for our appointments but our agent would be an hour late."
They ended up buying a foreclosure but paid just as much as they would have for a non-foreclosure home. To add insult to injury, the home didn't have a stove, dishwasher or linen cabinets and the air conditioner didn't work. Smiling with the resiliency of a woman who knows how to roll with the punches, she adds "It didn't have a home warranty either."
She never forgot either experience, and years later, when she got into the real estate business, she vowed to always put her clients' best interests in front of her own.
"I can guarantee this my clients will not lose their deposit. I will always look out for their best interest."
She once had the opportunity to work with clients who came to her after another agent failed to deliver on a "lease to purchase" program. The agent took their money after promising to repair their credit scores but as time went on, the clients realized that nothing had been done. "When they finally came to me, they were leery. They had already been through the mill and I had to work hard to regain their trust but I was able to align them with the right programs and they were finally able to buy their house."
She loves working with first-time homebuyers and she is quite knowledgeable on all the down payment assistance programs that provide grants to first-time buyers. "If I can help somebody, I am blessed in return."
She keeps up-to-date on different types of financing that enable buyers to obtain monthly mortgage assistance. "I'm on the Internet at 2:00 a.m. trying to find good programs for my clients." As an agent, she had to take additional training but she is able to offer the Monthly Mortgage Assistant program and various Fannie Mae programs for first time homebuyers with less-than-perfect credit. She's also very knowledgeable on CALHFA, and ACORN Housing programs. In this ever-changing market, she makes it a point to stay on top of available new products, such as the FIRST HOUSE program that was recently rolled out. "The sellers love it because they know we will sell their homes," she explains.
Born and raised in San Jose, Constance worked as an IT analyst in the Bay Area before deciding on a career in real estate. Not one to be content resting on her laurels, she also became licensed as a Broker in 2006. She credits her organizational skills and knowledge of Internet e-based marketing to her years working at companies like Cisco, Hewlett-Packard and AT&T. Throughout the interview, her Blackberry demanded her constant attention but her mind was always focused on the task at hand, even as she deftly responded to messages while holding the device discreetly under the conference room table. Laughing good-naturedly, she admits that she is addicted to instant messaging "but in a good way. Wherever I am, even if I'm in a meeting, I am responding to messages. My escrow coordinator and loan processor are always sending me things to review."
With the recent increase in foreclosures, Constance remembers a past client who initially called her from a postcard requesting a Comparative Market Analysis. After their initial meeting, Constance didn't hear back from her for two months. By the time she called Constance again, the property was near foreclosure and Constance sprang to action to bring her current on her mortgage. "She was a single Mom with a five-year old boy. She didn't have any family in the Valley, she was from the Bay Area." Constance listed the property and managed to find a buyer for the home before the foreclosure process ran its course. When it came time to close, "nobody helped her move" so Constance stepped in to assist even though Warren Jr. had just been born five months earlier. Physically exhausted by the move, she was glad she did it because "I felt compelled to help her. She still had equity in the property and I didn't want to see her lose everything."
In true PMZ fashion, real estate is a family affair for the Carter family. Her husband, Warren is also a Realtor and has recently started to take on property management duties. Sounding very much like a proud mother, Constance smiles and explains, "My daughter, Chayil comes in and she checks my mail and cleans my office. When I have clients coming, she sets up my files for me on the desk. She tells everybody in the office that she is my assistant. She even makes signs and puts her name on the office door." Shaking her head and laughing, Constance continues tongue-in-cheek. "There's no rivalry between her and Alison however, because Chayil says, 'Alison can fill in for me while I'm at school. I'll be back later.'"
Family time is movie night on Friday. Married since 1998, Constance and Warren love to spend time at home with their three children, Chayil, Warren Jr., and Kyren. In addition to attending festivals and doing fun things with the kids like taking them to amusement parks, "we also love to travel," Constance says and they managed to squeeze in four vacations throughout the past year. They went to Disney Land, cruised to Mexico, went to Houston, Texas and ended the year with a trip to Lake Tahoe in the winter.
For years, Constance played bass in various bands in Stockton and the Bay Area. Until her son, Kyren, was born, she also played at her church, Victory in Praise. But these days, between work and the kids, "I rarely have time to pick up and practice." She plans on teaching the kids to play when they get older. Chayil is already playing the piano, "so when the boys get old enough, one will be on the bass, and the other will be the drums, and together, we'll have a nice rhythm section band," she says dreamily of the future, a future no doubt as bright as her present.