by G. Sax, Director of Growth Management, RESO
Welcome to “Three Questions,” an interview series that introduces you to real estate industry professionals, their businesses and how they interact with real estate standards with a goal of humanizing the tech side of the industry, fun included.
This week’s interview is with Heather Elias, VP of Industry Relations and Advisory Services at RealStaq. Heather is a prolific and publicly present figure in the world of real estate, especially over the last 13 years, and that is why she is our first ever two-part interview. Enjoy!
Q1: At this point in your career, surrounded by technology and data, is this the first time you have ever thought about technology standards, or had it already registered with you as a broker or when you worked for the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) as their Director of Social Business Practice?
Heather: I haven’t directly thought about technology standards as part of my day-to-day work, but I would say that having a general awareness of the importance of standards has been part of my career development.
Even back in my agent days, I was the one submitting incorrect listing data reports to [Bright MLS precursor] MRIS, because I wanted the data to be clean.
I’ve understood the importance of standards for a long time, and I’m delighted to now be in a position to get a front-row view.
Q2: As noted in the last question, you went from being a full-time broker to working for NAR. Interestingly, you then went back to your former brokerage to join their executive team. What prompted the about face and what is something specific that surprised you during your time in the trenches of organized real estate?
Heather: I loved working at NAR. I probably would have stayed longer, but the commute and amount of time I was spending on the road when my kids were at pivotal ages became too much. The commute to Washington, DC, from where I lived in Virginia was brutal, and I was also spending a lot of time in Chicago.
And yet it was quite enlightening to view the industry from that perch after being in brokerage for more than a decade. I felt like I was in a position to make a difference on a larger scale. But I also started to miss the transactional side, the interactions with clients, the boots on the street.
RESO: That triggers a follow-up question. If work-from-home was as big as it is today, would you have stuck it out?
Heather: I probably would have, but, ultimately, being a mom has driven every decision I have made from a career standpoint until the kids were all out of the house in 2022.
My whole purpose for getting into real estate was to have the flexibility to set my own schedule and be there for my kids as a mother. In my opinion, none of that is possible without working in real estate in some capacity.
That’s ultimately why my husband Michael went into real estate as well. He left his golf business to take over my real estate team when I had to put my license on ice in order to work at NAR. He’s now been in the business for more than ten years, and I think he’s a better agent than me in many ways.
Q3: Can you please share the story of how you came to have nearly 800,000 followers on LinkedIn and got listed as an influencer along with former President Barack Obama, Virgin Group Founder Richard Branson and Dr. Deepak Chopra?
Heather: The framing on it when LinkedIn reached out to me was that they were creating a blogging platform, and they wanted me to be the real estate voice on the platform, because I had a real estate blog called LoCoMusings.
There was a woman using me as a source when she was at Forbes. Then she took a job at LinkedIn that included the launch of their blogging platform. When they released their Influencer list, I was shocked at who else was on it.
In 2013, Conan O’Brien was doing a bit on his late-night television talk show about becoming an influencer on LinkedIn, and he really wanted to get ahead of Martha Stewart’s follower count. It was a running gag, and during one of the segments, he showed a graphic where I was between him and her. So my LinkedIn picture was on Conan O’Brien’s show. It is the oddest claim to fame ever.
I’ve provided featured content on LinkedIn for several years now. I obviously write about real estate topics, but I’ve also written about how to set up an office, what to consider when taking a job and even using your hair as a canvas for creativity.
What’s interesting about LinkedIn is that there are a lot of global followers. I get a ton of messages from these articles from all over the world. It’s an incredible platform and microphone to have access to. I’m pretty big in Pakistan.
Come back next week for three more questions with Heather!