What drives your passion for selling real estate?
I have always loved architecture and the art of interior design. At a young age, I started working at Nordstrom, and continued throughout my college years. Giving quality service and exceeding clients’ expectations have always been rewarding to me. My love for architecture, interior design and experience working with high net worth clientele at Nordstrom made it a natural transition for me into the luxury residential real estate market. In fact, I owe it to my Nordstrom clientele, who first whispered into my ears that I should consider working in real estate.
What distinguishes Surterre Properties from its competitors, and you as an agent?
I am very proud to be a part of the Surterre family. At Surterre Properties, Gary Legrand and Paula Ansara-Wilhelm have worked hard to nurture an environment where agents are respectful of one another. We have a great team of agents that work well together to help our clients sell and buy the homes of their dreams. I have always been drawn to Surterre Properties because of its in-house ad agency—The Studio. I believe we are the only brokerage with a full service ad agency and digital press on site. The Studio gives my sellers a competitive advantage, as they are able to design award-winning, high-quality marketing collateral for the estates I sell.
You are known for your sales dominance in Shady Canyon. What makes this marketplace so desirable?
I’ve been fortunate to work within Shady Canyon, and since 2008 have sold more homes than any other agent in the community. Even though the community has been here for a little over a decade, it has quickly established itself as an address of choice among Orange County’s captains of industry and professional athletes. In many ways, Shady Canyon is reminiscent of the hillsides of Tuscany in Italy—with the same kind of topography and scenery. It is located near the coast, yet also offers a countryside setting that is close to freeways, shopping, dining and recreation. In addition to being very secure and private (with two guard gates), Shady Canyon also offers a famed Tom Fazio golf course, a Country Club, walking and biking trails, swim, tennis and fitness facilities, and much more.
How did the launch of the Jacqueline Thompson Group come about?
I started my solo career in real estate just before the 2008 banking debacle. I remember holding open houses during 2008-2011, when buyers were fearful of the environment, and I remember the long 15-hour work days of showing homes with little results. I remember going home after a long work day and calling and emailing potential buyers, as I left no stone unturned. Eventually my hard work paid off, as I was able to negotiate and put deals together. From that time on, the referrals kept coming in. At one point, I realized I had worked for five years straight without a day off. I was very hands-on, and was involved in every aspect of my job. Fortuitously, I was approached by several agents who asked to work with me. I was able to commit to giving these agents quality mentoring, which was important to me. To this day, I have the same agents working with me. At The Jacqueline Thompson Group, quality is more important than quantity. My goal has always been to exceed our clients’ expectations. To do so, I start with giving clients quality service. I have never been driven to hire dozens of agents to work under me. My goal has always been to maintain the integrity of my relationships with my clientele, and to deliver quality service. At The Jacqueline Thompson Group, I am proud to say that we are lean and mean.
How important is being well versed in international business nuances when closing a transaction?
Although the global business environment, coupled with technological advances, has been able to bring buyers and sellers together, there are still cultural gaps that need attention. This has never been more true than in the real estate industry. Being well-versed in international business nuances is extremely important as the ability to navigate and understand a foreign client’s way of doing business strongly helps from beginning to end—from the first showing at the home, during the negotiation process and until escrow closes.
I once had a buyer call me en route home to China to inquire on a listing of mine that just came on the market. Although we had not met yet, I let the buyer know that most likely the home would sell before he could return to see it. Naturally he was reluctant to make an offer without seeing the home, and meeting me in person. After developing a rapport with the buyer on the telephone, he was still reluctant to make an offer on the home, so I asked if he would consider meeting with a client of mine that was in China visiting family at the time. The two met, my client was able to give reassurance to the buyer and I successfully closed escrow on the home shortly after that. It was exciting to give him the keys months later when he returned to see his new home in the U.S. for the first time.
Will you speak to the importance of being hands-on with all your clients and transactions?
As you can expect, the business of selling and buying a home is very personal. I work extremely hard to give my clients—whether a buyer or seller—quality and hands-on experience. It is always my goal that the relationship I build from a transaction continues to grow throughout the years. I have to be available 24/7 to each and every client that I help, or I should not be taking on additional business, which is counterintuitive to those that are looking to just sell as many homes as possible. Having been in the business for a decade, I am proud to say that I am still very hands-on.
How have you honed your ability to match a property with the ideal buyer?
The single most important trait for a successful real estate agent is the ability to listen and ask the right questions.
From the onset, I have really learned to listen to my clients’ needs. Sometimes listening to your clients’ needs will help you save them time. Often, asking the right questions will help the client to understand their own needs.
No matter how many homes my clients end up touring, most of them end up purchasing one of the first three properties I select for them. Being able to listen to their needs, and asking the right questions, helps me suggest the best homes to fit their needs.
And what do you find most rewarding?
The relationships I have been able to build with clients and colleagues alike, and of course the fabulous homes I have been honored to represent. I get to see the most stunning homes on a daily basis; it can’t get better than that!
What are your passions and preoccupations outside of real estate?
I have always loved sports, and have always been ultra-competitive. Swimming and soccer are two of my favorite pastimes. The Super Bowl is a big deal in our family, and in recent years, for at least three hours during the Super Bowl, I try not to pick up the phone when it rings.
Spending time with Bill, my husband of 17 years, has always been my favorite passion. It takes a very patient and understanding person to allow me to work the long hours I need to properly service my clients. Together, we support the charities closest to our hearts, which are associated with children, churches and synagogues. My family was very fortunate to have been helped by our local church when we immigrated to the United States, so we strongly endeavor to pay it forward whenever we can. Life is very rewarding when you can share your love and fortune with others.