In a program designed to honor real estate agents who are new to the business yet achieving extraordinary results, earlier this year, RISMedia launched its inaugural Real Estate Rookie of the Year award, recognizing new agents for their accomplishments in 2021. Today, RISMedia reveals the Top 10 finalists in the running to become RISMedia’s 2022 Real Estate Rookie of the Year.
Nominees for the Real Estate Rookie of the Year award were considered based on their 2021 sales volume and transaction data, investment in professional education, technology prowess and community involvement. The Real Estate Rookie of the Year award is sponsored by industry education leader, Colibri Real Estate, and the winner will be announced and awarded during RISMedia’s Power Broker Reception & Dinner on November 11 in Orlando, Florida, during the annual NAR NXT, The REALTOR® Experience.
Chosen from hundreds of nominations, the 10 Real Estate Rookie of the Year finalists are listed below in alphabetical order.
Berto Barrera attributes his superstar rookie year to staying innovative and providing a service that he is proud of and that is hard to duplicate.
Barrera also emphasizes the importance of a “relentless work ethic and sacrifice.”
“I work seven days a week and I don’t remember the last time I took a day off,” he says. “I absolutely love what I do and I’m blessed to say that it doesn’t feel like work. My family has also played a huge role in allowing me to chase my dreams and making it super easy for me to outwork some of my competition.”
Despite his success, Barrera maintains a humble attitude. “I go to work every day with the mindset of doing the best that I can for my clients and providing for my family,” he says. “To be recognized for doing something that I love to do is extremely meaningful.”
RE/MAX Advanced Realty
Scott Chain vaulted to success in his rookie year by building a strong social media presence and adopting a can-do approach to business.
“I came out of the gate swinging and took every opportunity that came my way,” says Chain. “With this bold, strategic and resilient strategy comes rewards. It’s an honor to be selected for such an amazing award and, therefore, I know I’m doing the right thing by spearheading what my mentors taught me.”
\Chain also pays tribute to his firm, saying that the biggest contributing factor to his rookie success was “choosing the right brokerage to hold my license.”
The rookie agent has truly found his home in the real estate business, noting that, “This has been the only job I’ve ever been a part of where my hard work pays off.”
The Stiller Group
Schuler Bauer Real Estate ERA Powered
Nicole Dudley’s commitment to technology and education helped propel her to outstanding success in her rookie year.
For Dudley, her success out of the gate came down to “pushing myself to step outside of my comfort zone with hard work, dedication and never giving up.”
She also realized that strong relationships were central to success in real estate. “I enjoy building strong relationships with everyone that I meet and pride myself on treating people as I would want to be treated,” she says.
Being named a Top 10 finalist was an important goal for Dudley on many levels. “For me, it is all about my children and teaching them that if you want something in this life and dedicate yourself to that, anything is possible, even if it isn’t easy,” she says.
EXIT Realty Southern
Steven Mark Fontenot attributes his stand-out rookie year to a supportive brokerage and family.
“At times, when it felt like the world was crashing around some of the deals, they were always there with simple words of encouragement,” he explains.
Fontenot also credits his non-aggressive approach to his success with clients. “I do not push or pressure my clients, he says. “I am simply here to guide and advise in their best interest, and I believe people relate to and respect that.”
“I absolutely love meeting my clients for the first time and establishing that trusting relationship with them,” he adds. “The ups and downs of real estate and the good and bad deals keeps me interested and willing to push forward.”
ERA King Real Estate
Jessica Gilmore worked hard to build an impressive clientele in her rookie year by establishing a strong social media presence. She is also an active member of her community.
“I am so grateful not only for the honor and privilege to be named among these other finalists, but also to represent real estate rookies everywhere,” says Gilmore. “Becoming a REALTORⓇ during the craziest housing market is not for the faint of heart, and it’s a truly humbling experience to be recognized for doing such a hard thing well.”
The rookie attributes her success to the support of her brokerage, her broker/mentor, family, friends and community. “So much of who I am, and therefore the kind of REALTORⓇ I am, is due to the encouragement, critique and sharpening I receive from the people I surround myself with.”
