Christian Ross is a woman who knows a thing or two about selling real estate. Her path as a realtor began at a boutique real estate firm learning the development side of the business—from financing to marketing to construction to zoning, and everything in between. From there she moved on to become a residential realtor and has since expanded her business to include commercial and international realty. With a fierce loyalty and dedication to her clients and their needs (she is available around the clock for her clients in different time zones) it’s no surprise that Christian has climbed the ranks to become the force in real estate she is today.
Despite her current success, things weren’t quite as easy for Christian early in her career. Upon graduating from college following 9/11, not many companies were hiring and it was difficult to secure a job. Yet through plenty of persistence Christian found herself in the office of the vice president of an Atlanta broadcast representation firm. And as luck would have it, the woman Christian met with found her a job in their office. As Christian puts it, “She saw my potential and made a way. That has been my continued blessing throughout my life—women teaching me, molding me, challenging me, and constructively pushing me.”
These days, along with her very busy work schedule, Christian also finds time to work as a realtor for HGTV’s House Hunters—and as self-proclaimed House Hunters addicts ourselves, we were thrilled to hear details about the show! If you want to check out Christian’s skills on House Hunters, tune in tonight at 10/9c! And if she weren’t quite busy enough, Christian is also the youngest president of the Women’s Council of Realtors Atlanta Chapter and a member of the Atlanta Board of Realtors’ Board of Directors. Christian’s go-getter attitude and commitment to her work are two of the things we admire most about her. Today we’re thrilled to have Christian share the details of her impressive career along with advice she has for women looking to pursue their own real estate careers.
Full name: Christian Ross
Current title/company: Associate Broker/ Christian Sold It Team at Keller Williams Realty
Education: B.A. Public Relations, Clark Atlanta University
What was your first job out of college and how did you land it?
My first job was a Promotions Coordinator at a media sales firm. I handled coordinating promotions, billing discrepancies, and inventory reports for radio stations across the country. After a year, I (with only 9 other people from across the country) was accepted to their apprentice program. I spent eight months in New York for the program, and upon graduation became an account executive working my own accounts for the Infinity/CBS Radio team.
When I came out of college it was right after the terror attacks on 9/11 and no one was hiring. Before the attacks I applied to a media sales program at Howard University that was pioneered by one of the first minority national radio sales managers. The program gave us the opportunity to interview with potential companies. Due to the business climate, everyone told us they weren’t hiring. I talked to one company and told them I was in Atlanta and was open to doing anything they needed to learn the business. The COO gave me the number to the Atlanta office vice president. I called her the next day, went in to talk with her the following week, and on the spot she told me she thought they may have something for me. I will never forget Kay Olin. To this day she continues to be a pioneer in the radio/media industry and is always pulling women up. She saw my potential and made a way. That has been my continued blessing throughout my life—women teaching me, molding me, challenging me, and constructively pushing me.
You began your career in public relations and worked in a variety of roles before making the transition to real estate. Can you tell us about your career background prior to becoming a realtor?
All of my positions have truly built on each other. While I finished my last two years of college, I interned in media relations with the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) and then Governor Roy Barnes in his Public Affairs department. From there I graduated and went straight into media sales, acting as the liaison between client radio stations across the country and advertising agencies. I took a leap of faith that introduced me to what would become my passion, working as an Investor Relations Director for a boutique real estate development firm. I had no experience in this capacity and used it to learn real estate from several different angles: financing, marketing, construction, budgets, zoning; the list goes on. I then decided to leap again into the land of the independent contractor as a Realtor with Keller Williams. When I left my job for Keller Williams, my mother thought I was crazy for leaving a job with great benefits, an expense account, and awesome perks, but I knew if I didn’t leave then, I would never feel comfortable making the leap. Through each role, communication and accountability have been the foundation.
In 2006 you started working as a residential realtor for Keller Williams. How did you land this position? What were your job responsibilities in this role?
It was an easier transition for me coming from a small real estate firm. It’s easy to get your real estate license: you take classes, pass the test, and find a broker to do business under. Getting licensed is the easy part; the challenging part is staying in business. It is a commitment to constantly generate business and always put your client’s goals above your own. In my role, I am the solution finder. When there is a challenge, I find the answer. I negotiate contracts for my clients on residential properties, commercial leases, and business sales.
You are still at Keller Williams as a realtor today. How has your business grown since 2006?
I went to other brokerages before returning to Keller Williams. I saw that they had the best model to have my business on my terms and their full support. During the economic downturn, it affected a lot of people, including myself. My business went down before it came back up. The downturn taught and reiterated so many lessons: save your money and it will save you, be true to yourself, and keep investing in yourself and your industry. One thing was constant – no matter what, my friends, family, and business associates consistently sent me referrals and remained committed to my business. My services have grown to include commercial and International real estate. I love learning about my client’s businesses and seeing them flourish.
Along with an impressive history in Atlanta real estate, you have an international client base. How does working in international real estate differ from working in Atlanta?
It’s similar, but with a few nuances that make a huge difference. You are your client’s ears and eyes not only for the particular transaction but also to understand the culture better. They have to rely on your due diligence, resources, negotiating, and advocacy on their behalf. They have to trust you implicitly as their representative. My clients understand I am available around the clock to communicate with them in different time zones.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part is seeing people make sound financial decisions. For some, it is the first step to their wealth building process. For others, it is building their business to the point of expansion or making a lifelong dream become a reality. The connection with people and their goals is my adrenaline.
