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Ode to the Realtor Mom




Freedom – Right?

As we approach Mother’s Day,  I’ve been thinking of how fast my kids are growing up.   Everyone tells you how quickly it’s going to go but when you have a colicky, crying infant you think, ‘One can only hope.’

You should know, my father was the instigator; he was the one that kept suggesting I get my real estate license by saying, “What if you did a deal every now and then?”

At that time, I had two boys – a two year old and a newborn and I was President of my local MOMS Club.  I had been a stay-at-home mom for two years and I thought, “What if I did a deal every now and then? Real Estate allows you so much freedom, right?”

A little over a year later, I had my real estate license and it quickly became more than ‘a deal every now and then’ – and I loved it.   My friends were growing families and an immediate source of wonderful business.

In theory the job is flexible – but in practice – it can be demanding in ways that can be intrusive with a family.  Yet, I gave birth to my third child, my daughter, and I nursed her, and cared for her from my home, and I was able to continue working.  The year of my pregnancy and her birth was my best year in production up to that point.

The Elusive Search for Balance

As a working mother, I think many of us struggle with the elusiveness of ‘balance’.  In a real estate market where only the strong survive, finding that balance is a daily effort.  As a mother, I have often felt torn;  I think many women do.

As a once stay-at-home mother, I know that the often expressed sentiment is that to be a full-time, at home mother is superior.  I know that full-time working women feel that there is something to be said for the empowerment gained in a career that is particularly important for a women.  I could argue both sides of this debate with confidence.

Artwork and Frozen Pizzas

There are challenges with being a working mother in the real estate industry. Sometimes my days are chaotic and unpredictable.  Sometimes I forget the flower for Teacher Appreciation week.  Sometimes I forget to bake for the fundraiser.  Sometimes a bed goes unmade.  Sometimes we have a frozen pizza for dinner.

But there are gifts this business has afforded me that I never take for granted.  I drop my kids off to school everyday and I’m here everyday when my kids come  home.  I have helped in each of my their classrooms.  I attend every play, every conference, and every award ceremony.  I can take a day in the middle of the summer and go to the beach (even if I do sneak in a few work related calls).   I’m here to break up the fights, soothe the fever, admire their artwork, and laugh at their jokes.  I try to be present.  Phone calls don’t interrupt picking up or dropping off at school, and they don’t interrupt meals.

I suspect that they will have memories of the times my work has ‘intruded’ on their moments with me.  But, more importantly, I believe they will also have memories of me being around.  I know that they will see the sense of self reliance this career has given me, and yet the true partnership I have with their dad.

Real estate has been the career that has afforded me the ability to be the kind of woman, the kind of mother I really wanted to become.  I still love the business and I’m filled with such a sense of gratitude for all that it has given to me.

To all my fellow Realtor Moms – Happy Mother’s Day!

Linsey Planeta is the Broker Owner of Belterra Fine Homes in Orange County, California. Linsey rants regularly on her blog, OC Real Estate Voice. She also provides sellers with tips on how to get their home sold on Why Didn't My Home Sell? She has been an active Real Estate Coach and Instructor and loves working with agents so that they may look at their business with fresh eyes, renewed purpose, and defined systems. Linsey can be found in her office or you can also find her on Twitter@Linsey.

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  1. Joe@Augusta GA Homes

    May 6, 2009 at 5:53 am

    Since joining my wife in real estate upon my retirement from the Navy in 2003, it has been amazing to me to see the balance this has provided in our lives – and the flexibility it requires. Although I long for the days of 30-days paid leave a year, I still love the trade.

    Like you, Linsey, this job has afforded us the ability to miss very few school and extra-curricular events with the kids – from church functions to football, basketball, track, and cheer events. My wife has been able to make every school lunch, see the kids to the door, and see them come back in again. Rare is the day that we cannot balance our schedules enough to ensure she does not miss an important moment. Happy Mothers Day back at ya Linsey!

  2. Ken Brand

    May 6, 2009 at 6:57 am

    Nice. Bless all moms – amen. Happy Mothers Day:-)

  3. Louise Scoggins

    May 6, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Hi, Linsey! I too am a mom and busy Realtor. I have a 2-year old son and have had my 3 busiest years ever since becoming pregnant. I actually negoitated a contract during labor and while I was at the hospital (I know, I know…). It’s definitely a challenge to find the right balance to being a successful businesswoman and a great mom — both are full time, hands on jobs. I really enjoyed reading your post b/c it’s nice to know there are other moms who struggle with the same things I do.

