Sarah Kain had been a Realtor for about a year when a client stopped her during a showing presentation and inquired about her age.
“I’m 25,” she replied. “How old are you?”
The question seemed odd to Kain. Although she was young, she’d also spent her first year in real estate taking class after class and gaining valuable experience by working with people she knew.
But some clients seemed concerned she might be too green to represent them in a house purchase or sale.
“A few folks asked me how old I was,” laughs Kain, who’s now 34. “Some people are still surprised when I say I’ve been doing this for 10 years.”
Kain might not have looked like a seasoned agent in 2013, but she’d spent her first year fast-tracking the experience she needed to serve her clients.
Immediately after Kain had earned her license and settled in at Keller William Greater Downtown Realty, for example, a distant family member told her she and her husband were considering buying a house. Kain seized the opportunity.
“I said, ‘I’d love to help you with that,’” Kain recalls. “I had two sales within 45 days of being licensed.”
Kain turned to real estate when she realized she disliked her job as an accounting assistant at an auto body shop.
“I don’t like the 9-5 thing,” she explains. “I’m not a morning person. I’m more of an afternoon gal.”
It was after noon one day when the 24-year-old Kain was driving to a job interview and spotted TREES on Marlin Road. She’d passed the building countless times over the years but hadn’t noticed the real estate school before.
After her appointment was a bust, Kain returned to TREES and registered for classes. “The interview was for a job was with a temp agency,” she says. “Real estate sounded more interesting.”
Since then, Kain has worked primarily with family and friends. A few of her former classmates from Lakeview Fort Oglethorpe High School were ready to buy a house around the time she became licensed, for example, so she had a ready-made sphere to serve.
“We went through the turmoil together,” Kain says, laughing again.
One of these clients – a classmate who’d moved away but needed help locally – provided Kain with her favorite real estate story.
“She asked for help finding an appraiser on social media. Her dad had died unexpectedly and she needed to sell his house,” Kain begins. “So I called her, told her I could assist her and helped her through it.”
Kain says her client was emotional but grateful.
“She sent me a bouquet of flowers after we were done and said, ‘Thank you for helping me through the most difficult time in my life.’”
Although Kain enjoys working within her sphere, she does take referrals. One of these provided Kain with one of her most nerve-wracking transactions but also a lesson about how a headache can turn into a boon.
“Every Realtor has one of these stories,” she says. “Mine are usually when I take on a (for sale by owner) ... because they think they know everything and want me to cut my commission.”
Kain says a client who’d tried to sell her house on her own stopped communicating with her once she had the property under contract. As the weeks passed, Kain had even started to wonder if the woman was going to attend the closing, which was scheduled for the last day she had the residence under contract.
“I needed her show up and sign those papers,” Kain remembers.
The client did arrive at the closing table – 30 minutes late. Although this caused Kain stress, she says the buyers noticed her poise under pressure and recently used her to sell the same house.
It was a gratifying turnabout for Kain, whose goals differ from many of her colleagues. Instead of shooting for a certain number of houses or a dollar amount each calendar quarter or year, she aims to help a certain number of clients.
“When you take care of people, everything else works out,” she says.
Kain is an agent with SquareOne Real Estate, one of the companies under the SquareOne Holdings brand in Chattanooga. She says she switched to the brokerage four years ago after taking all of the classes Keller Williams was offering at the time.
“Everyone here was very personable,” she recalls, “and I liked the idea of working for a small local company.”
Although Kain enjoys assisting homebuyers and sellers, she’s expanded her real estate endeavors to include renovations and has become a landlord.
“I’m encouraging others to own a rental property,” she says. “It’s a great way to earn additional income.”
When Kain isn’t working, she enjoys visiting casinos, hiking with her “black Lab” and being outdoors with her boyfriend.
When she returns home, it’s to a place she owns in her hometown, Ft. Oglethorpe, where everyone knows everyone and no one inquires about her age.
“I’m a Georgia girl through and through,” she smiles. “Always have been, probably always will be.”