October 20

Elaine Northrop Real Estate Pioneer


Elaine Northrop has been a real estate agent for over 47 years. She became the first agent from Maryland to be recognized as the number one real estate agent for any company. When she became Coldwell Banker's #1, international agent for three years. Elaine has also one of only 10 agents nationwide to be featured in the book Millionaire Real Estate Agent.

However, Elaine didn't start at the top. Once she found that she can't get to the top by sitting on your butt, Elaine created her way of using beliefs and principles that allowed her to achieve success. And Elain has never been afraid of hard work.

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[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]

Umar Hameed 0:06
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone. This is Umar Hameed, your host and welcome to the No Limits Selling Podcast, where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how to make you better, stronger, faster. Get ready for another episode.

Umar Hameed 0:36
Hello everyone. Today I've got the privilege of having Elaine Northrop here. She's been in the real estate business for 47 years. Welcome to the program.

Elaine Northrop 0:45
Thank you.

Umar Hameed 0:45
So, Elaine, before...

Elaine Northrop 0:46
Glad to be here.

Umar Hameed 0:47
Oh thank you. Before we started this recording, I was chatting about Shakespeare and how Shakespeare The reason is relevant is the human condition is still the same different toys. And you said, Well, I used to be an English teacher. So tell me how you went from being an English teacher to stepping into real estate.

Elaine Northrop 1:05
Okay, do you want me to go through the whole thing I just went through?

Umar Hameed 1:08

Elaine Northrop 1:09
All right. Well...

Umar Hameed 1:10
You know, as a teacher repetition, not only kidding,

Elaine Northrop 1:13
I was trained to be an English teacher, I went to University of Maryland, I graduated in 1962. And I was an English major and a math minor. I wanted to be a math major. But in order to major in math, you had to have a secondary thing in physics, and I am not physically inclined, I couldn't make a cart roll down the hill,

Umar Hameed 1:36

Elaine Northrop 1:37
Because of this theory. I could do mathematics for five pages and get the right answer, but I couldn't apply it physically. And my advisor said you rather try another field because that's very important to math major. I said, Okay, well, English is the only other subject I'm getting A's in. I said, I'll be an English major. So I became an English major in a Math minor. And I proceeded to teach school for first of all one year. And in those days, a teacher's salary was 50 $500 a year. And being an English teacher, you had to sit at home every night and mark papers that were five pages long.

Umar Hameed 2:20
Oh, yeah.

Elaine Northrop 2:21
That were themes and theories. And whatever the people wrote.

Umar Hameed 2:27
Math is better. My answer is wrong.

Elaine Northrop 2:29
{Garbled] you have a right or wrong answer, and you just put an X if it's wrong, English, you can't do that. You have to not only analyze grammar and spelling, but you have to take their thoughts into account and analyze those and grade them on those.

Umar Hameed 2:44
So before we go deeper into real estate, what's always intrigued me is we've been speaking English for quite a long time. Why is it so difficult to teach kids no matter which generation how to write properly, especially now it seems to be more challenging than ever.

Elaine Northrop 3:00
Say a couple things. It depends on where you grew up. I grew up in balmar. And

Umar Hameed 3:07

Elaine Northrop 3:08
Say words like tool, the soul, and toilet and I my pronunciation was horrible. And I remember when I got to college, and I took my first English cut, I have sitting the professor said to me, you want to teach what? So anyway, but I learned to speak proper English. And it's very important for children to learn to speak that too. But teaching English was a lot more than about just grammar and spelling. It was about poetry, understanding poetry, understanding Shakespeare, about reading great

Umar Hameed 3:44
It's about thinking.

Elaine Northrop 3:45
It's about thinking it's it is much deeper than just getting your language correct.

Umar Hameed 3:52
So you're minding your own business, you're an English teacher, and how does real estate come into your life?

Elaine Northrop 3:57
Well, first of all, I I quit being an English teacher to go on to the airlines because I always wanted to travel and fly.

Umar Hameed 4:06
Nice. Were you a Panam gal?

Elaine Northrop 4:08
No, I was American, Eastern Airlines. And the we had to go to Florida to take training and everything. And then I came back. And on one visit that I came back. I met my ex-husband and I met him one night, he asked me to marry him the next night.

