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One of the best things about being a real estate agent is that you can shape your career any way you want. Perhaps you only work within a specific neighborhood, or you only sell houses above a certain price point. Maybe you work part-time so you can prioritize other things that are important to you. Everyone’s journey is different, and that’s a great thing.

For San Francisco realtor Leslie Bauer, the key to success was finding her niche in the world of luxury condominiums. She was kind enough to speak to us about her background and how she became the ‘Condo Queen’ she is today. 

Hi, Leslie! Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today! Let’s start by talking about how you entered the world of real estate. 

Sure! I’ve been a real estate agent for almost 14 years. I was a photographer to start, that was my first career. When I had my son, it was a very interesting time in the technology world because I was a film photographer and technology was starting to really impact the photo industry; it kind of decimated all of the independent photographers. I had to think fast on my feet – I just had a kid and I needed a career! 

Leslie’s listing at 765 Market Street #34A (Four Seasons Residences) in San Francisco. Priced at $9.9 million.

I thought about all the work that I was doing. I was working with new construction because I was photographing for Lutron and flooring companies for their portfolios. So I just thought, okay, I know these buildings super well because I’ve photographed them as they were being built. Why don’t I go get my real estate license and see if I can go in that direction? And so that’s what I did.

It’s really great that you were able to use your background in photography to build your real estate career! So what happened next?

Early on, I think three to four months after I became a real estate agent, I was on the lookout for new construction. I thought there would be a central repository for information about all the new development coming on the market. Well, there wasn’t. It didn’t exist. So I kind of created that. 

I discovered the website Highrises.com, and it didn’t have that kind of information there. It was very basic, basically an empty page. I talked to the guy who created it, who was a realtor in Texas. He hated doing real estate, but he had this idea. He thought one agent per city could be on his website, and be the selling agent for the condos listed there. But he wasn’t going to go and find those agents. He was waiting for people to come to him, which is what I did. 

A screenshot of the San Francisco section of Highrises.com

So we built the site, we built all of the information to go on the site, and then leads just started coming in. This was at the start of technology driving real estate, because websites like Zillow and Trulia didn’t exist then. Since I was only one person and all these leads started coming in, I brought in people to help me. So I built a small team and built a business out of it. 

That’s so cool! So you only sell condos? 

About 90% of my business is condos. I probably sell an average of about two single-family homes a year. That’s it. Selling condos is really just the way it all unfolded for me. I didn’t intentionally set myself up for it, I just happened to find Highrises.com and I ran with it. 

Are you noticing a decrease in the demand for condos amid the COVID-19 pandemic?

What I’m seeing is that people in their 20s and 30s aren’t hesitant about buying a condo right now; they’re just happy to be able to break into the San Francisco market. But others are fleeing condos and seeking single-family homes as a result of the pandemic. The single-family home market is on fire; things are still going for over asking price with multiple offers. But there are a ton of condos on the market right now. 

Leslie’s listing at 338 Main Street #PH36B (Lumina Condos) in San Francisco. Priced at $9.5 million.

I think we’ll recover from all this – San Francisco will always be a desirable city – but I think it’s going to be slow. My guess would be five to eight years for a total recovery to happen. 

Let’s switch gears a little bit now, and talk about how you market yourself to stand out from the crowd.

Sure. Well there has to be some way that me and my listings stand out, because these condos right now are a dime a dozen. So you’ve got to show them off in all of their glory and beauty. You have to convince people that you have the best listing in town and get them to come see it. And I think that’s where technology, and HighNote in particular, can really help. HighNote has absolutely supported me in winning listings. 

Leslie’s listing at 181 Fremont Street #69B (181 Fremont Residences) in San Francisco.

It’s great to hear that you enjoy HighNote. What other technologies do you enjoy using in your business?

I love Follow Up Boss, it’s how I maintain my client base. I also love myTheo and use it daily.  

Thanks, Leslie! It’s been great hearing about your transition from photography to real estate, and I’m sure others will be inspired by how you built your career!

If you’re looking for a great Bay Area realtor to sell your condo, be sure to reach out to Leslie! You can find all of her details, along with information about Highrises.com, here.

…And if you’re a real estate agent looking to create beautiful pre-listing presentations that can take your business to the next level, click here to get started with HighNote!