Mary Jo Avery looks content walking down the corridor of the Lake Oswego Re/Max Equity Group office off Kruse Way. She coos hellos to those around her, pays a compliment to the secretary and takes a seat in a conference room. Poised, she flips her hair back and folds her hands before smiling and saying, 'I work for the best people. I really do.'
Since 1988 Mary Jo Avery from Lake Oswego has - all but one year - been Re/Max Equity Group's top producer. Using a team of professionals, Avery continues to grow and expand her professional portfolio each year.
Avery has been Re/Max Equity Group's top producer for nearly two decades out of the 1,350 agents in Oregon and Southwest Washington, according to Dave Koch, Principal Broker and Vice President of the Lake Oswego Re/Max.
Last month, The Mary Jo Avery Team was named one of the Top 25 Power Teams to Watch in 2007 by 'Real Estate' magazine in conjunction with RISMedia's Power Team Report. The honor notes impressive sales figures, innovative marketing, management skills and strength in numbers for making the leap from independent contractor to leader.
'I am so joyful and fulfilled. Everybody at Re/Max gives 200 percent,' said Avery, a principal broker. 'They're a proud group of people with a passion for real estate and how to do business. I'm proud and lucky to be associated with Re/Max.'
Learning from others
Growing up in Boston, Avery said she learned early the value of hard, honest work. Her father worked three jobs, campaigned for Jack Kennedy and was later a city council member in Lake Oswego, once the family relocated in 1962. Her mother was a devoted Catholic, attending Mass every day.
She cites her parents as her largest inspiration. The family's move toLake Oswego was what started to shape Avery's life - and later career. Still a Lake Oswego resident, Avery said the town is 'soulful' and filled with a community of people that help each other. And she's gotten to know the city's different faces - and houses - through the years.
At 22, Avery worked as a salesperson in the Brass Plum department of Nordstrom. Local real estate agent Barbara Giddings perused the clothing racks, and altered the course of Avery's life.
'This was a large amount of clothes in 1977 (that she was purchasing). I helped her for four and a half hours, ran to every department and got her everything she needed,' said Avery.
Giddings noticed Avery's attention to detail and encouraged her to obtain a real estate license.
Three months later, Avery set up her desk within a Lake Oswego real estate office, took a deep breath and felt 'creative excitement,' not knowing what to expect from her new job. Within her first hour as a real estate agent, Avery had her first listing - a property on Lakefront. As the listing agent, Avery invited potential buyers through the home. It was written the first hour while on tour.
'I was desperately looking for something to sink my teeth into,' said Avery. 'It was extremely exciting when you can connect that quickly with your passion. I consider myself one of the luckiest ladies in the world.'
Thousands of house and lot sales later Avery said she'll never forget her first sale.
'It taught me that if you're tenacious and really believe in yourself you can really accomplish anything that you put your mind to,' said Avery. 'The stars were really lined up. It was in the cards. That message was so strong that this was (my) calling.'
Working as a team
Avery said she gets up early to get a head start on her day, get organized and make sure her 11-year-old gets off to school.
'You have to take care of yourself and you have to prioritize. Of course family comes first,' said Avery. 'I thank God every day because I have the best company to work for, the kindest team, a loving family and supportive husband.'
Avery said research is vital to be a successful Realtor.
'In order to be on the game you have to be familiar with values and trends because you are constantly advising people - what's high, what's low, what's fine,' said Avery.
'It's not just about comparables. (You) need to envision what happens a week from now, two weeks from now. Those Realtors that have a pulse on what can happen (in the market) are supreme with their talents in the business.'
Avery speaks fondly of her co-workers and clients, and said there is no excuse for an unreturned phone call.
'You can never be organized enough,' said Avery. 'I am in constant contact with my office. I have a spectacular team. Our goal is to get back to people as quickly as possible.'
Avery's team - ad representatives, a buyer's agent, listing coordinator, office assistant and closing coordinator - give Avery extra arms throughout the day. The team allows emails and phone calls to be returned quickly.
'We like to deal in 'immediate time,'' said Avery.
But while the team approach helps from the first handshake to the last, Avery said that she is a hands-on real estate agent throughout the whole process.
'When you call me, you're getting me,' said Avery. 'I want to negotiate the transaction. I want to list the house and take part. It's important for me.'
As a Realtor, Avery arranges house sales. But though the years, her work - like most Realtors - goes beyond negotiating a deal. She has picked up last minute Federal Expresses, found lost dogs in the middle of the night, organized her client's kids' birthday parties and picked up children from school when their parents were stuck in traffic.
'It's just part of the job - whatever is needed,' said Avery, 'I've put a transaction together at two in the morning. I have met people at 5 a.m. If they need me to be there, I'm there. I'll move heaven and earth to accommodate my clients.'
She has closed $1.3 billion in closed transactions within her career, she said, but talks modestly of the amount.
'Really the most important thing to me is the relationship with my clients and where I work,' said Avery.
With plans for a new Re/Max Equity Group Mary Jo Avery office building in Lake Oswego and continuing to serve the community that she says means so much to her, Avery expects her years ahead to be eventful.
So, what's in the cards 10 or 15 years from now?
'It'll be like Driving Miss Daisy,' said Avery, laughing. 'I'll need a driver but still going around and showing my properties and listing my houses. I don't ever see myself retiring.'
And she said she never sees herself moving from Lake Oswego and from all the local houses she's come to know over the years.
'My enthusiasm seems to grow on a weekly basis. Some people experience burnout and look (forward) to retirement. I am just as excited about (real estate) now - if not more - than the first day I started,' said Avery. 'It's just a different kind of excitement. It's a comfortable feeling of success, knowledge and experience. There is truly nothing like experience.'
Avery has shaped a career with Re/Max through years of experience.
'She's a very strong agent. She's very committed and very capable and ambitious. She's supportive of everyone,' said Koch.
Avery said her job allows her to combine two of her loves, people and homes.
'I love people; they fascinate me. I am drawn to homes. I have a passion for showing and listing homes. It's just inside me,' said Avery. 'You can't create it or invent it or force it into position. For me, it's a passion.'
Visit the Web site at www.maryjoavery.com.