Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, January 11, 2019

Molander leaves first love, finds real estate

When Melanie Molander left the profession of teaching, she walked away from a piece of her heart. To her surprise, she returned to it when she became a Realtor.

Education was Molander’s passion, and for 15 years, she poured herself into the job she believed she was meant to do.

Then came the day her circumstances suggested it was time for a change. Another piece of Molander’s heart had always been enthusiastic about homes, so she became a Realtor.

As Molander worked with buyers and sellers as a member of The Lawrence Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Realty Center in Signal Mountain, she was delighted to discover she was still a teacher.

Her students were older, and she was teaching a different subject, but her skills as an educator were still called upon as she guided her clients through the complex processes of buying and selling a home.

“Understanding the process helps people feel better about what they’re doing,” Molander says. “It might be the only time they buy a home, but they still need to know what’s going on.”

Molander is speaking from experience. When she and her husband used a real estate agent to purchase properties in the past, she says the agent did a poor job of explaining the ins and outs of what they were doing. Instead, she ushered them blindly through the process.

“That was unnerving because we had all these legal documents to sign, and we needed to know what they were, but she would just lay them in front of us and say, ‘Sign these,’” Molander recalls. “When I became a Realtor, I realized people need to understand what they’re doing because they’re making a huge investment.”

Most of the clients Molander has assisted have required her to do a fair amount of explaining or answer more than a few questions. At times, the answers seem obvious, but she always thinks back to when she was a first-time homebuyer, and answers the questions like any good teacher would: with kindness and understanding.

“I’m working with a lady who moved here from Chicago,” Molander says. “She didn’t understand why she should have to pay for a home inspection for a house she might not buy. I told her spending $400 now might save her from making a $150,000 mistake later.”

Being a Realtor has not only allowed Molander to continue teaching, it’s also made her a student again. In addition to absorbing the basics at real estate school, she’s spent four years learning at the feet of experience, where the finer details of the profession are taught.

Despite surviving what many Realtors say are the toughest years for an agent, Molander still considers herself rookie, and says she has a lot left to learn, including how to market her business.

“I never was taught how to get my name out there, and that’s something I’ve always wanted to know,” she says.

Molander says she also wants to learn how to set and meet business goals. Many Realtors establish sales goals for each new year, for example, but Molander has never done this.

Now that The Lawrence Team has moved to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices J Douglas Properties – a new Chattanooga real estate firm that’s developing a reputation for providing innovative coaching and training – Molander says the time has come for her to take her business to the proverbial next level.

“I’m excited about the switch. It’s going to give me access to resources that are going to help me grow my business,” she says. “J Douglas Properties is going to help me enhance my strengths and improve my weaknesses.”

Molander is feeling the rush of excitement that comes with a new venture and has already set her sights on greater success. “In this business, you can do as much or as little as you want. It’s all about how successful you want to be,” she says. “I want to become very successful, and the move to J Douglas Properties is going to help me do that.”

Before Molander became one of the Chattanooga area’s up-and-coming Realtors, she lived and worked in Florida. When her husband’s employer, Federal Express, transferred him to Tennessee in 1992, the couple settled in the tiny town of Liberty (population: 310).

Molander was teaching math, science and social studies to eighth graders at Dekalb West Elementary School when Federal Express transferred her husband to Chattanooga. Instead of pursuing work as a teacher, Molander became a Realtor.

“I’ve always loved homes, and I’m a people person,” she says, echoing the reasons many agents give for entering the real estate profession.

Instead of shopping around for a place to hang her license, Molander went to work for Doug and Sherry Lawrence, the founders of The Lawrence Team.

“Sherry sold us our home in Hixson. She was fun and made the process easy. Whenever I called her and said, ‘I found some houses; can we look at them?’ she was very accessible. When you’re trying to relocate, that’s important,” Molander says.

Now Molander is taking those kinds of calls, and with only one child of four left at home, she has plenty of time for the teaching moments that follow.

She also has room in her schedule to be a student of her profession and ready herself for the success she intends to claim.

“Realtors never stop learning,” she adds. “That’s what makes this job fun.”