    But all in all, my career affords me great flexibility to be with my son, go on vacation when I want to, all of the above mentioned items. I wouldn’t change a thing! For me, the trick is working harder and smarter in a shorter amount of time so that when it’s time to be Mommy, nothing has to take away from my precious little boy 🙂

    Happy Mother’s Day!

  4. Missy Caulk

    May 6, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Linsey, I was a stay at home mom until my now 19 year old entered kindergarten.

    It’s funny how our kids perceive us. The older ones remember me being at home, cooking, cleaning, car pooling, and Allyssa remembers me being a working mom.

  5. Karen Highland

    May 6, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    I was a stay-at-home mom for many years and just joined my husband in the real estate business 2 years ago. I loved this post Linsey, because its true, real estate is flexible, even if it can be demanding. Being flexible still lets us put our family first. Thanks for a nice post, happy mother’s day to you!

  6. Nicole Boynton

    May 6, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    What a great a timely story. Here’s a toast to working moms everywhere and especially the ones daring enough to juggle real estate and kids! Happy Mother’s Day to us all!

  7. Paula Henry

    May 6, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    Linsey – As I reflect on the days my children were young, it is a wonderful time of bliss. No – it wasn’t perfect, but it is definitely the little things they always remember, like showing up at school, field trips, being home when they get home from school. I’m not sure I could have worked in real estate with 4 children, but I always wish I gotten my license sooner.

    Truly, the years pass so quickly and everyday, I feel blessed to be a MOM.

    Happy Mother’s Day!

  8. Lisa Sanderson

    May 7, 2009 at 11:44 am

    I got my license the same year I became a mom. My oldest is now 16. It’s been quite the ride! Happy Mother’s Day, Real Estate Moms & Otherwise!!

  9. Elizabeth

    January 22, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    How did you get clients when you first started out as a stay at home mom? Did you bring your children with you on appointments or was there a sitter? I am seriously considering this as I have been a stay at home mother of 2 for a few years but we really could use the extra income.

  10. Linsey

    January 23, 2010 at 12:06 am

    Much of my business initially included young mothers like myself so there was some built in understanding but I definitely think that today’s market requires a tremendous amount of commitment. Many of my initial clients came from the things I was naturally doing with other new moms.

    I think this is a tremendous career for a mother – but you and your client’s may best be served by working in a team environment with another experienced agent guiding you initially. It’s a highly complex time in the real estate industry. It’s still a wonderful, and potentially flexible career for a woman. But I do think it requires a passion for the industry and a deep commitment to the profession.

  11. Ruth

    February 4, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Hi moms, I need your help before kicking off my realtor mom plan. I really want to have a flexible work after my new baby was born 4 months ago with some brain damage. Currently I work for a big company with very good health insurance and my husband does not have income. I really like to know as realtors, which health insurance options you could have. I would love to be at home with my baby and also welcome my 5 years old when she is back from the school. But having a good/fair health insurance is very important for my family especially with my daughter’s sickness. Thank you very much!

  12. Melissa

    February 24, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    Linsey, thank you for your post. It’s really inspiring to me. Becoming a realtor is something I’ve thought about for a long time. I am a stay at home mom as well. Can you work for an established agency and do it all from home? Are real estate agencies less inclined to hire you if you want to work from home? Thanks!

  13. Eric Hempler

    April 7, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    I came across this post today while looking for ideas to balance my role of Stay at Home Dad and Realtor. I started back in July and for me it seems the only thing I can really work on is the Social Media/Internet related items. I’ve been able to do a few open houses for other agents, but haven’t had any luck with those yet. I write a blog and have figured out how to drive traffic to my site with a few different tools, but have yet to expand my sphere group. I’ve tried going to a few kids things with my son, but it doesn’t always pan out because he needs to nap at the same time as those events. Right now I feel a little stuck as to what I could be doing to meet more people.

  14. Candace Breen

    March 2, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Real Estate is my second career. I began my teaching career at age 22 and stayed in it for 11 years until I was married and had my first child. I became a stay-at-home mom and depressed. My husband encouraged me to pursue my interests and I did even though I was a new mom. I went to school online to get my MA, opened a business and now, am in real estate. My children are ages 3 and 1 but my schedule is very flexible. I get my license soon. I’ve heard a lot of negative comments about me possibly not going to be a good mom due to my new career path. I have a lot of support, mentors etc. and I have learned how to schedule and plan. I may take calls during the day on my cell when I am with my kids but that is no different than my husband or one of my mom friends calling. I thank you for your post. It is very inspiring.

