By Connie Adair
It’s great if you are able to say you had one successful career and did some good in your life. Sales rep Pam Norman of Exit Realty Oceans Edge in Bay Roberts, Nfld. is on successful career No. 3 and has been to Guatemala six times in the last dozen years to build homes for an impoverished community.
Needing to raise funds for her mission work is what led Norman to real estate. In 2008, the retired teacher and business owner’s sons told the then 52-year-old that she was too young to sit around. She says she turned to God for guidance and soon learned about missionary work in Guatemala through St. Matthew’s Anglican Church in her hometown of Bay Roberts.
Around the same time, she saw an ad for a real estate assistant, applied and went for an interview. But her jaw dropped and she was shocked when the interviewee, Tom Clift, then an agent with Exit Realty, refused to give her the job. He said she was born to be a real estate agent.
A week later she got her real estate license. Then, as planned before her job interview, Norman and younger son Paul, a nurse, left for Guatemala.
When she returned from her life-changing trip, she dove into real estate, reasoning the more money she could make, the more good she could do in Guatemala. “I realized we were not going to do this just once.”
She trained hard. “Whatever the trainer said to do, I would go home and do. I took what was said and went with it. I had no experience. I knocked on doors and did cold calls,” tasks she says remain important today.
She credits Exit Realty’s training as one of the reasons for her success. She also says teaching (she started as a teacher when she was 19 and retired 30 years later) and having experience as a business owner (a successful 1,000-member gym franchise) provided great skills for real estate. In her first career, she learned about personalities and relationships. Owning her own business gave her the foundation she would need for real estate. “There’s a lot of paperwork…a person selling a home is a small part. The biggest part is marketing and paperwork. The business ‘behind-the-scenes’ helped me a lot,” she says.
She made her first sale during her first week. In 2009 she was named Exit’s Rookie of the Year (30 listings and 40 sales). Every year since she has received achievement awards and in 2015 and 2016 she had the most listings in Canada. Since 2017 she’s had the most listings in North America for the company.
Joyce Paron, president of Exit’s Canadian division, says Norman is an “icon in real estate”.
Norman attributes her success to her work ethic, something she learned from her parents. “I grew up in a small community of 300 people. My parents worked hard. They farmed the land and fished the sea,” she says. Norman and her twin sister are the youngest of seven children. “We always worked and did chores, helping with farming, fishing and maintaining the home. We developed a work ethic.”
But it hasn’t all been a bed of roses. After two years at the brokerage, she says she was so busy she could barely keep up. She used to do listings then send the paperwork to the board so they would broker load it. She said she was in a meeting when she heard that agents could now load their own listings.
“I almost cried. I didn’t have the time.” It was time to hire her first assistant.
In 2010, things “started to get ahead of me” again. She was second in sales in Canada and Maggie Tessier of Exit Realty Matrix in Ottawa was No. 1. At the Exit Annual Convention in Dallas, Tessier took one look at Norman and knew she was overwhelmed. She suggested Norman start a team. Norman knew it was time when she had 21 listings in one week.
“It’s a different form of real estate in the rural Newfoundland setting. In other markets, it’s list a house and sell it. List a house and sell it,” she says. “Here not all listings sell. You list it all and sell what you can.”
Choosing the right people for her team has been key, Norman says. She talks to people who are brand new to real estate, searching for team players. “There is no I in team. That is key,” she says. “Not everyone is able to share, not everyone can work together.”
In real estate, she says, “You have to be a good listener and give people the autonomy to find their own house. It’s helping the person see what they’re looking for and what’s suited to them.”
COVID-19 has been a big challenge, she says. For the first time in 12 years, listings are down. However, she says “there are still buyers. Things that didn’t sell before – vacant properties on inventory for awhile – are selling now.”
Most purchasers are first timers who were renting in St. John’s and Mount Pearl. “We’re a one-hour drive from the city, close enough to commute. COVID sped things up. There’s freedom here. They can have their own backyard.”
After becoming a top listing agent in North America, Norman went out and bought a beautiful magenta suit, reasoning that Exit would eventually invite her to speak at a conference. She bought the suit in 2016 and in 2018 spoke at the Exit Annual Convention in Washington, D.C. She shared the story of her life, her family, her success and her challenges, including suffering three near-fatal heart attacks in 2014. She made a full recovery, determined to be there for her family, paramedic/firefighter Phillip, her eldest, and nurse Paul. She also has five grandchildren. She and her husband Eric celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary on June 26.
“Eric sold his business in 2015 to join me as my sign man and just-about-everything-else person. He is my right arm in all I do and the real key to my successful business. Behind every great woman is an amazing husband!” she says.
Exit Realty’s business model has allowed Norman to build a team within the brokerage and earn a bonus based on their production. “A lot of money goes back into my real estate business in the form of advertising and promotion and I also have two administrative assistants. All of those expenses are paid with my commission income and I use my Exit Realty sponsoring bonus to help build houses in Guatemala and contribute to other projects.”