Eric Nicholson was born in Washington, D.C., and spent his childhood in the Maryland suburbs. Graduating from Frostburg State University with a Bachelor of Science in Rhetorical Studies and Theatre, he Sales and Marketing career began very early in the hotel world. There, Eric Nicholson developed a sense of excellence and extraordinary customer service while working for Mandarin Oriental. Eric possesses expert knowledge of the real estate sales process and serves as a local neighborhood ambassador to buyers, sellers, and investors. His goal is to consistently raise the bar through reliable real estate advice based on his continuous market knowledge, innovative tools, strategy, and tactics, and successfully negotiating transactions bringing all parties together for a win-win! Eric Nicholson has been a realtor at TTR Sotheby’s International Realty for over 5 years and always strives to ensure his clients’ time with him will be memorable.
Eric Nicholson’s interview
Thank you for your time today, Eric. What is the difference between real estate and housing?
They’re synonymous. But housing has such a huge umbrella. With housing, you could work within the government agency that works with affordable housing for low-income people or you could be working for a development company that builds housing. But real estate branches out to a variety of areas on a larger scale. When you say housing, it doesn’t always speak to the nuanced area of real estate sales.
So, why did you join the real estate business?
Well, initially I wasn’t inspired. I had two good friends who were realtors who thought I would be good at doing real estate. At the time, I was a marketing director for a credit union, and I was like,” what? I’m not leaving my full-time job with benefits to get in the real estate business.” So, they worked on me for a couple of years before they created a position in the firm called a Showing Assistant. However, in order for me to work in that role, I had to get my real estate license. The job of a showing assistant is to take out senior agents’ clients, and showing them properties while they focused on higher-end clients because they required a little bit more personal attention, and that was basically going to be a part-time opportunity, which felt safer for me at the time.
Back then, the housing market had gotten so crazy that the housing bubble was crashing, and a lot of people were losing their jobs, and homes, and getting foreclosed on, which impacted the job market considerably. And as a result, I lost my position at my job at the credit union. Thankfully, I had already taken my real estate exams. So, my broker approached me (He knew I lost my job). He asked, “Well, have you ever thought about doing real estate full time?” And I said, no. And he said, “Why don’t you give it a shot?” And at that time, I had a severance package and I had about six months of savings along with my leave, so I agreed, to give it a shot, but if this doesn’t work out, I’m out of here. Sometimes you have to just jump. Privately, I was still looking around at other jobs, but none of them were working out to be hired. I was getting interviews, but none of them were working out for me. I kept asking myself, “What’s going on? I mean, I get to the third interview, and I don’t get the position.” So, I just took that as a sign, and said to myself, ok Eric, the universe is not leading you here. It’s leading you to the Real estate”. And 11 years later, I’m still here and cannot picture myself doing anything.
Interesting! Was the industry affected by the global pandemic recently?
Interestingly, yes and no. Interestingly, the COVID season in 2020 was one of my best years. But I think that had a lot to do with the incentivizing of the lower interest rates to right-size the economy because nobody was working, many people were losing jobs, and they were losing cars to some extent. They were having housing issues and people were taking advantage, at least here in this area, of the low-interest rates and purchasing homes. Now, we did have to adjust to wearing face masks. We couldn’t host open houses for a while, but then they loosened up those restrictions. We could not put anyone in our vehicles to drive to different properties, our clients had to meet us there or vice versa. But the logistical part of it was a little different. I couldn’t believe the interest in people purchasing homes and I think it had a lot to do with the low-interest rates thus allowing the affordability to purchase a home.
Is there any racial bias in the business?
Yeah, sure. That’s always sort of been an undercurrent of the industry, regrettably. When I say that there are biases that we’re always having to overcome, such as if we’re going to a particularly in an affluent neighborhood, we can’t just think we can just walk up to a property to open the door if our clients are not with us, because we are not a part of that neighborhood per say. There have been reports on neighbors having called the police on African Americans Realtors with their African American clients showing property, and this particular neighbor thought we were trespassing according to the report. So, there are certain biases on all levels. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Another issue is some buyers are accustomed to working with agents in certain neighborhoods which tend to leaning more toward particularly more affluent areas. I can definitely speak to the fact that I know of certain neighborhoods that do not have agents that have penetrated those markets that look like me or a lot of them. But it’s also it’s the comfortability factor as well. People like to work with people whom they like, know and trust. And these particular agents are non-black. They have those inroads to those homeowners which makes it a little bit challenging for agents of color to create those inroads and to have an impact.
So, what are some of the challenges facing the industry right now?
Well, I live in the nation’s capital, and this is a very robust market. Some of the challenges we’re facing are low inventory and more buyers. So, the competitiveness is crazy here. Buyers’ agents just must educate their clients about what it’s going to take for them to get the property that they love. And that means they may have to be willing to go make an above list offer, they may have to waive a home inspection, and they may have to waive an appraisal if they want the property that badly. So that’s the challenge facing our market. I thought the interest rates rising a bit would level out the competitiveness, but I think it’s made the frenzy even more competitive, because buyers are now seeing the interest rates higher than what they were six months ago, and they’re regretting not moving faster to buy when they could have afforded more homes for less. So now interest rates have gone up again, and now they’re scrambling to find something to get into before they are projected to go up even more later in the year. The Washington DC area has always had the challenge of low inventory and more buyers. That’s sort of a normal challenge because it is the nation’s capital, and everybody wants to live here.
That’s great. So, what advice do you have for anyone looking to buy a property right now?
Don’t wait. The longer you wait, the more expensive it is going to be.
“This is a challenge nationwide. Speak with a realtor and a lender and get preapproved first because that will be your first line of being competitive”.
When you see a property you love, you can put an offer immediately because you’ve done the preliminary preparation, thus giving you a bit more of an advantage. You may not know what your competition will or will not be, but having your pre-approval will save you a lot of time.
If anyone wants to join the real estate business, where should they start?
Well, obviously, you have to take the licensing classes first. However, I do not advise doing it part-time because you do your clients a tremendous disservice. You’re not fully focused on them in the transactions. I think you should have six months to a year of savings if you’re full-time. And if you are looking to go into real estate as a new full-time agent, it is advisable to join a team. A team would be the best way for you to lean on for advice with more experienced agents and leverage your business to some degree by being able to help with open houses, having assistance with writing a contract, and having the brain trust overall to navigate the real estate laws and possible contractual errors that could prove to be very expensive. When joining a team, you’re going to be working with people who have been in the business for a considerable amount of time who will advise you because you will be on a huge learning curve when starting in this industry. I think it would be ill-advised to go out on your own when starting. I think it’s a very risky approach to getting into the business.
Thank you so much for your time, Eric. I have learned a lot from our interview today.