Having been mentored by some of the best in the industry, Carol Dochen created a successful career by being a leader in the real estate community. Learn how she’s paying it forward.
On Being a REALTOR®
People need us for the most important transaction, probably of their life, other than marriage or raising a child. Where you live and when you are spending more money than you’ve ever spent in your life, you need a guide and you need an advisor. That’s what we do. I tell people, we wear so many hats: we’re marriage counselors, we’re therapists, we’re taxi cab drivers, we’re mortgage lenders, we’re babysitters, we’re general contractors. For a time period in people’s lives, we’re as important to them as their doctor, and we seem to be more accessible. And people need to talk to us at all hours of the day and night because real estate is so vital to people’s lives that during times of transition, that’s why they’re coming to us to help them.
In 1981, I interviewed for a PR position and it wasn’t a good fit. Irene Smith was a family friend who started selling real estate in the seventies, and she said, “Come and work with me. I’m going to teach you.” I got my license and I worked for her with her, side-by-side, for ten years. And then in 1991, I went out on my own—and other REALTORS® came to me and said, “I want to work with you.” It’s just sort of evolved. My son says it’s organic, and I think it has been. I try to teach people what I know and most of my agents have been with me a long time. One of the agents brought her son into our company as a REALTOR®, and now my daughter has joined us. What sets us apart is our thoroughness, our dedication to our clients, and our mission of serving. We get it right.
On Being a Leader
Jane Graham, who was a REALTOR® for many years and was an ABoR Director in the ’80s, helped mentor me and said, “I think you should get involved.” And I did. I served on the board of the directors close to 10 years, spread out. I served on the ACTRIS Board as Chair twice, I’ve been on Professional Standards, the Foundation Board, and Texas REALTORS® board. I’ve been on different committees. And through that work, I’ve met so many REALTORS® and established wonderful relationships with them. It’s made doing my business much easier by having those personal relationships.
In terms of community involvement, it’s important that people see what REALTORS® are like: we’re people who care about our community. Real estate is more than just a transaction. It’s also that we care, and we want to be creating a better environment. And the advocacy part of it, whether it’s at the state legislature or city council or the school board, we use our best efforts to make Austin a better place, to help with property rights, to help with keeping the school districts viable and help level the playing field so the kids across the region all get a good quality education, whether they live North, South, East or West.
I want my own children to serve on boards and committees as they’re building their careers. I just think it’s vital. It helped me so much to learn about what ABoR does, what Texas REALTORS® does; going to state conventions, national conventions, lobbying at Capitol Hill. Everybody needs to do that and see what this industry is all about. It’s an amazing way to build professionalism and make connections—and just understand how Austin real estate fits in nationally.