Umar Hameed 4:28

Elaine Northrop 4:29
And five months later, we got married. So then I had to give up the airlines because in those days you could not even be engaged much less married and fly. He were really an [garbled]. But then I decided to go back to kid teaching for a while and I was teaching when my ex husband decided he wanted a real estate license. And he took a six month course. And he came home one night and said honey He said, we're not doing anything this weekend because I got to study all weekend I'm taking a test Monday morning in real estate. And he said, Why don't you read this real estate book and take the test with me? In those days, you didn't have to take a course,

Umar Hameed 5:13

Elaine Northrop 5:13
to get a license. And he said, you'll have a license if you want one, if you don't. So I read the book that weekend, and I took the test with a Monday morning, I prayed that if anybody passed that test, Lord led it please be him. And worst thing in the world happen. I passed and he failed, which was the start of our...

Umar Hameed 5:36
Did he go back and pass? Or did he just give up?

Elaine Northrop 5:38
He, he went back, he took another course. And he went back a year later and did pass.

Umar Hameed 5:44
You know, how dare you not even take a course and just peruse the book for a weekend and pass.

Elaine Northrop 5:49

Umar Hameed 5:49

Elaine Northrop 5:50
That's what happened but

Umar Hameed 5:51
So was real estate different back then versus now. I know, in so many ways. But what are some of the ways?

Elaine Northrop 5:57
It was so different in that we had no cell phones, you had only the heavy house phones, and phone booths, and you had no internet, no computer, you had to get listings every every night, the multiple lists would send a pack of listings of new listings, and you had to go through them every night,

Umar Hameed 5:57
Write manually.

Elaine Northrop 6:03
Manually, and see which ones would be best for your buyer, and then call your buyer for the three or four that would be best for them, but anyway, it was totally different. Contracts were two pages and handshake. We didn't have the 52 pages that we now have plus more. So it was entirely entirely different.

Umar Hameed 6:50
So talk to me about realtor, client, buyer or seller relationship, how's that change from what it is now versus then, technology's changed, but how's the human interaction.

Elaine Northrop 7:00
Me I always thought of my clients as people. And I cared about them. And I really got very close to them and what they wanted, and I wanted to help them find their dream home and that was very important to me. And I think that they ultimately sense that after I got past my, I went through a bad period in real estate when I first started,

Umar Hameed 7:26

Elaine Northrop 7:27
that I unfortunately had a victim story because that's when my ex-husband ran off with my best friend and left and wouldn't pay any child support. I had two small children six and four. And so I had to take over the finances of the thing. But the way I started in real estate because I had no name, no reputation, no, no basis to start, I hadn't even taken the course. That way I started was telling everybody my victim story and thinking that people would feel sorry for me and then want to buy a house from me,

Umar Hameed 8:06

Elaine Northrop 8:06
Well, that didn't work. People don't want to deal with the victim, they want to deal with a victor. And once I found this out, and for the first six months, I didn't sell anything in real estate. And my manager who had hired me, I was coming from holiday spa, I had worked there for eight years I was their top salesperson. And coming from that my manager thought I was going to be the top agent in my office. But I proved him wrong and I was at the bottom and he was going to fire me at that point. But he felt so sorry for me knowing my story that he thought he would just get me to take a personality test rather than outright fire me and saying I'd be much better in teaching one and I go back to that. So I took a personality test and the result of it came back saying this person would be so great in a people oriented business like real estate

Umar Hameed 9:04

Elaine Northrop 9:05
It was and on the basis of that he kept me and I changed my tune instead of making real estate about me and I made it about them about the clients. And the next six months I sold a million dollars which was a lot in those days.

Umar Hameed 9:20

Elaine Northrop 9:21
And then I went on from there and I went from rock bottom to the top where I was Coldwell Banker is number number one agent internationally for three years in a row.

Umar Hameed 9:32
Brilliant. So let's backtrack. Great story. So six months, no success?

Elaine Northrop 9:37

Umar Hameed 9:38
What kept you going, like it'd be so easy to give up. What kept you going?

Elaine Northrop 9:43
The thought that I could earn more money in real estate and I really needed to because I had two small children

Umar Hameed 9:48
So necessity.

