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Meet Raleigh Lee of Crossing a Bridge

Today we’d like to introduce you to Raleigh Lee.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’m a late bloomer in the residential real estate business. I spent most of my working life as a management consultant, and this is my encore career. I have about 10 years’ experience in real estate, but it hasn’t been 10 years in a row, and a couple of them were in investment properties.

When I finally began to get my business going most of my clients fell into the Baby Boomer age range. I was always hearing about how they wanted to downsize or get a new one-level home to get away from stairs, or something along those lines.

Then I was offered the opportunity to train as a Seniors Real Estate Specialist®. I jumped into that because I could identify so well with the market. Here was a chance to not only help myself but a lot of other people with really important issues having to do with their living decisions at a time in their lives when they needed that help the most.

The training reinforced my memory of helping my mother, who passed away at the age of 99, make the transition from aging in place . . . to a senior’s apartment . . . to caregiver support . . . to assisted living . . . to a skilled nursing facility (nursing home) . . . to her final resting place on a scenic bluff of the Wilmington River in Savannah, Georgia. Now I’m faced with many of these decisions myself. So, this is personal for me.

After my training and some extensive research, I wrote a book called Crossing a Bridge about these issues. I’ve been a writer all my life, so that was a natural for me. When we began promoting the book, the idea took off from there.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
When I re-entered real estate after the recession that started about 2008 I found it rough going. I had a hard time proving myself. A big part of that was my rejecting most of the training offered for generating leads and getting clients. When I compared those strategies to what I had learned from my professional background, they just didn’t make business sense to me.

My friends weren’t giving me any business either. I’m not sure why, but I’m glad about that now. I was rusty and relearning a business that had changed a lot from my earlier experience, and there was no compelling reason for me to practice on friends.

I made the situation worse with my attitude toward the profession. Just selling houses wasn’t enough for me. I needed a bigger purpose. I found one by turning my attention to prospects who had listed their homes for sale but did not sell them. Their listings had expired.

I saw a chance with these folks to offer some special help. I would come in and do what their earlier agents didn’t do – I would sell their houses for them. I was successful with that, and it was more fulfilling. They were frustrated, often angry, and many times desperate. When I succeeded, they were very thankful. At this point, I began to gain some traction as a REALTOR®.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Crossing a Bridge – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
First of all, we are residential REALTORS®. But we are SRES® (Seniors Real Estate Specialist®) trained and committed to that specialty.

The SRES® commitment distinguishes us in many ways. Yes, we will help you sell your house if that is in your best interest. But that might not be the best thing for you at this stage in your life, and we will help you decide about that.

If, after all the research and consulting that ought to be done, a client decides to age in place in their current home, we’ll help with that. We have working relationships with Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists, and we can put the client in touch with them. We are also qualified to consult on these issues without bringing in a third party.

There are many other important matters to consider when making later-in-life living decisions. Our clients might be faced with making choices about independent living or assisted living. There might be financial, tax, or legal issues to consider before deciding what to do next.

Baby Boomers are often undecided, even confused, about what to do in their situation. We have expertise and working relationships with certified specialists to offer in all these areas, and we consider that part of the job.

We also have a network of handymen, landscapers, downsizing experts, senior moving specialists, estate sale planners, storage services, and clutter reduction specialists on call. Some of the simpler things we can do, like having a notary come to the house when papers need to be signed, mean a lot to many of our clients.

Our team members have ties throughout the local senior communities. As a matter of fact, many agents belong to a variety of senior and community service organizations. We can provide referrals to resources like Meals on Wheels, public benefits offices, transitional services coaches, grief counselors, and other services, as needed. All this sets us apart from the norm in the residential real estate business.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Atlanta is a great place for this kind of service. There are more Baby Boomers here faced with these decisions than we will ever be able to help. They’re everywhere, and their population just gets bigger every day. That’s why we expanded our business through a network of partners all across North America.

Would I recommend a new agent start here in this specialty? Why not? I wish I had, and my belief in it continues to grow.

I was born in 1942, so I’ve crossed a lot of bridges myself. I’m a natural for this because I’m one of “them.”

However, if you’re young and maybe new to the business, I say go for it. Just get properly trained first. You don’t have to be old to be a Seniors Real Estate Specialist®. You just have to be a bit more patient with many clients and be willing to give a lot without getting paid. But your reward will come in many ways, and the money will too if you stay committed. By the way, you might be dealing with younger clients who are trying to help their parents.

There’s room for improvement in this specialty, though. The public needs to be aware that not every agent that has this designation also has the commitment to it. Many agents take the training to complete their continuing education requirements and then don’t pursue what they’ve learned. Since we refer clients to SRES® team members all over the US and Canada, I personally vet those agents to make sure they’re committed to the principles of the Seniors Real Estate Specialist® Council.

Beyond that, we need more education for the public. That’s why I wrote the book and why we’re conducting seminars and webinars about this subject. We’re also blogging and podcasting from our website on specific issues these folks ought to consider while they can. “Plan While You Can” is our tagline because you might wake up one day and find yourself unable to make these decisions on your own. Someone else might have to make them for you.

In terms of the people we serve, we need more builders to build homes that Baby Boomers need. They don’t need 4,000 plus square feet any longer. They don’t need three flights of stairs. They need homes that incorporate Universal Design in Housing standards.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Fleming Foto

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Tom Johnson

    September 1, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    Raleigh: What a splendid idea. I want to purchase a copy of your book. You always have been a superb writer. Like you, I am Crossing the Bridge—as we discussed on Sunday.

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