  15. Brittany Ford

    December 16, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    This article is a breath of relief. I am going for my real estate license and all everyone can tell me is that I can’t be a mother and a realtor. It’s just not worth it. I will lose time with my family and be working 60 hours a week.. blah blah blah. It was discouraging. However, after reading this, I feel like I can do it. It’s tough work but it can be done.

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Green Live & Work

Regenerating architecture: green building product innovations

(Green News) Sustainable design has evolved beyond robotics, and has tapped into the basics, using pre-historic methods: bacteria. Genius!





A Third Grade Teepee

Remembering back to third grade science class, about ten sticks bound together at the top with twine of some sort, and a little beansprout planted at the base of each pole, eventually became the coolest shelter this eight year old had ever seen. Seedlings wound their way up, tendril by tendril until their leaves reached just far enough to clasp and join, and create and fantastic teepee that was actually a food source, too! Talk about the ultimate in sustainability – but that was old school.


Making Something Out of Nothing

Enough about my blast from the past. I was seriously thrown into nostalgia when I thrust onto the path of this fantastic article by Gary Wollenhaupt earlier this week regarding some of the most inspirational green-building products I have heard about in quite sometime. It must have something to do with the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute’s Innovation Challenge and building products that seem to become something from nothing! Apparently these folks were up to the task!

So, maybe the little teepee which was representative of the sacred “three sisters” or corn, beans, and squash that the Native Americans utilized as their staple crops symbolized something else to me. The regeneration of soil, the regeneration of the land, and a regeneration of that happy little elementary school structure, covered in beans which became the perfect hiding spot.

Obviously, the teepee wasn’t innovative, but for this little kid, the shelter “appeared out of nowhere” once those leaves filled in. The Forbes article pulled together an arsenal of truly innovative products that are not only environmentally friendly, sustainably-minded products that will certainly turn many green-builders on their heads!

The Home that Regenerates Itself

Innovation comes in many different forms. Lots of great builders looking to build sustainable homes look towards energy efficiency in a hard-core way and building with products that take building to a new level; however, these innovators have gone and created building products that supposedly grow themselves, or are fire-retardant, or are -say what?- regenerating when they are broken? Oh, ok? This sounds like something out of the future, and we don’t even have our hoverboards yet!

Seriously though, it is amazing to think that there is a product made of a bacteria which will regenerate itself. Self-healing materials have been around for a while, but not necessarily for home building. Wollenhaupt noted that the”Bacteria engineered to thrive in dry climates is helping to create a concrete that can repair itself.

The bacteria are mixed into the concrete and release calcium carbonate, similar to limestone, as part of their waste process. The material fills in holes and cracks in the concrete, making it last longer and reducing maintenance costs.” As someone who is incredibly interested in developments like these, I am quite curious as to their durability and what the testing has been like for the products, but can’t wait to see what the future holds for green building products that bring us full circle! Fascinating, isn’t it?

Watch it Grow

It will be fascinating to see what happens when these homes are built out of these biologically and ecologically innovative building products, and if they will indeed withstand the test of time and do as they say they will. Take some time to view the entire roster of impressive applicants to the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, the California based non-profit who put on the event, check out their information, and applaud their achievements in green-building and design!

Now I want to go in the yard and build a little pole-bean teepee, and watch it grow. I don’t think my back yard is at the “coral-like” regenerating concrete bio-product level quite yet.

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Green Live & Work

Superadobe: super sustainable building phenomenon

Taking something that already had the power to be awesome and making it, well, super-powered, that is what one bright-eyed architect did with an age-old building concept. Let’s take a mini-adventure into the world of Superadobe, where a blending of concepts which are thousands of years old with some new ideas has created yet another buzz in the stratosphere of sustainability and green building.





Superadobe, I am Your Father

I believe it was Christopher Nolan who said “Batman and Superman are very different characters but they’re both iconic and elemental.” Either way you cut it, adobe is elemental, and adobe is nothing new; I make the comparison the Batman and Superman because they are both superheros, however different…

Adobe is also something nothing short of super. From the ancient Egyptians to the Anasazi Tribe, many cultures near and far have utilized the brilliant mixture of straw, soil, sand and water tamped together to create a sun-hardened earth house for shelter through the ages. These homes are sturdy, cool on the inside in the heat of the Sun, and warm on the inside during cool nights.

