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Women Leaders Of Real Estate: Nicole Christopherson of NMC Realty On The 5 Things You Need To Succeed In The Real Estate Industry

An Interview With Jason Hartman

As a part of my series about strong women leaders of the Real Estate industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nicole Christopherson.

Nicole M. Christopherson is a highly respected and sought-after real estate expert who has been helping couples, families and individuals buy and sell distinctive homes since 2003. While a Southern California native, Nicole recently relocated to Austin, TX, from Newport Beach, CA, expanding her business and services across state lines. From foremost coastal and foothill properties in Orange County to the beautiful Texas Hill Country, she is renowned for her in-depth real estate knowledge, including demographics, market trends and timing, property sales, management and leasing.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Real Estate industry?

I started as a bilingual elementary school educator in Granada, Spain, and when I moved back to California, my family asked me to try out the real estate industry. I became an assistant to a broker in 2003, and he took me under his wing, teaching me everything about the industry. It was crazy busy, managing all of his clients, transactions and handling any and all marketing needs. Then, I concurrently, I set out to earn my master’s degree at Chapman University five years later and chose to teach while I continued working in real estate and all while earning my master’s degree in literacy. About 1 year later, I met my husband, and he asked, ‘why are you teaching and doing real estate?’ He is an entrepreneur, and he inspired me to fully pursue real estate, which allowed me to have more time for myself, him, and our families. After my time at the Strada Properties and HOM Real Estate group, I became an independent broker and started my own brokerage, NMC Realty Inc. This was when all of the third-party aggregates like Zillow, and so forth began hitting the market I was doing things a little bit differently than most traditional agents, which helped my numbers double exponentially. I soon realized that I needed a team and began organically attracting agents I had previously worked with in past transactions who exemplified professionalism. Moreover, I constantly facilitated my sphere of influence in business by fostering networks throughout life, schooling, and whenever I had dealings with an agent.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

It has been challenging expanding into another state and operating in two different markets. I have established myself in the Austin TX marketplace and am growing my team daily. In many ways, I have had to start all over. Nevertheless, moving to Texas has taught me that being a trusted adviser and sharing 20 years of contract knowledge, client relations, and transaction history can benefit people in multiple markets. My experience and understanding of legalities will help my clients in the Texas marketplace, where they don’t disclose as much contract paperwork, achieve their goals in the most optimal way possible.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

At NMC, we are in the process of establishing a dual-state platform on our website. This new feature will allow people to go to the website and find agents and get realtor assistance for two major metro areas in the US. I am also working on my leadership role for my other brand: ‘work hard smile large.’ I am incorporating that motto into messaging for other realtors in my industry and collaborating with speakers to be good thought leaders. Likewise, I am getting ready to hire a couple of full-time agents in Orange County, California, which will require me to start my day much more intentionally because I’ll be on Zoom with them every morning.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We provide exclusive representation, priding ourselves on our authentic, open and constant communication. A particular example of this philosophy played out more recently during COVID when we were showing property in Orange County, specifically in Ladera Ranch. The client wanted to consult with us about leasing their home, and after introducing ourselves, NMC demonstrated our understanding of the market and hard work ethic. Immediately, the client knew that they were in good hands. I was able to sell the property, and in only three months, I’ve completed three more real estate transactions. NMC’s customer service, consistent communication and fully exclusive representation show how much we care for our clients and their goals. And whenever I hand the keys to clients, I want them to know that NMC is already two steps ahead of the game protecting them. So often, an agent will come to me when something happens at their brokerage or team, and they’ll get blown away with what is happening at NMC.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’m very grateful for the entrepreneurial guidance of my husband and family. My father, husband, and sister-in-law are all entrepreneurs. Even my close friends are all entrepreneurs. However, my husband and dad were the most inspirational because they showed me what it takes to lead a small business. Moreover, they’ve supported me through the hard times and been with me through the long hours necessary to grow my company. As people who started businesses before, they can empathize with the ups and downs I went through. I’m lucky to have access to a legacy of people who have built businesses; starting a business isn’t something you get taught but experience. Nevertheless, none of my family or friends knew what it was like to start a real estate brokerage — so, for that part of the journey, I was in uncharted waters.

Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. The Real Estate industry, like the Veterinarian, Nursing and Public Relations fields, is a woman dominated industry. Yet despite this, less than 20 percent of senior positions in Real Estate companies are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what do you think is the cause of this imbalance?

I would actually have to disagree with that statement for my industry and marketplace. In my experience, there have been many women in leadership positions in real estate. The CEO of the Newport Beach Association of Realtors is a woman. I’m a woman broker-owner with an all-female team, and I’m empowering leadership. I’m surrounding myself with people in Texas who are women as well. At EXP, they have all-female leaders — the CMO of EXP is a female. I know a lot of superb real estate teams masterminded by incredible female leads. Looking back historically at real estate, specifically brokerages in Orange County, males had an advantage when starting brokerages. But, those same men also empowered women to manage their book of business while they began their own brokerages. My beginnings are a testament to that. Moreover, I believe that behind every great man, there’s a woman, whether in marriage or business.

What 3 things can be done by a) individuals b) companies and/or c) society to support greater gender balance going forward?

