Broker Spotlight: Amanda Howard
March 16, 2021
“She stands out for treating every client as if his or her home is a million-dollar listing, and trains us the same way. It’s what keeps our clients returning year after year.”
Amanda Howard clearly has won the respect and admiration of her real estate team at Amanda Howard Sotheby’s International Realty. Her colleagues nominated her for this first Alabama Realtors® Broker Spotlight using terms that cover almost every letter in the alphabet, including: award winner, business sense, caring, devoted, exemplary, fun, giving, humility, involved, kind, mentor, owner, partner, supporter, and tastemaker. Howard, throughout her life and career, set goals and acquired knowledge and skills to earn the number one spot for real estate teams in Alabama for a number of years, according to America’s Best Real Estate Agents and Real Trends/Wall Street Journal (from 2013-2018).
A Florida native, Howard spent a few years in the Chicago suburbs before relocating to the Huntsville area in 2004. In her first year in her new market, she sold 77 homes and, in 2009, launched her own brokerage. The rest is history. Howard now focuses on coaching and mentoring her team of innovative Realtors® and giving back to her community through service and leadership roles for dozens of boards and local organizations.
We asked Howard to share some insights into her life, career, and lessons she’s learned along her path to success.
Q: Describe a typical day in the life of Amanda Howard.
A: My day starts with waking up at 5:00 a.m.; at the gym by 6:00 a.m. and back home for time with husband to prepare for the day. I’m in the office by 8:30 a.m.
I jump to checking messages for needed responses as soon as I arrive at the office. Next is our leadership huddle at 9:00 a.m. The huddle is for our leadership and agents who want extra coaching time. The structure of the huddle is informal and limited to 15 minutes. The goal is to increase communication and cut down on emails. We close the huddle with our mission statement or core values. Then there is training for new agents. I’m in back-to-back meetings until 3:30 p.m. By then I’m mentally tired and do things to wrap up my day, respond to emails, update notes in our database, write thank you notes, review agent reports or anything needing less brainpower, and really to close loops to make my following day easier to hit the ground running. My goal is to be home by 4:30-5:00 p.m. This way I have time for myself, dinner prep, a manicure/pedicure with my daughters, or a glass of wine with a friend. We also make it a priority to have dinner as a family – that’s difficult with teenage daughters – at least three nights a week.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: Jupiter, Florida. My husband, Travis, and I decided we wanted to travel and decide where we wanted to live before having children. We spent three years in the suburbs of Chicago where Ashley was born and then returned to Jupiter where Abigail was born. My husband has always been very supportive. We visited my parents, who were transferred from Jupiter to Huntsville a couple times a year. I fell in love with the mountains, change of seasons and Southern accents. I hoped my daughters would adapt and have that. (They don’t.)
Q: As a child, how did you answer the question, what do you want to be when you grow up?
A: Physical therapist. I always loved anatomy and physiology, sciences and working with people. I volunteered at Jupiter Hospital. I was told there was a five-year wait list to get into physical therapy school and that I should get a massage therapy license. It was a great experience, and led me to the realization it wasn’t what I wanted to do.
Q: It’s an obvious question, I know, but what prompted you to choose real estate as a career?
A: I had a wonderful childhood raised by wonderful parents, but college was not in my future. There simply was not the funding for that. We married younger than most people would encourage. We wanted to travel and not have children for seven years. I was still looking to find myself – and all young women need to find themselves in some way.
As we traveled, I shadowed my husband who was in IT industry and I knew that I didn’t like that. “He [my husband] said think back to something you thought was fun or felt the job was fun.” For some reason it occurred to me that, when I was younger, I enjoyed my summer visits with my aunt in Oklahoma. I didn’t know what she did, but she always seemed to have fun, and it didn’t feel like she was working when I was with her. I called her and asked her what she did for a living. “Oh, honey, I was in real estate,” was her response. I loved hanging out with Aunt Gin, and she always made time with me a priority, though she was working. We were in the suburbs of Chicago at the time, and we had the National Association of Realtors® right there. I believe God puts you in the right place at the right time.
Q: What makes your career most enjoyable?
A: For me, it is that you can control your destiny. Want to be top in sales? Make a specific income? Coach or mentor agents? Have no cap on your potential? My goal changed with each season of my life…since 2004 until today.
Q: Any important lessons learned along the way?
A: Really, it’s listening to others, looking for mentors and being coachable. When I began, I was looking for someone I could learn from. There weren’t many people who would reach out to help me. I believe that has morphed. Here, in my office, we teach the spirit of giving back. There are at least 10-15 in my office of 50 who immediately come to mind as they regularly will reach out and give back to help other agents in our industry. Some have an open mind to accept coaching and some don’t. Your mind is like a parachute; it only works when it’s open. People need to keep an open mind.
Q: As you look back on your life and career, can you identify a defining event or person that directed your course?
A: The first persona I followed was Brian Buffini – and I’ve never met him in person. I liked the simplicity of his methods and motivational talks and the basic core value of treating people the way you want to be treated when I started. Then as I went from beyond a beginner, Bob Corcoran was by far my best coach and the biggest influence on my life and career.
Q: From your nominations for this spotlight, it appears that you are involved in dozens of state and local boards, committees, organizations, and charities. How do you find the time to serve in so many advisory and leadership roles?
A: It’s one of the hardest things for me – to say no. It’s always scheduling and time management. I am very stringent with my time. Earlier in my career, I knew I had to give up more time and I discussed that with family. As long as you have a plan and stay on the same page, you can do that. My first question now is what’s the time commitment expectation? Is there anything that would make me let them down? Sometimes they adjust for me if they really want me on that board. The clarity in expectations helps us decide if it’s a win-win for us both.
Q: What do you consider your biggest accomplishment?
A: Really, it’s my empire. My husband and I started at 19 years old, married, no college degree, small jobs, and a little debt. We made ourselves through hard work, reading books, and finding great mentors. We did what we set out to do, traveled a little, “found out more about ourselves” as we all do in our 20’s, but when we decided to settle in Huntsville, and start our family, we buckled down and really worked hard to implement all we had learned. We saved and invested wisely. We took risks, learned from failures, and have created an incredible brokerage built on giving back and supporting others. Additionally, we were able to start creating a portfolio of investment properties as well as investing in other businesses that relate to the real estate field. Our daughters know they are both going to college – something important to us since we had not been able to do that for ourselves. Our savings and retirement is set. So, now we are at the point where we can grow our businesses and continue to uplift others because we love it and are having a blast doing it. It’s no longer work; this is FUN!
Q: Is there a question I should have asked you?
A: I would say maybe it’s what I really love most. I get asked on occasion but not that often. My biggest accomplishments now are not sales. Now, it is helping my agents hit their goals, and I love being able to see those things come to fruition. I had an agent come in needing to be the breadwinner of the family and make $40,000 per year. Now, we’ve been able to get the couple to a combined income of $300,000+ doing what they love and are passionate about. It’s important for me to help all of our agents obtain whatever career/life goals they set out to achieve. We helped a scared, newly single mother by coaching her on time management, and within her first year she was making more money than her ex-husband. No longer scared of if she could make it on her own, and a renewed confidence in her step. Things like that excite me and motivate me.