Zita Billmann Credits Real Estate Success to Connecting with Clients
Feb 29, 2020 10:50AM
By Hilary Daninhirsch
You’ve probably seen her face on billboards, in print magazines, or very likely, on “Sold” signs in front of many North Hills homes.
With 82 homes sold in 2019 alone for a total of $43 million in sales, it is no wonder that Zita Billmann, a realtor with Coldwell Banker with an office in McCandless, was named the #1 Independent Agent in Western Pennsylvania for the past two years, an award granted by the West Penn Multi-List.
For Billmann, one secret to her success lies not just in her extensive knowledge of the real estate industry, but also in the connections that she makes with her clients.
“It doesn’t matter who I meet with, whether they are buying their first home, selling the home that they have raised their children in, upsizing to their dream home or are building a home, I can relate and guide them properly to make the best decisions,” she said. “I feel that my clients can really talk to me and trust that I am always looking out for their best interests. It’s never about me, it is always about my clients.”
With all of her success and such solid name recognition, it might be surprising to learn that Billmann only entered the real estate market in 2008 after a career switch from sales and marketing. Billmann utilized the skills she learned in her previous career to prepare her for real estate.
After she earned her real estate license and began to dive into the industry, she knew that her instincts were correct: it was where she truly belonged. After all, it’s an industry in which you’re working with people to help make their dreams of home ownership come true, and for Billmann, there is nothing better.
Billmann’s passion for real estate is palpable. With fond memories of growing up in a household of 10, she knows how important a home is to the core of one’s well-being.
“I felt like this is somewhere that I could really make a difference; that I would have the opportunity to help people with the life choices that impact them and their families, to help them find a home where they will raise a family and make great memories,” she said. “To be able to guide someone to do that is the ultimate reward.”
The bulk of Billmann’s business is in the northern suburbs, and, being a native of the North Hills, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“The North Hills is where I was born and raised, and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. I think we have the best of all worlds. The schools are great, and it’s an easy commute to the city. We have so many new amenities, restaurants and shopping; it’s an easy lifestyle,” she said.
It is not unheard of for Billmann to form friendships with past clients. At the very least, she stays in touch with almost all of them. After all, the relationship between a real estate agent and a buyer or seller tends to last much longer than other sales relationships due to the time committed to each and every transaction.
“It is so personal. It’s that evolution of whatever dream they had and seeing that they’re happy,” said Billmann. “When clients tell me, ‘We just love our home, we’re so happy,’ that is the best feeling ever. They never forget you helped create that happiness for them.”
In the 12 years that Billmann has been licensed, the real estate industry has changed in that virtually everything is online now, and of course, there’s the power of social media. While Billmann certainly uses those online marketing tools in order to stay relevant, she said that much of her business is through word-of-mouth referrals, and that may be even sweeter than the business she gets from marketing. Billmann said that it is very rewarding whenever a past client reaches out when they are ready to sell their home and/or buy or build another.
Billmann has a no-nonsense approach to her business and is not afraid to be up front and honest with her clients, as well as give clear direction about what they need to do to sell their home.
“I respect my clients’ time. I don’t make false promises to people, and it shows in my results,” she explained. “Being results-oriented, I want to get the listing up and I want to get it sold. I professionally represent my clients, and I do it with their best interests in mind.”
This approach has allowed her to be quite successful at selling homes that have been sitting on the market, dormant, for many months. Recently, Billmann got a call from a homeowner whose house sat on the market for eight months with no bites. She listed it at the same price and was able to sell it for the clients in less than two weeks.
She said that all it takes sometimes are a few suggestions—paint a room, hire a professional cleaner, move some furniture around—all of which play into a buyer’s perception of the home.
“There is no reason for houses to sit on the market if you prepare the home the right way. I feel that I effectively communicate what needs to be done to get the house sold,” she said, adding that she will give step-by-step directions on what to do to get a home ready to sell.
“I am hired for my professional guidance and expertise, and that translates into sales for my clients,” she continued.
This scenario happens fairly regularly, and these successful results can be attributed to Billmann’s goal-oriented nature. Adjusting for inevitable, occasional market fluctuations and client expectations, she aims to sell houses within two weeks of obtaining a listing. She also sets sales goals and other goals for herself each October for the following year.
Staying on top of the market and studying trends, pricing and market values has helped Billmann get listings and create a successful sales process. She said that nothing is sweeter than the day of closing because it represents a new beginning for the client; one that she has helped facilitate.
Perhaps the best advice she received over the years—advice she still implements on a daily basis—is to treat people how you wish to be treated, to be true to yourself, and if you do right for your customer, success will follow.
As for her future real estate aspirations, Billmann plans to continue to do what she’s been doing.
“I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to continue to sell real estate for many years to come,” she said. “I hope to maintain the same level of perspective from my clients and hope that this continues into the future.
“I want to create happiness in my real estate world for my clients,” she added. “If I can make people happy, then my business will continue to thrive.”