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In this column, real estate agents across the nation share stories of the lessons they’ve learned during their time in the industry.

After moving there at the age of 11, Marzena Wawrzaszek fell in love with New York City. She earned her real estate license during her first semester in college, learning the ropes from her father, who has a construction business.

Wawrzaszek combines profound market knowledge and a background in hospitality as she serves clients in the luxury and new development sectors throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. Find out how this SERHANT. agent built her business from the ground up and how her childhood dreams combined to create a life by design.

Name: Marzena Wawrzaszek

Title: Licensed real estate sales agent

Experience: 8 years

Location: New York City

Brokerage name: SERHANT.

What’s one big lesson you’ve learned in real estate?

One major lesson I learned from my real estate experience is the significance of consistent follow-ups. Neglecting to stay in touch with prospects can potentially lead to missed opportunities. If you’re not in front of them, someone else is. I missed out on many opportunities because I didn’t follow up.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Growing up, I always wanted to be my own boss. I used to say I wanted to be a businesswoman, even though I didn’t know what that meant back then.

The typical 9-5 jobs never really sparked my interest. I craved something more creative, something that I could genuinely enjoy and have fun with, and I just hadn’t quite figured out what that something was yet. There was a time when I wanted to become a flight attendant because the idea of traveling all over the world excited me, but I quickly reconsidered after thinking about the grueling schedule.

Another dream of mine was to be a fashion designer. I loved to draw and, interestingly, my sketches always centered around two things — clothes and houses. I feel like everything falls into place with real estate for me — I get to run my own business and enjoy the freedom and creativity that matches my childhood dream.

What’s the best advice you ever got?

Stop playing small and own it!

What would you tell a new agent before they start out in the business?

Be prepared to make little to no money in your first year, so having savings is crucial. If you’re entering real estate with expectations based on reality TV shows that highlight the glamorous lifestyle, know the reality is quite different and it involves hard work, resilience, sweat and tears.

What do clients need to know before they begin a real estate transaction?

Get your finances in order, find out how much you can afford and work with an agent who knows your market.

What do too few agents know that would make their lives easier?

Learn how to manage your time and make time for self-care. This is an extremely stressful industry. We are always catering to other people, so prioritizing tasks and carving out time for yourself is extremely important in managing stress and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

If you could do anything other than real estate, what would it be?

While I love what I do, it’s natural to have thoughts cross one’s mind. The beauty and wellness industry is so big, and I’ve had moments where I thought about opening up my own wellness center, a place to detox and recharge the body and mind, offering experiences like saunas and red light therapy. It all narrows down to helping people navigate today’s fast-paced world.

Tell us a story about your most memorable transaction

I was helping an international family in search of a pied a terre. We saw everything on the market, and then they suddenly went silent, not responding to my calls and emails. I kept on following up like a persistent stalker for five months.

Eventually, they responded announcing they would be in New York the next day and wanted to revisit five buildings. I moved everything on my schedule to accommodate them. They decided on a new development downtown, negotiations took 6 weeks, dealing with a very difficult sponsor.

At the final walk-through, the apartment had many issues, including leaks and a cracked window on the 26th floor! The developer insisted on closing, but my clients were frustrated and ready to walk away, losing out on their 10 percent deposit.

After another round of intense negotiations, we agreed on a deal. The sponsor agreed to hold a specific amount in escrow and gave my clients a temporary apartment in the building rent-free until all issues were resolved.

Eventually, they moved in and were grateful for my assistance and coming up with a creative way to get it done. It’s moments like these that make my job meaningful.

Do you want to be featured in an upcoming “Lesson Learned” column? Reach out to us here.

Christy Murdock is a freelance writer, coach and consultant and the owner of Writing Real Estate. Connect with Writing Real Estate on Instagram and subscribe to the weekly roundup, The Ketchup.

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