You also appear on HGTV’s “House Hunters.” When did you get involved with the show? What does your role with House Hunters entail?
My client applied a few years ago. My role is the same, as their realtor, taking them through the process to decide on a home. It is so much fun taping and showcasing the awesome people that happen to be my clients.
Along with your busy work schedule, you are the youngest president of the Women’s Council of Realtors Atlanta Chapter. What is your role as president? How did you initially become involved with the Council?
As President of our Chapter, I am responsible for delivering relevant, business building speakers and content as well as identifying our next generation of leadership. My role also includes a seat on our Atlanta Board of Realtors’ Board of Directors which serves as the central source of information for over 6,000 realtors in the Atlanta metro area focusing on promoting professionalism and standards in the industry, protecting our member’s ability to transact business, and defending private property rights. I have learned so much from my peers in both roles.
I became involved with the Council from sitting on the Atlanta Board of Realtors’ Government Affairs committee. In that committee, we were an extension of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) initiatives to protect private property rights on a local level and hold our elected officials accountable. Once I learned more about the Council, it was interesting to see the progress of the organization and how it was started—for women seeking equality in the profession.
The most rewarding part is seeing people make sound financial decisions…The connection with people and their goals is my adrenaline.
When did you develop an interest in real estate? Once you become a realtor, did you immediately know it was the right fit for you?
My interest in real estate was born from my love of politics. So many issues in real estate have a direct relation. After I left media sales to work for the boutique real estate firm, the daily challenge showed me immediately it was the right fit. Later I would realize it was my passion, something I could work on for 24 hours straight and not complain of being tired. For myself, I don’t have to make all the money. All things are not for you and I understand that. I value my time and my sanity.
What have been the biggest challenges or obstacles you’ve faced in your career and how were you able to overcome them?
The biggest challenges were the economic downturn of 2008 and the subsequent years. It was like being in a real estate fog. Every deal was difficult. You worked three times as hard for less money. It was just very, very challenging. To overcome it, I became creative in ways to stay in real estate and use my knowledge. When you are making less money and working diligently to figure out how to still do the thing you love and have consistent income, the rubber meets the road. I talked to everyone I could to see who could benefit from the expertise I had that would still allow me to do what I loved full time. When I was talking with one of my closing attorneys, she appreciated that I could bring a perspective to what agents wanted. Our conversation resulted in a consultation contract for her law firm. It was a great partnership. I consulted with her on campaigns to bring in more business with Realtors like myself. I was able to still work full-time in my business and get a paycheck. It was a win-win.
There will always be cycles in real estate as in life. It is all about creating the opportunity no matter what happens. Every day, you must make a choice to be the best you can be and remain committed to that. My husband’s support, reading, and affirmations were my safe places. Now my biggest challenge, like a lot of people’s, is time and leverage. Finding the ‘who’ of who is going to do the task. We constantly review and refine our processes to make sure all our clients have an exceptional experience.
What advice can you give Everygirls seeking a career in real estate?
There are so many different entry points. There is property management, residential, and commercial sales, development, and more. Decide how you are going to dedicate yourself to the business and then work your business like a business. You have to remember for most of your clients, this is their largest financial transaction. You cannot treat this like a hobby.
What is a typical workday like for you?
A “typical” day includes me calling past clients, current clients, meeting with my team to make sure our files are on track, going to a face to face meeting with a prospect, client, or vendor, negotiating contracts, working through contract issues, responding to client concerns and colleague feedback, researching opportunities for clients, and funneling through a multipage to-do list. Monday through Thursday I usually work 12-hour days with Friday at 8 hours.
Best moment of your career so far?
Selling the home of Dr. Asa Yancey, Sr. I didn’t have an opportunity to meet him but I feel so privileged that his daughter entrusted me with the sale and allowed me complete access to go through his pictures and keepsakes. He was a pioneer for Atlanta, civil rights, and minorities in medicine. He was the first African-American member of the medical faculty at Emory University and one of the faculty members responsible for the development of the Cardiology Center at Emory. The lists of his achievements go on and on. Despite the era he lived in, there were no excuses and three of his children went on to become doctors. I cried when I sold that home—the only time that has ever happened. It was like I could feel his spirit in that home and all the greatness, love, and history that flowed through it over 40 years. When it sold, it felt like a chapter in history ended. Linking the family to a buyer that appreciated the history and character was beyond satisfying.
What advice would you give to your 23-year-old self?
Keep leaping for what you want and be single. Take a date break.
Christian Ross is The Everygirl…
Morning or night?
Night. I am queen of the 4 a.m. email.
Best advice you’ve ever received?
From my Mummi, any man you date must have a minimum of three qualities—a relationship with God, good work ethic, and respect for his mother. That stayed in my head and I know I saw the partner my husband would be based on observing those three simple things.
Waking up late, communing at the Spiritual Center, brunch with my husband, a Ray Donovan episode or Netflix binge, an afternoon nap, and not touching my laptop until the evening. That is bliss.
I wish I knew how to ________.
fly a plane. Viewing life from above, with no one else, seems very James Bond and serene.
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and what would you order?
There are so many women on that list—from the FLOTUS to Gloria Steinen to New York First Lady Chirlane McCray. To choose one—Arianna Huffington. She is so forward thinking and one of my idols. Despite being a carnivore, I would order soup so I could slurp vs bite to ensure I didn’t miss a word.