Elaine Northrop 9:50
It was. Yes, it was something that I I saw people around me making more money and and I really needed the money at that point. So So it was probably being money hungry, that kept me in the business. But then I learned to care about people and work on their needs and forget about mine and forget about my story, and help them find what they want it.

Umar Hameed 10:16
Brilliant. A lot of companies and people as well face death. And from that certain death, they re imagine what they can be. So this has been companies like Boeing, the Aircraft Company was pretty much on their last legs. And they made one last effort to make passenger liners with jets and save the company and change the world. Right. So it sounds like when you had the I want to fire you. So certainly pass the test. But was there something about that, that really got you to re examine what you were doing, like what happened then when it was like, "Oh, my God, I'm gonna be fired," what changed that got...

Elaine Northrop 10:50
I had to really get serious about what I was doing. I was now devoting more time I had to raise two children on my own too. But I was now putting more time into real estate. And I can't say less than to my children, because I always cared about them. But I was working up to 60 hours a week, and just making other people more important. And I also took business that other agents didn't want. I did open houses for other agents, which I found to be very lucrative. And I still do, I still do open houses. Because people that come to open houses are looking to buy something, they may not want to buy the house that they walk into, but they're going to buy something. So you can ask them, what their needs are, what their price range is offered to send them listings and just build a rapport and start working with them.

Umar Hameed 11:50
Elaine helped me understand, like you just said, open houses, it's a gift. There's a gentleman in town, Michael Schiff, who's very successful in real estate. And he told me, You know, I love open houses, because I get a lot of business out of those,

Elaine Northrop 12:03

Umar Hameed 12:03
But yet there's other agents that see it as a punishment. So it's about mindset as I got to do another open house, no one's coming, they don't work. So it's all about how you see the world. So in your years of doing this, have you seen someone that had maybe the wrong mindset, and then they the light went on, and they switch to someone come to mind that kind of had that, Come to Jesus kind of thing?

Elaine Northrop 12:26
No. Most people they didn't want to work on Sundays and those days of announces are always done on Sunday.

Umar Hameed 12:33

Elaine Northrop 12:33
So I gladly took open houses from other people that just didn't want to work. And I found it very successful for me. Because I built rapport with people that came in the open house, you can't just let them go through the house and not talk to them or whatever. But there was one other thing that I wanted to say about that. The other thing, there was not somebody in the field that I didn't want to be like because I always studied success. Because if you want to be more successful, you got to look at who's at the top,

Umar Hameed 13:11

Elaine Northrop 13:12
and why they're doing it. And in those days, the top agent in my office was a woman that was quite a bit older than I was and she walked with a limp. However, she spent a lot of our own money on advertising. And it paid off for her. And people were coming to her rather than going out and seeking the clients. So I took a page from her book, and I decided to do my own advertising. And not only what i doing my own advertising, but with my English background. I was writing stories about my house, I gave every house a little name.

Umar Hameed 13:53
I'm about to give you a five.

Elaine Northrop 13:54

Umar Hameed 13:55
About to give you a high five. That is brilliant.

Elaine Northrop 13:57
Thank you. I gave every house a little name. I called it Cinderella and I said that somebody waved a magic wand and made this rather ordinary house into a raving beauty. But you better see it tonight before the stroke of midnight or will be gone. So I wrote those kinds of ads, well, they caught on. And people would call me to list their house because they liked the ads and they wanted me to write a story about their house.

Umar Hameed 14:24

Elaine Northrop 14:24
So then I was getting a lot of listings, which is really the secret in real estate is to have the listings, because then you get the buyer calls and you get the open houses and whatever else you but if you work the listings, it's better to have listings and buyers.

Umar Hameed 14:42
You had started the Northrop team. When you have a team, you have team members that come in and it's your job as team leader to help them get better at what they do.

Elaine Northrop 14:53
Well, I have to say that when I first started a team, I did it more for administrative For people to help me to come out selling,

Umar Hameed 15:03

Elaine Northrop 15:04
because I had, I still do have no computer since I can't even turn on a computer. And I don't like office work. I don't like paperwork and everything. I like being with people when working with people. So my first team members were hired just to keep me out selling

Umar Hameed 15:24

Elaine Northrop 15:25

Umar Hameed 15:25
That's value to the company.

