The Key to Success in Real Estate is Putting the People First

Ashley Hustad didn't need a college degree to become a successful realtor; she made up for it with hustle.

Having a college degree is not always your ticket to a big salary. Ashley Hustad started her successful career in real estate almost 14 years ago because of her love for homes and people, and her dislike for college. 

Hustad decided to pursue her passion away from beaten path and skip university life altogether. Taking a leap of faith, Ashley applied to a local company she admired and has been on a journey ever since. She lives and work lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with her husband, five kids and two dogs.

Find Your Grind spoke to Hustad about hustling seven days a week, going against society's expectations and common misconceptions about her field. 

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

What skills or strengths do you need to be successful in real estate?

Being good at sales is not #1 for selling houses! That may be controversial to what some other realtors say. I think the main strength is caring for people. If you care for people, you will always lead them in the right direction and do so with integrity and honesty. It is important to be organized, confident and knowledgeable as buying/selling a house is often one of the biggest transactions of people's lives.

What advice would you give your high school self?

I would tell myself to care less about what I think I should do (i.e. what society says the steps are ... college ... internship ... job) and focus more on what lights a fire in my belly. I think college can be an amazing experience, and I sure hope my doctor [went], but I didn't go and didn't need to. I would have skipped some costly steps and connected with the sales industry earlier than I did. 

I would tell my high school self to be more involved in things other than sports and church. Those activities shaped me, but there is a lot more going on in the world. I would talk more to the shy kids or outcasts. I would be more grateful for my life and not complain about useless shit that doesn't matter.

What has proven to be your biggest obstacle to becoming an agent?

When I first got my real estate license I was super young. The company I wanted to work for required some mortgage experience and a college degree (neither of which I had). When I sat down for the interview, I had to really sell myself as a blank canvas and fast learner. I set up some pretty big expectations. It worked out though!

What advice would you give someone interested in your career?

If someone is interested in getting into real estate, I would tell them it's super hard work. If you want to have a nine-to-five job, this isn't it. I can't remember the last time I was truly "off." My phone rings at all hours, seven days a week. 

However, I would also tell them it's the most fulfilling job I have done and can't imagine ever doing anything else. You spend the majority of your time directly helping people. It's important to know that it takes years to build up a good business, so you need to have patience.If you work hard doing real estate things, real estate things will happen! You have to hustle and meet with any and everyone you can when you first start, so you can get your name out there. Take super good care of your clients, and they will refer their friends to you.

How important is networking in your field? 

Networking is really important because we work with a lot of industries (lenders, builders, inspectors, contractors, other agents, etc). Having good rapport and trust with those other professionals is key. Admittedly, I did more networking earlier in my career but I would definitely recommend it to someone getting started.

How important is mentoring?

Every real estate company is different, but at our company, no one comes in without extensive mentoring. I believe it's super important to being a successful realtor long term. When you can work directly with an agent who's proven to do well in the field, that's gold!

What does it mean to you to Find Your Grind? Why is it important?

I think "finding your grind" is living your authentic self. I think you find your true grind when you stop caring about what others think about you and you do what makes your heart happy. Are you awesome at taking pics? Learn all that you can about photography: find a mentor, take a class, ask questions, go roam and snap pictures for hours. It is important to FYG because you are the best version of you when you're doing what you're created to do.

What do you do to recharge? 

Outside of work and the craziness of five kids ages eight and under, I love the gym. I compete in power lifting when I have time. Beyond that, my favorite things to do are pick-up basketball with my boys, sitting in the driveway with friends and going to concerts and sporting events in town. My lifestyle is pretty much go-go-go, and I wouldn't know what to do otherwise.

-photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash


Words by Beatriz and Tania Borbon on Aug 22, 2017