With backgrounds in everything from social work to horticulture to construction, our team uses their diverse knowledge and individual skill sets to serve our clients and support our community. And, in this series, we take a moment to introduce you to each member of our brokerage team. Today, let’s get to know April Johnson and learn what it’s really like to be a realtor.
What drew you to your job?
“My passion for improving my own personal home and living space is what drew me to being intrigued by real estate. From creating a lush backyard oasis to remodeling a kitchen for better functionality and everything in between, I love improving my space for me and my family to enjoy on a daily basis.
Our home is truly our “home base” and a place where we can make it what we want. So, it’s exciting for me to be able to help others find that space where they can create the home of their dreams too.”
What did you do before real estate?
“Before getting into real estate, I did a few things. While working my way through college, I worked in the restaurant industry. I also interned on a CSA farm and at a garden center. Then, after I graduated from UW Madison with a degree in Horticulture, I worked for a small residential landscaping firm for five years.
Meanwhile, I had bought my first home and began improving and remodeling it piece by piece. I also bought a piece of land and experienced the new build process. Through these activities I gained valuable knowledge and it sparked my passion for helping others do the same.”
What’s something you wish you knew when you started in real estate?
“This maybe doesn’t apply so much anymore now that I’ve been in it for 11 years, but in the early days I answered this question (with a little bit of humor) like this: ‘I didn’t realize listing appointments and buyer consultations would feel like so many job interviews to me…. clients interviewing us to decide if they wanted to hire us for our services or not.’
I do believe finding the right fit is very important in this industry, and it does take a few conversations to figure that out. And now, with experience under my belt, sitting down with clients feels less like an interview and more like a true consultation. When I’m with a client, we just talk. We get to know each other, and through our conversations, I learn about their goals and offer ways to help them meet their goals.”
What’s something you wish more people knew about real estate?
“I find it really interesting to see some of the assumptions people have about what we as realtors do or don’t do. People don’t buy and sell homes everyday so it makes sense that they aren’t super familiar with the process or what we do. So, when a client hires me and realizes through the process how invaluable our services are and truly comes to appreciate what we bring to the table beyond what they expected, it’s incredibly rewarding.”
How do you stay updated on real estate market trends?
“I read articles, continue to educate myself, and keep in touch with many colleagues. But the most knowledge comes from being a full time realtor submerged in our local market.”
What’s one of the hardest problems in real estate today?
“Two opposing topics come to mind: home affordability and land ownership.
With affordability, it seems it’s getting harder for the average person to have that security of home ownership. At the very basic level, people need a place to shelter and to live freely as they wish in their own space.
But ensuring everyone can afford that basic level is a hard problem to solve. It’s hard because of so many systemic issues. Our economy and housing market is wrapped up in such a complex system of abundance and scarcity, “Haves and Have-nots,” population growth, land availability, and so much more. All of that makes it so hard to move all of the system gears at once to create the affordability we need today. Things do shift overtime, but we need change today – not just decades from today.
Another tough problem in real estate today is the concept of land ownership: the idea that someone has the right to control a space and exclude others from that space and from that resource. I know we’re just used to it now in our current time and culture. We’re used to the idea that one human already ‘owns’ a piece of land and can sell it to someone else.
But it wasn’t always like this. The way we think of land ownership goes back to colonialism and what this country was founded on: expanding, conquering, and claiming new lands. In other words, pushing out native peoples and taking the land. I’m not a historian, but I know, here in our culture, the origin of how we came to “own” a piece of land is complicated and problematic.”
What gets you out of bed everyday to be a realtor?
“That’s easy, my individual clients! They feel like family to me, and I’m energized by helping them attain their dream. Obstacles are inevitable on this path, but I enjoy problem solving to find a way to make things happen for them. And seeing the pure joy and excitement when they attain that place and that sense of ownership to realize their home vision, to realize their dream… that’s what keeps me going daily.”