I believe that it’s necessary to work hard and smile large. If we cared more about what we have in common, rather than fussing over our differences, we’d have a much more positive perspective on life. I was inspired to start the ‘work hard smile large’ initiative while leaving my children at home right after delivering them because I never took maternity leave. At the time, I was building NMC, and my husband would take care of the kids all weekend. I remember being exhausted by the end of the day. The inspiration came to me after my daughter, who realized that I helped people get new homes, drew a picture of me selling one of my lender’s homes. It was then that I knew that I had to wake up every day with a large smile. Whenever I drop my kids off at school, and before they get out of the car, they look me in the eyes, and I say, ‘work hard,’ and they say, ‘smile large.’ It’s in every part of my life — even my clients and team say it now. Whatever life throws at you, if you smile, it allows you to appreciate the fruits of your labor and all the things you have accomplished. Smiling every day goes a lot farther than you even know.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

The biggest challenge women executives face is work-life balance, including our health, family, holidays, scheduling — everything. However, another equally difficult challenge a woman could face in real estate is opening their brokerage. Starting your own business requires an understanding of the accounting side of things. When running a team at a brokerage, you typically have your office manager handle the accounting, which allows you to focus on mentoring, marketing, and training. But, as a broker, you have to do all these tasks at once. What helps me manage my team is that we treat NMC like a family. I don’t push them, and we don’t have ridiculous expectations of one another. I’m also very open to speaking with team members candidly. We are each at different stages in life, whether we have families or are empty nesters. Plus, we are there for each other, especially if something happens with the family. We make sure that one or two people are always ready to step in at the last minute and stand in the gap for the team, regardless of whatever’s happening at that time.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Real Estate industry?

The main thing that excites me about the real estate industry right now is that it’s on the verge of being disrupted. At NMC, we are joining forces with a digital brokerage, which will allow us to reach across state lines and into multiple marketplaces for clients. This change excites me because technology can’t replace a realtor in a transaction, but it’s certainly going to help us reach our peers and educate ourselves outside of our backyards. Historically, realtors focused only on their area or neighborhood, but now they can touch several dispersed places. Moving forward, we will need to have a national perspective of real estate trends and — potentially — a global understanding of how real estate connects with the value of homeownership. The second trend I find exciting is the new demographic of younger first-time homebuyers. They have the ability through the internet and social media to search for independent brokerages and smaller boutique experiences, whereas their parents had to rely on household names. The ease of access to information has, in many ways, leveled the playing field for these independent brands. Lastly, I’d say that collaboration is at its highest in the industry, teams are working together and better-utilizing resources to offer clients a personalized experience.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?

Some things that I find concerning are the ethics of agents. I feel that there is generally a lack of supervision on real estate ethics, which comes down to the responsibility of brokerage and management. Because of the state of the market, we get inundated with part-time agents, which impacts the quality of business. Right now, it is critical to align yourself with a hands-on broker who puts the time and effort into mentoring their salespeople. Essentially, the real estate industry needs to rid itself of all these unscrupulous agents.

What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive?

Prioritize collaboration, including open and honest communication. You can’t tell people what to do, but you can empower them to work together. The real estate teams succeeding today are the ones who work in a more collaborative effort. Traditionally, firms are very competitive because of commission, but teams manage their splits and clients differently today. As a result, the clients get even better help with their real estate investments, and teams learn more from one another and execute more effectively. My advice for people starting a brokerage is to be mindful of money. When I began my brokerage, the hardest thing was running the business. You have to spend marketing dollars to keep generating leads to eventually close deals, but you have all these back-end responsibilities. Whatever you’re doing for your leads and agents, you have to make sure you leave money in the honeypot for the company. While it’s not all about commissions, the money will go fast when you’re building, investing, and acquiring resources for your business. Be prepared to learn the most in that first year.

Ok, here is the main question of our interview. You are a “Real Estate Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non-intuitive things one should know to succeed in the Real Estate industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?

Number one, I’d say that it is critical to be a steward of customer service, especially when it comes to the home searching process. As cliché as it sounds, you have to put yourself in the home buyer or seller’s shoes. Moving homes is a significant movement in peoples’ lives; show them you are in their corner by providing the best service possible. The next piece of advice — or rather, a heads up — is that you will only get paid when the deal closes. Plan accordingly. Third, become an expert researcher. The market is constantly in flux, and it’s up to you to always share your findings with your clients so that they are as informed and confident as possible. The fourth thing you need to know to succeed as a realtor is a willingness to play around with many different types of technology and apps. To stay relevant in the industry and with current and potential clients, you must be tech-savvy, or at least eager to learn new technologies as these can help you expand your brand and company. Lastly, be prepared to work all hours of the day. Seven days a week. While this might sound extreme, your commitment to stay on-call for your clients is what will separate you from those unwilling to do so and will demonstrate your passion and dedication to customers.

Because of your position, you are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

If I could inspire a moment to bring the greatest good, I would promote my ‘work hard smile large’ initiative. We are currently working to bring together women of different backgrounds to collaborate across various industries and social groups. I want to help people realize the power of hard work and the importance of creating smiles. Soon I will kick off the brand with monthly luncheons and workout classes. I’ve already begun talking to people here in Texas, and I’ll be reaching out to my connections in California as well. Also, EXP invited me to speak at an upcoming female entrepreneur leadership summit. ‘Work hard smile large’ is my passion — it brings me great joy to positively touch peoples’ lives.

How can our readers follow you online?

Your readers can find me via the NMC Realty website, and on our various social media profiles including and

Thank you for your time, and your excellent insights!



In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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