In a real estate transaction, there are many stories. From buyers planning for the largest financial transaction of their lives, to sellers emotionally preparing to leave a home filled with memories, it is an agent’s job to not only help their clients through the motions, but to be a trusted, authentic and genuine resource from beginning to end.
For Cari McGee, broker, REALTOR® and team lead of the Cari McGee Real Estate Team in Tri-Cities, Washington, making and sharing these personal connections and stories is the backbone of her business.
“I realized that I have a gift and a talent, or at the very least, I know how to do something that other people don’t know how to do,” says McGee. “It would be a shame to push that aside and not keep doing this.”
Working in a crazed, post-pandemic market, McGee found herself overwhelmed and overworked, searching for a solution. That is when the Cari McGee Real Estate Team was formed.
“Even back before the market went crazy, there would be some instances in which I would be showing a house at 5:15 p.m., then I would need to meet another client at 5:45 p.m. In the meantime, the 5:15 p.m. tour resulted in multiple offers, due back by 6:00 p.m. I just couldn’t do it all on my own,” says McGee. “I knew I either needed to clone myself or create a team, and went that route, as cloning is not viable.”
Today, with nearly 20 years of real estate experience under her belt and the support of her team, McGee has showcased herself as an engaging, knowledgeable and trusted agent through storytelling and compassion.
Paige Brown: How would you describe your leadership style? Cari McGee: I don’t like to micromanage because I personally hate being micromanaged. I put a lot of trust in the people I work with to do their jobs really well and I’ve only rarely been disappointed in the time that I’ve been leading the team. I also like to give my team the tools and the knowledge and though I am always available for questions, I let them go and do their job. Being in this business for nearly 20 years, I have experienced a lot. I am able to harken back to a time when something similar happened to me, or I put myself in their shoes and suggest options or solutions.
PB: What can a buyer or seller expect from the Cari McGee Real Estate Team? CM: If you are a buyer or seller working with our team, you’ll never be in the middle of a purchase or sale and find us twiddling our thumbs. What’s your question? What’s your concern? How can we help? We have seen it all before and we know how to get past particular sticking points, ask the right questions and support them through this emotional journey.
PB: How is the current market influencing your team when it comes to decision-making and strategy? CM: Now that everything has kind of calmed down since the peak of the pandemic, the market has certainly slowed. I have seen and experienced markets like this before—higher interest rates, inventory creeping back up. This is something I know I can deal with as opposed to the completely inexperienced market we had before. We are still dealing with historically low inventory and there are still not enough homes to fit the needs of the people who want to buy.
Because real estate is a supply and demand industry, prices are higher, which was unexpected as interest rates rose. However, what really matters is that though the market changes, people don’t. At the end of the day, people need homes or need to sell their homes and we do our job. We help people buy and sell and we do it when the interest rates are high or low, when there’s a bunch of houses on the market or just a few. The way we do business doesn’t change. We just have to adapt to what’s happening around us.
PB: How does social media impact your real estate business? Do you have a favorite social platform? CM: I love Facebook. It’s my jam. I know there’s a thousand other social media platforms now, but give me Facebook and I will be happy for the rest of my life. I was selling real estate before social media and it’s hard to remember back to the time where if you wanted to let someone know you were in this business, you made phone calls, sent them letters and notified them of your new job as an agent. Now, you can go online for free and tell the world what you have, what you do and keep them updated every day—and I just love that.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I am not content with just a picture. I am a storyteller and Facebook allows me to be. I am known for my stories and the information that I share on my Facebook page, which makes it more effective than any of the old-school ways of doing things.
PB: Can you tell me about your ‘Ask the REALTOR®’ and ‘#AskCari’ videos/blogs that you create and how these help you stay ahead of the game? CM: What I know from doing business is that if you do something more than once, you should create a system around it. There are some questions you may only be asked once, but many more that you get more often. Because of that, I decided to produce creative videos around some of the most popular and frequently asked questions. That way, when someone asks me one of these questions, I can give them the answer while also sharing a link to this and other videos directly. They feel great knowing that they didn’t ask a stupid question and I have taken the time to make a video because others have asked as well. Sometimes there is not enough time to fully understand the answers at the moment, but the videos I have created thoroughly explain all of the components and answers and can be accessed at any time. My goal for these videos is to get those questions answered thoroughly to ensure that the client is getting good quality information from a trusted source.
PB: Have these videos played a big role when it comes to lead generation and engagement? CM: One hundred percent and it is so fun! I remember showing a house to a man and his wife, who were coming from Wisconsin. His parents already lived in the Tri-Cities, so they joined us for the showings. At the very first house, I met the parents and they were staring at me. I asked if we knew each other and the father replied, “You’re the girl from the video! We have watched them all, a lot.” I have a very confident and capable aura of energy, and always strive to give good quality information. I think that clearly comes across in my videos.
These videos are so powerful in both my energy that comes across and the knowledge that I share, and people watch them. I did one on the “7 Things You Should Know” about moving to the Tri-Cities back in 2020 and I am still getting leads from that. Just by watching these videos, people feel like they know me, they feel comfortable with me immediately and when they meet me in person, it’s already at that next level from watching me, hearing my voice and answering questions. That ups the trust factor so much.
PB: Tell me more about your VIP Buyers Club for buyers and Home Value & Equity Emails for sellers. CM: Anytime you can offer somebody insider intel, people get excited. The VIP Buyers Club makes people feel like real VIPs, knowing information about upcoming listings before their neighbors because “I’m on Cari’s list.” Same with the Home Value & Equity Emails, which tell sellers how much their house is worth, and other accurate market data, every month. People are interested in the insider intel aspect of these programs, and some get super excited about the information for their financial planning.
PB: What is your team’s biggest differentiator in your market? CM: In real estate, there are a thousand stories in every single transaction. I think the fact that we share them, and the way we do it, is our biggest differentiator. About four years ago, instead of just sharing a new listing on the market, I would head over to my Facebook and tell stories of my clients, from how we met to who the sellers are. My clients get so excited, and I have even worked with other agents who hope my clients find their listing because then they can be part of one of my stories. It was not something we ever planned on becoming such a big part of the business, but I think people look at me as the agent who tells the stories about their lives. Again, pictures can tell a thousand words, but I want to add another thousand.
PB: What advice do you have for real estate professionals looking to start a real estate team? CM: Be prepared to put in a ton of work at the beginning, and don’t expect your team to be ready right away to handle everything so you can take a break. So much work goes into building a team before you, as the leader, can start to reap the benefits. If you’ve done a great job, that will come later, but you have to put the work in. Do not expect it, do not expect it quickly and do not expect it to be easy.