Leslie Heindel, CRS, Crescent City Living LLC, New Orleans, Louisiana
How long have you been working in real estate?
For 11 years I was a bartender, and then I went into real estate—2015 was my first full year. My mother has a boutique brokerage, and I work with her.
How did you become familiar with your local market in New Orleans?
I’m the fifth-generation of my family to be from New Orleans. I love the Crescent City and embrace all the culture and craziness it offers, and I serve clients in New Orleans and the metro area. Being a native, I have seen how the city has changed over time, and how it will continue to change.
What inspired you to become a CRS and has it helped your career?
When I was first licensed, another CRS Designee, Coral Gundlach, based in Arlington, Virginia, was my mentor, and she said that all new agents should pursue this designation, so I heeded her advice and I have never regretted it. In 2017 and 2018, I was recognized as Agent of the Year by my brokerage firm.
Do you use social media to communicate?
I’m a social media fanatic—I love it. I know a lot of people in the city, especially from my bartending days, so I had an established sphere of influence. I went from being their bartender to being their real estate agent. As a result, I developed a client base with many first-time homebuyers. For business, I use Facebook a lot, but I also like to send handwritten cards to people.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
I focus on the neighborhoods. My website is my child—it’s everything to me. I spent nine months building the site, and it’s basically a New Orleans neighborhood guide. Unlike the websites of every other real estate agent, I have no listings on my site. From the site, you can click to go to another site to see home listings. But I want people to be able to find what’s in a neighborhood if they want to live there, and I include videos of the neighborhoods on my website.
How would you characterize your local market?
The New Orleans metro area is never the same as the national trends. It’s always behind in music, fashion—everything. There was a big boom a few years ago with people coming here to buy properties to use by Airbnb. But the city council eventually stopped giving out permits for Airbnb, and now more properties are hitting the residential market. It’s not yet a sellers’ market, but it’s shifting in that direction in specific neighborhoods in the city. In the suburbs, the properties weren’t pursued as Airbnbs, so the suburban market has not changed much.
How do you help your clients navigate the New Orleans market, and what’s challenging about it?
I work with a lot of first-time buyers. Figuring out where in New Orleans they can afford to be, and which locations will meet their needs is a challenge. Many clients in New Orleans are in the service industry, and I was a bartender for 11 years, so I know that balancing affordability and optimal location features is an area where I can help.
How do you market your services?
I create videos of previous listings. A couple of videos are snazzy, and I try to incorporate a charity element. One video features two rescue dogs that walk through the house. The narration talks about the dogs, whether the dogs need to be adopted, and if so, who to contact. And if the viewer is interested in the house, they contact me.
Another video was of a property with a prom balcony—the perfect location for taking prom photos. So I shot a video of a girl getting ready for prom, then took photos from that balcony.
With another property that was not very memorable, I highlighted the neighborhood more than the house. That gives a completely different feel to what it would be like to live there. The video shows a girl going through the neighborhood—walking through the park, riding a streetcar, etc.
How do you interact with your local community?
I’m in the middle of a project called 365 New Orleans. Every day of the year, I feature a different local small business or nonprofit. I highlight them on my Facebook page and on Instagram, and include their story on my website. I actually meet in person with someone from each business to do a five-question interview. I’m very passionate about keeping money local. Sometimes you’re looking for something and don’t know that it exists here in the city. Everyone I have talked to so far says their business has been helped—they have more customers now. Some business owners have said they receive up to 50 visitors a day from their story on my website. And I picked up a couple of buyers from it, though I didn’t go into it with real estate in mind.
Leslie Heindel, CRS, achieved her CRS Designation in 2018. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 504-975-4252.