Real estate with zeal

By Posted on Oct 23 2014 | By

 Horizon Real Estate, Inc. led by experience with a smile  

When seeking a real estate firm to help sell or buy a home, a client seeks out a knowledgeable agent who is attentive to their needs. After all, it’s likely the biggest financial transaction of their life. Optimistic business acumen makes good things happen quickly.

Loni Colvin

Loni Colvin

And making good things happen is the hallmark of Warrenton real estate broker Loni Colvin. Goal setting is not a dry business term to Colvin but rather the mantra she lives by. “I never feel like I hate getting up in the morning and coming into the office,” said Colvin. “I love helping people.”

As a result, over the years a cavalcade of individuals and couples have felt that love and gotten into a home on its cresting wave. The energy driving this successful real estate entrepreneur is not about to let up either. “I don’t ever want to retire,” said a laughing Colvin.

The native of Kentucky catapulted out of the Bluegrass state in 1989 and hasn’t slowed since. It’s been a trajectory of success with several businesses now a memory as she accumulated experience and moved on to bigger challenges.

In the beginning
After arriving in the D.C. area, Colvin worked for a Roy Rogers restaurant as general manager while doing cleaning on the side. Her fiancé, now husband, suggested she start a cleaning service and she took the advice. “It’s because of him that all of this other stuff has happened,” Colvin said.

As the cleaning service evolved it led to snowplowing. She had contracts with the town of Warrenton for a couple of years and her cleaning business blossomed with 14 daytime employees and a smaller staff working nights cleaning office buildings in Prince William County and elsewhere.

The business success led to the idea of starting a property management company. She obtained her real estate license 2000 and began focusing on real estate. She eventually closed the cleaning business to devote full time to selling real estate.

What happened next was as assured as the sun rising. She met with immediate success and in 2001 was named Rookie of the Year by the Greater Piedmont Area Association of Realtors.

She was subsequently recognized for her performance with multiple awards with names such as Platinum and Chairman’s Club. Over the course of the next several years, Colvin worked at three different real estate firms, gaining more experience with each passing year.

In 2006, she sold $26 million worth of properties, earning the distinction of being placed in one company’s Hall of Fame.

“I remember the broker telling me I had achieved a big thing. I was in the top 2 ½ percent of the nation’s real estate agents,” said Colvin.

In 2009, her peers installed her as the President of the Greater Piedmont Area Association of Realtors. But there was no resting on her laurels. Hard work, some disappointment and greater success lay ahead.

Industry structure
Titles used in real estate can be a bit confusing. Who does what and why? Let’s recap the meaning of the most frequently used industry titles:

Real estate agent: Simply anyone who earns a license to sell real estate. State requirements differ but in every state the person must take a minimum number of classes and pass an exam to earn a license.

REALTOR®: An agent that is a member of the National Association of Realtors®. The person must uphold the standards of the association and its code of ethics.

Real estate broker: An individual who has pursed education beyond the agent level and passed a state’s broker license exam. Brokers can work alone or can hire agents to work for them.

Real estate associate broker: A person who has taken additional classes and earned a broker’s license but chooses to work for a broker.

In Colvin’s case, after gaining extensive experience as a real estate agent she elected to purse a broker’s license. The move set the stage for her next career step.

On her own
In 2008, after eight years in the industry, Colvin obtained her broker’s license and struck out her own and founded Horizon Real Estate, Inc. To paraphrase Charles Dickens, it was the best of times and the worst of times. Yes, she now headed up her own agency but she launched it at the onset of a severe recession.

Timing is everything. “It was the worst of times. My building fees were overwhelming but I made through that period,” said Colvin. She started with one employee and three agents in a snail’s paced economy. Today, the office, located at 26 N. 5th St., is home to three administrative employees and 25 agents.

“I looked at the companies that had closed and merged and had no clue of being a broker myself. But I have a great group of agents at my office. We all worked together. It’s wonderful,” said the always expecting the best Colvin.

She is also poised to open a second office in Front Royal in October. The office will initially be staffed by two agents but if the past is prologue, look for her to attract additional agents into her sphere of success.

In 2009, she became certified as a real estate instructor and launched yet another business teaching potential agents. Given her track record, being a student in one of her classes is key to launching a new career. It is a 60 hour course conducted to fit a student’s schedule. To date, 20 students have graduated from the school and she has brought an additional instructor on board.

Most recently the energizer broker opened a title company appropriately called Sunshine Title & Settlement. It recorded the first of many deeds to come in early September and adds another entity to her growing number of businesses.

Ever looking beyond today, Colvin has plans to open another agency when her work schedule permits. It is already licensed and ready to go and will operate under the name Ches-Bay Real Estate in Hartfield. “Today Warrenton, tomorrow Virginia” might be her mission statement.

Model for success
The mark of a successful executive is to envision their company five years into the future. If they focus on the here and now, stagnation can set in. To underscore the philosophy Colvin said, “I don’t look at how much I’m earning. I’m looking to grow the business. As long as I’m still going forward that’s an accomplishment.”

Colvin’s advice for a successful career is for people “to figure out what they want to do and what they enjoy” because then it’s not a job. Goal setting is paramount for her. And while she won’t elaborate, it’s obvious her goal oriented work ethic is alive and well with bigger things to come. “I will never retire because I’m having too much fun.”

Her advice to those looking to advance is to “follow your heart” and don’t listen to other people. “When I started out I didn’t have deep pockets. You have to believe in yourself and believe in what you are doing,” she said.

Another critical element to her success is “I’m honest. I’m fair. I treat everybody the way I want to be treated. You can’t get what you’re not willing to give.” When managing her employees if there is a problem in a business relationship she meets with the individual and asks, “Tell me what you think I need to be doing to help you succeed.”

One of her pet peeves is a lack of commitment. She emphasizes she doesn’t ask 100 percent from an employee but “if you’re not giving 60, 70 percent then you’re not moving forward.”

When a new agent joins the company, Colvin knows it’s her responsibility to help them succeed. “They’ve come here because they believe in Horizon. I am going to help them. I can’t let them down,” said Colvin.

When asked how she would summarize what she has achieved Colvin said, “I love laughing. I pray a lot. I’m always positive. I wake up every day and thank God for what I’ve got and for everything that’s coming in that day. And if it’s a bad day, I say ‘OK’ its’ been bad but let’s get on with the new.”

If one were to check a thesaurus for the word success, one of the synonyms might likely be Loni Colvin.


Published in the Fall 2014 edition of the Piedmont Business Journal.

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