It is quite possibly some of the most amazing architecture that we can find when we look at the history of our progression of architecture, next to the great pyramids and cliff dwellings. Let’s face it, in many parts of the world, because of its magical simplicity, adobe is, after caves, how humans survived the elements.

Superadobe is Born Powerful

In the present, an Iranian born architect, Nader Khalili, has discovered, well- I say present, but it was some twenty plus years ago- how to perfect the concept of adobe and bring it forward into the new age. Through modification of the structural processing of the staging of the adobe, Khalili has managed to create a product and process that he has coined as Superadobe. Khalili has said that “Superadobe is an adobe that is stretched from history into the new century. It is like an umbilical cord connecting the traditional with the future adobe world.” He has an interesting take on adobe and its re-emergence to the “new world” through his superadobe product.

Moon-dust or Sand. Take Your Pick – it is Still Super.

What this really means is that his process of taking long tube-like bags, usually made of sturdy polypropylene or sometimes straight-up burlap, and filling them with sand, or rice or any sort of fill, then creating a trench for the foundation, and forming the frame out of these tubes which are filled with the “fill of choice” and then tamped down, either by hand or with a pneumatic tamper. As the foundation is created, windows can be created by having voids not filled, or cut out after the fact. A huge part of superadobe, beyond the tubular filled bags of soil or the like is the barbed wire which reinforces the shape of the buildings, which are generally a coil of these reinforced tubes which ultimately form a beehive shape. There have been extensive experiments with the concept of superadobe, or the earthbag building concept, which Khalili first came up with after attending a symposium at NASA in 1984 where he was trying to figure out who to build structures on the moon! Imagine, bags full of moondust. That sort of sounds magical, or super! Doesn’t it. Just agree. It does.


From the Moon to Your Backyard it seems that not even Kryptonite will take  this stuff down! Superadobe is one sturdy building concept. It is aerodynamic, just as its predecessor, just regular old adobe is. However; with the beehive and or rounded edges that it tends to take on, it can survive hurricane force gales. A superadobe home or building can be built by unskilled labors in a matter of days by the resources available on site, either of the sandbags, or of the specific tubing and barbed wire. The buildings are sturdy, sustainable, cost effective and can be built in nearly all elements. As a builder, one would look to superadobe from the cost effective standpoint for a client who is thinking about passive solar design; it tends to stay cooler during the day in those hot climates, and warm in the evenings in cold climates. The stuccoed exterior is incredibly low maintenance and provides the client for an exceptional opportunity for reduction in utility bills, or for even being off the grid, if they so desire. New offices looking for an interesting, cost effective and sustainable building concept, could certainly look at superadobe as an option. The unique building structure of the circular and hive-like shapes lend towards something new and different. If you want to stand out from the crowd, be sustainable, and possibly have a quick build, superadobe could be for you.  It From the moon to Costa Rica and everything in between, superadobe is a sustainable building concept that has green building aficionados looking towards the sun. It’s a bird, it’s a plane. No. It’s superadobe.

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Green Live & Work

GreenSpur: sustainable construction, reclaimed materials

GreenSpur Unveils their first OneNest Project home built in Virginia, a sustainable construction project that could be duplicated across the world.



sustainable construction

sustainable construction

One of a kind sustainable construction project

This weekend was full of anticipation and completed, what could be called “full-circle-excitement come to fruition” for those who have been keeping tabs on the GreenSpur construction team. Not so long ago, I brought word to you about the incredible opportunity that Mark Turner and his concept team were working on regarding a fully sustainable, green-built home constructed of Structurally Insulated Panels (SIPS) and reclaimed materials.

This project is the first of its kind and is hopefully going to be one of many that will be replicated internationally as a model of sustainable construction that meets the needs of a true nest.

Flying into the Nest

Minimalism, with a true rustic elegance is what you find peering out at you as you make your way up the steep, curving drive to the Delaplane OneNest home set atop a perfect hill overlooking the foothills of the Shenandoah mountains. It is almost as if someone has called in the gentle fog to hover just at the top of the treeline for intrigue, mystery and sultry ambiance to pull you into the site. Recall those mystical tendrils of smoke that lure… that is what pulls you here…to something new and exciting.

