Happy Friday, friends! Excited to share with you today’s post! We’re finally back with a new addition to the Working Women We Adore series, which we kicked off earlier this year, here on Adored by Alex. And I couldn’t be more thrilled to share today’s working woman, local Houston realtor, Lauren Harris.
The Working Women We Adore series has become near and dear to our hearts here at ABA. If you missed our first installment of the series, read it here. We love providing an outlet for women to share their stories, advice and the hard work they’ve put in as females who inspire and encourage other women around them. It’s been so fun getting to know each and every woman who will be part of this series in the weeks and months to come!
Today we introduce you to Lauren Harris, a Houston-area realtor and native-Houstonian who has made quite the name for herself within the industry. Lauren and I actually met during my brief stint in a provisional class at the Junior League of Houston, and I truly enjoyed getting to know her. We’ve since remained friends on Facebook and I’ve loved getting to see her rise to the top of the real estate industry, within the last few years.
A graduate from Texas A&M University (we won’t hold it against her!), with a degree in elementary education, Lauren has used her prior experiences as a teacher, along with her highly-regarded communication skills to better service her clients. She offers guidance and her honest thoughts through a process that can often become stressful and time-consuming for home buyers and sellers. Lauren is married, a mom to two sweet boys and two dogs. Read on to learn more about why we adore Lauren!
Educator to Real Estate, tell us about the switch in career?
LH: I absolutely loved my time teaching, but always had the itch to own my own business. One of my closest friends, also a former educator, had successfully transitioned into real estate and was convinced that I too would love the industry and had what it takes to be successful. After about a year of her trying to persuade me, I decided to take the leap in early 2015. It was absolutely terrifying, yet at the same time wonderfully inspiring to think about the endless potential of what could be.
I have to say though, I wouldn’t have had the courage to take the leap if my husband hadn’t been such a huge supporter and encouraged me to take a risk. And as I look back, the fear of failing forced me to push myself out of my comfort zone and do whatever it took to make myself succeed. I have also been very fortunate to have some truly amazing mentors along the way, all of whom were (and continue to be) directly attributable to my success.
Like any career, real estate certainly has its drawbacks, but I can’t imagine doing anything else and am so thankful that I was able to find my calling. I absolutely love what I do, the challenges that it presents and the relationships that it allows me to build.
As much as real estate stays the same, it is also a progressive industry with opportunities and changes. What have you seen change during your time in this industry?
LH: I have always felt that our industry is relatively behind in regards to technology. I recently joined Compass Real Estate and a big factor in that decision was their focus on changing the real estate process by leveraging technology and to provide a more seamless experience for clients and realtors. They are centralizing the process while making it more user friendly (think Apple for real estate). And another exclusive and notable feature is our “Coming Soon” listings that are available to clients even before they go onto the MLS (HAR). These initiatives have led many to label Compass as a disruptor in our industry and the very top agents in each city, to which they have expanded, clearly agree, as they are voting with their feet which has allowed Compass to very quickly grab market share.
What’s your prediction for the Houston housing market in the next 12 months?
LH: Houston continues to see an influx of people which is expected to continue. In fact, we are poised to soon pass Chicago as the third largest city in the US. And even though we are known as the Energy Capital of the World, our economy is much more diversified than it used to be which is why we have weathered recessions and oil downturns better than in the past. Add in that interest rates are now expected to remain low relative to historical standards, and the Houston market should continue to be healthy. I also think that we will continue to see the premiums rise on homes that are close to town, especially those zoned to good schools. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the trend of the multi-level homes continue as well considering increased population density and scarcity of land.
Who are your clients and how do you find them?
LH: My business is almost entirely generated by referrals from friends, family and clients. In terms of who they are, I really don’t have a “typical” client. My clients are all very unique in terms of background, career, life-stage and culture. As a result they all have very different desires and needs.
A lot of time is spent trying to find the perfect home, so I end up getting to know them well, and I am very fortunate to develop long lasting friendships with the people that I work with. I have even been invited to clients’ weddings! The relationships that I have built are what I enjoy most about my career, and the reason I want to do this for a long, long time.
What are the biggest new trends you are seeing in homes? What are buyers looking for?