Elaine Northrop 15:26
And nobody, nobody in those days, they were all single agents, nobody in those days had a team. So I was probably the first person that hired assistance to get and it worked. And, you know, the more assistance I had, the more I was called catapulting in sales. Then, after a while, I thought, well, I can bring in agents and they can help me sell, they can be buyer's agents, they can, you know, and I gave him the right to list if they had listings, but mainly I was doing most of the listing, they would take occasionally buyers, but, and they would do administrative work. And that was my start at my team. And then my son grew up and he graduated from college. And I brought him on my team, I brought my niece. And they both wanted to sell, we're very ambitious. So I put them out there and let them start selling. And there were a number of years that great work for me. And then all of a sudden he wanted to go out on his own, which I god bless him. And the difference between he and I is that I started from rock bottom with no name, no reputation, no money. And I went from rock bottom to about here. He started from here, and the sky's the limit. I mean, his ambition is beautiful and wonderful. And I'd like to think I hit something to do with that. But he's taken it into brokerages. He now has 50 some offices throughout parts of the United States. And he's doing extremely well. We did a billion dollars in sales last year.

Umar Hameed 17:12
Very impressive.

Elaine Northrop 17:13
Okay. When I say Wait, now I work for him so.

Umar Hameed 17:16
Right. So Elaine, what advice would you give your younger self that would have helped a lot back then.

Elaine Northrop 17:24
I think, I think the time that I spent in grieving and chasing my ex to get him to pay child support, which he never did. I would have better spent on myself. And what I finally learned is going in a negative direction was not working. I was chasing him from state to state he moved from state to state because he didn't want to pay child support. instead of chasing him, I started concentrating on me. And I made so much more money that it didn't matter whether he paid child support or not. So don't, don't have revenge as one of your motives. Don't have any negative feelings, you've gone to get yourself back into positive things. And I have to now say that what I thought was the worst thing could happen in my life. When my ex ran off with my best friend and a new mono, see my children turned out to be the best thing that ever happened in my life. Because I started a career in real estate I wouldn't have had otherwise. I raised two children as a single mom on my own. They both for eight years. They both turned out phenomenally. And then I met the love of my life 40 years ago, and we've been happily married for the last 37 year

Umar Hameed 18:43

Elaine Northrop 18:44
So and he's twice a man my my first was, and just a side effect. My ex husband ended up by committing suicide in front of his new wife who jumped from 18 floors into the parking lot...

Umar Hameed 18:59

Elaine Northrop 18:59
...below and that's it. I'm lucky I could not have I could not have started that. But it's how you look at things. It's there is no reality. There is only perception of reality. And when a thing happens, it's neither good nor bad. It's how you interpret it. That makes it good or bad in your life. It's how you view that thing. And you pull it back in and you make it positive or negative. So to me is reality is whatever you want it to be and you can create your own reality. You can take any What if and make it into a what is by your belief and your positive actions in that direction.

Umar Hameed 19:54
Brilliant. Elaine, thanks so much for sitting down with me. I really appreciate it.

Elaine Northrop 19:58
Welcome. Okay. I would encourage you and everybody to get a hold of my book, which...

Umar Hameed 20:05
Oh, tell me about the book.

Elaine Northrop 20:05
I did it. Okay, I've written a book called Create Your Own Fate, which talks a little bit about my real estate career, but a lot about life and living, and how I learned to be a total success. And I now have everything in my life that I ever wanted. I just, I couldn't imagine life better for me. But I know that I created everything in my life that I have. And I wouldn't trade it for anything. But until I started thinking positive and went in the right direction, and know that I could create these things, it didn't happen.

Umar Hameed 20:47

Elaine Northrop 20:47
But the book tells you how to do it and the theory of of creating anything you want in your life and that is definitely possible.

Umar Hameed 20:56
Yes, it is.

Umar Hameed 21:01
If you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave a five-star rating. And if you're looking for more tools, go to my website at nolimitsselling.com. I've got a free mind training course there, that's going to teach you some insights from the world of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and that is the fastest way to get better results.


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