Gilmore admits she has found her niche in the people business of real estate. “I have always been an extrovert who thrives off spending time with people. My clients truly do become like family to me and it has been so fun getting to develop new friendships and deepen other existing ones.”
Anam Hargey’s rookie-year achievements were the result of her investment in education and coaching, as well as incorporating the right technology offerings.
Hargey explains that her support network was central to her early success. “My biggest contributing factor was the support and understanding of my family and friends,” she says. “They always cheered for me from the sidelines, always recommended/referred me to anyone talking about real estate and reminded me of my end goals during stressful times.”
Becoming a Top 10 finalist has helped solidify Hargey’s decision to get into real estate, a career she has quickly fallen in love with. “I love connecting with new people and being part of such an exciting time,” she says. “I love making friendships that will last and the excitement people feel on closing day.”
Coldwell Banker Advantage
Fayetteville, North Carolina
Alex McFadyen’s rookie year in real estate was bolstered by a strong lead-generation strategy and coaching, along with his own unbridled enthusiasm.
“The biggest contributing factor to my success in my rookie year was my passion for real estate,” he says. “I wake up every day knowing that I am able to do something that I love and it has helped me excel.”
“My mentors at Coldwell Banker Advantage have also played a huge part in my success,” he adds. “The strong leadership at CBA has helped me grow not only as an agent, but as a person.”
McFadyen appreciates that his career will never be boring. “What I love most about the real estate business is that every day is something new,” he says. “I enjoy all of the great people that I meet.”
Coldwell Banker Realty
Westfield, New Jersey
Steve Oliveira attributes his rookie-year success story to building strong connections online as well as within the community.
“I took the same approach that I have always taken throughout my life and past professional careers,” he explains. “I dedicated myself to helping as many people as possIble, I created a teamwork environment with every stakeholder I engaged with, I made myself available to every client 24 hours and 7 days a week and I also made sure to follow up, be proactive and go above and beyond what was expected.”
According to Oliveira, being named a Top 10 Rookie of the Year finalist proves that hard work pays off. “It means that all the long hours, dedication, research and hard work that I put into the business is validated,” he says. “This is a very competitive and difficult industry to make it in so I am humbled and appreciative of the acknowledgement.”
CENTURY 21 Morrison Realty
Bismarck, North Dakota
Lead generation strategies and maximizing technology put Kelly Sand on the fast track to success in her rookie year.
“The news of being named a Top 10 finalist is refreshing, uplifting and a huge support in reminding me that the work of pushing myself to be well-rounded and successful in various parts of my life are all worth it,” says Sand. “Being here makes me want to push harder in every part of my life.”
She attributes her success to teamwork and connection. “Everyone listen up: no one can do it all on their own,” she explains. “REALTORSⓇ have to be so many things to so many people—it’s much harder than the public thinks it is. Because of my team, I can be up and running with what I’m good at while supporting them in what they are good at. My success isn’t mine alone.”
According to Sand, being a real estate professional satisfies her desire to be a life-long learner. “I thrive on being curious and answering questions. All the hats we wear in real estate allows me to do this and push myself professionally and personally every day.”
Allen Tate REALTORSⓇ
Charlotte, North Carolina
James Webb tapped into his advertising industry experience to pave the way for a stellar rookie year.
“Navigating an evolving market while learning the business was challenging, but reflecting on this past year brings me so much joy,” says Webb. “It’s such an honor to be recognized for helping others achieve their goals.”
According to Webb, the ability to differentiate himself was critical to succeeding early on.
“I leveraged my advertising background in my marketing materials, and worked hard to connect with clients on a personal level,” he says. “Rapport is important in this business, but the ability to listen, understand and guide a client is paramount. Taking the time to educate buyers and sellers and doing so in a constructive, positive and honest way really helped me differentiate myself in the marketplace.”
Like many of his peers, Webb values the relationships real estate allows him to build. “Just like a home, no two people are alike,” he says. “So being able to meet and connect with new people is what I love most. I’m lucky to now count many of my clients as friends.”