After more than 20 successful years in the white-hot Austin real estate market, Julie Nelson has a better appreciation for why, early on, her friends and colleagues in the business tried to talk her out of ever starting in the first place. The demands of the job may be rewarding, but there are costs.
“You don’t want to do this,” said Diane, a lifelong Realtor and a close family friend from Nelson’s hometown in Iowa.
But Nelson wasn’t happy with her career choices and kept thinking about real estate. However, many people kept talking her out of it. Even the agent who sold Nelson her home in Austin dissuaded her.
Once Nelson was laid off from a tech company job, she knew it was time. And she knew she had all the right stuff to not only make it work, but to thrive.
“My brain space was finally my own,” she said of her layoff. “I had a severance and a financial cushion and real estate was the only thing speaking to me.”
Finally, She Gets Her Chance at Real Estate
With Nelson’s warm, friendly Midwest personality, project management aptitude and her interest in architecture and design, she felt it was a no-brainer, assuring herself, “If I do this right, it could be better than anything I have done.” So off she went, joining a major Austin brokerage in 1999.
While many of her real estate successes were middle-of-the-road transactions, a couple of experiences stand out, including representing a client in buying Meatloaf’s house and securing a signature in a maternity ward with the clients’ 12-hour newborn snuggled close.
She also launched her own real estate coaching business, “The Nelson Project,” to help new agents as well as relaunch existing ones. But more than anything, one of her proudest accomplishments was being named director of training for the brokerage, helping onboard 100 to 150 new agents at any given time. It spoke to her acumen and managerial skills and her deep love in helping people find their success.
Nelson Takes ‘Blinders’ Off and Makes Her Move to eXp
In 2017, though, Nelson realized her career or financial plan wasn’t growing as she’d like. She had become increasingly frustrated with the entire real estate industry and how it was missing the mark with the average agent fighting it out for stability, predictability and cash flow.
This led her to write “Success Faster: Quickly Launch or Relaunch Your Real Estate Career,” which was geared to help struggling agents find the sweet spot of success.
“This book is helping a lot of agents and it’s especially satisfying because I get to help them change their lives by helping them build successful businesses,” said Nelson.
Then, when a good friend made the move to eXp, Nelson became curious, too.
“I realized that I had industry blinders on and I knew so very little of how things operated outside of the brokerage I was with,” Nelson said. “As I looked closer at the eXp model, I recognized that it was a much better financial model for the next chapter of my career. And the people, culture, training and technology were all a good match. I took a deep breath and made the move and have been extremely happy with the decision.”
In addition to her negotiation skills and keen knowledge of the Austin-area market, Nelson rose to become an accomplished speaker in the industry. She founded the Austin chapter of the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) and is now the outgoing president. That’s because she ramping up her leadership role as an LGBTQ leader in eXp’s diversity and inclusion initiative ONE eXp.
“One of my biggest concerns for the LGBTQ community is for the folks who do not feel like they are in a community or an area that is accepting,” Nelson said. “Or for those who do not feel particularly safe or feel that their jobs or their children could be at risk if they are out and about with whom they love.”
While Nelson spends every waking moment advocating for her clients and fellow agents, she also has her hands full with lots of other projects, including launching a weekly Mastermind With Agent Attraction on eXp’s Workplace channel, as well as working on a business plan for her real estate sales and a plan for her coaching and agent attraction. And, yes, she’s writing her next book.
Digging in the Dirt Is Where Nelson Finds Peace and Joy
But perhaps Nelson’s deepest commitment is in the dirt, where she and her wife of 21 years, Kay, own a three-acre parcel on the edge of Austin. She calls it their “slightly urban farm” where they have two miniature donkeys, eight chickens, two dogs, a cat and “more gardens than most people would know what to do with.”
“Gardening keeps me sane, but it can’t pay the bills,” said Nelson. “It’s just our thing. Kay and I are really just green artists with the canvas of our land. We want to be good stewards of the land.”
Lastly, the “Diane” in Nelson’s life who tried to talk her out of real estate is proud of the big moves she’s made with her career, but especially in publishing a book, which Diane calls “the best real estate book I have ever read. And trust me, I have read many in my long career.”
Currently, the book has 39 reviews – all 5-star ratings. Not bad for someone who was strongly encouraged to take another path.
10 Fun Things About Julie Nelson
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
An entire day in the gardens.
If you could add a tattoo, what would it be?
A simple word like “Joy” or “Peace.”
One thing you can’t live without?
One trait that has led to your success?
Clarity … I always knew I would be successful. I was at my 40th high school reunion last summer and someone asked me, “when did you know you would be successful?” Very calmly and without attitude or verbosity or ego, I simply said, “I always knew. I just didn’t know when.”
What celebrity would play you in a movie or TV show?
I kind of look like kd lang. I’m quite smitten with J Lo and Rachel Maddow so that would be the stretch goal.
Little known fact about yourself?
I have two birth certificates, 2 different states. And no, I was not born again.
Song you never tire of?
“Hallelujah” by any artist.
Pieous Pizza, Austin.
Your epitaph will say:
Julie changed lives, and barely knew it.