Julie Ann Derham has worked through uncertain times in real estate before. She began as a Realtor in 2007, "just minutes prior to the collapse of the market," but learned that real estate always bounces back.
Today's market, in fact, might be one of the strongest times for Austinites to buy a home.
"Historically, the Austin market has not experienced the same volatility seen in the majority of other markets," Derham says. "Our market finds stability due in part to the fact that we are a tech hub, an industry that constantly evolves to meet new demands, and tech will likely play a role as we come out of the shadow of the COVID virus.
"Currently, and despite COVID, home values continue to rise while inventory remains low, which indicate a strong seller's market. But historically low rates make this an attractive time to buy. I hear many people say they want to wait it out, wait for prices to go down, and that just doesn't seem likely. Prices will continue to increase — if you haven't invested yet, now is the time."
Derham herself discovered the wonders of Austin a decade ago, having arrived to visit a friend and knowing immediately this was the city for her. Likewise, real estate has also always been a calling. Her mother built custom homes at the Jersey shore, while her father worked on and invested in commercial projects up and down the East Coast.
Prior to planting her roots in Austin, Derham sold over $25 million in real estate for the high-rise developer she worked for, then transitioned to Kurfiss Sotheby's in her home town of Philadelphia. Before entering real estate, she lived in Manhattan where she worked in PR, representing such iconic NYC institutions as Tavern on the Green and The Waldorf-Astoria.
That valuable insight and experience in how to manage the expectations and demands of top-tier luxury clients are skills that she now regularly utilizes as a Realtor with Kuper Sotheby's International Realty. When she has free time, Derham spends as much time as she can outdoors, ideally close to the water, seeing live music, or trying a new restaurant, often with her English bulldog James in tow.
We chatted with her to find out more about her work and what drives her.
CultureMap: What inspires you to do what you do?
Julie Ann Derham: Purchasing a home is one of, if not the biggest, decision in a person's life. Navigating that decision and being part of the process is an incredible responsibility, and it's an honor to be handed so much trust. New beginnings are a huge part of life. Whether you are moving across the globe or across town, a new start is a big deal.
I have the most fun watching clients when they start to discover what they love about different properties — buyers tend to find a new appreciation for certain things they never knew they had. Suddenly, they can't picture a home without brass hardware or the light fixture "looks too '90s" — it's fun to watch their sense and taste evolve along with their knowledge of properties. I also love that every day is different for me, there is great freedom in not being tied down to a desk or a 9-5.
CM: What's one piece of advice you'd give to people looking for their dream home?
JAD: It is never too early to start looking. Create a list of what you cannot live without and create a list of what you don't want — that isn't negative, it's a great way to find direction and save time. The sooner you are able to weed out and prioritize, the quicker I'm able to provide you with the best guidance.
Buying with a partner? Talk it out. Each of you should create your own lists, then share to see where you align and where you are off. It's truly amazing to me how the majority of couples don't see eye to eye on very much at all. Find your common ground.
CM: And advice to those who are selling?
JAD: Every home has a story and a personality to showcase. Think about why you bought this home. How did it make you feel? How and why did it stand apart to you? Figuring out how best to convey that feeling and reasoning to the next audience is key.
CM: Sum up Austin in three words.
JAD: Energized. Surreal. Vibrant.
CM: What do you consider your "special skill"?
JAD: I like to try and relate my client's situations or questions to similar experiences I have handled for previous clients, or to my own personal experiences in buying and selling my own homes. It's a good tool to make the overall experience personable and build a deeper relationship. I am incredibly fortunate to have great relationships with my clients and past clients, something I value in the highest regard. Being both relatable and authentic have high returns.
CM: What's one thing people might not know about you?
JAD: I love to cook, and am a good cook, too. I'm not sure why, but people tend to find that surprising. I have been snow skiing since I could walk. I am a cancer survivor. I am adopted.
CM: Finish the sentence: "It's a good day when..."
JAD: It's a good day when the sun is shining down on Austin and I am working to help someone find their piece of this city. As a Realtor, being out and about town most days allows me to be constantly reminded of how lucky I am to have landed here. Austin has incredible variance in terms of different areas to live and different styles of architecture to appreciate: stunning downtown condos, expansive lake homes, estates hidden in the hills, charming cottages from the '40s.
We are exceptionally fortunate to live in a city that continues to evolve, a city where there truly is something for everyone. Finding what that means for you is what inspires me each day.
See Julie Ann Derham's latest listings here, or contact her at 214-679-2544 or email@example.com.