One on One: Donna Flannery, real estate agent at ERA Key Realty Services in Spencer
Published in the Telegram & Gazette, February 24, 2019
Donna Flannery of ERA Key Realty Services in Spencer recently completed her 1,000th sale.
Donna Flannery worked for the MLS for four years before deciding to get her real estate sales license in 1992. She was named “Rookie of the Year” that year and recently closed on her 1,000th home. That’s an average of a closing in every 7 out of 10 weeks, a pace many agents would find enviable and she does it all solo, without a team, though with some strong administrative support. She is a top-ranked ERA Key Realty Services agent in Spencer and has won numerous awards for her sales skills as well as for her volunteering effort. Her family has lived in Spencer for five generations and she still lives on Sugden Reservoir where she grew up. When she’s not working or volunteering, she likes to spend time with her children and grandchildren.
Do you have a printable war story or cautionary tale from your early days?
I started in a tough market and that made it the perfect time for me to start because the market was so challenging. I’ve had a paycheck since I was 13, and the thought of not having one was daunting. I threw my self into it headfirst. You can appreciate the easier times down the road. I’m grateful for those times.
Once, I was selling a condo that had been rented and the tenants — who had not paid rent in months — had been evicted. When I opened the door to the unit a horrible odor made it impossible to enter. Long story short: they had put a raw turkey in the attic scuttle that sat there for the month during the hot summer ... The maggots just came pouring down when they opened the hatch. They also filled the sinks and toilets with concrete. This one is at the top of the list.
My first three transactions were with a home inspector who was everyone’s nightmare. The first two properties did not close. We’re talking eight-hour home inspections. My motto that I learned from an old time real estate friend of mine at that time was: No roses ‘til it closes. That stuck in my head. I had a call from the buyers’ agent the day before closing, she said the closing was off because my buyers decided they hated each other. You can’t count on anything until it closes.
I really believe my success has been from loyalty, hard work and honesty. My business is 100 percent referral. I never rest on those laurels. I’ll never retire. I enjoy what I do.
What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
Well, I learned how to water ski for the first time when I was 41 years old. My neighbor was watching me try to learn with my kids. He said, “I’m tired of watching them try to drown you. If you do what I tell you to do, you’ll get up on your next try.′ And I did. These days I stick to jet skiing and tubing, though. They’re safer.
Do you have any advice for someone starting out in the real estate business?
I’d say if you take it seriously, you have to work it full time. It’s hard and there are no weekends or nights off. It’s more than a 40-hour-week job. I watch all those HGTV shows and think, ‘it’s never that easy.’ When you do have a relatively uncomplicated transaction, it feels strange. You learn something on almost every transaction and that only benefits your future clients.
There is also a way to have a balance with this occupation. I’m grateful for the years I’ve had and still volunteer in my community, earn a living, be there for my kids and grandkids. I work for a very supportive company. I’ve been with ERA for 22 years, they give all the support you could possible need. They’re like a second family. They’ve been generous to me. They’re pretty awesome. We’re one giant family of 400 agents. You get calls from headhunters and I tell them I’m never leaving. I love where I am and there’s value to that.
You volunteer for a lot of nonprofits in Spencer. Where does that come from?
People in Spencer have been great to me and my family I’d never live anywhere else.
My family has lived in Spencer for five generations. I’ve lived on Sugden Reservoir my entire life and I’m still there. My mother was an advocate for those less fortunate ever since I can remember. I’ve been a member of the Exchange Club to raise money to help kids in the community. I believe in giving back when you can and I love my town. I’m happy to help whatever way I can. My mother instilled it in me. That’s the beauty of the job I have it allows you to balance work, raising a family and helping raise my grandchildren (three) and give back to my community. I could attend my kids sports games and work.
Compiled by Correspondent Jim Morrison