Cherita is Agent of the Year
With signs popping up seemingly everywhere, it would be easy to assume that Cherita Odell was an overnight success. It is quite the contrary.
Her broad smile and confident demeanor belie the 15 years of quiet diligence it took to develop a niche in this competitive real-estate market for Barbados Real Estate 246 & Million Dollar Homes
Cherita, the 2019 recipient of the George Ramsay Memorial Award sat with our writer Kelly Johnally, to talk about her early years in real estate and her journey to becoming one of the most recognizable faces in the local industry.
Call it serendipity.
Cherita’s experience with real estate came long before any formal training or desire to pursue it as a career. While working as the Marketing Manager for a company with interests in manufacturing, hotels and property, her daily activities included marketing luxury condominiums, showing them to agents and preparing documents for attorneys. “I really enjoyed the work and was enticed by this unfamiliar territory. I saw the earning potential and had practical experience in what life as an agent would be like, so I decided to pursue the course at Barbados Community College to solidify my experience and began considering life as an independent Realtor.”
With Certificate in hand, she was now at an interesting juncture.
She started her business in 2005, a few years after which the world was plunged into the throes of a recession, the effects of which were hard felt in the local real-estate market. Determined, Cherita decided to press forward, encouraged by examples of companies like Macys and Walmart who got their start during recessions. She also decided to bank on herself. “I had a good track record in sales across various industries, I told myself if companies trust me to move their business forward, I need to have that same confidence in myself and apply my skills to my own business. I definitely had my reservations, but I was driven by faith and a quiet assurance that I was on the right path.”
For four more years she worked full time while developing the first of her two real estate businesses, Million Dollar Homes. “One of the first things I did when I got my license was develop a website. While that was being done, I scoured the market to get my first listing which was secured via a gardener who let me know the property he was working on would soon be for sale. I also reached out to agents who I had developed relationships with, and they allowed me to co-list some of their properties. I then threw myself into marketing the business and finding more clients.”
The rubber hits the road
In 2009 Cherita resigned from her 9 to 5 to dedicate herself to building her real estate business. With full time effort she saw a definite upswing in “activity” but not necessarily an upswing in money coming in. The rubber had hit the road.
“Before starting my business, I had a vision of what I wanted it to be, I wanted to be a Listing Agent. Experience taught me though that it takes a considerable amount of “skin in the game” to attract enough clients and properties to create a property shop of sorts.”
She explains, “To develop a high level of competence in this business you need to understand all areas. It is a competitive industry where supply and demand for property fluctuates. For years I was a “one woman show” responsible for everything from staging properties for viewing, assembling signs, updating the digital channels, preparing all paper work, taking calls and networking with various players in the industry.”
Experience helped her refine her product while making her more client and colleague centric. “If you believe your target audience is everybody, you will have a weak business model and will find yourself grasping at every opportunity and never developing capacity in a specific area.” This experience also forced her to hone in on her values. As the face of her business she is mindful that her professional conduct is an extension of who she is.
“As an agent I provide a personal service which requires a considerable amount of trust. Trust from my clients who are depending on me to give them sound advice and trust from my industry colleagues who I work with. For me, it is important that I operate with integrity and transparency. If I find working with a client or industry colleague compromising, I will let the opportunity pass.”
“Real Estate is a very dynamic & aggressive industry where you collaborate and compete with the same people. To be selected by my peers for the 2019 George Ramsay Memorial Award is deeply humbling; truly an honour and I thank them.”
Today Cherita is the preferred Listing Agent for hundreds of clients and is living the reality of vision she had 15 years ago.
Not one to be swayed by “trends in the market” she is excited about what the season holds for real estate. “People still have a strong desire to “own a piece of the rock” because they long for a sense of permanence and stability in their home life. That doesn’t change in a challenging economy. Once they start perusing my portfolio of diverse listings, my job is helping them to see the potential of properties they may not have necessarily considered, which may meet their felt needs and connect with their soul.”
Moving forward in the industry, Cherita will be honing her craft in the areas of Sales & Marketing. “As my business has expanded, I’ve deliberately hung up my “Jack of all trades” hat and delegated some activities to a talented team that supports the administrative and rentals side of the business. Sales is my strength and Marketing is my passion, to keep climbing I will build on my strengths. Letting go was challenging at first, but it was necessary and worth it for future growth.”