Corporate Maritime Attorney transitions into Successful Real Estate Owner | 28 Carrots

By Lisa Christine Summerville, 28 Carrots

For Bentley’s Real Estate Owner and Broker, Alissa Christie, family and time flexibility were top of mind when she made the decision to leave corporate and transition into real estate. We were able to grab some time with Alissa!


28C: So, Alissa, can tell me a little about yourself?
AC: I’m from New York originally and now live in Newburyport with my husband and two girls, ages 5 and 7. I’m a real estate broker at Bentley’s Real Estate, and really love it. Before diving into real estate full-time, I worked as an international law and maritime attorney. I love working with people, running, the beach, and my community in Greater Newburyport.

28C: Did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up?
AC: I knew that I wanted do something interesting and work with people. At first I wanted to be in the medical field. However, I quickly learned that I didn’t quite have the stomach for it! I easily fainted in high school doing a pilot rotation program at a local hospital. I’ve never grown out of the fact that I always wanted to be in a field where I work with and help people.

28C: What are some of your favorite hobbies or passions? Do any of these cross-over into what you are doing now?
AC: I love spending time with my family. I’ve always been active in the community and like to volunteer when I can. Right now, I’m spending a lot of time training my new golden retriever puppy, “Butternut.”

28C: Did you have a career before becoming an entrepreneur?
AC: Yes, I went to law school and practiced law for almost a decade. When I was in college, I studied abroad in Japan for a term. I absolutely fell in love with Asia, which led to an undergrad focus in East Asian Studies and Japanese. So as a practicing attorney, I naturally became focused on an international legal practice. Although I truly loved this career, the corporate setting didn’t quite allow me to work one-on-one with people and build the personal relationships that I desired. Although many of my legal cases involved working with the Coast Guard which was exciting!

28C: When did you know you wanted to leave your career and launch your business?
AC: After my second child, I realized I needed more flexibility with my schedule. My commute from Newburyport to Boston was very demanding. I was working a gazillion hours. When my husband and I moved to Newburyport and bought a home, I knew real estate would be a perfect fit for me. I was getting really burnt out as a lawyer, and knew I would thrive working in a field that connected me to the community. I fell in love with real estate and it all fell into place pretty quickly.

28C: What skills from that career are useful to your current role?
AC: My skills as a lawyer give me the business mind, negotiation skills, and a honed eye for contracts, which translates into real estate very easily.

28C: Tell me more about your current role?
AC: I’m the co-owner and Principal Broker for Bentley’s Real Estate, but I still represent buyers and sellers and love selling homes. Once I got into real estate with my first closing, it became addicting to me! There is such a good feeling when you bring two parties together. Much different from my legal practice.

28C: Has there been any key differences between reality and your expectations at the time of launch?
AC: Reality was better than what expectations were. Of course, it was very challenging but it came together so quickly for us that we really didn’t have time to dwell on the challenges…. setting up a new office, while at the same time growing our team to a place now where we have doubled in size.

28C: What’s the most rewarding part of your day?
AC: From a personal side, getting to see my kids come home from school and being involved. I love the flexibility that real estate offers. From a business side, helping clients realize their real estate dreams. I love being a “problem solver” for my clients– coming up with creative solutions to get them home. Overall, making an impact.

28C: What are the biggest challenges daily or weekly in being an entrepreneur?
AC: Keeping up with my schedule, real time changes and being organized. Time -blocking to get certain things done. Early mornings allow me to have quiet time. Meditation can set the tone for the day.

28C: On that note of your schedule, how is your work/life balance and has it made an impact on your family life?
AC: Challenging as I am working weekends but the upside is that I am local. I’m able to make myself present and be there for my girls. It’s always up and down.

28C: Time and money are often obstacles many women experience when going out on their own, has this been true for you?
AC: Yes, both – indispensable funds for marketing and time to spend with family. There is not enough of either.

28C: What’s the biggest hurdle you have overcome?
AC: An unpredictable schedule, putting myself out there and stepping outside of my comfort zone. The transition from being a lawyer, then an agent with a big brokerage, and now stepping out on my own. Seeing that this can be even better!

28C: What technology or app can you not live without or makes life easier?
AC: In real estate, technology is so important. A Smart Phone with a hot spot is imperative. We are fortunate to have a huge online presence and an exclusive relationship with Soon have a robotic interface with the consumer on our website.

28C: How did you get funding to go out on your own?
AC: We contributed our own resources and energy.

28C: What’s been your most important lesson learned so far?
AC: That you just have to go with your gut and put yourself out there and if you believe in yourself that you can do it, then you CAN do it.

28C: What has been your most important hire? All of the agents are important as well as our support staff and office manager. Before someone joins our team, we collaborate to make sure they will be a good fit within the Bentley’s profile.
AC: In your opinion, what is a must have trait for a woman entrepreneur? Perseverance.

28C: How do you measure success? When is it a “good day” at the office?
AC: A closing for anyone in the office!

28C: What’s next for you and Bentley’s in 2017?
AC: Growing as an office and being successful. We have close to 20 agents now and more than half are women!

28C: It seems that we typically see more women than men in real estate. What do women bring to the table?
AC: Honestly, I think there are likely equal full-time men and women. For some folks, real estate can be a part-time occupation. But if you want to be successful and do the best you can for your client, you really need to be full time. For men and women, a successful real estate agent is someone who cares and is working hard.

28C: You recently became a member of 28 Carrots, why?
AC: To meet other women entrepreneurs and to learn from their success and failures.

28C: How has being a member helped you so far?
AC: It has opened my eyes to all of the other success stories. It has helped me have a positive attitude and feel comfortable going out on a limb and taking risks. If I’m hesitant to taking a certain step, 28 Carrots gives me more confidence with those steps than if I were on my own.

Alissa Christie has been a member of 28 Carrots since November of 2016. To learn more about membership in 28 Carrots, click here, watch our video to learn more about us, and check out the 2017 InnovateHER competition or other 28 Carrots events,.