Christine Maynard, a third-generation Alaskan, moved to Colorado Springs five years ago. Raised in Fairbanks, the 26-year-old ventured to the Lower 48 after studying psychology and business, entering the residential real estate industry three years ago.
One year ago she transitioned to commercial real estate as an independent contractor for RE/MAX’s commercial division. There she specializes in selling and leasing office, industrial and retail properties. Maynard is also involved with the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors and its Young Professionals Network, is a member of Business Networking International and is involved with the networking group Women Who Get Stuff Done.
The young professional spoke with the Business Journal this week about building relationships, the importance of a mentor and the joy of finding four seasons.
As a third-generation Alaskan, was your family upset when you left?
Everyone said I was going to move back right away. They thought I was crazy. Alaska was just really cold and dark. It’s an awesome place to visit. But people ask me, ‘Why did you move away from Alaska? It’s so beautiful.’ It got to negative 60 [degrees] the winter I moved here. Because it was so cold, it didn’t snow and it was on fire all summer. The weather there is so extreme so there’s not much you can do.
I love the mountains; I love the outdoors. I’m an avid snowboarder. Colorado was so attractive because there’s so much of that here and we also get sunshine.
Were you thinking of real estate as a career?
No. I’m third-generation real estate as well. I always said I wasn’t going to do what my family did. I went into psychology because I originally started majoring in business and I realized without people there’s no business. I wanted to learn more about people, so I started considering psychology. It was so fascinating and I love people but my passion is businesses, investing and working with business owners. I did some soul searching and realized I didn’t want to become a psychologist.
So you focused on real estate?
I watched my grandpa build a lot of wealth investing in commercial real estate for 40 years. I started in residential real estate. I didn’t really know then you could differentiate between the two. … I knew I was good at real estate but there was a disconnect with residential. It’s a lot more emotional. I’m a very logical person and that’s how I approach business. I didn’t have the connection with residential and decided to dive into commercial and make the switch.
What was different about the commercial side?
[Residential real estate] wasn’t as interesting to me. Helping people buy and sell houses — the system is relatively the same. With commercial real estate there’s more involved — financial analysis, understanding how it plays into the economy — there’s so much more to it. I got curious and was reading up on it a lot.
How difficult was the transition?
You know, a lot of people said it was a good ol’ boys club and being a young female, I shouldn’t and can’t do it. I said ‘That’s not true. I can do it.’ I’m good at making relationships, so I figured I’d go out and make my own relationships with investors and find a good mentor. That’s how I got in the door.
Talk about finding a mentor.
That was interesting. I’d reached out to a few brokers about having a client and trying to find mentorship. Some said they’d do it and pay me a small amount on the deal.
‘We’ll have to teach you…’ So they weren’t really interested.
It took a while. I just interviewed different commercial brokers who I thought would be a good fit until I found the right one. … I wanted to find someone who cared and wasn’t just trying to get one deal out of it — someone who wanted a partnership or longer-term relationship. To find a true, lasting mentor takes time.
Any advice to others looking for mentors?
Being able to have a vision of what you want to do is where it all starts. If you know what you want to do, just start talking about what you want to do all the time.
That’s how I got into commercial [real estate] and found a mentor.
‘I’ve been wanting to do commercial real estate.’
‘I have a client and I need help figuring out what to do.’
Just keep saying that. Talk about what you want to do with everybody. That’s when you’ll be able to identify opportunities.
How’s your first year as a commercial agent been?
It’s going great. It’s all been referral and word-of-mouth. I’ve actually gotten business a lot easier and quicker with commercial real estate than residential.
It’s been interesting to see. I feel I’m more trusted as an adviser in commercial real estate and that I’ve gained more respect from the clients I work with.
A lot of what I’ve done is tenant rep — working with small businesses and getting them into buildings to lease. That’s been really fun. That’s probably the most emotional part of commercial real estate that I’ve encountered because people are really excited. They might be a new business or moving into a larger location. What’s fun about that is that goes directly back into the Colorado Springs economy, strengthening it and creating more jobs. That’s really great to be a part of that.
Has involvement with organizations in the community benefited your business?
I’m a long-game thinker. I’ve definitely received direct benefit now, but business is all about relationships, and in commercial real estate, that’s especially true.
It’s a long-game industry. Every relationship I can make now helps my business.
What’s the long-game strategy for your career?
Right now I’m working on getting my [Certified Commercial Investment Member designation]. I will be in Denver to take a financial analysis course for that. Getting that designation is my first goal. Twenty years from now it would be really cool to have my own commercial brokerage.
What’s your favorite thing about the Springs?
It’s such a lame answer but the weather is a huge part of it. I like the weather because you can get all four seasons in one day. It’s never too hot for too long; it’s never too cold for too long. Also, the mountains are so close. You can drive 10 minutes and be immersed in the mountains.
The community is also diverse. You can drive to Manitou [Springs] which is so different from North Gate. Even though we’re a growing, larger city, we still are very small and I like that about it — probably because I’m from a small town.
Has the Springs changed during your five years here?
Astronomically. It’s been really cool to see. I moved here in 2013 … thinking everything is so affordable here. We still have a great affordability index but prices have definitely gone up. There wasn’t traffic when I moved here and it seems like, starting a month ago, there’s traffic everywhere. The housing market is going up. When I got into real estate you could wait a few days to put an offer on a house — and it had been on the market 20 days. Now you see multiple offers on the first day. … All the commercial development and absorption of buildings sitting around for a while have increased. And there’s all the development that hasn’t come to fruition yet.
What advice would you give yourself five years ago?
Don’t wait for permission. Everything I’ve ended up doing that has gotten me to where I’m at hasn’t been easy, because it’s been a little out of the norm — like getting into commercial real estate or moving here in the first place. I’ve had people tell me before, ‘You can’t do it,’ or ‘You shouldn’t do it.’
You’ll never get anywhere if you wait for permission