Meet the Managing Broker: Lisa Swanson, Massachusetts and California

When Side recently launched in Massachusetts, Lisa Swanson jumped at the opportunity to act as the Managing Broker for her home state.

We recently chatted with Lisa about her love of contract law, the changes she’s witnessed over her 20-year real estate career, and the shifting market in the Commonwealth.

How did you get into real estate?

I began my career as a lawyer. But, while I was in law school, I learned I had a love for property and contract law. When my kids were very young, I decided to get my broker’s license and I realized I enjoyed every aspect of real estate: the houses, the people, putting deals together, and figuring out how to get two parties with different interests to say, “Yes!”

I started out at a larger local brokerage and then thought, “I can do this on my own. I don't need to be splitting this much of my commission with somebody else.” And I ended up running my own boutique brokerage for nearly two decades.

Why was becoming a managing broker your natural next step?

When I ran my indie brokerage, I was on the front lines figuring everything out — from how to design a website to what forms to use for deals — without having anyone to ask for help. So I’ve experienced the challenges that top-producing agents and indie brokers are facing firsthand.

In addition to being a top producer, I also supervised agents and coached them on how to troubleshoot deals. And that’s what led me to this role at Side; I’m excited to be able to pass along my knowledge to the agents I’ll be working with.

What industry changes have you witnessed during your career?

When I entered the industry, real estate was still a mom-and-pop, local business. The company had a reputation in the neighborhood and their clients always received highly personalized attention.

But it’s very hard for indie brokerages to compete with big corporate brokerages. You don't have the same economies of scale and you're trying to do everything yourself.

What I witnessed over my 20 years in the industry was that more and more big real estate companies swallowed up the mom-and-pop shops. They no longer had their personalized branding; they had to assume the branding of the corporations, and nothing distinguished one from another.

You could be a managing broker anywhere. Why Side?

What attracted me to Side is that they’ve completely changed the brokerage model by giving independence and ownership back to the agents in the community. In my opinion, it’s the best thing that’s happened to agents in a long time, and I wanted to be a part of it.

I also think it's really good for clients because the more that real estate is kept local, the more choices they have about who to work with and the more they’ll benefit from agents’ local expertise.

Another thing I really love about Side is the way that they empower everyone to do what they do best. Agents can focus on buying and selling real estate. I can focus on being the managing broker, not recruiting or other functions. Everyone has a distinct strength and role within the team.

What’s going on in the Massachusetts market right now?

The Massachusetts market has been incredibly hot for the last two years. For a while, it seemed like no one could get their buyer a house.

There are submarkets that are still hot right now — Boston, Cambridge and some of the western suburbs, as well as some parts of Cape Cod. But for the most part, things are cooling down.

Everyone is trying to figure out how to adapt to the changing market and where it’s going to go from here. A lot of agents are nervous about this and not sure how to advise their clients. But they should not be – we welcome the chance to advise them on market trends and how to reassure their clients.

What do you hope to accomplish in Massachusetts during your first year?

Because of the shifting market, I envision that I’ll be doing a lot of deal analysis and agent advising as the managing broker of Massachusetts.

In the past week, I’ve had half a dozen agents call me up looking for advice. Buyers are offering $100,000 under list price, or they’re asking for credits at the last minute when there was no agreement on credits. They don’t know if they should negotiate with the buyer or if there are other buyers out there.

Buyers who went into contract a month ago are now wondering if they overpaid and considering walking away from the deal. They’re evaluating if it’s worth it to sacrifice their deposits in order to get out from under this huge financial undertaking.

These situations are complicated, and it’s stressful for the people involved. But I don’t mind getting into the weeds of these issues with the agents. You have to take them through analyzing their specific situation so they can offer the best advice to their clients.

Outside of that, I’m really excited about growing Massachusetts from the ground up. As a Massachusetts native, I have a deep love for both its people and its places.

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