You would have to use a wide lens to capture the many facets of real estate agent and broker Jessica Freeland. As a new graduate of the University of Minnesota, Freeland was equipped with a Bachelor of Science degree, but like so many of us, had no clue what her next move would be.
“I felt a little bit like a lost soul,” she confesses, her easy smile belying any trace of distress. Regardless, it was a feeling that was short-lived. “I quickly identified what I didn’t want. I knew a desk job, having someone micromanage me was definitely not for me. But, I knew I love working with people.”
Inspired by this epiphany, Freeland immediately quit her recruiting job and headed to the nearest Barnes and Noble where she purchased materials that would help her narrow down her career search.
“It was still pre-worldwide web,” she explains, “so my research had to be done ‘old-school.’ I sat on my parent’s patio thumbing through a book about careers. It offered a very intriguing description of a real estate career, including such notable points as: endless earning potential and tons of flexibility. To me it sounded like a win-win opportunity. Best of all, it was a career that virtually guarantees plenty of interaction with all types of people and the opportunity to help them navigate the process of making one of the most important purchases of their life.”
To further cement her positive feelings about this possible career choice, Freeland called her good friend (and soon to be business partner) Sara Schulman to get her thoughts. “Sara was just as clueless regarding career options,” says Freeland. “When I explained everything, I had been reading she was just as enthusiastic as me.”
THE PATH TO SUCCESS
Now that she had found the perfect path, Freeland was ready to go. But first things first. Wanting to be as prepared as possible Freeland reached out to another of her many friends. “This was a good friend from college and he set me up with a woman by the name of Issy Gale,” she says. “Mind you, this woman has been in the business for over 50 years. She’s so vivacious, so full of life and has such a passion for real estate that it was just contagious.”
Freeland and Schulman didn’t waste any time getting licensed, all the while under the tutelage of their new mentor. “Thankfully Issy really took us under her wing,” says Freeland. “At the time she owned a small real estate firm and she really showed us the real ropes of real estate. What you learn in class is just the basics. To really go out there and pound the pavement, connect with the client and understand what you do day-to-day it’s crucial to have a mentor. And Issy really guided us for quite a few years.”
Having always been something of a Type A personality, striving to be the best at everything she does, it’s not surprising that during this mentorship, both Freeland and Schulman also received their mortgage licenses. To be sure, this is not common and certainly not a requirement, but both women felt the additional knowledge would not only strengthen their expertise but benefit their clients as well.
“Coming forward, we didn’t continue in that direction,” says Freeland, “but it was an excellent learning experience. It has proven immensely beneficial to fully understand what it takes to generate a loan and all the complexities of that aspect of real estate. Besides, we feel the more you know, the better you can serve your clients.”
BIRTH OF A BUSINESS
The next few years the two women worked with Gale at her small brokerage and even worked at a few other larger firms. “I can’t say I ever had a negative experience at any of the real estate companies,” says Freeland. “But then finally in 2007, Sara and I recognized that there was going to be a decline in the real estate market. It hadn’t hit yet, but we had enough information to have a true pulse on the market. We also noticed that the rates of many real estate agents were increasing.”
Cognizant of the impending changes, Freeland stayed up all night writing a business plan and researching the real costs of being a broker and how that might help her clients.
“So, in November of 2007 Sara and I got our broker’s licenses and opened Avenue Realty,” she says. “It was driven by our desire to put more dollars and cents into our clients. We just knew that we had the passion.”
Sparked with this drive and passion, the partners launched a business with a unique model. “We aren’t extravagant,” says Freeland. “We currently have just two other agents that work with us, and don’t even have plans to be the biggest. We’re looking to be the best.”
“We are 110 percent client-driven,” she continues. “All of our business is solely referral. Client satisfaction is the core of our business plan. We strive to be open and honest and to give them information. It’s not our job to make decisions for them, but rather help them to make their own educated decisions. People often say, ‘oh, you’re in sales,’ but I honestly do not feel that way. I’m not in sales I feel that I’m in customer service.”
Forging three decades of real estate experience, Freeland and Schulman have successfully bought and sold millions of dollars of Twin Cities real estate. Avenue Realty is the culmination of their passion, dedication and continuous training, but above all client satisfaction remains their top credo. In fact, they clearly outline their core values and goals:
AVENUE REALTY CORE VALUES:
- 1. Complete client satisfaction
- 2. Simple, smooth and stress-free transactions
- 3. Staying on the cusp of latest trends, technology & market forecasts
- 4. Honesty and integrity
- 5. Always available to help
Furthermore, Avenue Realty’s team approach to real estate allows one of their professional real estate agents to always be available for client consultation and needs. Whether a first-time homebuyer in Minneapolis, a seller wanting to list a home in Hopkins, or an investor wanting to purchase a foreclosure home, Avenue Realty has the experience, flexibility and concern to help.
Over the years Freeland has assisted hundreds of clients from virtually every walk of life in finding their dream home. She speaks fondly of all of them, but naturally there are always a few that stand out.
“I was helping a wonderful young couple find a home to start their family,” she says. “They were in a competitive area and price point, but I had found them the home – along with 17 other buyers. Before stepping foot out of the home, I got on the horn with the listing agent who turned out to not only be a good friend, but a sorority sister from Alpha Phi at the University of Minnesota. I expressed the strength and motivation of my clients to be the next homeowners to love this home. Lo and behold, we were not the strongest offer, but still selected because the listing agent knew I got deals done. At that successful closing my clients brought me a gift of a homemade candle they said was ‘made with love.’ I love it but only burn on special occasions.”
MOTHER REAL ESTATE
While obviously passionate about her work, there is a certain little seven-year-old boy who completely owns Freeland’s heart. “Max is the light of my life,” she says with a glowing face. “I’m a single mom and I wake up every morning and set my intentions for the day. My intentions are to be a good mother, be a good provider and be kind to myself. When you are kind to you, you’re kinder to others.”
A “jeans and cowboy boots” kind of gal, Freeland enjoys anything outdoors: kayaking, hiking or just a stroll with Max through the park. But she doesn’t have to look far for the smoothly comfort of nature. Perched on the shores of a beautiful lake, Freeland confides to doing some of her best thinking and work with her laptop on her back porch.
And while she insists on downplaying her many talents, Freeland’s real estate success has even landed her on HGTV where she says, “I had a wonderful time working with producer Colleen Snyder and show host, David Romstead.”
In a moment of quiet reflection Freeland shares her feelings about her life and work. “Sometimes I can’t believe how fortunate I really am,” she says. “I have such a wonderful, full life. I have a wonderful family close by, my darling Max and all my clients who seem to be as close as family. Who could ask for more?”