Before you get to the site, strategically placed communal fire pits with site-found logs are hissing, popping and generating that delightful campfire smell and then there is that house. With the elevation of a classic barn marrying a contemporary sanctuary, OneNest sits there among newly planted native river-birch trees, nestled in yet peeking out. The patina of the tin a deliberate match to the brick-red rust of the seamed and painted hardi-plank that covers the SIPS.

The standing seam metal roof line is a delicate yet masculine balance to the reclaimed history that is woven into this home through the use of wood paneling straight from past cabin quarters of the John Marshall property. The facade wouldn’t be complete without the mirror image of floor to ceiling windows flanking a steeple like fireplace that is masoned in stone harvested directly from the site. Usable porches galore. Panoramic views of the fog rolling on and on across the pits and valleys of the foothills while the cows come home. A matching barn is just beyond the main house that has an awning wide enough for a classic riding tractor. Classic is right. This is just the exterior.

Getting Cozy on the inside

Delivering more inside, OneNest’s vaulted ceilings are welcoming and open, leaving one to be baffled by the thought that this space is one-thousand square feet. It could be thousands more; the trompe l’oeil affect of the grande windows to the view beyond pulls the eye out and into the distance. The living room has very functional usable built-ins and is open to the stunning kitchen with a wonderful amount of storage. The fantastic use of counterbalanced Connecticut-style pull down lanterns is just one more ‘trick of the eye’ and fun for the gorgeous space and means to draw the eye up to the loft space above which is the master suite.

Past the kitchen, a full bath, well appointed and glowing is to the left, and storage to the right. Beyond that, windows, again floor to ceiling brighten the space and pull in the outdoors while highlighting the spiral staircases to go up and up into the nest. Before heading up, a nosy poke into the crawl space reveals some more smart design, wine-cellar in the crawl built from galvanized metal buckets and wine-racks; a good use of space in an otherwise unusable crawl!

The second floor is home to the lofted main bedroom, which has a lovely view of the great wide yonder and can be conveniently enclosed with thoughtful curtains; wrapped around the far right of the bedroom is a little nook- great for reading, a dog-friend or maybe some lovely indoor plants for creating a nice indoor air quality. The master spa-bath is impeccable with an egg-shaped soaker tub, walk-in shower complete with rain head and well, it is simple, yet stunning. Plus, there is a fireplace above the bath. Nice… I

n the central stairwell, up once again, the next level houses the guest room with incredibly functional use of space, reclaimed wood and a sumptuous bathroom which is just incredibly well done. This OneNest space is an unbelievable four stories of beautiful, reclaimed, green living space built to help the owner truly nest in, living in what they need.

sustainable construction

sustainable construction

sustainable construction

sustainable construction

sustainable construction

Nesting as a Trend

Why OneNest? Business partner, Arian Lewis, stated “this is something that can be replicated in any country across the world. I’m currently talking with contacts in Malaysia to see about using our concept houses there.”

Lewis is the partner based out of the Oxford England team, who has been working on outreach to developing nations. These homes can be built anywhere. They are sustainable and don’t have to take up a lot of space or resources. Minimal or luxury finishes can be put into them and the product can be built an a relatively small amount of time.

Mark Turner, the brainchild behind GreenSpur and the OneNest project, said when asked what the biggest take away should be for the project, “Well, this was absolutely a labor of love and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I wanted to do something different that other builders weren’t doing and that would change the way things were being built in the construction industry.” He has proved it once before when he built a net-zero house on Capitol Hill, now he has done it again with the OneNest project’s first completed home, built in 100 days in Delaplane, VA.

Turner reminds us all that “OneNest is the context of everything in one world- a natural resting place.” Mark has also been quoted, “When I think about designing and building PLACE, I am inspired by Stegner’s quote, ‘There it was, there it is, the PLACE where during the best of our lives friendship had its home and happiness its headquarters.’ This 1000 SF OneNest Project is our team’s best attempt to capture this spirit. We are using radical approaches in design, materials and building science to capture that simple notion that we all universally yearn for: ‘happiness its headquarters.'” I love this about this team, they are so grounded in their since of duty to balance and harmony with nature, life and the elements.

What is Next for OneNest

Looking at their mission, Delaplane was a lovely place to select for the first part of this project’s journey. Just off of John Marshall Highway in historic wine country, this may be an idealistic “happiness headquarters.” The first OneNest will be open for extended stays as well as events for the next six months to continue to the conversation within the community and beyond about this intriguing and passionate design and building concept.

Where do you think we’ll see more of these beautiful, sustainable creations across the States and internationally? Start the conversation by making the visit.

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