LH: White kitchens, neutral color tones, and open floor plans are still very much in demand, plus slurred mortar and gas lamps are highly desired features on the exterior of homes. I am noticing a lot of intricate tile in bathrooms, moody paint colors, wallpaper and mixed metal fixtures.
What is your inspiration? What inspires you?
LH: Growing up and when I was first married, I always envisioned myself as one day being a stay-at-home mom. Now that I am in real estate, I can’t imagine not doing what I do. Partially because I enjoy it so much, and that inspires me. But also because I have two young boys who will likely be married one day. Having my own career has led me to realize the value of providing them with an example that a woman has every opportunity to do anything that she wants to do. Whether that is through the undeniably important role of being a primary care giver, or in having a professional career, either way, I aim to show them that a female can be just as powerful of a role model to a boy as a male can be.
Also, I firmly believe that surrounding yourself with other hardworking, ambitious people is extremely important. My husband is one of those people. He has the strongest work ethic of anyone I have ever known and it applies to all aspects of life, including fatherhood. Surrounding yourself with those types of people is contagious and constantly inspires you to improve and work harder.
As a business owner myself, I know how challenging and rewarding it can be! How do you find a balance with a career, husband, two little boys and two dogs?
LH: This is and will always be a struggle for me. Our boys go to school during the week which is a huge help with juggling work. I have to admit that at first I felt a ton of guilt putting them in school so young, but have come to realize that it’s actually wonderful for their learning and socialization, and they enjoy it. I have to be good about scheduling and time blocking so that I can get all of my work completed while they’re at school, which allows me to focus on my boys once they come home. In my profession it is also essential to have a partner who is available and willing to shoulder a good portion of the load at home on weekends, when I am working quite often. I am also so fortunate that both my parents and in-laws are in Houston and so willing to help with the boys. This also makes it much easier for my husband and I have date nights from time to time which is very important.
You are known for being extremely responsive, with a high attention to detail. What’s your secret?
LH: I don’t think that there is really a secret to it. It’s just a matter of putting yourself in the client’s shoes and being motivated to provide such a fantastic experience. Through that experience, you can develop a client for life, who will also be an advocate for you. We live in a time where everything is available almost instantly (just look at Amazon as an example) and it has trained us to expect instant gratification. Therefore I have to be able to provide that to my clients. In fact, my husband likes to tell people about how I actually submitted an offer for a client while in labor with my oldest son (post epidural of course!). Delegating tasks is also an essential part of my job, whether it be to home stagers, transaction coordinators or any of the other fantastic people who work on my team.
Down time. How do you spend it? What are your guilty pleasures?
LH: Aside from spending time with my family, I really enjoy listening to podcasts. My top picks are ones that teach me about current events because I am rarely able to sit down and read or watch the news. I also love that I can learn something I knew absolutely nothing about in just 20 minutes. As far as guilty pleasures, I really enjoy Bravo shows. I record them and tune in after everyone is in bed because my husband rolls his eyes when I watch them
Next vacation, or if nothing is planned, do you have a dream vacation in mind?
LH: My husband and I love to travel, yet are absolutely horrible about taking vacations. Our respective careers and having two kiddos in diapers has made it pretty difficult over the last few years, but we have set a goal to be much better about it! I would say Africa and New Zealand are probably at the top of our travel bucket-list. As far as domestic locations, Napa/Sonoma is definitely on the list.
Favorite, go to, can’t live without, career gal look/outfit/piece?
LH: I have far too many button down tops. It is a staple that I can throw on with anything and instantly look put together. I need to branch out more though which is why I absolutely love following your posts. You have such an incredible sense of style and I am attempting to start working some of your looks into my wardrobe!
What is your advice to any young women, starting out in a real estate career?
LH: I have people reach out to me on a pretty regular basis about getting into real estate, and often it’s because there is a perception that it’s a pretty laid back and flexible career. The first thing I tell people is that if you want to be truly great at it, it’s not as flexible and easy as it seems. You have to be prepared to grind, push yourself out of your comfort zone, give up many of your evenings and weekends, and handle the highs and lows of running your own business. You have to be a self-starter.