Real Estate Consultant
Keller Williams Realty/ Red Stick Plus
“If you’re failing to plan, you’re planning to fail.” —Author Unknown
Red Stick Plus is a local affiliate of Keller Williams Realty, a full service international real estate company; each office is independently owned and operated. After researching other companies, Tara Askins chose Keller Williams because of the “Awesome training the company offers…for new agents and experienced agents, the training is like no other company’s.” She feels the core values and business ethics the company demands of its agents and affiliates have made Keller Williams one of the most respected real estate companies in the nation. “The home buying process is one of the major purchases in a person’s life. To help my clients make the right decision for them is a wonderful experience which connects me with them forever,” Askins said.
Askins started a career in banking in 1989 and worked in the banking industry until her switch to real estate. She got her start in real estate first as an investor. “My husband and I started buying investment property because we wanted some residual income.” Their own foray into the real estate world opened their eyes to a need to help others for foreclosure situations. They started a company called 4Closure Solutions, LLC which is still going strong. “When Katrina hit, the foreclosures slowed down, but now more and more people are losing their home to foreclosure.”
Born and raised in St Francisville, Askins has lived in Zachary since her marriage to Maurice in 1993. She continued working full time even after their two children were born. When asked how she managed to juggle the responsibilities of family and career, Askins said, “With a husband who’s willing to bathe the kids and wash the dishes.” When her two children started school, she began thinking about working from home or part time.
They were doing so well, so Askins decided to get her real estate license and coaxed her husband into going for it, too. Licensed by the Louisiana Real Estate Commission in 2005 she worked part time at first, but in 2006 it became too much to continue the full time job and work real estate, on top of a husband and two small kids. “I had to make a decision of what to keep and since I liked the husband and the kids I gave up the full time job.” The nine to five job didn’t leave her enough flexibility to devote the time she wanted to family. In real estate she has to take into account the homebuyers’ work schedules. She may have to work sometimes on nights or weekends, but she also can make her own schedule, working it around the kids going to school, field trips, special programs, etc. “I guard the time I set to be with the children. Once you tell them you are going to do something with them you have no choice but to do just that. I try not to work on Sunday afternoons. I take that as family time—a day to worship together and then to rest and get ready for the next week.”
The children, now ages ten and six, sometimes have had to accompany their mother to show a house “I tell them they are being trained to be realtors when they grow up.” Her husband still has his full time job, but because he is a licensed agent he can show houses if needed. He mostly helps on his day off or when she has a scheduling conflict with the children. “I call real estate his ‘honey do’ job.” Working with the person you live with has its rewards as well as challenges. Since he is in real estate, he understands how difficult her job can be, i.e., all the things realtors have to coordinate—buyers, sellers, the financing, the closing and sometimes even helping the client move! The main challenge is to keep the work and home separate. Askins said they were talking too much about business and she makes a conscious effort now to turn the real estate off after hours and concentrate on family.
Hurricane Katrina did impact the real estate market in the Baton Rouge area. Finding the right home became a little bit more difficult because of the number of people brought to the area by the evacuation. “Clients had to have all their ducks in a row as far as financing, closing costs, etc. because they might be competing against three or four other buyers.” After Katrina, the housing prices went up but they have stabilized somewhat. Askins thinks the market should hold steady for the next couple of years, especially with the major companies moving into the area and the growth of the Zachary, Central, and adjoining parishes of Livingston and Ascension. She still sees lots of people looking for housing. Buyers can take advantage of Bond Money or First Time Homebuyers Programs, which assist with closing costs and down payment. “Now is always the best time to invest in real estate because statistics show the fastest way to build wealth is through real estate.”
Asked to comment on the future of Baton Rouge, Askins said, “I’d like to see Baton Rouge concentrate more on our youth in the form of education and programs that will give them a sense of self and hopefully alleviate some of the crime that Baton Rouge is experiencing among its youth.”
This busy working mom has little spare time. She likes playing board games with the kids and going to movies. She also likes to relax with a book by her favorite author, Mary Higgins Clark. “I like her books because they are suspenseful and also they are clean-cut.” She also loves reading inspirational books, business books and anything dealing with family life and kids. She used to belong to an expensive book club, but decided to use the library more. On Sunday afternoons she takes the kids to the library and they come home with armloads of books. “Libraries are a very important part of my life. I love the summer reading program; my kids look forward to it each year.” They visit different libraries around the city and Askins said, “The newer buildings are just beautiful.”
For career inspiration she rereads The Millionaire Real Estate Agent by Gary Keller at least once a year. Askins didn’t remember where she first heard her favorite quote (at the top of this profile), but it stuck with her. It’s a popular saying on business and marketing websites. She lives by that creed and credits her success to planning ahead and following through with those plans.